Poetry in Translation: Coal to a Diamond

by Rafiq Kathwari

After Iqbal via Nietzsche

My stuff is so vile. I am less than dust.
Your gleam rends the heart’s mirror.
My darkness lights the chafing dish
Before I am incinerated. A miner’s boot
Tramples my head, covering me with ashes.

Do you know the gist of my life?
A condensed sliver of smoke, transformed
Into a single spark, in feature and nature
Starlike, your every facet a splendor,
Light of the king’s eye, the dagger’s jewel.

Friend, be wise, the diamond replied, assume
A bezel’s dignity. Loam strives to harden
To fill my bosom with radiance. Burn
Because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.
Be hard as stone. Be diamond.

Rafiq Kathwari is a guest poet at 3Quarks Daily.