Poems by Munir Niazi

The First Thing Was the Last

The first thing was the last.
It hasn’t gone any further.
As if a scared creeper
hasn’t climbed up the housewalls.
What fear in speaking out
that matter of the heart!
There was no one nearby;
it was evening, and a new love.
The hesitation at a time
of surprise, feeling, company?
That same creeper moving past limit,
climbing up the housewalls!

(Urdu, 1989)

Sughra and I

We went through thick and thin together;
nights of comfort and of helplessness,
days of poverty and of distances.

Hiding in a strange city, embarrassed
but together, in two wars,
afraid, harassed.

In a jungle of distorted relationships
–an empty desert. Together we spent our years
in the light, in the shade.

(Urdu, 1989)

Tomorrow Enters Today

This play of sun and shade,
cloud and breeze
is played in the morning’s courtyard.
Those old paths,
the cities of thought,
whose distant beauty appeared only in journeying –
it’s a glimpse of those as well.
To see them all before one’s eyes –
in this joyous news,
in today’s peace,
in the shimmerings of the time to come,
is a fragrance of them;
in the year of such wishes,
in the rendezvous of this,
today’s spring.

(Urdu, 1983)

The Frightened Land

Many crops, many treasures
are buried in this land,
sterile.
As a frightened man
hides his wishes,
this land
hides its treasures and crops.

(Punjabi, 1978)

Bios

Munir Niazi

Munir Niazi (1923-2006), a major Urdu and Punjabi poet, mostly followed the poet’s vocation, apart from brief engagements in publishing and film at Lahore. Besides publishing many volumes of his work in both languages, he was a popular poet at mushairas (poetry recitals/symposia) held throughout the Subcontinent. His work won him numerous national awards in Pakistan. Niazi remains a major influence on the contemporary Urdu and Punjabi poetry scene.

Alamgir Hashmi

Alamgir Hashmi is an Anglophone poet, translator, and critic. His work has been published in journals and collections worldwide. He has been Professor of English and Comparative Literature at European, American, and Asian universities. He is the editor of Your Essence, Martyr (Plainview Imprint, 2011), a recent anthology of poetry in translation.

Copyright (c) Munir Niazi, 1978, 1983, 1989. English translation copyright (c) Alamgir Hashmi, 2012.