Translated from the Urdu by Agha Shahid Ali
(First published 1991)
Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) should not need a formal introduction. He is the most revered of all Urdu poets in the modern tradition of Urdu literary corpus. Lionized in the Subcontinent and the world over for his struggles against injustice and inequality, his poetic craft lay in redefining the Urdu verse with new subjects and themes and for reworking the old and worn out metaphor and imagery to give new life to modern Urdu verse and wider literary expression.
Agha Shahid Ali, the translator, in this slim volume has selected and translated poems of Faiz which relate to his political struggles, his feud with the ruling capitalist-dictatorial elite and the time he spent in jail for being a persona non grata in the eyes of the rulers. His pain-filled voice lamenting the state of affairs is echoed in every selected poem; a romance with idealism gone wrong and the dejection (albeit not without hope) that followed is loaded in every nuance of his lines.
The poems are mostly in the nazm form; ghazals are very few and they have been translated not as sets of two lines as the original Urdu form requires but in free verse, making small stanzas out of a couplet of a ghazal.
The translations are nicely done to convey the voice and mood of Faiz’s verse. Yet as it is with all translations, something is always lost. My rating 4/5. Get it from AMAZON.