The Poems of Bedil


Written by Randeep Singh

Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil (1644-1720) is one of the leading poets of the Indian school of Persian poetry.

Born in Azimabad (Patna) into a family of Uzbek descent, Bedil lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his uncle. He received a classical education, but also mastered poetry and philosophy through self-study. Bedil served in the Mughal army, but returned to Delhi during the reign of Aurangzeb. It was there that he devoted himself to writing poetry.

Bedil composed over 16 books of poetry including ghazals, rubais and masnavis. His poetry deals with philosophical and metaphysical themes and his verses are complex, challenging if also captivating. He was not well received in Iran which generally disdained the “Indian School” of Persian. He remains, however, an iconic poet in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The Urdu poets Ghalib and Iqbal cited Bedil as an important influence on their poetry.

The selected verses below were translated from Persian into Urdu by Afzal Ahmed Syed and from Urdu into English by Musharraf Ali Farooqi (unless otherwise noted).

For too long the heart’s desire bound me
With a drop of blood I was painted whole
Ulfat dil umr haashad dast o paaim basta ast
Qatra-e khoon az sar taa paa hunaaim basta ast

I read in the wave’s fickle, delicate form
The preface of the sea, the wind’s footprint
Mara ma’aena shad az khat-e shakasta mauj
Ki naqsh-e paa-e hava sarnoshat-e aeen darya’st

What heart’s shop is not adorned by desire?
The mirror’s realm of clarity reflects a bazaar
Ko dil-e kaz havas aaraaesh-e dakaanash neest
Dar safaa khaana har aaena baazaare hast

Behold the spring painted with hues of new secrets
What your imagination never grasped the spring reveals
Chasm va kun rang-e asraar-edagar daard bahaar
Aan cha dar vahamat naganjad jalwa gar daard bahaar

In the desert of fancy there are no fixed points
To find our bearings no need have we
Dar dasht-e tauham jahate neest ma’een
Maa raa chi zaroor ast badaaanem kujaayem

In contentment’s land seek not the sun and moon
If a bread and lamp in night rations has been provided to you
Dar mulk-e qanaat ba ma o mahar mapardaaz
Gar naan-e shabe heest o chiraagh-sar-e shaame

For ages we’ve been amused at expressing worthlessness
We are the opener of the pages of stories of nothingness
You could expect nothing from us, but name
we are the messengers of the world of nothingness

’aumrîst kî sargarm-e bayân-e heechîm
tumâr gushâyee dâstân-e heechim
bâ nâmi az ân mîyân, zi mâ qane’a bâsh
mâ qâsed-e paighâm-e jahân-e heechîm
(Translated by Nasim Fekrat)


Annual of Urdu Studies:

Encyclopaedia Iranica:

Call for Submissions: Vallum Magazine for Pakistani Poetry-Aug 31/11

Vallum Magazine is featuring a special issue on PAKISTANI POETRY
(Vol. 9:1 fall/winter 2011)

VALLUM 9:1 – PAKISTANThis special edition of Vallum will feature poetry, essays, and/or interviews from a Pakistani origin or perspective.

Also seeking submissions of unpublished work on any aspect of Pakistani poetry by Canadian or Landed Immigrants of Pakistani origin or Canadians interested in Pakistan.

DEADLINE: August 31, 2011

General Submission Guidelines
Vallum magazine is interested in poetry, prose poems, concrete poems, essays, interviews and reviews on poetry.

Length of submissions
Poetry : 4-7 poems Essay : 5-6 pages
Interview : 3-5 pages
Review : 1-3 pages
Letter to the editor : up to 1 page
Art : B&W or colour (art work must be available in high-resolution printout or electronic format.)

Vallum is interested in work that is
Original and previously unpublished.
Poetry that’s fresh and edgy, something that reflects contemporary experience and is also well-crafted.
Open to most styles – experimental and traditional.

Acquires First North American Serial Rights.
No simultaneous submissions.
Essay and review submissions must follow North American, MLA Style guidelines. Artwork can be colour and/or black and white. Colour is preferred for covers; black and white preferred to be featured inside magazine, but will consider colour.
Vallum is published twice a year.
Poems are accepted by regular mail only.
Essays, reviews, interviews, letters to the editor and art work can be sent by regular mail or through our Online Submission page.

P.O. Box 598, Victoria Stn
Montreal, Quebec
H3Z 2Y6

Vallum Society for Arts & Letters Education