Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote the introduction to "Dast-e-Saba", his second volume of poetry, in Hyderabad's Central Jail in September 1952. The volume was published that same year and includes several of Faiz Sahib's iconic verses; the poem Do Ishq ("Har daagh hai iss dil maiN ba-juz daagh-e-nidamat"), the famous ghazal "Tum aaye ho na shab-e-intezaar guzri hai" sung by Farida Khanum, Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hassan AND Iqbal Bano and the moving verses mourning the passing of his beloved older brother, Tufail ('Mujh ko shikwa hai meray bhai keh tum jaate hue' / 'Lay gaye saath meri umr-e-guzashta kee kitab').
The volume also includes a slightly lesser know poem called "Irani Talaba Kay Naam" with the sub-heading 'jo amn aur azadi kee jiddojehad maiN kaam aaye". (Translation: "Dedicated to Iranian Students" who died fighting for peace and independence). Like all first-rate poets, Faiz Sahib's best poetry is universal and timeless. Reading this poem a few days ago, it occurred to me that Faiz Sahib could have written these exact words for the children slain in Peshawar.
This post is a tribute to those lost lives in the words of Faiz Sahib and the voice of Zehra Nigah!
Zehra Nigah, an eminent poet herself who was a good friend of Faiz Sahib, has done wonderful recitations of several of Faiz Sahib's poems, including "Irani talaba kay naam". Here is Zehra Nigah reciting the poem in her inimitable "tarannum". The words (in Roman Urdu) are transcribed below. My apologies to those who don't know Urdu but even a half-decent translation is beyond my abilities. I have included a glossary at the end for some of the more difficult words.
Yeh kaun sakhi haiN
jin kay lahoo kee
ashrafiaN chhan chhan, chhan chhan
dharti kay paiham pyaasay
kashkol maiN dhaltee jaatee haiN
kashkol ko bhartee jaati haiN
yeh kaun jawaN haiN arz-e-ajam
yeh lakh lut
jin kay jismoN kee
bharpoor jawani ka kundan
yooN khaak maiN reza reza hai
yooN koocha koocha bikhra hai
Aye arz-e-ajam, aye arz-e-ajam!
kyuN noch kay hans hans phaink diye
in aankhoN nay apnay neelam
in hontoN nay apnay marjaaN
in haatoN kee be-kal chaandi
kis kaam aayee, kis haath lagee
aye poochnay waalay pardesee!
uss noor kay nauras moti haiN
uss aag kee kachchi kaliyaN haiN
jis meethay noor aur karwee aag
say zulm kee andhee raat maiN phoota
subh-e-baghawat ka gulshan
aur subh huee man man, tan tan
in jismoN ka chaandi sona
in chehroN kay neelam marjaaN
jug-mug jug-mug, rakhshaaN rakhshaaN
jo dekhna chaahay pardesee
paas aaye dekhay jee bhar kar
yeh zeest kee rani ka jhoomar
yeh amn kee devi ka kangan!
ashrafiaN: gold coins
paiham pyaasay: always thirsty
kashkol: begging bowl
arz-e-ajam: non-Arab land (in this case Persia, but also Pakistan)
neelam: sapphire, blue
marjaaN: deep pink or red
tifl-o-jawaN: children and youth