Decree of refusal

A necessarily clumsy translation of the last four lines of Faiz’s 1966 poem, sar-e-waadi-e-seena, written after the Arab Israeli war would go thus:

As the chosen few have ritualized oppression
And the preacher exhorts holy surrender to servitude
Reversing centuries of acquiescence to injustice
Mandates an urgent decree of refusal.

Here are the last four lines in transcribed Urdu:
ab rasm-e-sitam hikmat-e-Khaasaan-e-zameeN hai
taeed-e-sitam maslihat-e-mufti-e-deeN hai
ab sadyoN ke iqraar-e-ataa’at ko badalnay
laazim hai ke inkaar ka farmaaN koi utray

Here now is my own rendition of those four lines, taking the spirit of what Faiz says and transfiguring it, correcting it even, to fit the spirit of our times. The self-love imagery – and the line from Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” – comes from my visit to the gym earlier today where I saw a man continually admiring himself in the mirror. On my way back home, the line on sewage was decreed.

Narcissus is want is need is
Me and I, I, I -
The flex of an inflexible memory, the creed of
Muscle and
Harm - The stench of sewage will overpower
The lord of mercy as he pleads, "Man, what are you doing here?"

faiz

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