Paash’s poetry in English

  • First English translation of Paash’s selected poems was by Prof. Hari Singh Mohi
    PAASH An Anthology (1992)-Ravi Publishers,Kot Kapura, Punjab, India.
  • Dr Tejwant Gill has translated Paash ‘s poetry into English Reckoning With Dark Times.
  • http://www.foyles.co.uk/display.asp?K=9788126007905&DS=Reckoning-with-Dark-Times
  • Reckoning with Dark Times: 75 Poems of Pash-Translated by: Tejwant Singh Gill.Published by: Sahitya Akademi,India Hardback 25 Jan 2001,ISBN13: 9788126007905 ISBN10: 8126007907
  •                          
  • Pash (Makers of Indian Literature series) written by Dr Tejwant Gill published by Sahitya Akademi (Indian National Academy of Letters)
  • paashtitle-of-pash-by-t-s-gill
  • Review of Pash (Makers of Indian Literature) 

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1UJCSa8Uq54C&pg=PP1&dq=makers+of+indian+literature+pash&sig=J03Of-j-dtStXkYwOXHPF121Hyc#PPP1,M1

     

    ———————————————————————
    Face to Face with the Present One Has Fought For

    I am frightened of newspapers these days
    frightened
    that there must be in them
    somewhere
    the news
    that nothing has happened
    You perhaps do not know
    – or maybe you do –
    how terrifying it is when nothing happens
    when your eyes wait with baited breath
    and all lies passive
    like a cold woman
    Even the talk of people in the village assembly
    seems like a serpent
    holding in its paralyzing clutch
    the tree
    that would sway in freedom
    I am afraid
    this world which looks abandoned and incomplete
    like an assembly of vacant chairs
    must be thinking how ridiculous we are
    What a shame
    that even after centuries
    bread, work and death should think
    we live only for them
    I do not know how I should explain
    to shy mornings and rallying nights
    and to gentle evenings
    that we have not come here to be greeted with a salute
    from them
    and that there is nothing to embrace
    between equals
    when one stands at arm’s length
    from arms outstretched for an embrace
    Even accidents arrive nowadays
    like panting old men
    on whores’ staircases
    Why isn’t there anything
    these days
    like the first meeting
    with one’s first love?
    This country
    the creation of great souls
    – how long, after all, will it escape
    the horned fiend of death?
    When, at last, shall we return
    to our homes
    that happen to be
    like happenings –
    we
    the exiles from life’s humble noises?
    When shall we, at last, sit
    around the smoke from smouldering fires
    and listen
    to the proud fire’s tales?
    One day
    we shall surely kiss
    the cheeks of seasons
    All earth will then become
    a newspaper
    and it will carry the news
    of so many happenings
    one day

    (Translated by Rajesh Kumar Sharma )

