Faiz Ahmad Faiz not only revolutionized the air of India and Pakistan with his powerful Urdu poetry but also sowed soft emotions in his readers’ hearts. He was a man of wide experience that reflected in his poems. Here, we are going to present 10 of the best poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz that he ever wrote. Read till the end and feel how Faiz’s revolutionary verse holds the universe!
Quatrain: Last night, your lost memories crept into my heart
Quatrain, in Urdu Qita, is a poem consisting of four lines. This short verse of Faiz is about the lost thoughts encompassing a lady that springs deeper emotions in a lover’s heart. It is described as the cool morning breeze in the desert of a lover’s heart. Here’s the Urdu version of the poem:
Raat yun dil mein teri, khoyi hui yaad aayi
Jaise viraane mein chupke se bahaar aa jaye
Jaise sahraon mein haule se chale baad-ae-naseem
Jaise bimaar ko be-wajaah quraar aa jaaye
The English translation of the verse reads:
Last night your faded memory came to me
As in the wilderness spring comes quietly,
As, slowly, in the desert, moves the breeze,
As, to a sick man, without cause, comes peace.Source: Last night your faded memory came to me
Before You Came
“Before You Came” is one of the best love poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz. It is included in the list of the 50 best romantic poems in the world. In this poem, the speaker describes how things were just the same as they were. There was nothing new. Everything seemed mundane until the lady came and painted his world with a magical how. When she left the man, the world returned to normal. In order to bring back the joy in his life, the speaker wishes her to stay with him. Let’s read a few lines from the poem:
Before you came,
things were as they should be:
the sky was the dead-end of sight,
the road was just a road, wine merely wine.
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.
The opening of the Urdu text reads:
tum jo naa aa’e the to har chiiz vahii thii kih jo hai
aasmaaN hadd-e-nazar, raahguzar raahguzar, shiishaah-e-mai,
shiishaah-e-maiSource: Before You Came
When Autumn Came
“When Autumn Came” is one of the best-known poems about nature and change that Faiz ever wrote. This piece describes the autumnal landscape in emotive terms. The central themes of this poem are the lack of greenery, the cadence of death, and a wish for overall rejuvenation. Here are a few lines from the poem:
This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
it stripped them down to the skin,
left their ebony bodies naked.
It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,
scattered them over the ground.
Anyone could trample them out of shape
undisturbed by a single moan of protest.Source: When Autumn Came
Ghazal: I am being accused of loving you
This ghazal or ode is written either addressing freedom or truth. In this poem, Faiz describes the abstract idea as a lady whom he loved. His only crime was loving the idea of freedom. In order to relieve his heart from the metaphorical might, he wrote this piece. It appears in his Prison Journal. Let’s have a look at the few lines from the ode:
In the hand of time is not the rolling of my fate
In the hand of time roll just the days, that is all
A day will come for sure when I will see the truth
My beautiful beloved is behind a veil, that is all
The night is young, Faiz start saying a Ghazal
A storm of emotions is raging inside, that is allSource: I am being accused of loving you
We Shall See
“Hum Dekhenge”, in English We Shall See, is one of the best-known nazms of Faiz. It was composed as a medium of protest against Zia Ul Haq’s oppressive regime. Faiz’s song gained a rapid following as a song of resistance and defiance. It is a powerful lyric originating directly from an oppressed heart. The Urdu verse, alongside the English translation, is charged with an attitude that never bows to unjust actions inflicted on humankind.
Hum Dekhenge, Hum Dekhenge
Lazim hai ke hum bhi dekhenge
Hum Dekhenge, Hum Dekhenge
Wo din ke jis ka wada hai
Jo lauh-e-azl mein likha hai, Hum Dekhenge
Hum bhi dekhenge, Hum bhi dekhengeSource: Faiz Ahmad Faiz reads Hum Dekhenge
The English translation reads:
We shall see
Certainly we, too, shall see
that day that has been promised to us
Then the masses, people of God will rule
Who I am too
and so are you
There will rise one cheer- I am God!
