Muhammad Izhar ul Haq

(14 February 1948 / Pujab / Pakistan)

I Was Not Good For Time - Poem by Muhammad Izhar ul Haq

I was not good for Time.
Time therefore stood against me.

An old man and an old woman loved me
but time stroked them into an everlasting sleep
and I kept sitting by them.
Then a woman and a man kept me close to their hearts
but time aged them.
and their hearts thinned and weakened.

I fell in love with a young woman
but when beauty bloomed to its full
and its tresses touched the heart.
time dragged us towards dusk.
so much so that brambles choked the green bowers.

I adored and loved little children
but when they grew up,
time lured them to diverse vocations
and they wrapped me up in a sheet of decay.

That small, crude hill
was not made of emerald and blue stones.
It was plain earth and rock
which held in its lap
an evergreen mulberry tree
and in the gorge close to it
was a pond.
and across was the high ground
where we played till the sun went down;
where fear crept into the nights.

All this remains where it was
but time has placed in the farthest dimension
and I cannot see it anymore.
In a reed-basket.
the child who was being carried,

inside his eyelids, were blisters
which were pierced by a fresh, rough cloth
and the eyes had bled.
People had mourned at the loss of his sight.
Fate had mourned on its endurance.
Who was he..?
And the woman who carried that basket:
where were her roots
and in whose image was she reflected…?

I was not good for Time,
That is why it stood against me.

Where I was to be the witness,
Time erased me
and where I was not to be,
Time placed me there.

When plague struck
and terrified people
went to live in huts far a way from their homes,
I was not there.

When two people were being clamped to the press and tortured.
and in the hall of royal audience
they openly demanded their release.
I was not there.

When fighting erupted between two tribes
near a deep chasm in the mountain
and a man had his head severed
the second time over,
I was not there.

When at midnight
he went down into the ravine in the valley,
where genii. cast out like children
with exposed tummies and bare buttocks
sat in a circle
with a lantern lit in the middle.
I was not there.

But when for the last time,
with a coloured cloth tied around his waist.
wearing a pointed gold-embroidered shoe,
mounted on a black horse.
a slave with sceptre by his side.
he started off for the west.
then turned north.
and in the cemetery
where coloured rags clung to prickly trees.
he went to sleep in a grave.

I was there

[Translated by Muhammad Salim-ur-rahman]

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

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