Ausiàs March: "Voyage of Love or Death" Poem XLVI (From Catalan)

Though Ausiàs March took the notable and unprecedented step of writing his poems in Valencian Catalan, his own vernacular (rather than the Provençal and heavily Provençalized Catalan which were customary for versifying), and indeed contains many proverbial and outright colloquial turns of phrase, it is nonetheless quite difficult, his syntax violently tortured, and his lines sometimes perplexingly elliptical.
This may owe something to the difficulty March faced in adjusting Catalan to the demands of verse, and often one suspects that March is roiling against the confines of the verse-line as much as those of poetic convention. But it is also true that harshness and messiness were March's metier. March is not at all trying to be beautiful, orderly or pleasing to the ear, as the Provençal tradition demanded. Quite the contrary, his language is often deliberately harsh and cacophonous, as he himself notes several times in his own poems. Indeed, in his drive to turn the uncomely and the harsh to exalted art, rather then the beautiful and smooth, he reminds me of poets centuries later such as Baudelaire. 
I've availed myself of various tactics to account for this in translation, such as a dusting off-rhymes amid the full rhymes, and divergence from the common norms of style, syntax and register which readers of English poetry today are accustomed to. 
I have consulted a number of commentaries for this and some other forthcoming translations from March. Since I found myself differing in a number of respects from the interpretations of scholars who admittedly know more than I do, I considered including an exegetical explication of what is, especially for the Middle Ages, a relentlessly difficult body of work. I may yet do so. But the task seems too laborious for now. A few notes is all I have appended.

Poem XLVI: Voyage of Love or Death
By Ausiàs March (1400 – 1459)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The power of sails and winds shall bring me back 
Setting across the sea a dicy course.
Ponente and Mistral rise to attack.
Levanter and Sirocco foil their force   
Backed by their allies Midi and Gregal
Beseeching the North Mountain Wind to turn
Its storms aside in their support, so all
Five winds may blow the way of my return.

The sea shall seethe like boiling casserole,
Change colors, taking on unnatural form,
Showing its ill will at full blast to all
That stray on it one second in that storm. 
The fish will panic all throughout the sea
And seek out secret shelter in the deep,
Till from the sea that gave them life they flee 
To their deaths on dry land with desperate leap.

The pilgrim passengers aboard my ship
Will call on God, pledge votive gifts in tears,
And fear force every secret from their lips
That never fell on a confessor's ears. 
Through those dangers, you will not leave my mind. 
Before the God that joined us two I swear
Nothing shall weaken this resolve of mine,
And you'll be with me always, everywhere.

I fear death - lest it break my heart from yours,
For death can cancel love out with its still,
Not that I think even death's severing force
Could overcome my strength of loving will. 
I wish I could believe your love for me
Would not leave me forgotten when I die,
And though while we two live this could not be
One thought makes all life's pleasure out a lie:

That on the day I died, your love as well
Would die, and be transformed to hate that night.
While I, cast from this world, would feel full Hell
Never again to hold you in my sight. 
Oh God, if only there were bounds to love
So I at love's extreme might stand apart!
I'd face the future without fear or hope
Knowing the cutoff limit of your heart.  

I am the most extreme of all in love
Save those who've breathed in love their life's last breath.
The anguish of my heart I cannot prove
Without the good faith agony of death. 
For good or ill at love's command I wait
Though Fortune still withholds my fate from me.
She'll find the gates unbarred, and me awake,
Prepared to humbly follow her decree.

Getting what I so wish may cost me dear
Yet this alone consoles the soul in strife:
If it turns out my fate is what I fear
I only ask that God not spare my life. 
For then people will see the outward fact
Of love at work within, needing no faith.
Capacity will be revealed in act,
And my words' credit backed by deed of death. 

Love! I who feel you don't know you at all,
And so can only win the loser's prize.  
No one who knows you is within your thrall. 
Your simile: addictive game of dice. 


Stanza 1:
It seems to me fairly clear the voyage alluded to is metaphorical and did not actually transpire, though many have sought to identify a real-world course based on the meteorological description here.
The proper names are Mediterranean winds, each traditionally attributed to a different cardinal compass direction. The Mistral blows from the North-West, the Ponente from the West, the Levanter from the East, the Sirocco from the South-East, the Midi from the South, the Gregale from the North-East and the Tramontane (here rendered as "North Mountain Wind") from the North. The winds have various resonances in the tradition.
Particularly the Mistral and Ponente would be associated with Provence and the tradition of Provançal lyricism which March was consciously writing against. The Sirocco and Levanter, blowing from the exact opposite direction as the Mistral and Ponente, are harsh winds well-known to mediterranean mariners. The Levanter in particular can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h along the Catalonian coast, occasionally doing severe property damage even in modern times.

Stanza 3:
It was a custom for those facing imminent danger to make confessions to one another, in the absence of a priest to hear them. This was particularly common for passengers who found themselves imperiled on the high seas.

The reference to games of dice suggests something morally suspect. Gambling in 15th century Valencia was preached against as a cardinal sin, and many games of chance were symbolically burned in public.

The Original:

"Veles e vents"

Veles e vents han mos desigs complir
faent camins dubtosos per la mar:
mestre i ponent contra d’ells veig armar;
xaloc, llevant, los deuen subvenir,
ab llurs amichs lo grech e lo migjorn,
fent humils prechs al vent tramuntanal
que·n son bufar los sia parcial
e que tots cinch complesquen mon retorn.

Bullirà·l mar com la cassola en forn,
mudant color e l’estat natural,
e mostrarà voler tota res mal
que sobre si atur un punt al jorn.
Grans e pocs peixs a recors correran
e cercaran amagatalls secrets:
fugint al mar, on són nudrits e fets,
per gran remei en terra eixiran.

Los pelegrins tots ensems votaran
e prometran molts dons de cera fets,
la gran paor traurà·l llum los secrets
que al confés descuberts no seran,
e en lo perill no·m caureu de l’esment,
ans votaré al Déu qui·ns ha lligats
de no minvar més fermes voluntats
e que tots temps me sereu de present.

Jo tem la mort per no ser-vos absent,
perquè amor per mort és anul·lats,
mas jo no creu que mon voler sobrats
pusca esser per tal departiment.
Jo só gelós de vostre escàs voler
que, jo morint, no meta mi·n oblit.
Sol est pensar me tol del món delit,
car, nós vivint, no creu se pusca fer:

aprés ma mort, d’amar perdau poder
e sia tost en ira convertit.
E jo forçat d’aquest món ser eixit,
tot lo meu mal serà vós no veer.
Oh Déu! per què terme no hi ha en amor,
car prop d’aquell jo·m trobara tot sol?
Vostre voler sabera quant me vol,
tement, fiant de tot l’avenidor!

Jo son aquell pus extrem amador
aprés d’aquell a qui Déu vida tol:
puix jo son viu, mon cor no mostra dol
tant com la mort, per sa extrema dolor.
A bé o mal d’amor jo só dispost,
mas per mon fat fortuna cas no·m porta:
tot esvetlat, ab desbarrada porta
me trobarà, faent humil respost.

Jo desig ço que·m porà ser gran cost
i aquest esper de molts mals m’aconhorta;
a mi no plau ma vida ser estorta
d’un cas molt fer, qual prec Déu sia tost.
Lladoncs les gents no·ls calrà donar fe
al que amor fora mi obrarà:
lo seu poder en acte·s mostrarà
e los meus dits ab los fets provaré.

Amor, de vós, jo·n sent més que no·n sé,
de què la part pitjor me·n romandrà,
e de vós sap lo qui sens vós està.
A joc de daus vos acompararé

Joan Brossa: End of Season (From Catalan)

End of Season 
By Joan Brossa
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The fallen leaves block the road
I imagine I am what I am not.
Here I am quite still. 

I try to not move,
To occupy a minimum of space,
Just as if I weren't here. 
Silence is the original,
Words are the copy. 

The Original:

Fi del Cicle
Joan Brossa

Les fulles caigudes obstrueixen el camí.
Imagino de ser el que no sóc.
Aquí m'estic ben quiet.
Procuro de no moure'm
i d'occupar el mínim d'espai.
Talment com si ja no hi fos.
El silenci és l'original,
les paraules són la còpia.

Ausiàs March: Poem I "Pleasure Hurts" (from Catalan)

Poem I: Pleasure Hurts
By Ausiàs March
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Think of a man delighted in his slumber,
The foolishness of dream where he resides.
Think thus of me: imagination fastens
Onto the past where all my joy abides.
I know that Grief awaits but do not waver
Knowing my certain end lies in her jaws.
The things ahead hold nothing but disaster.
The better things are nothing but what was.