Who I am too
and so are youSource: We Shall See
My Heart, My Traveler
“My Heart, My Traveler” is another of Faiz’s best poems. This poem is about a lonely speaker who finds it difficult to survive in a world full of strangers. All he seeks is death, nothing else. Only then can he get some sort of relief. This poem probably alludes to Faiz’s mental state while he was in self-exile. Let’s have a look at a few lines from the Urdu text:
Dil e man Musafir e man
Meray dil meray musafir
hua phir sey hukm sadir
k watan badar hon hum tum
dein gali gali sadain
karein rukh nagar nagar ka
ke suraagh koi paein
kisi yar e nama bar ka
The last few lines of the English version are:
How can I convey to you, my friend
how horrible is a night of loneliness
It would suffice to me
if there were just some count
I would gladly welcome death
if it were to come but once.Source: My Heart, My Traveler
A Prison Evening
In this poem, Faiz captures the conflicting state of a speaker’s mind who is imprisoned. The separation from his lover, a reference to his motherland, makes him sad indeed. Yet the nocturnal beauty from the prison lightens his mind.
This thought keeps consoling me:
though tyrants may command that lamps be smashed
in rooms where lovers are destined to meet,
they cannot snuff out the moon, so today,
nor tomorrow, no tyranny will succeed,
no poison of torture make me bitter,
if just one evening in prison
can be so strangely sweet,
if just one moment anywhere on this earth.Source: A Prison Evening
Perhaps, it is the most excellent way to introduce loneliness as a stranger that knocks at the mind’s door or a passerby who walks past the door without even bothering to who was inside. In this poem, Faiz talks about loneliness in a way that makes readers blow out their candles of mind and feel what loneliness actually means!
Someone is at the door again, my weeping heart, no, no one
Perhaps a passerby, who will go somewhere else
The night has passed, waiting, the star-dust is settling
Sleepy candle-flames are flickering in distant palaces
Every pathway has passed into sleep, tired of waiting
Alien dust has smudged all traces of footsteps
Blow out the candles, let the wine and cup flow
Close and lock your sleepless doors
No one, no one will come here now.Source: Loneliness
Don’t ask me for the same love, my sweetheart
As the title says, this poem is about a heartbroken speaker. He ironically tells his lover not to ask for the former emotions that he had for her. Instead, she should realize what she had lost in the form of a person who knew how to love. Now, he has grown up both mentally and spiritually. So he can understand there are things more valuable than the union of love and suffering for it.
My sight returns to this as well, I am helpless
Your beauty is heart-warming still, but I am helpless
There are sufferings in the world other than the suffering of love
There are pleasures other than the delight of our union
Don’t ask me for the same love, my sweetheart!Source: Don’t ask me for the same love, my sweetheart
Stanza: If they snatch my ink and pen
What happens to a poet when the oppressors try to paralyze his senses and make him submit to their tyranny? Does the heart still beat revolutionary spirits? Yes, it does. Not only does it beat, but it roars. In Faiz’s words:
Maata-e-loh-o-qalam chin gayi to kya ghum hai
K khun-e-dil men dubo li hain ungliyan mene
Zuban pe muhar lagi hai to kya ke rakh di hai
Har ek halqa-e-zanjeer men zubaan mene
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.Source: If they snatch my ink and pen
- Check out The Rebel’s Silhouette by Faiz Ahmed Faiz — Explore this Faiz collection introduced by poet and translator Agha Shahid Ali.
- About Faiz Ahmad Faiz — Read this short biographical account of Faiz.
- Poet Profile & Poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz — Explore the poet’s profile and read some of his poems in English.
- Biography of Faiz Ahmad Faiz — Explore all Urdu works of Faiz.
- Poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz — Read some of his well-known poems in English, translated by Azfar Hussain.