    Against the Language of Diplomacy

    When I faltered
    and fell at your feet
    you became the Buddha
    but I am still trying
    to balance my wounded flight
    I call from a withered orchard
    far away from beyond Lake Mansarovar
    I speak not to you
    but to the soldier breathing his last
    in the battlefield of Kalinga
    Why is it
    that knowledge is only the twist of a rope
    around our necks?
    Soldier, can you tell me
    why the way to salvation lies
    through your and my
    last hiccups?
    Do not the footprints
    that have left for the Banyan at Gaya
    know that time is aging in my eyes?
    Into those footprints will converge
    one day
    Yashodhara’s
    – but for me the Himalayas will extend interminably
    moment after moment
    Soldier, you have seen the country
    expand and shrink this side and that
    of rivers
    but Lake Mansarovar
    – which is like a deep far-off moonlit night –
    never understood
    why and how man became Dravidian sometimes
    but at others Aryan
    it never understood
    why the verses of the Quran and the Vedas rose
    like smoke
    to choke the nostrils and eyes of men
    and why the water from Mansarovar
    never returned
    to tell the tales of men dishonoured by knowledge
    Soldier, Mansarovar would little know
    why I, a drop of its vapours, did not return this time
    from another merry wandering with friendly winds
    Mansarovar is not an Abdali
    nor did I bring, like Sabir, some threatening word
    but let me tell you something –
    wherever Shah Nawaz happens to be
    a mere unsheathed bright silence becomes
    for the sake of his speech
    a word
    but in my wings the nectar
    oozing from the first-time mother’s tender breasts
    has never changed into a shelter
    of any one of the seven colours
    And do you know, Soldier,
    how impotence makes language a rascal
    – which uses the word history for a wound
    and civilization
    for the pain of wounds untold?
    It perhaps thinks all flying birds are swans
    and pearls are merely peas, pulses or grains of rice
    It knows just this much –
    that Mansarovar engenders rivers for the sake of a folly called nation
    it understands only this –
    that the poetry of the Vedas and the Quran is just smoke
    Mansarovar is, for it, a mere lake,
    a dead quiet –
    and the melting of embodied words
    into sounds
    by Harvallabh or Tansen or Ghulam Ali, music –
    in the sound of death’s footsteps
    it finds the song of swans
    Soldier, it sounds, of course, awkward
    to describe a dying man as one
    who belongs to the race of swans
    But all this is the mischief of language
    – that poetry should be reduced
    to mere smoke
    and man, blinded and sneezing,
    should submit to regimented obedience
    and offer his chest – annoyed with his beating heart –
    to the devil
    for medals of valour
    and that the devil should plant in his chest
    nails of gold
    and teach him the ways to turn gold
    into grains
    and food into vodka
    and that vodka change man
    into a jackal, a fox, and then a wolf
    – and the pack of wolves
    into society
    Soldier, how can the swan say
    that Tolstoy arrived too late
    and that the real story had begun way before the day
    the ploughman’s bread was stolen . . .
    O Soldier, if you agree to rise
    we shall leave this rascally language to die
    in the battlefield of Kalinga
    and proceed for the Siddhartha of Kapilavastu
    on the way
    we shall also meet Shankaracharya
    before giving all knowledge back
    to the East India Company
    Later you can go and live
    on any piece of the naked earth
    – without telling the sea
    that real history is the other one
    My messages
    the rivers from Mansarovar will carry
    messages that shall be
    like gypsy songs
    or like the pollen of divinity
    dropping sweetly from wanderer eyes
    messages that shall have
    the mystery of mountain springs
    If you could just arise, O Soldier!
    if you could only arise . . . .

    (Translated by Rajesh Kumar Sharma )

    I Ask

    I ask the Sun
    flying across the sky –
    Is this what they call time?
    That events should trample
    like crazy elephants
    over all human consciousness?
    That each question should be
    no more than an error
    of absorption in thought?
    Why are we retold the same old joke
    every time?
    Why do they say
    we live?
    Think for a moment –
    How many here have anything to do
    with the thing called life?
    What kind of God’s mercy is that
    which falls alike on hands cracked
    and bleeding
    from weeding a field of wheat
    and on the pulpy bodies
    stretched on divans in a marketplace?
    Why is it
    that a loud-crying silence lies frozen
    on faces besieged
    by the noise of ox bells and of engines drawing water?
    Who is it
    that devours the fried fish of biceps
    of dreams chopped
    with swaths on fodder-choppers?
    Why does the peasant in my village
    beg for mercy
    from a mere police constable?
    Why is it
    that every time someone being crushed
    shrieks
    the cry is disposed of as a poem?
    I ask the Sun
    that flies across the sky

    (Translated by Rajesh Kumar Sharma )

    My Nightingale!

    Time is a bloody dog, my nightingale!
    Come, leave the orchards
    and watch the souls wandering homeless
    on streets
    Bark or howl
    in mourning
    for your song will cure no one now
    Wasn’t this the song that sat like dew on twigs
    but fled
    terrified like vapours
    before a mere flake
    of sunlight?
    Time is a bloody dog, my nightingale!
    It has nibbled away
    the hands of clocks
    it has bitten off walls
    and pissed on flowerpots
    Don’t know
    what else it would’ve done
    hadn’t the government’s men put it on leash
    and tied it
    outside their bungalows
    My nightingale!
    My doings are of a different kind
    I have lost every wager that looked
    like life
    I now wish to be horse
    not man
    For the saddle is too painful
    on human bones
    the spiky bridle hurts
    and my human feet do not keep
    the beat of a poem
    Time is a bloody dog,
    my nightingale!

    (Translated by Rajesh Kumar Sharma )

    Dreams

    Not everyone dreams
    The fire that sleeps
    in grains of lifeless gunpowder
    does not dream
    Dreams grow
    in hearts of courage
    They spring
    when sleep is merciful
    Everyone
    that is why
    dreams

    (Translated by Rajesh Kumar Sharma )

    Untitled

    Deep inside me
    the clouds thunder
    I fear for you
    lest you be blown away
    with the innocence
    of nests
    I live in a world of savages
    who do not know
    what lightning can do

    (Translated by Rajesh Kumar Sharma )

    Words Dishonoured

    You have
    purposely
    dishonoured words.
    If they have lost their way
    who else can you blame?
    These trees want me to answer
    what they should call the Sun
    that neither burns
    nor turns red.
    I look towards the trees,
    count the colours of wind,
    and size up the seasons.
    And I cannot say
    the Sun is not guilty.
    For the sake of the Sun
    I make rude words sit
    in Swayamvara.

