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Monday, 29 October 2012

Kashir Rubaȧyaat (Kashmiri Quatrains)

English translations of some of my favourite Rubáiyat (a 4-lined form of verse or quatrain made famous in Persian by Omar Khayyám). Apparently, freethinking and challenging religious dogma were the staples of the Progressive Literary Movement of Kashmir.



Mirza Ghulam Hasan Beg Arif


1

Siyaȧsee dostee chhay kaagazee naav
Tsu̇ harfu̇ky paaṭhy ath pyaṭh paan mo saav
Pakun chhuy bronṭh bachanu̇chy thaav soorath
Chhė vakhtu̇chi lahra doraan garzakuy vaav


Political friendship is to be on a paper boat astride
Like an empty word on paper, don’t be taken for a ride
Fare forward you must, but plan your way out
For the waves of time winds of self-interest betide


2

Shikaslad vȯn yemis sarmaayidaaran
Vȯnus haȧkim siyaȧsee baȧzygaaran
Ditsu̇s humy myȧṭ karu̇s yėmy zȧṭ ti kaamu̇ny
Gareeban rang balaan vuchh ayaaran


He whom the snooty rich man called a loser
The wily political performer called the master
One fed him a crumb, one of rags robbed him
The poor man saw the knaves change colour


3

Manaavaan jashni shaȧdee vuchh mė ablees
Syaṭha bira baara atsanas logmut fees
Dapaan tsȧjy akli vwony eemaanachee khay
Kȯḍum mazhab panun taȧru̇m bėyan pees


I saw Satan celebrating an occasion of revelry
A large crowd gathered, paying fees for the entry
Saying now mind of rusty faith and honesty is free
Play your religion card and trump your adversary


4

Kalas pyaṭh vot vȯth mulamaaya traamus
Khwochar aav labna ada ṭaakaara aamus
Ḍyakas aav sharmi hȯnd guma asni lȧjy sum
Pato hasrat chhu apzis doom daamas


When a base copper head lost its golden gloss
Stood publicly revealed, to all exposed was dross
The brow perspired shame, the parting of hair grinned
Such ignoble ends meet pomposity and faked class


5

Vata band gayi jangiyan hȯnd zor aav
Zyuṭh avaamuk muntakhab az yor aav
Lori tsȧnḍ khėyi phaaka hȧty akh baakh tshȧṭ
Haa khwodaayo az ti bu̇y chhus hor kaav*


The roads are barricaded, the army runs amuck
A senior elected leader has arrived, what good luck
The baton struck the starved fool who quacks in pain
“O Lord, even today I only am the sitting duck.”


* hor kaav: a black and white crow. It has been observed that a crow with freak white feathers is pecked to death by other crows. Hence, hor kaav is a metaphor for a marked man or a soft target. The only English avian counterpart I found was ‘the sitting duck’, though I did also consider ‘the shuttlecock’!


6

Vuchhum aki vwoṭi mwokha sheran banaan shaal
Yivaan yim labana hȧsy aasaan mȯyi vaal
Pazyuk apazyuk karaan maahol kaȧyim
Vyandaan shastu̇r kalaay aasaan zalu̇ry zaal


Saw in one leap the lion-face revealed as a jackal
Was a tiny hair which an elephant seemed to all
Dissembling an environ of truth and falsehood
A spider web assumes to be a strong iron wall


7

Gareebay mota bachi saȧlaab gaalyas
Vanday traavyas bichaaras taaph zaalyas
Zameenas aasmaanas ȧmysundu̇y zid
Dohaa banyi heri bwona suy zool zaalyas


A poor man may defy death, the flood will dissolve him
The winter may spare, but the sun’s glare will scorch him
The earth and the sky are so filled with his raging fury
One day, the high and the low, he will torch everything


8

Aȧrifo pananyis swonas khwȯṭ tsaan mo
Yath naa kaahavaṭ shȯd vanee shȯd maan mo
Yuthna naaras manz gȧlith hyakh traam ral
Daȧny tsaȧlith paan bȧly mwola vaal mo


O Arif, your pure gold turn into an alloy must not you
Don’t call pure what the touchstone won’t pure prove
Don’t melt yourself in fire and mix with base copper
Tolerate even a grain of impurity and you lose value


9

Zahar khyath zindagee hȧnz aash bekaar
Ȧnyuv pyath aaftaabuk gaash bekaar
Sulaymaan ḍeshanuk yas rėyi na shoku̇y
Tȧmis rėyi kyut pakhan hȯnd vaash bekaar


