Translations From Urdu: Three Poems By Majeed Amjadby Ali Minai
Voice, Death of Voice (1960)
No ornate ceiling, nor canopy of silk;
no shawl of flowers; no shadow of vine;
just a mound of earth;
just a slope covered with rocky shards;
just a dark space with blind moths;
a dome of death!
No graven headstone, no marking brick –
Here lies buried the eloquent poet
whom the world implored a thousand times
to speak out,
but he, imprisoned by his fancy's walls,
far from Time's path,
oblivious to the lightning upon the reeds,
drowned himself in the breast of a silent flute:
a voice become the death of voice!
Here, in this place, lies buried the soul
whose gentle fire
could only find form
in words of ice.
A line of blood was drawn across the world,
but not a drop of it fell upon the page
of his sensitive scripture.
The tyrant's sword reaped a harvest of heads,
but not a line from this tragedy was written
in his testament of sorrow!
Long ages of misery called out, sobbing,
but no echo of their sobs lingered
within his edifice of words.
Mountains quivered, the heavens shook,
but his thought's conventions could not lift
the veil of illusion.
Here lies buried that body, a legend of dust,
the heart whose own pulsating sadness
Here, in this heap of rotting bones
lie buried the moments not turned to poison,
or voice of sorrow.
Here, turned to crumbling stone, are the hands
that could not pluck sparks
from the tears of ages.
Today, somewhere beneath these ashes,
That throbbing stream of quick blood
is but a vein of rock;
that fire swirling in Life's storms,
the art that sold out the virtue of its pen,
all dust from a shroud.
For all the mountainous mass of moth-eaten myth,
a question still clamors for an answer today:
What should men do
when the brutal armies of tyranny steal the light
from the eyes of heaven?
Now this question is the whisper of worms
within this dark grave;
the sound of Death.
This grave mocks all eternal resolutions
swallowed by the angry monsters of oblivion
that govern Fate.
O travelers emerging from Fate's swirling gloom,
erase this grave with your feet as you pass
upon the Earth!