    You would think
    I have flung myself
    into a chasm
    from some high peak.
    The truth is I have changed the meaning
    of chasms,
    I have taken the wind
    for a swing,
    have made use of mountains
    for a leap beyond.
    I have changed
    for you
    what suicide means.
    Comrade, life shall mean something else to you.
    Even if, before dying,
    you finally understood life,
    who would trust you?
    Who would forgive you?
    You
    who purposely violated
    the innocence of meaning.

    (Translated by Rajesh Kumar Sharma )

    The Most Dangerous

    Most treacherous is not the robbery
    of hard earned wages
    Most horrible is not the torture by the police.
    Most dangerous is not the graft for the treason and greed.
    To be caught while asleep is surely bad
    surely bad is to be buried in silence
    But it is not most dangerous.

    To remain dumb and silent in the face of trickery
    Even when just, is definitely bad
    Surely bad is reading in the light of a firefly
    But it is not most dangerous

    Most dangerous is
    To be filled with dead peace
    Not to feel agony and bear it all,
    Leaving home for work
    And from work return home

    Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.

    Most dangerous is that watch
    Which run on your wrist
    But stand still for your eyes.

    Most dangerous is that eye
    Which sees all but remains frostlike,
    The eye that forgets to kiss the world with love,
    The eye lost in the blinding mist of the material world.
    That sinks the simple meaning of visible things
    And is lost in the meaning return of useless games.

    Most dangerous is the moon
    Which rises in the numb yard
    After each murder,
    but does not pierce your eyes like hot chillies.

    Most dangerous is the song
    which climbs the mourning wail
    In order to reach your ears
    And repeats the cough of an evil man
    At the door of the frightened people.

    Most dangerous is the night
    Falling in the sky of living souls,
    Extinguishing them all
    In which only owls shriek and jackals growl,
    And eternal darkness covers all the windows.

    Most heinous is the direction
    In which the sun of the soul light
    Pierces the east of your body.

    Most treacherous is not the
    robbery of hard earned wages.

    Most horrible is not the torture of police

    Most dangerous is not graft taken for greed and treason.

    (Translation by Dr.Satnam Singh Sandhu)

    Do not ask me

    Do not ask me, my love, for the old love
    I had thought life is aglow with your presence
    The sorrows of the world negligible when compared with agony of your love
    From your face, the spring gets its permanence in creation
    What else does the world have if not your eyes?
    If I get you the fate will submit to me
    It would not really but I wished it merely
    There are sorrows other than those of love in the world
    There are joys other than those of a union with you
    Dreadful dark spells of countless centuries
    Woven in silk, satin and brocade
    Bodies on sale here and there in streets, markets
    Smeared of ashes, drenched in blood
    Bodies right our of ovens of diseases
    Pus oozing out of rotting wounds
    One cannot help but turn to look that ways too
    One cannot help it even though your beauty is still heart-warming
    There are sorrows other than those of love in the world
    There are joys other than those of a union with you
    Do not ask me, my love, for the old love

    Conversation With Comrade-5

    Comrade, do you occasionally get a newspaper?
    Don’t believe the piecemeal news.
    Last year the one who drowned in the village pond…
    It was not mother.
    A brick got disengaged from the blue terrace and fell down.
    At the very first raid, mother
    trying to swim through Gorky’s novel
    ran away from the police.
    at the banks of the novel
    and sometimes fades like her own blessings.
    And recently, the poet
    who was in news for joining the party safely
    it was not I, it was a Dek tree on the outside wall
    which bad spirits, wearing police uniforms
    had learnt to climb up and down.
    Long before that news went to print,
    when night was sliding into words
    and the dark- like cobra, sat coiled on names…
    I stole whatever remained of the party’s compassion
    and slid down…stole away
    into the human clamour
    When my own feet were listening to me
    like love poems
    I went and put the waning compassion
    carefully among crow’s eggs
    To Sadhu Singh and Jirvi*, I have complained
    many times about these news.
    Who say that the paralysis of news
    does not let them walk on their own feet
    they ask for crutches of our death
    “if we believed their truth
    we would have cried over you many times over.”
    Every time I read the news of a sudden raid
    I tell mother-
    Its not you, but another warrior with your name
    Mother knows nothing of grammatical nuances
    Shivering in the chilling innocence of old age
    She mistakes a naming word for a caste name
    and a caste name for a collective noun
    For her whenever a bullet is fired on a name
    Some caste or some emotion is murdered
    Comrade, mother is anyways crazy
    Both of us and news cannot change her
    For coming home late, she will
    With any household object
    Or with the whole house, beat you and later
    Stuff her dry breast in your mouth

