Kazi Nazrul Islam

(24 May 1899 - 29 August 1976 / Bardhaman / India)

Kings And Subjects - Poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam

I am the bard of equality.
At the crossroads I sing,
Where pity and sympathy
Have made us all comrades and brother

It is a simple question,
We are all children of this earth,
But can you tell me
Why are some kings, rolling in luxury
And some subjects, starving in gutters?

But it is a queer philosophy,
If I state this simple truth
I am charged with sedition.
The subject can turn a traitor as simply as that.
But whom shall I ask
Why a king should not be condemned
As a traitor to the people
For his thousand crimes and follies
It is the people who create kings
And not the kings the people
Is that the reason
Why the king tortures the people?
Is that the way
They express their gratitude?

How can you smile, friend?
We are only coolies and servants
In our own home and land.
We have given up our manliness,
Our strength, and power.
And what have we got?
Rendered eunuchs we are guarding today
The lascivious harem of the tyrant king.
Whom shall I relate to
This sad and tragic tale?
In our Own land we are the ruled and the oppressed.
Those who make up the very country
Have no right in it
While the rulers enjoy,
The people remain starved and hungry.

Whom shall I complain to
Of this grievous injustice?
All around we hear the sycophants crying
'God save the king, Glory to him',
We the people are always judged.
Is there no Hall of Justice for the kings and the

The war-drums sound deafeningly
And the country's youth rush
To the battle-field to die with smiles on their lips.
But the tender and loving hearts, losing their dear

Weep bitter tears at home.
And the ravens fly over their roofs.
The royal road is ready..
The victorious chariot will soon pass by
Rejoice, O Citizens!

Have not your sons come back?
Did not your brothers return? Are your husbands dead?
Why weep for them? They sleep in the lap
Of the Goddess of victory.
A dark shadow of gloom and grief
Envelopes the country today,
God save the King, glory to him?
Rejoice, O Citizens,

For the king has come out of his fort today
After so many days.
The King's chariot is flying fast,
Trampling under the wheels
The returned heroes,
Trampling underneath
The brave crippled soldiers and the glorious dead.
O the one-armed and the one-legged
Soldiers of the King,
Keep off the roads and move away
If you want to save your lives today.

Well, friend,
That is exactly what happens,

The people fight and win the battles
And sing the King's praises,
The people provide their rulers
With food and apparel.
The people serve the king with devotion and humility
Only to be rewarded like this.
Isn't that a queer justice, friend?
We have to bow down and make obeisance
To the servants who are paid from our money.
Come, O you all, and have a look
At those glorious Public Servants of our land.
The wheels of Time revolve,
And yet here in our country
Over millions of men
Rule a hundred thieves.
It is no wishful thinking,
Nor is the day very far
When all the kings of the world
Will, in unison, sing
The People's Victory.

[Original: Raja-Proja; Translation: Kabir Chowdhury]

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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