I find myself no lover of the present,
But of the past; adore oblivion;
There in the thought of yesterday I revel
Till grief returns emboldened under dawn.
Think of a man condemned to execution
So long he’s blunted to the bitter lot.
Suppose they feed him rumors of a pardon
Then have him hanged without another thought.

I wish to God my thoughts were like a corpse’s,
Existence an eternity of sleep,
Wretched the man who holds his mind at swordpoint
For how it keeps reminding him to weep.
And when he begs it for a bit of pleasure
It’s like a mother when her child in tow,
Shunning all milk, howls to be nursed on poison.
She doesn’t have the sense to answer No.

The purest of all pain I’d rather suffer
Than try to blend a bit of pleasure too
Into the ills that rob the brain of reason,
And ache for all the goodness that I knew.
Dear Lord! Delight transmuted into sorrow
Doubles the torment after rest too brief,
Like someone sick who sees too a rich morsel,
Eats it and turns his dinner into grief.

It’s like a hermit long beyond being lonely,
Long drained of care for folk, who’s ceased to sigh
For his companions in the silly city,
And now suppose that one of them drops by,
Recalls with him the times they spent in leisure:
Back to the past the present moments roam.
But, soon alone, he grumbles in annoyance.
Joy as it leaves tells grief to come on home.

Beauty of Prudence: when love starts to age
It's chumbled by the worm of being away
Unless you turn a constant heart against it
And deafer ears to what the jealous say.

The Original:

Poema I

Axi com cell qui ’n lo somni·s delita
e son delit de foll pensament ve,
ne pren a mi, que·l temps passat me te
l’imaginar, qu’altre be no y habita,
sentint estar en aguayt ma dolor,
sabent de cert qu’en ses mans he de jaure.
Temps de venir en negun be·m pot caure;
aquell passat en mi es lo millor.

Del temps present no·m trobe amador,
mas del passat, qu’es no-res e finit;
d’aquest pensar me sojorn e·m delit,
mas quan lo pert, s’esforça ma dolor,
si com aquell qui es jutgat a mort
he de lonch temps la sab e s’aconorta,
e creure·l fan que li sera estorta
e·l fan morir sens un punt de recort.

Plagues a Deu que mon pensar fos mort,
e que passas ma vida en durment!
Malament viu qui te lo pensament
per enamich, fent li d’enuyts report;
e com lo vol d’algun plaer servir
li·n pren axi com dona ’b son infant,
que si veri li demana plorant
ha ten poch seny que no·l sab contradir.

Ffora millor ma dolor sofferir
que no mesclar pocha part de plaher
entre ’quells mals, qui·m giten de saber
com del passat plaher me cove ’xir.
Las! Mon delit dolor se converteix;
doble·s l’affany apres d’un poch repos,
si co·l malalt qui per un plasent mos
tot son menjar en dolor se nodreix.

Com l’ermita, qui ’nyorament no·l creix
d’aquells amichs que teni’en lo mon,
essent lonch temps qu’en lo poblat no fon,
per fortuyt cars hun d’ells li apareix,
qui los passats plahers li renovella,
si que·l passat present li fa tornar;
mas com se·n part, l’es forçat congoxar:
lo be, com fuig, ab grans crits mal apella.

Plena de seny, quant amor es molt vella,
absença es lo verme que la guasta,
si fermetat durament no contrasta,
e creura poch, si l’envejos consella.

Ausiàs March: Poem XXVIII "Dark Night of the Heart" (From Catalan)

Poem XXVIII: Dark Night of the Heart
By Ausiàs March
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Day's terrified to lose her last bright features,
Seeing the night spread darkness overhead.
Small creatures dare not close their eyes for slumber.
The sick and weak ail even more in bed. 
Then evil men can freely do their worst
Who'd have the cover of darkness last all year.
Not I who am tormented as no other
Yet do no harm. I long for daylight clear.   

I do no harm, and yet do worse than murder
A thousand guiltless men for ruthless fun:
I summon all my powers for self-betrayal
And do not count on clemency from dawn.
No, every night I blast my brain concocting
Treasonous plots planned out for all day long.
No fear of death or dungeon life deter me
From visiting against myself such wrong. 

Beauty of Prudence: I know it's my doing 
That love's tight noose has twisted around me. 
Straight is the path I take without delay
To end, unless your mercy set me free. 

The Original:


Lo jorn ha por de perdre sa claror
quan ve la nit que espandeix ses tenebres.
Pocs animals no cloen les palpebres
e los malalts creixen de llur dolor.
Los malfactors volgren tot l'any duràs
perquè llurs mals haguessen cobriment.
Mas jo, qui visc menys de par en turment
e sens mal fer, volgra que tost passàs.

E d'altra part faç pus que si matas
mil hòmens justs menys d'alguna mercè,
car tots mos ginys jo solt per trair-me.
E no cuideu que-l jorn me n'excusàs.
Ans, en la nit treball rompent ma pensa
perquè en lo jorn lo traïment cometa.
Por de morir o de fer vida estreta
no-m tol esforç per donar-me ofensa.

Plena de seny, mon enteniment pensa
com aptament lo llaç d'amor se meta.
Sens aturar, pas tenint via dreta,
Vaig a la fi si mercè no-m defensa.

Saul Tchernichovsky: The Hawk (From Hebrew)

If you speak Hebrew and are wondering why this poem's title isn't translated as "The Eagle," see the notes following the text.

The Hawk
By Saul Tchernichovsky
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Hebrew

Black the hawk above your mountains!1 Black the mounting hawk on high!
Light and slow it seems one moment merely floating in the sky...
Floating, sailing skyblue seas, alert to songs of sheer delight
In the heart of all the heavens- circling mute through searing light. 

Black the hawk above your mountains! Black the mounting hawk on high! 
Sleek the body, dark the feathers, broad the wings and bright the eye,
Soaring like a bowshot arrow, rounding out its careful gyre
Tracking trails of prey below between the crags and through the briar. 

Black the hawk above your mountains! Black the mounting hawk on high! 
Gliding wide with wondrous touch, with wings locked back against the sky,
Frozen for a moment, then a single pinion barely sways.
Now the slightest palpitation, and it surges through the haze.

Black the hawk above your mountains! Black the mounting hawk on high! 
Light and slow it seems one moment merely floating in the sky....
Land! A hawk's above your mountains. A condensing shadow glides
From the giant's wing caressing mighty heaven's mountainsides2.

Notes on the text:

1These are the stony hills of the Judea.

2- The Hebrew phrase is identical to one in Psalm 36:6 Your righteousness is like the almighty mountains, and your justice a tremendous gulf. O Lord, you sustain man and beast. (translation mine, because all the existing translations flatten out this rather evocative phrase into "great mountains" or some such infelicitous cliché.)

Note on the title:

The titular bird of this poem, which I finally translated (after much thought) as "Hawk" is a particular brainbuster. עיט áyit, technically, means "Eagle" in modern Hebrew. However, the Hebrew עיט áyit is in many ways a much more ominous bird than the English counterpart it translates into. עיט áyit in modern Israeli speech is, I understand, commonly confused with vulture. The two native Hebrew-speakers I have queried confirmed my impression that the words עיט áyit "eagle" and נשר nésher (ostensibly "vulture" according to schoolmarms and the dictionaries written by them) are rather interchangeable in the modern language, with the choice depending more on symbolism than ornithology- where the עיט áyit "eagle" is an ominous bird of prey and the and נשר nésher a symbol of hope and persistence. This kind of taxonomic conflation and connotative distinction is a common occurrence in the lexicon of many languages, since humans have usually categorized fauna in experiential rather than taxonomic terms- especially with birds, which tend to figure prominently in mythology, religion, divination and poetic symbolism. (This is true of English too. Compare the connotations and symbolism of dove vs. pigeon or even crow vs. raven.)