    Two and Two Three

    I can prove
    two and two make three.
    The present is liestory.
    The human face looks like a spoon.
    You know –
    bills and bills of a hundred
    move on in courts, bus-stands and parks –
    writing diaries, taking pictures,
    completing reports.
    Sons are made to rape their mothers
    in the ‘Law Protection Centres.’
    ‘Dacoits’ toil in the fields.
    The declaration of accepting demands
    is made by dropping bombs.
    That loving your own people could mean
    spying for the ‘enemy nation.’
    And the reward for the greatest treachery
    could be the highest seat.
    So two and two can make three;
    the present could be liestory
    and the human face too
    can look like a spoon.

    War and Peace

    We who have not fought
    are not your good sons, oh life
    though we always tried
    we tried to shrink the scope of war
    for just a meal and a worn out quilt
    we kept on weaving something like peace
    in the strings of pridelessness
    we kept regarding the years as age
    years that kept stabbing our bodies
    when each moment kept thundering
    like a fierce opponent
    hiding in a chest
    we kept on avoiding the war
    wishing to avoid the war
    we belittled ourselves
    retired father just became useless old man for us
    and ever-worried wife appeared like a witch
    there were always signs of bankruptcy
    we dared not to look into the eyes
    of innocent daughters
    we remained fearful of converting
    the hiding places into bunkers
    fear, at times grew on us like slavery
    fear at times adorned our heads in guise of turbans
    fear at times bloomed in minds as aesthetics
    fear at times grabbed our souls as gentleness
    fear at times tickled out of lips like a gossip
    we who have not fought, oh life
    are your utterly deceptive sons
    our wish to avoid war
    has thrown us flat on the ground
    the peace for which we kept crowding
    kept tickling the taste buds of wolves…
    peace is nowhere
    its all about the howling of the jackals inside us
    peace is just fantasy of life
    while sitting in morose defensive posture..
    there is nothing called peace
    its all about hiding in a roadside ditch
    upon spotting an underground comrade
    peace is nowhere
    its all about the fear of thundering war cries
    and finding music from our howls
    there is no peace anywhere else
    wasted crops for want of irrigation
    trembling villages under the burden of bank loans
    and stretched out arms for peace,
    is the meanest joke of our era
    peace is the wound caused by broken bangle
    peace is the wild laughter
    behind the doors of infamous mansions
    peace is the hapless cry
    of the insulted wise beards
    peace is nothing else
    peace is the rifle of the sentry
    guarding the border between happiness and sorrows
    peace is the chopped arm
    of the poets accepting royal honours
    peace is the shine of the white attire of ministers
    peace is nothing else…
    or peace is Gandhi’s loin cloth
    which can be used to hang a billion people
    asking for peace means
    fighting a war at meanest level
    peace is no where
    we are just lonely without war
    we get drained off while running away from ourselves
    just limited without war
    we get finished within arm’s length
    without war, we are not friends
    we only survive on pseudo emotions
    war will provide
    toys to our children
    war will bring
    beautiful embroidery designs for our sisters
    war will descend as
    milk in our wives’ breasts
    war will become
    spectacles for the ageing mother
    war will blossom as
    flower on the graves of our forefathers
    time has since long been
    like an untamed horse
    which has dragged us far away from life
    nothing but war will control this horse
    only war will control this horse

    (Translation by Dr. Lok Raj )

    Commitment

    We don’t want anything for form’s sake:
    Like muscles pulled in the back of our arms,
    Or lashes prominently visible
    On the back of the oxen,
    Or our future sacred and shrunk
    In the affidavits of loans;
    We want everything actual
    Of life, equality and what not.
    As the sun, the wind and the cloud
    Remain close to us in houses and fields;
    Likewise we want to have
    Of polity, belief and joy,
    A feel close to our lives,
    Mighty ones, we want everything actual.
    We don’t want anything hoax-like
    As a tout’s evidence falsely concocted
    In a case of illicit distillation;
    Fairness that a patwari may profess,
    Or the oath the middleman may take –
    A fact on the palm of our hand we want
    Like saltish tinge in sugar-cane’s jaggery
    Or nicotine in the burning hookah;
    Something like skein on the beloved’s lips
    The lover feels on kissing, we want.
    We don’t want books to read
    Tucked on the lathis of the police;
    We don’t want to hear
    Songs to the tune of military boots declaimed,
    With yearning fingertips we want to feel
    Songs resonating on the tops of trees.
    To taste something bitter in tear-gas,
    Or one’s own blood on the tongue to taste,
    Is recreation for none;
    But we don’t want anything for form’s sake
    We want everything actual
    Life, socialism or what not…

