Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Kuch Ishq Kiya Kuch Kaam Kiya

Wo log bahut khush-qismat the
Jo ishq ko kaam samajhte the
Ya kaam se aashiqui karte the
Hum jeete ji masroof rahe
Kuch ishq kiya kuch kaam kiya

Kaam ishq ke aade aata raha
Aur ishq se kaam se ulajhta raha
Phir aakhir tang akar hum ne
Donon ko adhura chod diya

Urdu version. Source.

Part Love Part Work

Fortunate indeed were those,
Who regarded love as work
Or were in love with their work
I remained busy my entire life
And managed some love, with some work

Work came in the way of love
And love got intertwined with work
At last, in exasperation,
I left them both half done

The poem is written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984), one of the pillars of Urdu Literature alongside Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal. Having been nominated four times for Nobel Prize, Faiz is often regarded as Pablo Neruda of the East. I view the poem as being pivoted around body politics, with the body being torn in maintaining a balance between love and work. Unable to do so, it ultimately results in a fragmented end.

‘Body’, ‘love’ and ‘work’ are the triad elements of the poem, the intertwinings of which on the surface level might seem simple, but a tap further reveals complex dynamics. It reveals a conflict between the heart and mind of the poet. While the former pines for the beloved, the latter focuses on work, which could manifest itself in job, business or career making. For maintaining a proper body balance, there has to exist unison between the mind and the heart, between reason and emotions.

The poet here can be seen as the body faced with the same dilemma, oscillating between the workings of mind (reason) and heart (emotions). On one hand, is his love for his beloved, while on the other, is his work. This is the reason he calls those people fortunate and privileged that either love their work or consider love as their work. Unfortunately, for the poet the conflict between heart and mind becomes too much to handle as both keep intertwining with each other, and as the conflict reaches its apex, it forces him to leave both undone; thus falling prey to the conflict of reason and emotions.

There are numerous translations available for this poem, which according to me are unsuccessful to convey the actual meaning. As for my translation, rather than laying stress on the rhythm, I have literally interpreted each word so that the soul/essence of the poem is not lost.

Transliteration, translation and comment by Mehak Burza

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Wonderful translation and interpretation . Thanks