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MAHASARA (THE SIEGE) Poem by Ahmad Faraz



Poem by Ahmad Faraz


Translated by Mohsin Zulfiqar


The South Asian Peoples Forum UK is reproducing this poem as a tribute to the progressive and revolutionary writers of the world. It was written by Ahmad Faraz, while in exile in Britain, to appose the military dictatorship in Pakistan.  


My enemy has sent me a message

that his soldiers have encircled me.

On every parapet and minaret of the city wall

his troops are standing with bows in hand.


The lightening bolt has been extinguished

whose heat fired the volcano in the body of clay

The dynamite has been laid in the water of the canal

which used to come to my alley.


All those with outspoken mouths

have become torn bodies.

Those with unbowed heads

have been led to the gallows and the rope.


All the Sufis and saints, every Sheikh and Imam

hope to find favour at the court of the rulers.

The dignitaries of the law courts

wait to take oaths like beggars squatting at the side of the road.


You who praised the honesty of the writers

those stars of consummate skill are before you.

With a mere signal from a court attendant

crowds of beggars of the spoken words are before you.


Look at the principles of those

unworldly loyalists who are with you look around!

So the condition of saving your life is

to place your pen and slate in the killing fields.

 If not you will be the only target of the archers this time.

Therefore surrender your integrity.

Seeing the treaty I spoke to the messenger.

He does not know what history teaches.

When the night martyrs the sun the morning sculpts a new one.


So this is the answer to my enemy.

That I am neither greedy for favours nor afraid of pain.

He is proud of the power of the sword

but he does not know the protest of the pen.

My pen does not commend that protector

who is proud of besieging his own city.

My pen is not the bowl of the simple fool

who renders praise-poems to the usurpers.



My pen is not the tool of the housebreaker

who makes a hole in the roof of his own home.

My pen is not the friend of the midnight thief

who scales the walls of lamp less houses.


My pen is not the prayer beads of the missionary

who always keeps account of his worshipful deeds.

My pen is not the scale of the judge

who places a double veil over his face.


My pen is the pious gift of my people.

My pen is the court of my conscience.

That is why what I have written is written with a fevered soul.

That is why it has the tension of the bow and the tongue of an arrow.


Whether I am felled or remain alive I trust

that someone will break this siege of oppression.

 In the name of those tortured down the ages

the journey of my pen will not be in vain.


The character of my love cannot be destroyed.

From the top of the tree

you cannot see nor measure its shadow.



South Asian Peoples Forum UK, 2010




Equality, Fraternity, Social Justice

South Asian Peoples Forum UK