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill )

    No, I Am Not Losing My Sleep

    No
    I am not losing my sleep over
    how and when
    you’ll strike
    to finish me off
    frankly, I couldn’t care less
    about it
    because
    I don’t have the patience
    of a watchman
    to be on eternal guard
    to sift and filter
    countless moments
    to await
    the time slot
    your henchmen have fixed for me.
    No
    I don’t waste my time thinking such trifles
    nor am I sentimental about
    the memories of my village
    and the folks I left behind
    No I don’t think now about
    such things as
    the fine hues of red
    when the sun sets over the village
    nor do I care about
    how she feels.

    (Translated by Suresh Sethi)

    The Most Dangerous Thing

    The life of a pirate is not so dangerous
    nor is a bash up in a police lockup
    spying too is not very dangerous
    to be woken up in the middle of the night
    by the secret police

    I admit is nerve wrecking
    so is the quiet lonely fear
    which follows you
    and throttles your chest
    when you are locked up in a cell
    on a framed up false charge
    for a crime you did not commit
    all this I admit is bad enough
    but all these are still not so dangerous

    because the most dangerous thing is
    to live like a dead man
    when you don’t feel any thing
    when the routine of daily life saps you totally
    the fixed life of
    home to work
    work to home

    that is a life without dreams
    that is the most dangerous thing

    that is when
    the hour is alive and kicking for everyone
    excepting for you
    that life is the most dangerous thing

    because
    like the eyes of a dead fish
    you stare at everything
    but cannot feel anything
    about yourself
    or about others

    that’s why
    the most dangerous are those people
    who have forgotten how to love people
    for such people
    live and shift aimlessly
    in the ordinary humdrum orbit of their lives
    in which nothing happens
    nothing moves
    like a placid cemetery

    these people
    are like that cold blooded moon
    which feels nothing
    no pain, love, sympathy or revulsion
    when it goes over the courtyards
    of the innocent victims
    butchered in a slaughter

    the most ugly sight is
    that of a debauched old man
    who is trying to sing a melody
    but only succeeds in racking his weak chest

    So the most dangerous life is the one
    in which our conscience doesn’t prick you
    because your soul is dead

    that’s why I say
    piracy is not so dangerous
    spying is not so dangerous
    bash up in a police lockup is not so dangerous
    the most dangerous life is…

    (Translated by Suresh Sethi)

    Everyone Doesn’t Have The Propensity To Dream

    Every one doesn’t have the propensity to dream
    that’s why
    the fuse of a dynamite
    lies dormant in the belly
    because it cannot dream
    of explosions
    otherwise it would explode
    by itself
    Every one doesn’t have the propensity to dream
    that’s why
    sweat
    in the palm of the hand
    just dries up
    without galvanising into action
    that’s why
    rows upon rows of history books
    on shelves
    lie mute
    because in order to dream
    one must have courage and stamina
    and the propensity to dream…

    (Translated by Suresh Sethi)

    Two and Two Three

    I can prove
    two and two make three.
    The present is liestory.
    The human face looks like a spoon.
    You know –
    bills and bills of a hundred
    move on in courts, bus-stands and parks –
    writing diaries, taking pictures,
    completing reports.
    Sons are made to rape their mothers
    in the ‘Law Protection Centres.’
    ‘Dacoits’ toil in the fields.
    The declaration of accepting demands
    is made by dropping bombs.
    That loving your own people could mean
    spying for the ‘enemy nation.’
    And the reward for the greatest treachery
    could be the highest seat.
    So two and two can make three;
    the present could be liestory
    and the human face too
    can look like a spoon.