In Hebrew, the ominous עיט áyit paired against the propitious נשר nésher appears to have its semantic origins in the Hebrew Bible. By way of illustration, here are some Biblical uses of עיט áyit. The English word or expression used to translate the bird in question is in bold:

יֵעָזְבוּ יַחְדָּו לְעֵיט הָרִים וּלְבֶהֱמַת הָאָרֶץ וְקָץ עָלָיו הָעַיִט וְכָל-בֶּהֱמַת הָאָרֶץ עָלָיו תֶּחֱרָף
They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and the beasts shall winter upon them. (Isaiah 18:6)

וַיֵּרֶד הָעַיִט עַל-הַפְּגָרִים וַיַּשֵּׁב אֹתָם אַבְרָם
And when the fowl came down upon the carcasses, Abraham drove them away (Genesis 15:11)

עַל-הָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל תִּפּוֹל אַתָּה וְכָל-אֲגַפֶּיךָ וְעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר אִתָּךְ לְעֵיט צִפּוֹר כָּל-כָּנָף וְחַיַּת הַשָּׁדֶה נְתַתִּיךָ לְאָכְלָה
Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. (Ezekiel 39:4)
And here are some typical uses of נשר nésher:
וָאֶשָּׂא אֶתְכֶם עַל כַּנְפֵי נְשָׁרִים
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself (Exodus 19:4)

כְּנֶשֶׁר יָעִיר קִנּוֹ עַל-גּוֹזָלָיו יְרַחֵף, יִפְרֹשׂ כְּנָפָיו יִקָּחֵהוּ יִשָּׂאֵהוּ עַל-אֶבְרָתוֹ יְהוָה בָּדָד יַנְחֶנּוּ וְאֵין עִמֹּו אֵל נֵכָר
As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings, so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. (Deuteronomy 32:11-12)
In the end I decided to render the bird's name as "hawk". The other possibility "raptor" (a naturalist's term for any bird of pray) had most of what I needed, but its off-key tone, as well as the accrued associations with dinosaurs thanks to Jurassic Park, made it unusable.

The Original:

שאול טשרניחובסקי

עַיִט! עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ, עַיִט עַל הָרַיִך עָף!
אַט וָקַל – נִדְמֶה כְּאִלּוּ רֶגַע – אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא צָף,
צָף-מַפְלִיג בְּיָם שֶׁל תְּכֵלֶת, עֵר לְרֶנֶן-גִּיל בְּלֵב
הַשָּׁמַיִם – הָרָקִיעַ, חַג אִלֵּם בְּאוֹר צוֹרֵב.

עַיִט! עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ, עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ עָף!
יְשַׁר-גֵּו וְכֶבֶד אֵבֶר, שְׁחוֹר-נוֹצָה וּרְחַב-כָּנָף;
טָס מָתוּחַ (חֵץ מִקֶּשֶׁת), עַיִט עָג עוּגִיּוֹת חוּגָיו;
תָּר עִקְּבוֹת טַרְפּוֹ מִמַּעַל בָּאֲפָר וּבַחֲגָו.

עַיִט! עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ, עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ עָף!
טָס גּוֹלֵשׁ-גּוֹלֵשׁ וּבְמַגַּע פֶּלֶא אֵבֶר לֹא נָקָף.
רֶגַע-קַל – קָפָא, מִשְׁנֵהוּ – נִיד-לֹא-נִיד בְּאֶבְרוֹתָיו,
רֶטֶט כָּל-שֶׁהוּא לְפֶתַע – וְעוֹלֶה לִקְרַאת הָעָב.

עַיִט! עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ, עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ עָף!
אַט וָקַל, – נִדְמֶה כְּאִלּוּ – רֶגַע אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא צָף...
אֶרֶץ, עַיִט עַל הָרַיִךְ, – עַל פָּנַיִךְ חַשְׁרַת צֵל,
מֵאֶבְרוֹת עֲנָק חוֹלֶפֶת, מְלַטֶּפֶת הַרְרֵי-אֵל...

Hafiz: Ghazal 136 "The Grail of Jamshed" (From Persian)

This poem is one of very few ghazals that could in any sense be called "narrative." There is a discernible course of events, beginning with a search which leads the speaker to the Wineshop, where a conversation with the proprietor occurs. The substance of that conversation can be interpreted in various ways, depending to some degree on editorial choices. Most overtly, the topic is the nature of mystical gnosis and how it should and should not be transmitted. Read more loosely, one can see in it a discussion of how openly subversive one can be without endangering one's own life. And there are other interpretations galore. Myself, I find it most illuminating to see the figure of Hallāj as an example of how a charlatan can use the truth (or The Truth) in dishonest and self-serving ways. Or, as Blake put it "a truth that's told with bad intent/ beats all the lies you can invent."

It would be reasonable to suppose that an overtly and unarguably narrative ghazal would present fewer transmission problems than most of Hafiz' lyric poems, since the structure would limit the accretion and transposition of verses. Such a supposition, however, would be quite mistaken. The manuscripts differ in the ordering, number, and content of the verses in this poem as much as any other in Hafiz' divan. The only difference is that, because the poem is narrative and depends on the cumulative effect of verses in their linear totality, the variations matter all the more. The different verse-orderings found in the manuscripts of the poem, the different verses excluded or included in them, and the different variants found for the same verse, alter the poem's meaning considerably.

Ghazal 136: The Grail of Jamshed
By Hafiz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

For years, my questing heart kept asking me 
   where on earth Jamshed's ancient grail could be.
In search of something it already had, 
   it supplicated strangers ceaselessly.
It sought a pearl that slipped the temporal shell 
   from wayward men that maunder by the sea.
Last night I brought the Wineshop's Sage my problem, 
  that where I had been blinded, he might see. 
I saw him, laughing, lift a cup of wine 
   wherein a thousand visions answered me.
Said I to him: "When did God gift you with 
   this grail revealing all reality?"
Said he: "The day His Mind Almighty raised 
  the heavens' vault of lapis lazuli."
Said he: "Recall the smitten Al-Hallaj   
  they hanged on high upon the gallows tree...
His crime was that he told the world of things 
  meant to be contemplated privately.
His heart was gone for God, though God was there. 
  He cried O God because he could not see.
His heart held truth, as soil conceals a seed. 
  His mind put forth glossed leaflets, like a tree.
Moses' white hand would shame his sleights of hand 
  As once it foiled Pharaonic sorcery.
Were the Holy Ghost to lend its grace again,  
  others like Christ would help the blind to see." 
Said I: "Why do the locks of beauty bind me?" 
  "Because of Hafiz' love-crazed heart" said he.


V 1: Jamshed's goblet revealed everything in the world to anyone who looked into it

V 8: Hallāj, a martyr and mystic who was executed in 922 AD in Baghdad, supposedly for having declared ana l-ḥaqq "I am God the Truth." His sleight of hand tricks, which he touted as miracles, are referred to later in the poem.

The Original:

سال ها دل طلبِ جامِ جم از ما مى كرد   وآنچه خود داشت زِ بيگانه تمنّا مى كرد
گَوهَرى كَز صدفِ كون و مكان بيرون است   طلب از گمشدگانِ لبِ دريا مى كرد
مشكلِ خويش بر پيرِ مغان بردم دوش   كو بتأييدِ نظر حلِّ معمّا مى كرد
ديدمش خرَّم و خوش دل قدحِ باده به دست   وندر آن آينه صد گونه تماشا مى كرد
گفت اين جامِ جهان بين به تو كَى داد حكيم   گفت آن روز كه اين گمبدِ مينا مى كرد
گفت آن يار كزو گشت سرِ دار بلند   جرمش اين بود كه اسرار هويدا مى كرد
بيدلى در همه احوال خدا با او بود   او نميديدش و از دور خدايا مى كرد
آنكه چون غنچه دلش رازِ حقيقت بنهفت ورقِ خاطر از اين نكته محشّا مى كرد
اين همه شعبدۀ عقل كه مى كرد اينجا ساحرى پيش عصا و يدِ بيضا مى كرد
فيضِ روح القدس ار باز مدد فرمايد   ديگران هم بكنند آنچه مسيحا مى كرد
گفتمش سلسلۀ زلفِ بتان از پىِ چيست؟   
گفت حافظ گله اى از دلِ شيدا مى كرد


Sālhā dil talab-i jām-i jām az mā mēkard
Wān či xwad dāšt zi bēgāna tamannā mēkard
Gawharē, kaz sadaf-i kawn o makān bērūnast,
Talab az gumšudagān-i lab-i daryā mēkard.
Muškil-i xwēš bar-i pīr- muɣān burdam dōš,
Kō ba ta'yīd-i nazar hall-i mu'ammā mēkard.
Dīdamaš xurram o xwašdil qadah-i bāda ba dast
Wandar ān āyina sad gūna tamāšā mēkard
Guftam "īn jām-i jahānbīn ba to kay dād hakīm"
Guft "ān rōz ki īn gumbad-i mīnā mēkard"
Guft "ān yār kaz ō gašt sar-i dār buland
Jurmaš īn būd ki asrār huwaydā mēkard
Ānki čūn ɣunča dilaš rāz-i haqīqat binahuft
Waraq-i xātir az īn nukta muhaššā mēkard
Bēdilē dar hama ahwāl xudā bā ō būd
Ō namēdīdaš o az dūr xudāyā mēkard.
Īn hama šu'bada-i 'aql ki mēkard īnjā
Sāhirī pēš-i 'asā o yad-i bayzā mēkard
Fayz-i rūh-ul-qudus ar bāz madad farmāyad
Dīgarān ham bukunand ān či masīhā mēkard
Guftamaš: "Silsila-i zulf-i butān az pay-i čīst?"
Guft: "Hāfiz gilaē az dil-i šaydā mēkard."

