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Hell

It is the measure of man’s eye –
The black and the white;
The fancy of man’s tongue –
Both milkweed and honey.
The tapping of my fingertips,
A soft arm and smooth cheek –
These songs of my spirit,
Flowery and sweet.
My god has made this
Colorful wine from water;
For some a sea of wine
Is a droplet of zamzam;
For some a sea of zamzam
Is a glum evening of sorrow;
To some a small white candle
Stands bright as the moon;
Some hear the message of Gabriel
From the red lips of the beloved.
One crown turns crimson with blood;
Some throne blackened by night;
One found it on the cross;
The other on a red silken pillow;
Some discover, like Moses,
In a lifeless idol the face of the beloved –
One turns it into dread and tears,
The other into beauty and spirit.
Some from a flower, from a child’s face,
Create the lips of love;
Some find it by the narcissus,
Some among thorny bushes.
Happy the man who went
Laughing to the lap of his love –
Some tear from the bridal dress
A coffin for the beloved.
Lord! Lord! My lord!
I’m maddened by reflections –
How can I curse and tyrannize
The spring and crimson flowers.
How can I lend the Mullah an ear
And forget the lark and bulbul;
How upon your grace and light
Can I cast the veil of ugliness!
Turn the white morning of laughter
To a dark eve and tomb?
Turn man’s despair to
The red joy of afterlife?
From the fakir’s intrepidity
Create a king’s drunkenness?
From the fire and might of hell
Delineate your grace?
How can I believe you made
This world and the skies for this –
When Khayyam is driven by force
To the pilgrimage of ka’aba?
This heart so full of spirits was
Made just to harbor doubts?
Were beauty and love spun out
As a tale of retribution?
You made out of your grace
Beauty and doting;
The shade of your under-plumes
Is soft and colorful at each sundown.
You laughed that the rose’s color
Was borne away on a butterfly’s wing;
In your hand, Khayyam’s goblet
Took away abandon and love.
How do I bother Ghani with
The end and the judgment day?
Imbue spite in a bulbul’s heart
For springtime and flowers?
How can I lay the shawl of a vassal
On the fair face of Laila?
Fulfill the longing of a Negro
With the presence of a fairy?
How can I turn over to the hand
Of the beloved the dagger of betrayal?
How can I sink in a dark well
The secret of enamored eyes?
How can I submerge a beautiful world
In a single drop of night;
How can I turn the glow
Of candlelight to ashes!

Lord! Lord! My lord!
I’m maddened by reflections
How can I curse and tyrannize
The spring and crimson flowers!

Khanpur Jail


Translated from Pashto by Taimur Khan

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