    (Translated by Samartha Vashishtha )

    I seek farewell

    I seek farewell
    My beloved, I seek farewell
    I had wanted to write a poem
    Which you could have read till you lived
    In that poem, there would have been mention of –
    The fragrance of coriander
    The rustle of sugarcane
    also, of the dew seeping from the trees
    and the froth of milk in the bucket
    And everything else-
    That I saw in your body, would have found a mention
    In that poem-
    The stiffness of my hands had to smile
    The fish plates of my thighs had to swim
    And the soft shawl of my chest hair
    would have reeked of love
    In that poem for you
    for me
    and for life’s every relation
    There would have been a lot
    But it is too tasteless-
    to struggle with the contours of the world map
    And even If I wrote that poem, full of good omen
    It would have died,
    Leaving me and you wailing over its chest
    My love, the poem has become very immaterial
    As the weapons continue growing their nails
    And before every poem
    It has become necessary
    to fight with these weapons
    In a war
    Everything is easily understood
    as easily as the enemy’s and one’s own name
    and in this situation –
    Comparing the roundness of my lips, ready to kiss
    With the roundness of Earth
    Or comparing the bend in your back
    to the breath of Ocean
    would have felt like a joke
    And that is why I did not…
    I could not make it possible – keeping in one line
    Your desire to feed my child in our courtyard
    and the totality of war
    And now i seek farewell
    and now I seek farewell
    You will have to forget everything, my love
    Except this, that I had an unsatiating desire to live
    That I wanted to drown, till my neck, in life
    You live my part of life as well, my love
    You live my part of life as well

    (Translated by Rahul Pandita)

    In Pursuit of Flying Eagles

    Eagles have flown aloft taking in their beaks
    Our desire for a moment’s life of peace.
    Friends, let us indeed,
    In pursuit of the flying eagles, proceed.
    Who knows when may come over here
    Critics wearing red badges
    And start the campaign
    To pour false praise on poems
    Before the daily expanding building
    Of the police station
    To take into grasp your village, your family
    The trembling leaf of your self respect
    Gets glued to the daily record
    Of that rapier tongued munshi;
    It is better now indeed,
    In pursuit of the flying eagles, proceed.
    In your whole life will not get repaid
    Loan on sister’s marriage incurred,
    Every drop of blood
    Sprinkled in the fields
    Will not provide colour
    Enough to paint the face
    Of a serene smiling person.
    To add to it further
    All the nights of life put together
    Will not count down the stars of the sky;
    Then, friends, let us, indeed,
    In pursuit of the flying eagles proceed.
    If you have had on your tongue
    The taste of hot gur cooling in the trough,
    And seen with open eyes
    The glow in the moon lit night
    Of the moist field when levelled,
    You will definitely do then something
    About that devouring vote’s paper
    That casts grabbing looks
    On the green crops in our fields.
    Those who have seen golden corncobs
    Of maize drying on our roofs,
    But have not come across
    Contracting prices in the market,
    Will never come to grasp
    The enmity professed
    By that ruling woman in Delhi
    With this bare footed village damsel.
    In this dungeon of life
    When your voice to yourself returns,
    Dreams like the unstruck neck of the old ox
    In rankling eyes burn,
    And the dirt of the streets sticks
    To life’s most beautiful years,
    Then the best thing to do
    Is, friends, indeed,
    In pursuit of the flying eagles to proceed.

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill)

    The Wound of the Thorn

    He lived a long life
    For his name to survive.
    The earth was vast
    And his village was small;
    All his life he slept under one thatched roof,
    All his life he defecated in the same field;
    And always he, wished
    For his name to survive.
    All his life he heard three sounds only:
    One was the crowing of the cock,
    The other was the muffling of animals,
    And the third was of the morsel chewed
    In the silken light of sand dunes,
    He never heard the sound of the setting sun,
    He never heard the blossoming of flowers in spring;
    The stars never sang a song for him.
    All his life he knew three hues only:
    One was the hue of the earth
    That he could not take to even once.
    The other was the hue of the sky
    That bore several names But none came easy to him.
    The last was the hue of his wife’s cheeks
    That in modesty never named all his life.
    He could compete in eating turnips,
    Many a time he won the bet in eating maize,
    But himself he got eaten without a bet.
    Years of his life like ripe melons
    Were as such eaten away in full.
    Like milk milched fresh
    His goodness was gulped with relish,
    The awareness never dawned on him
    How prosperous was he in health,
    The instinct to survive in the world
    Pursued him relentless like the biting bee;
    Like a statue he stood
    That called for no celebration.
    The way from his thatched house
    Still leads to the well,
    In his foot print lost
    Under millions of others,
    Laughs yet the wound of the thorn,
    Laughs. yet the wound of the thorn.