Pushkin: Ode to Liberty (From Russian)

This poem was, at the time of writing, held to be subversive and revolutionary in Russia. It had a talismanic significance for many a young revolutionary. Manuscript copies of it were often confiscated upon arrest. One, for example, was among the "disloyal writings possessed by officers of the Kiev Grenadier Regiment." This poem managed to royally piss off Tsar Alexander I, whom I would call a witless fool but for the fact that I prefer to reserve that title for those fools, such as Tsar Nicholas II, whose witlessness was truly beyond measure. Tsar Alexander's reaction to the popularity of this poem was that "Pushkin must be exiled". Capo d'Istrias, who boasted the brownest nose of all the Tsar's groveling acolytes, wrote in his capacity as head of the Foreign Office :
"Некоторые поэтические произведения, а в особенности Ода на свободу, привлекли внимание правительства на г. Пушкина. Среди великих красот замысла и слога это последнее стихотворение свидетельствует об опасных началах, почерпнутых в современной школе, или, лучше сказать, в системе анархии, недобросовестно именуемой системой прав человека, свободы и независимости народов"
"Some pieces of verse and most of all an ode to liberty directed the government's attentions toward Mr. Pushkin. Among the greatest beauties of conception and style this latter piece gives evidence of dangerous principles drawn from the ideas of our age, or, more precisely, that system of anarchy dishonestly called the system of human rights, of freedom and the independence of nations."
In truth, though, the poem is far from revolutionary. Rather, the ideas it expresses are those of conservative liberalism, defending monarchy as long as the monarch, no less than his subjects, is bound by the law and respects it. One may, however, note the way in which it draws on the Marseillaise, a song which quickly became a republican revolutionary anthem in Russia among those who knew French. Echoes can be found a few places e.g. in stanza 2, line 6 (compare Tremblez, Tyrans et vous perfides…)


Ode to Liberty
By Alexander Pushkin
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

Listless Cytherean princess1, sing
No more. Begone out of my view! 
But you, great scourge of tsar and king, 
Proud Muse of Freedom, where are you? 
Come rip my laurels off. Bring stones 
And crush this coddled lyre. Let me 
Sing to the world of Liberty 
And shame that scum upon the thrones. 

Reveal to me the noble path
Where that exalted Gaul2 once strode, 
When you in storied Days of Wrath 
Inspired in him a dauntless Ode. 
Now, flighty Fortune's favored knaves, 
Tremble, O Tyrants of the Earth! 
But ye: take heed now, know your worth 
And rise as men, ye fallen slaves! 

I cannot cast my gaze but see
A body flayed, an ankle chained, 
The useless tears of Slavery, 
The Law perverted and profaned. 
Yea, everywhere iniquitous 
Power in the fog of superstition 
Ascends: Vainglory's fateful passion, 
And Slavery's gruesome genius.  

Heavy on every sovereign head
There lies a People's misery, 
Save where the mighty Law is wed 
Firmly with holy Liberty, 
Where their hard shield is spread for all, 
Where in a Nation's faithful hand 
Among mere equals in the land 
The sword can equitably fall3

To smite transgression from on high
With one blow, righteously severe 
In fingers uncorrupted by 
Ravenous avarice or fear. 
O Monarchs, ye are crowned by will 
And law of Man, not Nature's hand. 
Though ye above the people stand, 
Eternal Law stands higher still. 

But woe betide the commonweal
Where it is blithely slumbering, 
Where Law itself is forced to kneel 
Before the Masses, or the King. 
Here is the Man: witness he bears 
To his forebears’ infamous error 
And in the storm of recent Terror 
Laid down royal neck for theirs. 

King Louis to his death ascends4
In sight of hushed posterity, 
His crownless, beaten head he bends: 
Blood for the block of perfidy.  
The Law stands mute, the People too. 
And down the criminal axe-blade flies 
And lo! A ghastly purple5 lies  
Upon a Gaul enslaved anew. 

You autocratic psychopath,6

You and your throne do I despise! 
I watch your doom, your children's death 
With hateful, jubilating eyes. 
Upon your forehead they descry 
The People’s mark of true damnation. 
Stain of the world, shame of creation, 
Reproach on earth to God on high! 

When on the dark Neva the star
Of midnight makes the water gleam,  
When carefree eyelids near and far  
Are overwhelmed with peaceful dream, 
The poet, roused with intellect, 
Sees the lone tyrant's statue loom 
Grimly asleep amid the gloom, 
The palace now a derelict,7 

And Clio's8 awesome call he hears
Behind those awesome walls of power. 
Vivid before his sight appears 
The foul Caligula's last hour. 
In stars and ribbons he espies 
Assassins drunk with wine and spite 
Approaching, furtive in the night 
With wolfish hearts and brazen eyes. 

And silent stands the faithless guard,
The drawbridge downed without alarm, 
The gate in dark of night unbarred 
By treason’s mercenary arm. 
O shame! O terror of our time!  
Those Janissary beasts burst in9
And slash, the Criminal Sovereign 
Is slaughtered by unholy crime.  

Henceforward, Monarchs, learn ye well:
No punishment, no accolade, 
No altar and no dungeon cell 
Can be your steadfast barricade. 
The first bowed head must be your own 
Beneath Law's trusty canopy 
The Peoples' life and liberty 
Then evermore shall guard your throne. 
Вольность: Ода
Александр Пушкин

Беги, сокройся от очей, 
Цитеры слабая царица! 
Где ты, где ты, гроза царей, 
Свободы гордая певица? — 
Приди, сорви с меня венок, 
Разбей изнеженную лиру… 
Хочу воспеть Свободу миру, 
На тронах поразить порок. 

Открой мне благородный след 
Того возвышенного галла, 
Кому сама средь славных бед 
Ты гимны смелые внушала. 
Питомцы ветреной Судьбы, 
Тираны мира! трепещите! 
А вы, мужайтесь и внемлите, 
Восстаньте, падшие рабы! 

Увы! куда ни брошу взор — 
Везде бичи, везде железы, 
Законов гибельный позор, 
Неволи немощные слезы; 
Везде неправедная Власть 
В сгущенной мгле предрассуждений 
Воссела — Рабства грозный Гений 
И Славы роковая страсть. 

Лишь там над царскою главой 
Народов не легло страданье, 
Где крепко с Вольностью святой 
Законов мощных сочетанье; 
Где всем простерт их твердый щит, 
Где сжатый верными руками 
Граждан над равными главами 
Их меч без выбора скользит, 

И преступленье с высока 
Сражает праведным размахом; 
Где не подкупна их рука 
Ни алчной скупостью, ни страхом. 
Владыки! вам венец и трон 
Дает Закон — а не природа; 
Стоите выше вы народа, 
Но вечный выше вас Закон. 

И горе, горе племенам, 
Где дремлет он неосторожно, 
Где иль народу иль царям 
Законом властвовать возможно! 
Тебя в свидетели зову, 
О мученик ошибок славных, 
За предков в шуме бурь недавных 
Сложивший царскую главу. 

Восходит к смерти Людовик, 
В виду безмолвного потомства, 
Главой развенчанной приник 
К кровавой плахе Вероломства. 
Молчит Закон — народ молчит, 
Падет преступная секира….. 
И се — злодейская порфира 
На галлах скованных лежит. 

Самовластительный Злодей!, 
Тебя, твой трон я ненавижу, 
Твою погибель, смерть детей 
С жестокой радостию вижу. 
Читают на твоем челе 
Печать проклятия народы, 
Ты ужас мира, стыд природы, 
Упрек ты богу на земле. 

