on hope


ye daagh daagh ujaala

ye shab-ghazeeda seher

wo intezaar tha jiska

ye wo seher to nahi


ghazeeda – stung


ye wo seher to nahi 

ke jiski aarzu le kar

chale thay yaar, ki mil jaayegi kahin na kahin

falak ke dasht mein taaron ki aakhri manzil

kahin to hoga shab-e-sust-mauj ka saahil

kahin to ja ke rukega safeena-e-gham-e-dil


falak – heavens; sakeena – boat


jawaan lahu ki pur-asraar shahraahon se

chale jo yaar to daaman pe kitne haath pade 

dayaar-e-husn ki besabr khwaabgaahon se

pukaarti rahin baahein, badan bulaate rahe


pur-asraar – deeply mysterious; shahraah – highway; khwaabgaah – sleeping chamber


bohot qareen thi lekin rukh-e-seher ki lagan

bohot azeez tha haseena-e-nour ka daaman 

subuk subuk thi tamanna

dabi dabi thi thakan

wo intezaar tha jiska

ye wo seher to nahi.. 


qareen – attached; haseenan-e-nour – fairies of light; subuk – buoyant


suna hai ho bhi chuka hai firaq-e-zulmat-o-nour

suna hai ho bhi chuka hai visaal-e-manzil-o-gaam

badal chuka hai ahl-e-dard ka dastur

nishaat-e-vasl halaal, azaab-e-hijr haraam 


firaaq – separation; visaal – union; gaam – step; nishaat – joy; vasl – union; azaab – torment; hijr – separation


jigar ki aag, nazar ki umang, dil ki jalan

kisi pe chaara-e-hijraan ka kuchh asar hi nahi

kahaan se aai nigaar-e-saba, kidhar ko gai? 

abhi charaagh-e-sar-e-raah ko kuchh khabar hi nahi


chaara – solution; hijraan – separation; nigaar – beautiful; saba – breeze


abhi giraani-e-shab mein kami nahi aai

nijaat-e-deeda-o-dil ki ghadi nahi aai

chale chalo! ke wo manzil abhi nahi aayi.. 


giraan – oppressiveness; nijaat-e-deeda-o-dil – liberation of sight and heart

Faiz wrote this poem in the August of 1947, the month that India was divided into two nations and both celebrated their independence in the midst of violence that killed one million people. Faiz paints a portrait of hope and of the disillusionment that is perhaps its inevitable result. Often understood as a political statement about the freedom struggle, this poem is also a story of our hearts, of how we dreamed life would be, and how those dreams remain dreams.

A dawn has arrived, but it is not the dawn we hoped for. A dawn marked by blots and stung by the night. It isn’t that dawn which would bring to us, in the desert of the skies, the last bastion of the stars; where we would find that shore at which the waves of lethargy break; and where the ship of sadness finally comes to rest. A dawn it is, but that dawn this isn’t.

It isn’t the dawn in whose hope, we left behind all we had; the young blood gushing in our veins showed us the path of sacrifice, and the mysteries of the heart seemed to unravel before us. Sensuous voices called out to us to stop, beautiful arms stretched out to hold us back. But the path to dawn was far too dear. Far too beloved was the embrace of the nymphs of light. A dawn that made our desires buoyant, our weariness slight. But that dawn, this isn’t..

Perhaps that is the structure of hope. It makes us look forward, it makes us sacrifice our present for a future. It makes us hold our head high with dignity, in the expectation of a more honourable tomorrow. Desires become buoyant, their unreality never sinks in. And weariness doesn’t affect us, it isn’t a thing to be taken seriously. We walk on, hoping.

Faiz talks of superficial contentment, a state where we assume all is fine. “The joy of union is finally permitted, and the torment of separation outlawed,” they tell us. But for those who feel deeply, it offers no solace. The fire in the soul, the tumult in the eye, the burning of the heart – these remain. This cure is no cure for them. The heaviness of the night remains. The bondage of mind and spirit remains. Let us go on, the poet says, for our journey remains…

Subh-e-aazaadi is a poem that tells us that hope is not about achievement, but about living on. The poet dreams not with the purpose of seeing those dreams come true, but to flavour the present with a fragrance of love, poetry, and idealism. A tomorrow to live for. Hope tells us that life still means something. It will never be fully actualised, and it isn’t meant to be. Faiz says, walk on, my friend, because you can still hope…

Beautifully sung by Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan for Muzaffar Ali’s film Aagaman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JpoM4DtOUE


Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz

~ by tdcatss on September 15, 2013.

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