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill)

    In Her Name

    My dear, you must be complaining of my love
    That your fond wishes have gone waste for me.
    Have gone waste the sun fight and the shade
    You with fond needle wove in handkerchiefs.
    A poet though I have missed to read
    The poetry of promise reflected in your eyes,
    On my lips reserved for you, my dear,
    Has dried the bitter and tasteless song of bread.
    My adoration, my integrity are doubly wounded,
    Wounded is your laughter as of linseed flowers;
    They take me away, the enemies of your happiness,
    Leaving behind the shameless rattle of handcuffs.
    It is on your door only that my head bows,
    Time and again I deride the prison door;
    Only in my village do I live effaced,
    But defy the rulers with relentless derision.
    All my pain passes through the point of needle,
    Ravaged is the peace of thoughts and of fields;
    Those who marauded grace from the fields,
    Have now become the enemies of your beauty.
    I have seen wheat crop nourished on dew,
    With modesty lurking in her eyes,
    Sun light relaxing on the flowing water,
    I have seen the moon kissing the sleepy trees.
    I have seen fragrance chanting from wild flowers,
    Seen the minting machine operating in cotton crops;
    Seen the fodder crops changing hue chameleon like,
    I have seen the evening descending on mustard crops.
    My every joy is tied to the freedom of the crops,
    Every peasant’s tale tells the story of your smile;
    My fate is one with the fate of the changing time,
    My tale is but the tale of the shining sword.
    Bitterness has so hardened my face
    That moon light gets scratched at its sight,
    My life’s bitterness holds for history
    The position strong enough for people to revive.

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill)

    A Grass like Persons Tale

    While grazing camels, your loving brother
    Is by camels grazed away.
    Sister! He will never come to see you now.
    How I wished to come
    And make your mother in law divulge
    The ghee so far kept hidden,
    And into her forehead hurl
    Bowl with bare sugar filled!
    Strange is the tale of wicked camels,
    Neither are they themselves to be seen
    Nor is visible the dust they raise
    Audible is only the sound their gums make
    When songs of herdsmen they munch away.
    I had this feeling in mind
    That enough for them is greenery
    Spread out in my eyes.
    When they munched away my hands
    They little knew how disabled I got,
    0, father, to carry your blind limb’s burden.
    Now the joy I was to bring for your present
    Is hung on acacia tree at the border,
    Like the unused coffin.
    Crops, grown with such thrift, my sister,
    Lie trampled by playful camels.

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill)

    Ominous

    Ominous is not loot of labour,
    Or torture by the police,
    Even greed that betrays is not most ominous at all.
    To get caught unawares is rather bad,
    Rather bad is to be muffled in timid silence,
    But this is not ominous at all.

    To get lost in the noise of corruption
    To submit even when right is rather bad,
    Rather bad is to read in the light of the glow-worm,
    To pass with pips screwed is bad
    But this is not ominous at all.

    Ominous is infact
    To be filled with dead silence,
    Lose concern and bear all things unconcerned,
    To become the slave of routine,

    Ominous is in fact
    The death of our dreams.

    Ominous is the watch
    That vibrant on your wrist
    Seems still when looked for time.

    The eye is ominous
    That sees all tat is cold as ice,
    That forgets to feel the world with love
    And falls for the sizzling blindness of things,
    That imbibing the ordinariness of the world
    Gets lost in the useless routine of life.

    Ominous is the moon
    That after each killing
    Rises in courtyard muffled in silence,
    But does not rancour like peppers in the eyes.

    Ominous is the song
    That to reach your ears
    Goes beyond mourning,
    And laughs like the cough of a boss
    On the thresholds of the frightened faces.

    Ominous is the night
    In which owls shriek and jackals cry
    Clinging to frames of eternally closed doors.

    Ominous is the quarter
    On which the sun of conscience sets
    And the fragment of its dead silence
    Enters a part of your body:

    Loss of labour is not ominous,
    Nor is torture by the police,
    Even the greed that betrays is not ominous.

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill)

    Trust

    After years of pining for you
    I have long since forgotten
    The verity of ray own voice,
    The language I learnt to look human
    Gave me words just enough
    To compose your name.
    It is long since letters
    Lost their accent for me,
    Except to draw the image of your sunny limbs
    I can’t write anything now.
    Have you ever seen lines rise in revolt?
    All words dropping from my hands
    Only your pictures do compose.
    You are with me but only a pace apart
    And this pace is perhaps longer than
    Not just my age but several lives;
    And expanding as without a break
    It will some day engulf the whole earth
    And take measure of the lifeless heavens.
    You keep on staying in the motherland itself
    For some day to your purlieu I shall return,
    Either myself or this step
    At least one will have to vanish.