Когда на мрачную Неву 
Звезда полуночи сверкает, 
И беззаботную главу 
Спокойный сон отягощает, 
Глядит задумчивый певец 
На грозно спящий средь тумана 
Пустынный памятник тирана, 
Забвенью брошенный дворец —, 

И слышит Клии страшный глас 
За сими страшными стенами, 
Калигуллы последний час 
Он видит живо пред очами, 
Он видит — в лентах и звездах, 
Вином и злобой упоенны 
Идут убийцы потаенны, 
На лицах дерзость, в сердце страх. 

Молчит неверный часовой, 
Опущен молча мост подъемный, 
Врата отверсты в тьме ночной 
Рукой предательства наемной…. 
О стыд! о ужас наших дней! 
Как звери, вторглись янычары!…, 
Падут бесславные удары… 
Погиб увенчанный злодей. 

И днесь учитесь, о цари: 
Ни наказанья, ни награды, 
Ни кров темниц, ни алтари 
Не верные для вас ограды. 
Склонитесь первые главой 
Под сень надежную Закона, 
И станут вечной стражей трона 
Народов вольность и покой. 


1 I.e. Venus Aphrodite, associated in antiquity with the Ionian island of Cythera. The line, in my English as in Pushkin's Russian, has a surfeit of soft sibillants (tsitery slabaya tsaritsa) adding a sound-component to the denigration of Aphrodite as feeble.

2The identity of this "exalted Gaul" is one of the many quarrels with which scholars of Pushkinian minutiae have busied themselves. Possibilities range from Nabokov's suggestion of the minor poet Ponce Denis Ecouchard Le Brun, to the sadly underrated (by modern critics) poet André Chénier who died on the guillotine at the age of 31, to Jacques de Molay- last grand master of the Knights Templar. For a variety of reasons Chénier seems the most likely, or rather, the only likely choice. But obviously this is a question of interest to historians and the appreciator of poetry doesn't, or at least shouldn't, care.

3 C.f. Guillaume Thomas Raynal's Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes where he writes:

La loi n'est rien, si ce n'est pas un glaive qui se promène indistinctement sur toutes les têtes, et qui abat ce qui s'élève au-dessus du plan horizontal sur lequel il se meut. La loi ne commande à personne ou commande à tous. Devant la loi, ainsi que devant Dieu, tous sont égaux.
The law is nothing, unless it be a sword passing indiscriminately over all heads, and smiting all that rise above the horizontal plane in which it moves. The law governs none, or governs all. Before the Law as before God, all are equal

4King Louis XVI, guillotined in 1793 during the reign of Terror.

5i.e. Napoleonic purple.

6 i.e. Napoleon. Yeah, I know, "psychopath" wasn't a word in the early 19th century. I don't care.

7 The Tyrant here referred to is Tsar Paul I, father of the then-current Tsar Alexander I. The poem was written in the Turgenevs' apartment which looked out across the canal at the Mikhailovsky Castle, the scene of Paul's assassination in 1801- an event envisioned in the subsequent two stanzas. In Pushkin's time, Paul was considered and depicted as a royal psychopath who ignored the will of his subjects. Later scholarship, based on among others the accounts of various ambassadors who had the displeasure of his company, has revised this image to one of an ineffective, unfocused yet not entirely evil doofus who lacked the resolve and discipline needed to turn his good intentions into reality and whose paranoid fear of a French-style revolution lead him to suspect treason on the part of any man who didn't bow low enough and any maid of honor who refused him sexual favors. Sir Charles Whitworth, the English ambassador at the time, wrote of him "he will advert to every motive which offended vanity can conceive."

8- Clio: the muse of History.

9 Janissaries: i.e. assassins fierce and ruthless as Turkish troops.

Hafiz: Ghazal 367 "Wine, Humans and Song" (From Persian)

This poem, like the Entreaty to Fakhr-al-Din Abd-ul-Samad seems to be composed very much with a singing voice in mind, and thus to have a more strophic dimension to its verses than many other ghazals. Thus, the romanization I have provided this time is formatted, like my translation, with each verse broken down into four metrically identical units, so as to suggest the way the poem moves and highlight the frequent verse-internal rhymes. I have so chosen the metrical pattern that the English translation should, at least theoretically, also be singable to many of the same melodies to which the Persian original has been set.

Ghazal 367:  Wine, Humans and Song
By Hafiz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Come so that we can scatter flowers, 
and fill the drinking-bowl with wine. 
  We'll crack the heavens' vault apart,
  recast it from a new design.
When armies march to spill the blood  
of lovers' hearts with Sorrow's pike  
  The serving boy and I destroy
  their camp in one drunk counterstrike.
Here, put rosewater in the wine  
and sugar in the censer there  
  To sweeten up the scent we sense
  upon the incense-bearing air.
A fine-tuned lute is in your hand  
so play a fine and tuneful song.  
  We'll stamp our feet, carouse in dance,
  clap to the beat and sing along.
O dawn wind, bear my being's dust  
unto that threshold great and high.  
  Perhaps I'll glimpse His majesty
  and see His beauty, eye to eye.
One boasts of his great intellect  
Another of the spells he binds.  
  Put it before the Judge. Let Him
  settle the question and our minds.
If you want Eden's Garden, come  
and join me in the drunkards' bar.  
  I'll tip you from a cask of wine
  into the waters of Kawsar.
Hafiz, the arts of verse and song  
are out of fashion in Shiraz.  
  Go, seek a more receptive realm,
  a court more loving in its laws.


Verse 7: Kawsar - a stream found in Paradise.

Verse 8: As in some of Hafiz' other poems, the ending seems to be a not-so-veiled threat to take his verse's business elsewhere if he is not treated better by the local potentate.

The Original:

بیا تا گل برافشانیم و می در ساغر اندازیم
فلک را سقف بشکافیم و طرحی نو دراندازیم
اگر غم لشکر انگیزد که خون عاشقان ریزد
من و ساقی به هم تازیم و بنیادش براندازیم
شراب ارغوانی را گلاب اندر قدح ریزیم
نسیم عطرگردان را شِکَر در مجمر اندازیم
چو در دست است رودی خوش بزن مطرب سرودی خوش
که دست افشان غزل خوانیم و پاکوبان سر اندازیم
صبا خاک وجود ما بدان عالی جناب انداز
بود کان شاه خوبان را نظر بر منظر اندازیم
یکی از عقل می‌لافد یکی طامات می‌بافد
بیا کاین داوری‌ها را به پیش داور اندازیم
بهشت عدن اگر خواهی بیا با ما به میخانه
که از پای خمت روزی به حوض کوثر اندازیم
سخندانیّ و خوشخوانی نمی‌ورزند در شیراز
بیا حافظ که تا خود را به ملکی دیگر اندازیم


Биё, то гул барафшонему май дар соғар андозем, 
Фалакро сақф бишкофему тарҳе нав дарандозем. 
Агар ғам лашкар ангезад, ки хуни ошиқон резад, 
Ману соқӣ ба ҳам созему бунёдаш барандозем. 
Шароби арғавониро гулоб андар қадаҳ резем, 
Насими атргардонро шакар дар миҷмар андозем. 
Чу дар даст аст рӯде хӯш, бизан, мутриб, сурӯде хӯш, 
Ки дастафшон ғазал хонему покӯбон сар андозем. 
Сабо, хоки вуҷуди мо бад-он олиҷаноб андоз, 
Бувад, к-он шоҳи хубонро назар бар манзар андозем. 
Яке аз ақл мелофад, дигар томот мебофад, 
Биё, к-ин довариҳоро ба пеши довар андозем. 
Биҳишти адн агар хоҳӣ, биё бо мо ба майхона, 
Ки аз пои хумат рӯзе ба ҳавзи Кавсар андозем. 
Сухандониву хушхонӣ намеварзанд дар Шероз, 
Биё, Ҳофиз, ки то худро ба мулке дигар андозем.


Biyā tā gul barafšānēm  
o may dar sāɣar andāzēm  
  Falakrā saqf biškāfēm
  o tarhē naw darandāzēm
Agar ɣam laškar angēzad  
ki xūn-i 'āšiqān rēzad  
  Man o sāqī ba ham tāzēm
  o bunyādaš barandāzēm
Šurāb-i arɣawānīrā  
gulāb andar qadah rēzēm  
  Nasīm-i 'atrgardānrā
  šikar dar mijmar andāzēm
Ču dar dastast rōdē xwaš  
bizan mutrib surōdē xwaš  
  Ki dastafšān ɣazal xwānēm
  o pākōbān sar andāzēm
Sabā xāk-i wujūd-i mā  
badān 'ālī janāb andāz  
  Buwad k-ān šāh-i xūbānrā
  nazar bar manzar andāzēm.
Yakē az 'aql mēlāfad  
yakē tāmāt mēbāfad  
  Biyā k-īn dāwarīhārā
  ba pēš-i dāwar andāzēm
Bihišt-i 'adn agar xwāhī  
biyā bā mā ba mayxāna  
  Ki az pāy-i xumat rōzē
  ba hawz-i kawsar andāzēm
Suxandānī o xwašxwānī  
namēwarzand dar šērāz  
  Biyā hāfiz ki tā xwadrā
  ba mulkē dīgar andāzēm.

