after Mohammed Iqbal
“Why didn’t you make me eternal?”
Beauty asked God one day,
who replied: “The world’s fiction
is carved from nothingness.
In changing colors you were born:
true beauty is ephemeral.”
The moon overheard this dialogue,
beamed it to the morning star
who woke the dawn, whispering sky’s secret
to the dewdrop, earth’s guardian.
Dew drenched the rose petals,
and Spring left the garden weeping.
Mohammed Iqbal (1877 -1938) one of the two great South Asian poets of the 20th Century (the other was Faiz Ahmed Faiz) advocated ceaseless endeavor, writing with equal ease in Persian, Urdu, and English. He was knighted by the British but is rarely called Sir Mohammed.
Translated from the Urdu by Rafiq Kathwari.