Poetry in Translation

Two Versions after Iqbal

Withered Rose

With what words shall I call you
desire of the nightingale’s heart?

In a Country of Roses
you were named Laughing Rose,

the morning breeze was your cradle,
a garden a tray of perfumes.

My tears rain like dew
and in my barren heart your ruin

is an emblem of mine.
A reed plucked from its native soil

I sing sweet songs of souls in exile.
My life is a dream of roses

Bright Rose

You cannot loosen the heart’s knot,
perhaps you have no heart,

no share in the turmoil
of this garden, where I yearn

but gather no roses.
Of what use to me is wisdom?

Once out of the garden,
you are at peace.

I am anxious,
scorched as I search.

Even *Jamshid’s empty cup
foretold the future: may wine

always satisfy my mouth
that open circle in the mirror.


* The mythical Persian king Jamshid saw the reflection of all events in a wine cup.

By Rafiq Kathwari