This is from the film Quaidee (1962). The title of the song/poem means, “Don’t Ask Me for That Love Again.” Between poem, voice, and image, this scene should make many eyes well up with tears.
Most of this song was shown in one of the Noor Jehan interview clips that I posted last time, but I decided to post the more complete version and give it some of the extra attention that it deserves.
After doing a short search, I found a substantial article about this poem posted the blog Progressive Scottish Muslims, taking it from a site called 21st Century Socialism. The article, written by Simon Korner, is good for a few different reasons.
First of all, it offers an alternative translation of the song, with extra lines that you don’t see in the subtitles, which make the points more clear. It might be that the alternative translation would have been a little too strong – politically and graphically – to put in the movie scene, but I think it makes for a stronger poem in the literary sense, too – especially in these lines:
All this I’d thought, all this I’d believed.
But there were other sorrows, comforts other than love.
The rich had cast their spell on history:
dark centuries had been embroidered on brocades and silks.
Bitter threads began to unravel before me
as I went into alleys and in open markets
saw bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood.
I saw them sold and bought, again and again.
This too deserves attention. I can’t help but look back
when I return from those alleys – what should one do?
And you are still so ravishing – what should I do?
There are other sorrows in this world,
comforts other than love.
Don’t ask me, my love, for that love again.
Korner also offers a good interpretation afterwards:
It isn’t that he scorns love but that he understands that it can’t exist in isolation from the world. The phrase “comforts other than love” suggests the joys of political struggle and comradeship, as though these could be a different, wider form of love. In that repetition of “my love” in the final line, Faiz nevertheless re-emphasises how difficult it is to leave behind his former bliss…
And, for those who don’t know much about Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Korner gives us a nice introduction, too:
Just as the poetry of Pablo Neruda was massively popular with ordinary Chileans – who regarded him as their national poet – so Faiz Ahmed Faiz was loved by millions of Pakistanis, who knew his poems by heart. His funeral in 1984 was a day of mourning for the whole country, and many Faiz poems have been set to music and are still widely sung.
Faiz, a Communist like Neruda, was born in British India in 1911, the son of a lawyer. He joined the newly formed Progressive Writers’ Movement in the 1930s, served in the Indian Army during the Second World War, becoming a Lieutenant Colonel, and after Partition – which he condemned – moved to Pakistan, where he became editor of the Pakistan Times, an English-language daily. He also worked as managing editor of the Urdu daily Imroz, and was actively involved in organising trade unions.
I found it very interesting when I learned that Noor Jehan had stood up for her right to recite Faiz’s poems when the government had banned them, that she and Faiz formed a good friendship afterwards, and that she became something of a champion of his work (and he of hers, as well, to an extent). I don’t know much about the other stances/positions she might have taken in her life, but that bit of information, at least, has caused me to like her even more.
And by the way, there is a British documentary on Faiz Ahmed Faiz at Google. I have seen about half of it so far and hope to return to it soon. Admittedly, the presentation is sometimes a little dry and boring (as one would expect from a British documentary involving interviews with academics), but the compelling subject matter and the slices of Faiz’s poetry more than compensate for that.