Kazi Nazrul Islam

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

Pioneers, O Pioneers - Poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam

O you who look so soiled and weary,
Collect your armour for the struggle,
Your rusty shovels, heavy hammers,
To save the earth from dire disaster.

We have no time for sport or revels,
No leisure for procrastinating.
The war's begun in deadly earnest;
We've deeds to plant and crops to harvest.

I see the young on fire and marching
Onward past mountains, vales and rivers,
Unbent and proud man's heritage,
Freedom and honour, in their keeping.

The ancient East, inert, feeble,
A waits a voice to end its slumber.
We will once more awaken, rouse it,
And set it stirring, breathing, moving.

The murky past is dead and buried.
We must emerge from sunless caverns
Into broad uplands bright and shining,
Create a world of newer splendour.

We'll scale the peaks and cross the gorges,
And overcome what risks lie hidden.
We'll fell old trees to build our bridges
And go down in the mines for treasure.

We are awake, no longer sleeping;
We have descended from the plateaus,
Reckless of hungry wounded tigers
And we must move and look not backwards.

We are beholden to those countries,
Egypt and China, Spain and Norway,
Russia, Korea, who have broken
Their age-old chains and savoured freedom.

O Fortune's darlings, I, the poet,
Have nought to offer but my anguish,
My hopes, My dreams, the red blood dripping
From Within my heart beating wildly.

Invoke the gods of ruthless terror,
Shrink not from blood, as green and daring
You must unfurl your country's banner
Armed to the teeth and marching forward.

Listen! beloved fearless children;
Wild beasts and vultures squeak behind you,
And rotting corpses leer, or, frowning,
Earn praise from those who're scared of movement.

Let not these horrors daunt Or frighten;
But torch in hand advance, resistless;
The battlefield is strewn with martyrs
Who died in hundreds faces shining.

The earth is pulsing with a new life,
A tremor coursing through its arteries.
Ours is the strength of many armies;
Our comrades wait in every hamlet.

Sailors and ploughmen, slaves and masters,
Workers and lovers, waifs and prisoners,
Unhappy men who know no laughter-
They too are actors in Our drama.

The day that wanes, the night that follows,
The planets which you see revolving,
Children not born yet, our future soldiers,
They too are bound on this quest endless.

Sisters, awake, your brothers need you
They'll lag behind if you are missing;
Arise and join them, Jet the vanguard
Move forward, rank on rank in order.

I hear the sound of bells announcing
The coming age, when dreams and reveries
Will be fulfilled, and hopes turn rosy,
And we will reach our destination.

We have no use for lifeless knowledge
Stored in thick tomes; We want no false dreams
Or short-lived joys, bejewelled footwear,
Or cushioned thrones, no wealth that's rotten.

We shall survive on bread and water.
And sleep on hard floors, learn to hate those
Who are enslaved by greed, those gluttons;
We will go forward, we the fighters.

Do wipe away your tears, my comrades,
And rest a while if are weary,
Do not lose heart if night is falling,
Our will is firm, our aim is steady.

[Translation: Syed Sajjad Husain]

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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