100 Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 1911-1984

100 Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 1911-1984

100 Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 1911-1984

100 Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 1911-1984


This chronological presentation of 60 poems, 10 quatrains, and no less than 30 ghazals- some never translated into English before- enables the reader to trace the development of the young and romantic poet into the foremost leader of the literary opposition to injustice and the defender of the oppressed. Includes biographical notes, a key to Roman transcription, a list of titles or first lines, and a glossary of Urdu words in Roman script.


Faiz’s name is widely known among both literary and political circles. He was what would now be described as an activist for human rights, civil liberties and social justice. He was also the most outstanding poet of the subcontinent during the last half-century, and was often compared to his friend Pablo Neruda, the great revolutionary poet of Chile. Faiz’s verse, however, is now less familiar, especially to the younger generation, and those whose language is not Urdu. For many years his poetry was denied access to the media, radio and television in his homeland of Pakistan. The conditions were such that he went into self-imposed exile for some years, towards the end and returned only to die in his beloved city, of Lahore.

The present writer had the honour of meeting Faiz and his wife, Alys, in New Delhi in the ninteen forties in the company of Sahibzada Mahmuduzzafar and his wife, Dr. Rashid Jahan, These were family friends from Dehra Dun, and both well-known members of the Progressive Writers Association in Urdu. Since 1935, when they met him in M.A.O. College, Amritsar, they had both, deeply influenced young Faiz, who, from a writer of romantic ghazals and poems, became a writer with a passion for social justice. Faiz was then an officer in the Indian Army in World War II. His first collection of verse, “Imprints”, (Naqsh-ê-Faryadi), had just been published (1941) and had brought him immediate celebrity. Those who were young at that epoch will remember the effect this entirely new “voice” created in the Urdu speaking world.

Faiz’s poetry has been, since, translated into many languages. Of the translations into English, the best known is that by V.G. Kiernan, published under the aegis of UNESCO, some three decades ago (1). It has long been unavailable, even in Paris. Some other translations, by American or Australian authors suffer from the disadvantage that accrues from a lack of knowledge of the original tongue, Urdu.

(1) Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Translated with an introduction and notes, by V.G. Kiernan, George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1971, 290 P.

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