Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Lines penned by Bahadur Shah Zafar (along with Urdu to English translation)

Bahadur Shah Zafar, Last Mughal Emperor and a Poet

Umr-e- daraaz se maang ke laye the char din
Do aarzu mein guzar gaye, do intezaar mein
Hai kitna badnaseeb Zafar dafn ke liye
Do gaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar mein

(I had requested for a long life a life of four days
Two passed by in pining, and two in waiting
How unlucky is Zafar! For burial
Even two yards of land were not to be had, in
The land (of the) beloved.)

Na kisii kii ankh ka nur hun na kisii ke dil ka qarar hun
Jo kisii ke kam na a sake main vo ek mushat-e- Gubar hun
Na to main kissi ka habiib hun na to main kisii ka raqiib hun
Jo bigar gaya vo nasiib hun jo ujar gaya vo dayar hun

(My life gives no ray of light, I bring no solace to heart or eye
Out of dust to dust again, of no use to anyone am I
Barred the door of fate for me, bereft of my dear ones am I
The spring of a flower garden ruined
Alas, my autumn wing am I)

Hamane duniyaa mein aake kyaa dekhaa
Gekhaa jo kuch so Khvaab-saa dekhaa
Haa to insaan Khaak kaa putalaa
Lekin paanii kaa bulbulaa dekhaa

(I came into the world and what did I see?
Whatever I saw was just like a dream.
Man is moulded from clay but
I saw him as a bubble of water.)

Found these in Hindustan Times dated 24th October, 2007
(Here are some more from the book, Masterpieces of Urdu Rabalyat By K.C. Kanda. Translation by the author.)

Dil hai wohi pasand jo tujh pe fida rahe,
Jaan hai wohi aziz jo tujh par nisaar ho,
Hun khaak-e-raah uska, par aisa na ho Zafar,
Mera gubaar khaatir-e-naazuk pe baar ho.

(That heart alone is dear which delights in you,
That life is dearly prized which is pledged to you,
Albeit I’m the way-side dust,but, Zafar, I fear,
Lest this dust too heavily lies on that delicate shrew.)

Aae tum is dum ke jis dum aa gaya aankhon meain dum,
Main ne dekha bhi na tum ko meri jaan achhi tarah,
Itni bhi fursat na di hum ko falak ne, ai Zafar,
Karte is kuche mein hum aah-o-fughaan achhi tarah.

(You arrived when I’d well-nigh breathed my last,
I couldn’t even gaze at you, or please my heart;
I wasn’t allowed to cry at length in this terrestrial lane,
The lease of life given to me was, indeed, too short.)

Itna na apne jaame se baahar nikal ke chal,
Duniya hai chal chaalaao ka rasta sambhal ke chal;
Kya chal sakega hum se ke pahchaante hain hum,
Tu laakh apni chaal ko zaalim badal ke chal.

(Don’t outstrip your limits, keep thy self-control,
In this ever-shifting world, warily should you stroll;
You can’t outsmart us, we know you through and through,
You may change and change your gait, you can’t change your goal.)

Kahan who maha jabeen aur hum, kahan who wasal ki raaten,
Magar hum ne kabhi tha ek yeh bhi khwaab saa dekha,
Zafar, ki sair is gulshan mein hum ne par kisi gul mein,
Na kuchh ulfat ki boo paai, na kuchh rang-e-wafa dekha.

(Whither I, whither my moon, and whither those nights of love?
But to see such a dream had once been my fate;
Athough, Zafar, I combed the garden, I didn’t see one bloom,
Breathing scent of love, reflecting hues of faith.)

Sozish-e-dil ko hain kya khaak bujhaate meri,
Mujh ko ruswaa-e-jahan deeda-e-tar katte hain,
Aatish-e-ishq se ur jaaen samunder ke hawaas,
Yeh hameen hain ke jo is aag mein ghar karte hain.

(My streaming eyes can only bring public disgrace,
Impotent are they to quench internal fire;
With the heat of love, oceans vaporize,
I alone can bide in the heart of fire.)

Kitne hi ban ke shahr ke aur gaon ke nishaan,
Yoon mit gaye zameen pe ke yoon paon ke nishaan,
Gar nakhal-e-khushk koi kahin rah gaya, Zafar,
Paae na uske paaon tale chhaaon ke nishaa.

(Many a mark of town and village, many a mark of waste,
Have faded like the foot-prints from the earth’s face,
It at all a withered trunk, somewhere you espy,
In vain you may look beneath for a trace of shade.)

Sketch of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, The Last Mughal Emperor



  1. The first two stanzas mentioned in your blog could not have been written by Bahadur Shah Zafar. According to historian William Darlrymple in his "The Last Moghul",Zafar had no writing material to pen these words.

  2. Ohitsme,
    Thanks for pointing that out. Found a lot of info. about it at this site
    Still the lines are beautiful.
    Meanwhile I am updating this post with some more lines of Bahadur Shah Zafar.

  3. .“Ya to afsar mera shahana banaya hota,
    Ya mera taj gadayana banaya hota”

    [I wish my status was that of a real king
    Or my crown had the status of a beggar.]

    Found it at

    Page 216
    The Politics of Language
    Urdu/Hindi An Artificial Divide: Evolution from African Genes
    African Heritage, Mesopotamian Roots, Indian Culture and British Colonialism

    By Abdul Jamil Khan


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