Hafiz: Ghazal 220 "Aspirations" (From Persian)

I have included a prose paraphrase this time with my verse translation. Because I felt like it.

Ghazal 220 "Aspirations" 
By Hafiz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Although our preacher will not like 
to hear such honesty, 
  He'll never be a Muslim while 
  he's such a pharisee. 
Learn to get drunk, be a gentleman 
not some dumb animal 
  That cannot drink a drop of wine  
  or be a man at all.  
The essence must be unalloyed 
to make His grace our own, 
  Or from our clay no pearls will come
  nor coral come from stone.  
The Almighty shall fulfill His will. 
rejoice, my heart! No con 
  Or devilry can turn a demon 
  into a Solomon.  
Mine is the noble art of love.  
I hope against belief  
  This craft won't bring, as others brought,  
  despondency and grief.  
Last night he said "Tomorrow I  
will grant your heart's desire"  
  God let him have no change of heart
  nor let him be a liar.
May God add a good heart to all  
your physical attraction  
  So you'll no longer torment me 
  with harrowing distraction.
Hafiz! Unless a mote of dust  
aspires to lofty height,  
  It is not drawn to the true fount
  from which the sun draws light.

Prose paraphrase:

(1) Though the city preacher won't find it easy to hear these words, as long as he practices sophistry and hypocrisy, he'll never be a real Muslim. (2) Train yourself in dissolute drunkenness, and be a gentleman to others. For not so artful is the beast that does not drink wine, or become human. (3) There must be a pure-gemmed essence in order to be a vessel for holy grace, for without it stone and clay will not become pearl and coral. (4) He of the Greatest Name does his work - be glad O heart, for by no trick or fraud can a devil ever become Solomon. (5) I practice love, and hope that this noble art will not, as other arts have done, cause me chagrin. (6)  Last night he was saying "Tomorrow I will give you your heart's desire." Oh God, contrive to keep him from having compunction about doing so! (7) For my own sake I pray God include in your beauty a good disposition, so that my mind is no longer distraught and discombobulated. (8) So long as the dustmote lacks lofty aspiration and drive, Hafiz, it is not in quest for the source that is the resplendent sun's own dayspring.   


Verse 1: The word for hypocrisy, sālūs is identical to one of the words for the Christian trinity (though they are spelled differently in Perso-Arabic script.) Hypocrisy, for Hafiz, is a cardinal sin against the divine, and this may be a punny way of equating it with the dilution of monotheism, as the triune God of Christianity was, and indeed still is, generally seen by Muslims as a sketchy traducement of God's essential oneness. I myself get the sense that such punctilios as the dubious nature of the trinity (as well as all the things that you have to do or think to be a "true" Muslim) might have been precisely the sort of thing a pietistic preacher would rant about from the pulpit. The real sin isn't the Christian's sālūs (trinity) that would offend the preacher, but rather the preacher's own sālūs (hypocrisy) that offends Hafiz. Thus the preacher who might rant about what makes a proper Muslim is himself failing to measure up.          

Verse 3: See Qur'an [55:19-22]

Verse 7:  Many recensions of this poem have husn-i xulqē zi Xudā mētalabam xōy-i turā "I seek of God a fine disposition for your character", which does not make overmuch sense as xulq and xōy are more or less synonyms. Khanlārī prefers the variant ending in husn-i turā "to your beauty" which seems much more compelling to me. This version makes it clear that the speaker is asking for the beloved to be as good in heart as he is good to look at, for if so he will satisfy the lover's desire rather than making him yearn tormentedly. It also adds a nice bit of wordplay. For ḥusn-i xulq is also a technical term for "virtue of character" in a religious and ethical sense. Hafiz, though, is enjoining the beloved to keep his word and do something which, however pleasurable, is rather at odds with what the jurist would deem virtuous.       

The Original:

گر چه بر واعظ شهر این سخن آسان نشود تا ریا ورزد و سالوس مسلمان نشود
رندی آموز و کرم کن که نه چندان هنر است حیوانی که ننوشد می و انسان نشود
گوهر پاک بباید که شود قابل فیض ور نه هر سنگ و گلی لوءلوء و مرجان نشود
اسم اعظم بکند کار خود ای دل خوش باش که به تلبیس و حیل دیو سليمان نشود
عشق می‌ورزم و امید که این فن شریف چون هنرهای دگر موجب حرمان نشود
دوش می‌گفت که فردا بدهم کام دلت سببی ساز خدایا که پشیمان نشود
حسن خلقی ز خدا می‌طلبم حسن ترا تا دگر خاطر ما از تو پریشان نشود
ذره را تا نبود همت عالی حافظ
طالب چشمه خورشید درخشان نشود


Gar či bar wā'iz-i šahr īn suxan āsān našawad
Tā riyā warzad o sālūs musalmān našawad
Rindī āmōz o karam kun ki na čandān hunarast
Hayawānē ki nanōšad may o insān našawad
Gawhar-i pāk bibāyad, ki šawad qābil-i fayz,
War na har sang o gilē lu'lu' o marjān našawad.
Ism-i a'zam bukunad kār-i xwad ay dil, xwaš bāš
Ki ba talbīs o hayal dēw Sulaymān našawad
Išq mēwarzam o ummēd ki īn fan-i šarīf
Čūn hunarhā-i digar mawjib-i hirmān našawad
Dōš mēguft ki fardā bidiham kām-i dilat
Sababē sāz Xudāyā ki pišīmān našawad
Husn-i xulqē zi Xudā mētalabam husn-i turā
Tā digar xātar-i mā az to parēšān našawad
Zurrarā tā nabuwad himmat-i 'ālī hāfiz
Tālib-i čašma-i xwaršēd-i duruxšān našawad


Гарчи бар воизи шаҳр ин сухан осон нашавад, 
То риё варзаду солус, мусулмон нашавад. 
Риндӣ омӯзу карам кун, ки на чандон ҳунар аст, 
Ҳаявоне, ки нанӯшад маю инсон нашавад. 
Гавҳари пок бибояд, ки шавад қобили файз, 
Варна ҳар сангу гиле лӯълӯву марҷон нашавад. 
Исми аъзам бикунад кори худ, эй дил, хуш бош 
Ки ба талбису ҳиял дев Сулаймон нашавад. 
Ишқ меварзаму уммед, ки ин фанни шариф, 
Чун ҳунарҳои дигар мӯҷиби хирмон нашавад. 
Дӯш мегуфт, ки фардо бидиҳам коми дилат, 
Сабабе соз, Худоё, ки пишимон нашавад. 
Ҳусни хулқе зи Худо металабам ҳусни туро, 
То дигар хотири мо аз ту парешон нашавад. 
Зарраро то набувад ҳиммати олӣ, Ҳофиз, 
Толиби чашмаи хуршеди дурахшон нашавад. 

Muhammad Iqbal: Song of the Hireling Worker (From Persian)

This singular poem by Muhammad Iqbal, the last of the Indo-Persian poets, written presumably in the early 1920s, is from the Payām-i Mašriq, a collection of Persian poems in which the poet addressed himself to the West, in response to Goethe's West-Östlicher Divan. Though Iqbal loathed Hāfiz (as Plato loathed all poets) for being too distractingly beautiful, much off the final half of this poem is a skillful and interesting muˁāraḍa or contrafactum riffing off of (and responding to) one of Hāfiz' most famous ghazals.

Song of the Hireling Worker
By Muhammad Iqbāl
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The worker, clad in cotton, toils to make  
the silken robe the idle rich man wears. 
Gems in my master's ring are my brow's sweat.  
The rubies of his reins are my child's tears. 
The Church is fat from leeching on my blood. 
My arm is the muscle of a kingdom's heirs. 
 My tears bid deserts bloom as dawn wind blows
 and my heart's blood is glistening in the rose. 

Come, for the harp of time is tense with song! 
Pour a wine strong enough to melt the glass. 
Let's give new order to the tavern-masters 
and burn the olden tavern down at last. 
Avenge the flower on all who razed the garden, 
and seek for rose and bud a better cast. 
 How long shall we be moths that fall for flame?  
 How long shall we forget ourselves in shame?