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill)

    A Letter

    Our mood is fine, of your own do write.
    Write of ships gone asleep
    At the bottom of the sea,
    Of turmoil the journey entails,
    Of itch and thud it contains.
    Of God’s death, write,
    And what to his saints has happened,
    How those saints have fared,
    At whose hands, has God then died.
    Butchers of language and feelings,
    Who at each others’ throat had got,
    Of them, who came out the conqueror,
    Do at the earliest, write.
    Write if those marauders are under arrest,
    At whose hands our nation’s tongue,
    Has got so much defiled,
    Through whose parole, it to chaff is consigned.
    Write if water’s urge to ebb
    In floods is swept or preserved,
    Our mood is fine, of your own do write.

    (Translated by Tejwant Singh Gill)

    (I found this poem GRASS by Carl Sandburg and was struck by the similarity with Paash’s poem Mein Ghah Haan )

    Grass

    Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
    Shovel them under and let me work –
    I am the grass; I cover all.And pile them high at Gettysburg
    And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
    Shovel them under and let me work.
    Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
    What place is this?
    Where are we now?
    I am the grass.
    Let me work.
    – Carl Sandburg
    ————————

    War and Peace

    We who have not fought
    are not your good sons, oh life
    though we always tried
    we tried to shrink the scope of war
    for just a meal and a worn out quilt
    we kept on weaving something like peace
    in the strings of pridelessness
    we kept regarding the years as age
    years that kept stabbing our bodies
    when each moment kept thundering
    like a fierce opponent
    hiding in a chest
    we kept on avoiding the war
    wishing to avoid the war
    we belittled ourselves
    retired father just became useless old man for us
    and ever-worried wife appeared like a witch
    there were always signs of bankruptcy
    we dared not to look into the eyes
    of innocent daughters
    we remained fearful of converting
    the hiding places into bunkers
    fear, at times grew on us like slavery
    fear at times adorned our heads in guise of turbans
    fear at times bloomed in minds as aesthetics
    fear at times grabbed our souls as gentleness
    fear at times tickled out of lips like a gossip
    we who have not fought, oh life
    are your utterly deceptive sons
    our wish to avoid war
    has thrown us flat on the ground
    the peace for which we kept crawling
    kept tickling the taste buds of wolves…
    peace is nowhere
    its all about the howling of the jackals inside us
    peace is just fantasy of life
    while sitting in morose defensive posture..
    there is nothing called peace
    its all about hiding in a roadside ditch
    upon spotting an underground comrade
    peace is nowhere
    its all about the fear of thundering war cries
    and finding music from our howls
    there is no peace anywhere else
    wasted crops for want of irrigation
    trembling villages under the burden of bank loans
    and stretched out arms for peace,
    is the meanest joke of our era
    peace is the wound caused by broken bangle
    peace is the wild laughter
    behind the doors of infamous mansions
    peace is the hapless cry
    of the insulted wise beards
    peace is nothing else
    peace is the rifle of the sentry
    guarding the border between happiness and sorrows
    peace is the chopped arm
    of the poets accepting royal honours
    peace is the shine of the white attire of ministers
    peace is nothing else…
    or peace is Gandhi’s loin cloth
    which can be used to hang a billion people
    asking for peace means
    fighting a war at meanest level
    peace is no where
    we are just lonely without war
    we get drained off while running away from ourselves
    just limited without war
    we get finished within arm’s length
    without war, we are not friends
    we only survive on pseudo emotions
    war will provide
    toys to our children
    war will bring
    beautiful embroidery designs for our sisters
    war will descend as
    milk in our wives` breasts
    war will become
    spectacles for the ageing mother
    war will blossom as
    flower on the graves of our forefathers
    time has since long been
    like an untamed horse
    which has dragged us far away from life
    nothing but war will control this horse
    only war will control this horse

    ———————————–

    5 Responses to “Paash’s poetry in English”

    1. Dr. Lok Raj Says:

      Thanks for icluding my translation of the great man’s poem ( War and Peace) in your blog. Just came accross this by chance and I must commend your effort in providing so much valuable information and links about the revolutionary poet.

      regards

    2. Thank you very much Lok Raj ji !

      I am looking forward to more contributions from you about Paash poetry and evaluation of his contribution to Punjabi literature.

    3. […] By “Paash” Avtar Singh Sandhu, Translated by Dr.Satnam Singh Sandhu […]

    4. Reblogged this on evabhatia and commented:
      beautiful poetry by Pash

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