Sunday, March 1, 2009

Landmarks in Poetry I

In spite of my restricted reading of poetry, I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to works of some extraordinary Hindi, Urdu and English poets. The credit goes to my mother who is an astute reader of various forms of this art. Hence, it's only appropriate if I dedicate the first one of my collection to her - it is the most famous and one of her most favorites 'Madhushala' by Harivansh Rai Bachchan. I can recollect two of the couplets which have remained with me all these years. The full poem is a long and exhilarating piece of writing by one of the greatest poets of the last century and can be found at

मदिरालय जाने को घर से चलता है पीनेवाला,
किस पथ से जाऊं, है असमंजस में वो भोला-भाला।
अलग-अलग पथ बतलाते सब पर मैं ये बतलाता हूँ
राह पकड़ तू एक चला चल पा जाएगा मधुशाला ।।

(The drunkard starts from his home without a clue to get to his destination - the bar. Various people suggest him different routes but I suggest the followwing: choose one way and keep going - you'll find your destination.)

मुसलमान और हिंदू हैं दो, एक मगर उनका प्याला
एक मगर उनका मदिरालय, एक मगर उनकी हाला।
दोनों रहते एक न जब तक, मन्दिर मस्जिद में जाते
बैर बदाते मन्दिर मस्जिद, मेल कराती मधुशाला ।।

(Muslim and Hindus are two tribes but they drink from the same cup. They go to the same bar and drink the same wine. When they visit temple or mosque, they go separate ways but find themselves united in the drink bar.)


This one is a charming couplet penned by Sahir Ludhianvi.

तुझको मुझको जीवन अमृत अब इन हाथों से पीना है
इनकी धड़कन में बसना है, इनकी साँसों में जीना है
तू अपनी अदाएं बख्श इन्हे,
मैं अपनी वफायें देता हूँ
अपने लिए जो सोची थीं कभी
वो सारी दुआएं देता हूँ।

P.S.: I have spared the translation after looking at the shoddy job I made out of Madhushala. Any volunteers are welcome.

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