Faiz Ahmed Faiz

February 13 marks the birth anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Born in Sialkot in Pakistan, his poetry gave voice to many of the tremors and travails experienced by the Indian sub-continent in his lifetime. A member of the Communist Party in undivided India, and one of the architects of the Communist movement in Pakistan, Faiz was jailed several times before and after Independence. In tribute to him, we carry translations of some of poems from the original Urdu.

Loneliness like a good, old friend
visits my house to pour wine in the evening.
And we sit together, waiting for the moon,
and for your face to sparkle in every shadow.

Last Night

Last night your lost memory visited my heart
as spring visits the wilderness quietly,
as the breeze echoes the silence of her footfalls
in the desert,
as peace slowly, softly descends
on one’s sickness.


Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.

See how in the blacksmith’s shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.

Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, ‘cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.


If they snatch my ink and pen,
I should not complain,
For I have dipped my fingers
In the blood of my heart.
I should not complain
Even if they seal my tongue,
For every ring of my chain
Is a tongue ready to speak.

Translated by Azfar Hussain