Before You Came
By Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Translated by Agha Shahid Ali
Before you came,
things were as they should be:
the sky was the dead-end of sight,
the road was merely a road, wine merely wine.
Now everything is like my heart,
a colour at the edge of blood:
the grey of your absence, the colour of poison, of thorns,
the gold when we meet, the season ablaze,
the yellow of autumn, the red of flowers, of flames,
and the black when you cover the earth
with the coal of dead fires.
And the sky, the road, the glass of wine?
The sky is a shirt wet with tears,
the road a vein about to break,
and the glass of wine a mirror in which
the sky, the road, the world keep changing.
Don't leave now that you're here-
Stay. So the world may become like itself again:
so the sky may be the sky,
the road a road,
and the glass of wine not a mirror, just a glass of wine.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz from Pakistan is widely regarded as the greatest Urdu poet of the twentieth century and the iconic voice of a generation. Had he not been from the Indian subcontinent, he would have received Nobel Prize which he richly deserved. Although he is best remembered for his revolutionary verses that decried tyranny and called for justice, his oeuvre also extended to scintillating, soulful poems of love, solitude and separation.
This poem shows how his beloved has transformed everything mundane into radiant and how her absence has made the same sights dismal and dreary.
Source: The Rebel's Silhouette: Selected Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Author), Agha Shahid Ali (Translator)