The Original:

نوای مزدور
محمد اقبال

ز مزد بندۂ کرپاس پوش محنت کش  نصیب خواجۂ ناکردہ کار رخت حریر
ز خوی فشانی من لعل خاتم والی  ز اشک کودک من گوہر ستام امیر
ز خون من چو زلو فربہی کلیسا را  بزور بازوی من دست سلطنت ہمہ گیر
      خرابہ رشک گلستان ز گریۂ سحرم
      شباب لالہ و گل از طراوت جگرم
بیا کہ تازہ نوا می تراود از رگ ساز  مئی کہ شیشہ گدازد بہ ساغر اندازیم
مغان و دیر مغان را نظام تازہ دہیم  بنای میکدہ ہای کہن بر اندازیم
ز رہزنان چمن انتقام لالہ کشیم  بہ بزم غنچہ و گل طرح دیگر اندازیم
      بہ طوف شمع چو پروانہ زیستن تا کی؟
      ز خویش اینہمہ بیگانہ زیستن تا کی؟


Zi muzd-i banda-i kirpāspōš-i mihnatkaš
Nasīb-i xwāja-i nākardakār raxt-i harīr
Zi xōy-i fašānī-i man la'l-i xātim-i wālī
Zi ašk-i kōdak-i man gawhar-i sitām-i amīr
Zi xūn-i man ču zalū farbihī Kalīsārā
Bizōr-i bāzō-i man dast-i saltanat hamagīr
Xarāba rašk-i gulistāṅ zi girya-i saharam
Šabāb-i lāla o gul az tarāwat-i jigaram
Biyā ki tāza nawā mētarāwad az rag-i sāz
Maī ki šīša gudāzad ba sāɣar andāzēm
Muɣān o dēr-i muɣāṅrā nizām-i tāza dahēm
Banāy-i maykadahā-i kuhan bar andāzēm
Zi rahzanān-i čaman intiqām-i lāla kašēm
Ba bazm-i ɣunča o gul tarh-i dīgar andāzēm
Ba tawf-i šam' ču parwāna zīstan tā kay?
Zi xwēš īṅhama bēgāna zīstan tā kay?


Зи музди бандаи кирпоспӯши меҳнаткаш
Насиби хоҷаи нокардакор рахти ҳарир
Зи хӯи фашонии ман лаъли хотими воли
Зи ашки кӯдаки ман гавҳари ситоми амир
Зи хуни ман чу залу фарбеҳӣ калисоро
Бизӯри бозӯи ман дасти салтанат ҳамагир
Хароба рашки гулистон зи гиряи саҳарам
Шабони лолаву гул аз таровати ҷигарам
Биё ки тоза наво метаровад аз раги соз
Маъӣ ки шиша гудозад ба соғар андозем
Муғону дери муғонро низоми тоза деҳем
Бинойи майкадаҳои куҳан бар андозем
Зи раҳзанони чаман интиқоми лола кашем
Ба базми ғунчаву гул тарҳи дигар андозем
Ба тавфи шамъ чу парвона зистан то кай?
Зи хеш инҳама бегона зистан то кай?

Mirza Ghalib: I Daresay I Dare Not Say (From Persian)

The poet Mīrzā Asadullāh Khān Ghālib was born in Agra in 1796, and spent his life in Delhi, attached to Bahādur Shāh II, the last of the Mughal emperors. He is today more famous for his Urdu poetry, though he himself was much prouder of his Persian compositions. Much ink has been spilled regarding the relative merit of his Urdu and his Persian work. I am not qualified to pass judgement on the matter, and can only say that those Urdu poems of his which I have managed to make my way through seem considerably different in temperament from his Persian work.
This particular poem has languished, beloved and half-understood, in my queue for years. Today I finally, and quite suddenly, feel I have a handle on it enough to translate it with at least some semblance of artistic fidelity.

I Daresay I Dare Not Say
By Mirza Ghalib
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

I dare not say my heart is hers though she stole it from me.   
  I cannot call her tyrant though I see her cruelty.
Hers is the battleground where men bear neither blade nor bow  
  Hers is the banquet-hall with neither wine nor revelry.
Your courage will not help you here, the lightning flame bolts fast.  
  Die as the moth afire. No living being can you be. 
We journey in love's heat and seek not water nor the shade  
  So do not speak of Kausar's running stream nor Tuba's tree.
Life's tribulation ends, so why complain of tyranny?   
  You suffer, and it is God's will. Let pain that will be, be. 
The word held secret in my breast cannot be preached. I'll speak it   
  Not from the pulpit but from high upon the gallows-tree. 
 O strange it feels to deal with one so singularly mad.  
 For Ghalib's love is not Islam, nor infidelity. 

The Original:

دل برد و حق آنست كه دلبر نتوان گفت  بيداد توان ديد و ستمگر نتوان گفت
در رزمگهش ناچخ و خنجر نتوان برد  در بزمگهش باده و ساغر نتوان گفت
از حوصله يارى مطلب صاعقه تيز است  پروانه شو اين جا ز سمندر نتوان گفت
هنگامه سرآمد، چه زنى لاف تظلم؟  گر خود ستمى رفت، بمحشر نتوان گفت
در گرم روى سايه و سرچشمه نجوييم  با ما سخن از طوبى و كوثر نتوان گفت
آن راز كه در سينه نهانست و نه وعظست  بر دار توان گفت و بمنبر نتوان گفت.
        كارى عجب افتاد بدين شيفته مارا
        مؤمن نبود غالب و كافر نتوان گفت.


Dil burd o haq ānast ki dilbar natawān guft
Bēdād tawān dīd o sitamgar natawān guft
Dar razmgahaš nāčax o xanjar natawān burd
Dar bazmgahaš bāda o sāɣar natawān guft
Az hawsala yārī matalab sā'iqa tēzast
Parwāna šaw īnjā zi samandar natawān guft
Hangāma sarāmad či zanī lāf-i tazallum
Gar xwad sitamī raft ba mahšar natawān guft
Dar garm-i rūy-i sāyah o sarčašma najōyēm
Bā mā suxan az tūbā o kawsar natawān guft
Ān rāz ki dar sīna nahānast o na wa'zast
Bar dār tawān guft o ba minbar natawān guft
Kārē ajab uftād badīn šēfta mārā
Mu'min nabuwad ɣālib o kāfar natawān guft


Дил бурду ҳақ онаст ки дилбар натавон гуфт
Бедод тавон диду ситамгар натавон гуфт
Дар размгаҳаш ночаху ханҷар натавон бурд
Дар базмгаҳаш бодаву соғар натвон гуфт
Аз ҳавсала ёрӣ маталаб соъиқа тезаст
Парвона шав инҷо зи самандар натавон гуфт
Ҳангома саромад ҷи занӣ лофи тазаллум
Гар худ ситамӣ рафт ба маҳшар натавон гуфт
Дар гарми рӯи сояҳу сарчашма наҷӯем
Бо мо сухан аз тубову кавсар натавон гуфт
Он роз ки дар сина наҳонасту на ваъзаст
Бар дор тавон гуфту ба минбар натавон гуфт
Коре аҷаб афтод бадин шефта моро
Мӯъмин набувад Ғолибу кофар натавон гуфт

Amir Khusraw: Apart (From Persian)

Born to a Turkic nobleman and an Indian mother, Amīr Khusraw of Delhi, the Tūtī-i Hind or "Parrot of India," spent his life attached to the courts of the various rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. Khusraw was a superb musician, the inventor of a number of musical instruments and credited with having laid the general foundations for Indo-Muslim music, and the musicality of his lyric poems has ensured their inclusion in musical programs in India and Pakistan to this day. Click here for a modern instance of this poem being sung in the Indian fashion.

The Western reader should bear in mind that, in the Persianate poetic tradition, it is rain that is normally pleasant and sunshine that is unpleasant. The rainfall in this poem, therefore, is not a dismal parallel to the sadness of goodbye, but rather a beautiful contrast to it. It is the beauty of a sad moment, and a beautiful moment of sadness.

