Poetry by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

My Heart, Fellow Traveler

My heart, fellow traveler:

We have been ordered again to leave the country

It’s time again to walk foreign streets and knock on doors
To find someone who’ll let us in

It’s time again to look for friendly messengers
Ask passersby for directions home

We have to pass days and nights that will not end
We have to tell everyone who will not understand

But you know this story well:

Together we have endured the plagues
Of many sorrowing nights

Still, to be among the dead now
Would be a blessing

We would happily die
Were we to die once

Trace of Blood

Nowhere. Not anywhere
There’s no trace of blood

No red-handed killers
No blood-splattered sleeves

No rouge-lipped daggers
No dripping spear-points

No stain on the ground
No blemish on the sky

Nowhere. Not anywhere
There’s no trace left of this blood

No king claimed it
Nor heaven embraced it

No battle valorized it
No flag displayed it

It was crying out
Untended. Orphan blood

No one heard it or paid
Attention to its plight

No witness or testimony
Case dismissed

Born out of dust
It was fed to dust
Dust became its shrine

The Net and the Spear

Darkness is a net
Light is a spear
The day is a hunter
The night is a hunter

The world is a sea
In which people swim
Like fish, far away
From land

The world is a sea
From whose shores
Fisher-people stalk
The waves, holding nets
Carrying spears

When will it be my turn
Who knows?

Will they kill me
With the day’s long spear?

Or will they catch me
In the night’s black net?


My old friend solitude visits me
To share my secrets, to pour my wine
We sit together, waiting for the moon
To rise and illuminate
Shades of your reflection
Behind the shadows


They’ve planted my window with crosses
Each colored with the blood of a messiah
Each longing for god’s arrival

They slaughter spring clouds on one
And murder the moon on another
They fell the forked tree on one
Use one to kill the zephyr

Day after day these gods of love and beauty
Are brought to my cell doused in blood
Day after day their martyred bodies
Are ascended to heaven before my eyes

(Montgomery Jail)


Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) is widely regarded as one of Urdu's greatest poets. A recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize and two-time nominee for the Nobel Prize, his ghazals and poems are a beloved part of popular Urdu idiom in both India and Pakistan.

Umair Kazi

Umair Kazi is a writer, translator, and attorney living in New York. He can be found on Twitter at @harshpathos.

Copyright (c) Faiz Foundation. English translation copyright (c) Umair Kazi, 2019.