fill your vases with water for spring is here

From the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984), translated from Urdu by Agha Shahid Ali.

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Poem

You who wear shirts
ripped at the collars:

       it has come:
       the great calm
       with its harvest of silence:

       all lips have been sewn
       perhaps some wounds also.

And rebels,
my friends:

       fill your vases with water
       for spring is here:

       in this blossoming of wounds,

       some roses may also.

 

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we walked through the streets of an emptied world

Over the years, I find myself returning again and again to the luminous verse of the great Kashmiri-American poet, Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001). This particular favorite can be found in A Nostalgist’s Map of America via his collected works, The Veiled Suite
agha-main

“Beyond the Ash Rains”

What have you known of loss
That makes you different from other men?
– Gilgamesh.

When the desert refused my history,
refused to acknowledge that I had lived
there, with you, among a vanished tribe,

two, three thousand years ago, you parted
the dawn rain, its thickest monsoon curtains,

and beckoned me to the northern canyons.
There, among the red rocks, you lived alone.
I had still not learned the style of nomads:

to walk between the rain drops to keep dry.
Wet and cold, I spoke like a poor man,

without irony. You showed me the relics
of our former life, proof that we’d at last
found each other, but in your arms I felt

singled out for loss. When you lit the fire
and poured the wine, “I am going,” I murmured,

repeatedly, “going where no one has been
and no one will be… Will you come with me?”
You took my hand, and we walked through the streets

of an emptied world, vulnerable
to our suddenly bare history in which I was,

but you said won’t again be, singled
out for loss in your arms, won’t ever again
be exiled, never again, from your arms.

The night is your cottage industry now

The great Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001) gifted this paper-filled world with beautiful, crushing words.

“Stationery”

The moon did not become the sun.
It just fell on the desert
in great sheets, reams
of silver handmade by you.
The night is your cottage industry now,
the day is your brisk emporium.
The world is full of paper.

Write to me.