By Amīr Khusraw
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Rain from the clouds, as I and my beloved go apart...  
  This lovely day how can I part my heart from my love's heart? 
The cloud and rain, my love and I the moment of goodbye,  
  I weep apart, the cloud apart, my love and I apart.
The fresh young grass, the garden green in bloom, the joyful sky...  
  The dark-faced nightingale and his beloved rose apart.
You have poor me in thrall. Your hair's locks shackle me. O Why  
  Must you now pull me limb from limb until I come apart?
My eyes bleed rainy tears for you the iris of my eye  
  O stand your ground, let no rainbow-shot tears see us apart.
No longer will I want the gift of sight, if my own eye  
  Be parted from the gift of you and I've seen you depart.
My eyes crack open weeping for you. Quickly come relieve me!  
  Fill the wall's cracks with your road's dirt or it will fall apart.
Don't leave. I will give up life's ghost. If you do not believe me,  
  If you want more than that, take all my body with my heart. 
 Khusraw's last words: Your beauty will not last long if you leave me
 The rose cannot last long torn from the thorn and plucked apart.

The Original:

ابر می بارد و من می شوم از یار جدا  چون کنم دل به چنین روز ز دلدار جدا
ابر و باران و من و یار ستاده به وداع  من جدا گریه کنان، ابر جدا، یار جدا
سبزه نوخیز و هوا خرم و بستان سرسبز  بلبل روی سیه مانده ز گلزار جدا
ای مرا در ته هر موی به زلفت بندی  چه کنی بند ز بندم همه یکبار جدا
دیده از بهر تو خونبار شد، ای مردم چشم  مردمی کن، مشو از دیده خونبار جدا
نعمت دیده نخواهم که بماند پس از این  مانده چون دیده ازان نعمت دیدار جدا
دیده صد رخنه شد از بهر تو، خاکی ز رهت  زود برگیر و بکن رخنه دیوار جدا
می دهم جان مرو از من، وگرت باور نیست  پیش ازان خواهی، بستان و نگهدار جدا
        حسن تو دیر نپاید چو ز خسرو رفتی
        گل بسی دیر نماند چو شد از خار جدا


Абр мебораду ман мешавам аз ёр ҷудо
Чун кунам дил ба чунин рӯз зи дилдор ҷудо
Абру борону ману ёр сатода ба видоъ
Ман ҷудо гиря кунон, абр ҷудо, ёр ҷудо.
Сабза навхезу ҳаво хурраму бӯстон сарсабз
Булбули рӯи сияҳ монда зи гулзор ҷудо
Эй маро дар таҳи ҳар мӯи зи зулфат бандӣ
Чи кунӣ банд зи бандам ҳама якбор ҷудо?
Дида аз беҳри то хунбор шуд, эй мардуми чашм.
Мардумӣ кун, машав аз дидаи хунбор ҷудо.
Неъмати дида нахоҳам ки бимонад пас аз ин
Монда чун дида аз он неъмати дидор ҷудо.
Дида садрахна шуд аз беҳри тӯ хокӣ зи раҳат
Зуд баргиру букун рахнаи девор ҷудо
Медаҳам ҷон, марав аз ман, в-агарат бовар нест
Пеш аз он хоҳӣ, бӯстону нигаҳдор ҷудо
Ҳусни тӯ дер набошад чу зи Хусрав рафтӣ
Гул басе дер намонад чу шуд аз хор ҷудо


Abr mēbārad o man mēšawam az yār judā
Čūn kunam dil ba čunīn rōz zi dildār judā
Abr o bārān o man o yār satāda ba widā'
Man judā girya kunān abr judā yār judā
Sabza nawxēz o hawā xurram o bustān sarsabz
Bulbul-i rōy-i siyah mānda zi gulzār judā
Ay marā dar tah-i har mōy zi zulfat bandī
Či kunī band zi bandam hama yakbār judā
Dīda az bihr-i to xūnbār šud ay mardum-i čašm
Mardumī kun mašaw az dīda-i xūnbār judā
Ni'mat-i dīda naxwāham ki bimānad pas az īn
Mānda čūn dīda az ān ni'mat-i dīdār judā
Dīda sadraxna šud az bihr-i to xākī zi rahat
Zūd bargīr o bukun raxna-i dēwār judā
Mēdaham jān, maraw az man, w-agarat bāwar nēst
Pēš az ān xwāhī, bustān o nigahdār judā
Husn-i to dēr nabāšad ču zi Xusraw raftī
Gul basē dēr namānad ču šud az xār judā

Muhammad Iqbal: At Napoleon's Tomb (From Urdu)

I haven't been studying Urdu for very long, but I thought I'd try my hand at a poem. I chose this one because (a) it's an immensely interesting and entertaining piece, and (b) it's the first Urdu ghazal I managed to understand all the way through, without recourse to a dictionary or puzzling over grammar. Then again, I'm not sure that's actually much of an accomplishment, given how heavily Persianized it is. The final verse is actually in Persian, and is a direct quote from Hāfiz.
In fact, the difficulties I encountered in translating this poem have little to do with how new I am to Urdu. Most troublesome was the quite Persian expression jōš-i kirdār, a phrase central to the poem's thrust, occurring no less than four times, whose vast, evocative semantic range encompasses everything from "the seething/boiling force of action" to "the energy of behavior, of character" (and for which I have found the rather unsatisfying equivalent "seething mettle.")

There is much I could say about Iqbāl, and I'll probably say a great deal as I translate more of his work. Most of which will royally piss off his fans, but I don't care. I'll say up front that though I respect Iqbāl greatly as a poet, I cannot but find his worldview obscene, and I'm sure he would think even worse of mine (or, in his words, the "atheistic materialism which I look upon as the greatest danger to modern humanity.") He had even more in common with Nietzsche than he ever realized, and was even more "western" in his outlook than he would ever have admitted. (Indeed, one of the most western things about him is the terms in which he denounces the west.) Like Nietzsche, too, he was far worthier as a poet than as a philosopher, as witnessed by the vitalism on display in this poem. An alienated modern man yearning for the palingenetic revitalization of Islam as a polity, it is no surprise that his conservative modernism found great appeal in the same irrationalist strains of western thought that also gave rise to mysticizing fascism (as it is no mystery why Iran's current Supreme Leader loves him so much.) In this and other respects Iqbal had less in common with his masters Rūmī, Ḥallāj and Goethe, than he did with his European contemporaries like Yeats, Rilke, Eliot and Stefan George.    

At Napoleon's Tomb
By Muhammad Iqbal
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Urdu

Mysterious and strange, the fate   
of this world of stress and storm,  
  In none but men of seething mettle 
  does fate reveal its form.
From seething mettle Alexander's   
sword dawned on the land  
  To blaze on high, and melted down 
  the mountain of Alvand. 
From seething mettle came torrential    
Timur's conquering flood.  
  Such mighty waves make nothing of 
  the land's vicissitude. 
The cry of prayer, the cry of war  
from men of God who trod  
  The battlefield, in seething mettle
  became the Voice of God.
Yet little more than meager moments  
are granted to the brave,  
  A breath or two in time against
  the long night of the grave.
"The Valley of the Silenced ends  
the road of every man.  
  Seethe and resound beneath the vault
  of stars, while yet you can." 

The Original:

نپولین کے مزار پر
محمد اقبال

راز ہے راز ہے تقدیرِ جہان تگ و تاز 
جوش کردار سے کھُل جاتے ہیں تقدیر کے راز 
جوش کردار سے شمشیر سکندر کا طلوع! 
کوہ الوند ہوا جس کی حرارت سے گداز 
جوش کردار سے تیمور کا سیل ھمہ گیر 
 سیل کے سامنے کیا شَے ہے نشیب اور فراز 
صف جنگاہ میں مردانِ خدا کی تکبیر! 
جوش کردار سے بنتی ہے خدا کی آواز 
ہے مگر فرصت کردار نفس یا دو نفس! 
عوض یک دو نفس قبر کی شب ہاے دراز 
"عاقبت، منزل ماوادیٔ خاموشان است 
حالیا غلغلہ در گنبد افلاک انداز!" 


Nepōlyan kē mazār par

Rāz hai, rāz hai taqdīr-i jahān-i tag-o tāz
Jōš-i kirdār sē khul jātē haiṅ taqdīr kē rāz
Jōš-i kirdār sē šamšīr-i sikandar kā tulū'
Kōh-i alwand huwā jis kī harārat sē gudāz
Jōš-i kirdār sē taimūr kā sail-i hamagīr
Sail kē sāmne kiyā šai hai našēb aur farāz
Saff-i jangāh mēṅ mardān-i xudā kī takbīr
Jōš-i kirdār sē bantī hai xudā kī āwāz
Hai magar fursat-i kirdār nafas yā dō nafas
Ewz-i yek dō nafas qabr kī šab hāē darāz
Āqibat, manzil-i mā wādī-i xāmōšān ast
hāliyā ɣulɣula dar gumbad-i aflāk andāz

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