Sunday, April 15, 2012

My heart finds no repose

Lagtaa nahin hai dil meraa ujday dayaar mein
kis ki bani hai aalam-e-naa-paayedaar mein

bulbul ko pasban se na saiyyad se gila
qismet mein qaid likhi thi fasl-e-bahar mein

kah doh inn hasraton se kahin aur jaa basein
itani jagah kahaan hai dil-e-daagdaar mein 

ik shakh-e-gul pe baith ke būlbūl hai shadman
kante bicha diye hein dil-e-lalazar mein

umr-e-daraaz maang kar laaye they chaar din
do arzoo mein kaT gaye do intezaar mein

din zindagi ke Khatm hue shaam ho gayi
phaila ke paon soyen-ge kunj-e-mazaar mein

kitnaa hai badnaseeb "Zafar" dafn key liye
do gaz zamin bhi na mili kuu-e-yaar mein

~ Bahadur Shah Zafar

English translation

My heart finds no repose in this ruined city
Who has ever felt fulfilled in this fleeting world

The nightingale complains about neither the sentinel nor the hunter
Fate had decreed imprisonment during the harvest of spring

Ask my longings to go dwell elsewhere
Where is the space for them in this scarred heart

Sitting on a branch of flowers, the nightingale rejoices
It has strewn thorns in the garden of my heart

On request of a long life, I had received four days
Two passed in entreaty, two in waiting

The days of life are over, evening has fallen
I shall sleep, legs outstretched, in my tomb

How unfortunate is Zafar, for his burial
He couldn't get two yards of land in his beloved land

Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mughul emperor of India. The Emperor who reigned in Delhi at the time of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. After the mutiny was crushed, the British exiled Zafar to Yangoon in British-occupied Burma where he died on September 14 of the same year.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was a noted Urdu poet and is credited for having written a large number of Urdu ghazals. Some were lost during the mutiny, but the surviving were compiled into a volume called Kulliyat-i-Zafar. He was the patron of several noted Urdu writers including Ghalib, Dagh, Mumin and Zauq.

In addition to being a poet, he was also a calligrapher. During his exile, when pen and paper were denied to him, he is said to have written the above poem on the walls with a burnt stick. In spite of his ardent pleas to allow his body to be buried in India, the British did not concede and he was buried in Rangoon. This poem he wrote as his epitaph and epitomises his desolation and grief. 

This ghazal has been immortalised by Mohammed Rafi in this song from the movie Lal Qila.