Having taken poison, the hope of life is useless
Being blinded of sight, the sun’s light is useless
The ant that never yearns to alight on Mount Suleiman
For that ant, unfolding wings and flight is useless


10

Chhu yȧts bėhtar mė mish suy rind-in-maynosh
Tsuvati pyaṭh pyath yėmis diyi mȧstiyee hosh
Tȧmis darvesha su̇ndi khwota braari buth yas
Yėmis vasi manz bihith Shetaan roposh


Better that drunkard fallen on a crossroad is indeed
Of wisdom in whom inebriation plants the seed
Better than that dervish with a cat’s innocent face
In whose bone marrow Satan sits concealed


11

Duhul yus raata kruu̇las raat kaavas
Kachhas yus gaavi maza raazas pwolaavas
Vanav kath nazari paȧz, rut kath khayaalas
Ȧkis ywosa eed, swoy dȯymis amaavas


What a day is to the bat, to the crow is the night
Delight a cow finds in grass, a king in pilaff might
Which thought is noble, which is a sharp sight?
One man’s Eid is another’s fasting new moon night


12

Ajab sodaagaree insaan maalu̇ch
Chhė chaalaakan athas manz kunz khayaalu̇ch
Shahanshaȧhee nyėtith gȧyi, rooz path tsam
Avaamuk raaj tshu̇ni mȧsy looka daalu̇ch


Strange indeed the trade is of man’s material world
Hands of clever men keys to the minds of people hold
Kingship had fleeced us so, only the skins now show
Now people’s rule footwear of human hide will mould


13

Yi keṅtshaa dyut avaamas inkalaaban
Ajab takseem kȯr tath laajavaaban
Hisas khatsa goli lookan, ṭhela khaasan
Yiman dag dod, human aȧshan sharaaban


Whatever people did from the revolution garner
Was divided by Almighty in a strange manner
People got iron bullets, a chosen few got treasure
These pain and disorder, those wine and pleasure



Abdur Rehman Rahi


1

Dilu̇ky armaaṅ chhi izhaaru̇ch kaḍaan vath
Vuzu̇ny naagu̇ch hėchhaan paanay chhi raftaar
Kalam phuṭarith agar ȯṅgjan ti hyan trash
Ȧndrimy haal baavan khoona phamvaar


The heart’s longing finds its own way to emerge
Make their own paths streams that from a spring surge
After breaking the pen, if they also cut the fingers
Fountains of blood will still express the inner urge


2

Sitaaran az kamand laayaan chhu insaan
Syaṭhaa rut gav nazar mwokaleyi yaaras
magar akh pron armaan chhum dilan kȯnḍ
Zameenas pyaṭh ti gȯtsh swokh dyun bahaaras


Wonderful that man can now shoot for the star
That new horizons are lost, can now see beyond far
But an ancient itch I have, a thorn in my heart
That he ensures seasons happy even on earth are


3

Pagaah myaanyan kathan kaaṅh mane rozyaa
Amyuk phaȧsal karan pagahu̇ky swokhan sanj
Bu̇ zan raṭa naala vyath azalu̇ch ta abadu̇ch
Agar kaasee tsė myon aalav azyuk ranj


If tomorrow a meaning in my words will remain
Only tomorrow's wordsmiths that can ordain
But I’d have found a river timeless and eternal
If my call has relieved you of today’s pain



Ghulam Rasul Nazki


Amis paanas ziyaafȧts jaan pwolaavaah khyȯn kabaabaah chhuy
Mė dȯpnam maali hyas kȧryzi pato aȧkhu̇r hisaabaah chhuy
Rangaarang khyath ta chyath paanas naseehath jaan kyaah kȧrnam
Tsė chhay rahmat yi gurbat phaaka rozun bȯḍ savaabaah chhuy


For himself a delicacy, on kebabs and pilaffs dining he
“O friend,” he told me, “Afraid you must of the final reckoning be.”
Eating drinking dishes dainty, a great advice he was giving me:
“Blest you are with poverty; a great virtue this fasting be.”



Noor Mohammad Roshan

Raboodah hyoo gȯmut Iblees pheraan os aasmaanas
Zameen traȧvith khȯtukh kava yor prutshus yėli zaati Rahmaanan
Araz kȯrnas Ilaȧhi chhapni aas yȯt kaaṅpanyomut chhus
Mė soruy kaari shetaȧni muhit nyoomut chhu insaanan


Reduced to nothing, Satan was roaming in the sky aimlessly
God asked, “Why you left earth and came up here, pray tell me.”
Satan pleaded, “Highness, I am so scared I seek thy sanctuary.
Nothing left for me since humans took off with my devilry.”




Translations © Sualeh Keen

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