Saturday, September 21, 2013

Diwan e Makhfi: The poetry of Zeb-Un-Nisa

Zeb-un-Nisa, daughter of Aurangzeb, was quite the rebel. I was researching about Indian royalty the other day and chanced upon this extraordinary 17th century princess. I suggest you wiki her out. Aurangzeb, being the unimaginative, mundane moron that he was, forbid anything that was beautiful. And hence, Zebunnisa wrote poetry secretly, under the pseudonym of Makhfi, meaning "hidden".

Thanks to the internet, I was able find the entire collection of her poems, translated in English.

Here is a teaser:

THE MYSTIC'S CHOICE

MINE be pure love, love that pursues his hest 
Through wild and desert; mine the lone lament 
The heart of Majnūn and his weary quest, 
And tears and raiment rent. 

Mine be the toil that overtasks the breath, 
The cry of pain, the agony of strife, 
The life that only lives to long for death, 
For death more dear than life. 

Mine be the wine of love, the deadly wine 
That floods like lava all the seething brain, 
Leaving the lips unslaked; fell draught, be mine, 
My medicine and my bane. 

Mine be the shame, if others deem it shame, 
To love unloved, nor falter, suffering wrong, 
Until beneath the earth my fame and name 
Be buried and my song.

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