6 Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Willow Springs 10

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Victory is to return 

alive after death

              in one's palms

              the lines of martyrdom

I loiter in a lane 

bloody with executions


                by prisons

The guillotine holds 

the relics

                   of springtime

                   And I thank the executioner 

                   for these blossoms of fire

                   my dream lit up 

                   with galaxies

                   my eyes put out




The rebels

and those who've ceased to rebel

           They cry:

           Give your desolation 

           some perfect name

I search for one word 

to say

              without you

              roses are not scarlet 

              nor blood nor wine

Stained with ink

my shirts torn

               I walk the street of memory 

               Desire tells me to knock

               on your door

               You ask

               Who are you?

               Both worlds lost 

               I go to the tavern

               I praise the censor

               He condemned 

               the cup-bearers

               Now in my prayers 

               I ask only for wine



Sometimes when you almost smile, his heart breaks,

O don't ask, into what longing!


All night he wept. When dawn came, its collars ripped

by the sun, he'd lost both earth and eternity to you.


So brief: Life, this sensation of forgetting God.

Almighty God, Coward not to allow us more time on earth!


The world will somehow make him oblivious of you:

More enticing than you is the struggle to live.


The taverns are deserted, the glasses desolate: You left,

o thief, with springtime in your pocket.


My Visitors


The door of my sorrowing house opens against its will;

here come my visitors.

Here comes evening, to spread out before her

the carpet of nostalgia on all my streeis.

Here comes midnigiit, telling the story

of her broken heart to the moon and stars.

Here comes morning with her gleaming scalpel

to play with the wounds of memory.

Here comes noon,

whiplets of flame hidden in her sleeve.


Here come all my visitors, round the clock

they beat their way to my door.


But the heart and eye are not aware

of who comes, and when, or who leaves.

They are far away, on that journey

of the mind. galloping home,

hands holding tight to the ocean's mane,

shoulders crushed under their burden

of fears and forbidden questions.


In Your Eyes and Mine


In your eyes end  mine these thousand times of waiting

and, in your body and mine these thousands of murdered hearts.

In the listlessness of your fingers and mine

all the pens are mortally ill.

In every street of your city and mine

the ground down tombs of your fingers and mine.


All the stars of your midnight and mine

are riddled with wounds;

the flowers of your morning and mine

ripped to shreds.


-these desecrated stars, without balm-

-these torn flowers, and no solace-


Oil the stars; ashes of the moon.

On the flowers, blood of still wet dew.


Is all this really so?

Or is it the web spun by the spider called imagination?


If it is true, what can be done?

And if it is not true, what can be done?


Tell me. Tell me.


The Flowers Have Gone to Seed


All the flowers have gone to seed;

the sky cries down its unrelenting tears.

The lights cannot find their luster;

all the mirrors are broken to bits.

What music there was is played out and lost;

the ankle bells on feet that used to dance

are crushed to silence.

Far away, behind these clouds, the star of pain

advances and retreats.

Beloved of the night, it tinkles, it grins.

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