Allama Iqbal's Poetry
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Gabriel’s Wing


Arise in order that we may make the order of the sun’s...
The heart of a diamond can be cut by the leaf of a flower;
My epiphany of passion causes commotion in the precinct of...
All potent wine is emptied of Thy cask;
If the stars have strayed—To whom do the heavens belong,...
Bright are Your tresses: brighten them even more:
Make our hearts the seats of mercy and love,
Whether or not it moves you, at least listen to my...
Give to the youth my sighs of dawn;
What avails love when life is so ephemeral?
My scattered dust charged with Love The shape of heart may...
Thy world the fish’s and the winged thing’s bower;
Contrary runs our planet, the stars whirl fast, oh Saki!
Due to Thy benevolence, I am not without merit,
Set out once more that cup, that wine, oh Saki—
He is the essence of the Space as well as the Placeless...
My Saki made me drink the wine of There is no god but He:
At times, Love is a wanderer who has no home,
Slow fire of longing—wealth beyond compare;
Love, sometimes, is the solitude of Nature;
Have You forgotten then my heart of old,
Grant me the absorption of the souls of the past,
By dint of Spring the poppy-cup, with vintage red is...
I learnt from Abul Hasan:
Mine ill luck the same and same, O Lord, the coldness on...
This reason of mine knows not good from evil;
Methought my racing field lay under the skies,
To be God is to have charge of land and sea;
Reason is either luminous, or it seeks proofs;
This Adam—is he the sovereign of land and sea?
Lovely, oh Lord, this fleeting world; but why
All Nature’s vastness cannot contain you, oh
Who is this composer of ghazals, who is burningly...
The breath of Gabriel if God on me bestow,
Fabric of earth and wind and wave! Who is the secret, you...
Thou art yet region-bound, transcend the limits of space;
The free by dint of faqr Life’s secrets can disclose:
Hill and vale once more under the poppy’s lamps are...
Muslims are born with a gift to charm, to persuade;
Through Love the song of Life Begets its rhythmic flow:
Of passion’s glow your heart is blank, Your glances are...
A host of peril though you face, Yet your tongue with...
Rely on the witness of the phenomenal world
These Western nymphs A challenge to the eye and the heart,
A heart awake to man imparts Umar’s brains and Hyder’s...
In the coquetry and fierceness of the self there is no...
A recreant captain, a battle-line thrown back,
At London, winter wind, like sword, was biting though,
The ancient fane in which we live Has heaps of thorns at...
The way to renounce is To conquer the earth and heaven;
Though reason to the portal guide,
The self of man is ocean vast, And knows no depth or bound:
The morning breeze has whispered to me a secret,
Thy vision and thy hands are chained, earth-bound,
The mind can give you naught, But what with doubt is...
The splendour of a monarch great Is worthless for the free...
You are neither for the earth nor for the heaven:
O Prisoner of Space! You are not far from the Placeless...
My mind on me bestowed a thinker’s gaze,
From the heavens comes an answer to our long cries at last:
All life is voyaging, all life in motion,
Every atom pants for glory: greed
This wonder by some glance is wrought, or Fortune’s...
What should I ask the sages about my origin:
When through the Love man conscious grows of respect...
Once more I feel the urge to wail and weep at dead of night:
Devoid of passion’s roar I can exist no more:
Nature before your mind present,
Alas! The mullah and the priest, conduct their sermons so
The magic old to life is brought by means of present...
Other worlds exist beyond the stars—
The West seeks to make life a perpetual feast;
If self with knowledge strong becomes, Gabriel it can...
The schools bestow no grace of fancy fine,
Events as yet folded in the scroll of Time
To Lover’s glowing fire and flame the mystic order has...
Intuition in the West was clever in its power,
O manly heart, the goal you seek is hard to gain like gem...
A monarch’s pomp and mighty arms can never give such glee,
On me no subtle brain though Nature spent,
By men whose eyes see far and wide new cities shall be...
To God the angels did complain 'Gainst Iqbal and did say
Over the tussle of heart and head
Arise! The bugle calls! It is time to leave!
The Gnostic and the common throng new life have gained...
Through many a stage the crescent goes and then at last...
In the maze of eve and morn, o man awake, do not be lost:
The cloisters, once the rearing place of daring men and...
From Salman, singer sweet, this subtle point I know:
The crown, the throne, and mighty arms by faqr are wrought...
In my craze that knows no bound, of the Mosque I made the...
Knowledge and reason work in manner strange,
The rituals of the Sanctuary unsanctified!
O wave! Plunge headlong into the dark seas,
Am I bound by space, or beyond space?
Confused is the nature of my love for Thee,
I was in the solitude of selfhood lost,
Faith, like Abraham, sits down in the fire;
Arabian fervour has within it the Persian melodies,
A restless heart throbs in every atom;
I wish someone saw how I play the flute—
Thy vision is not lofty, ethereal,
Neither the Muslim nor his power survives;
Distracted are thy eyes in myriad ways;
Selfhood in the world of men is prophethood;
The beauty of mystic love is shaped in song;
Where is the moving spirit of my life?
Thy bosom has breath; it does not have a heart;
I am not a pursuer, nor a traveller,
Pure in nature thou art, thy nature is light;
They no longer have that passionate love—
Not translated yet
Dew-drops glisten on flowers that bloom in the spring;
Conquer the world with the power of selfhood,
A Prayer
The mystic's soul is like the morning breeze:
The Mosque of Cordoba
Mu‘tamid’s Lament In Prison
First Date Tree Seeded By Abdul Rahman the First
That blood of pristine vigour is no more;
The veiled secrets are becoming manifest—
Tariq’s Prayer
This revolution of time is eternal;
Song of the Angles
God’s Command
Theorizing is the infidelity of the self:
The Moth and the Firefly
To Javid
Heaven and the Priest
Church and State
The Earth is God's
To a Young Man
Poppy of the Wilderness
Iqbal recited once in a garden in Spring
The Angels Bid Farewell to Adam
Adam Is Received By the Spirit of the Earth
My nature is like the fresh breeze of morn:
The Mentor and The Disciple
Thy body knows not the secrets of thy heart,
Gabriel And Iblis
The mentor exhorted his disciples once:
The Prayer-call
Though I have little of rhetorician’s art,
The Star’s Message
To Javid
Philosophy and Religion
A Letter from Europe
At Napoleon’s Tomb
A Question
To the Punjab Peasant
Nadir Shah of Afghanistan
The Last Testament of Khush-hal Khan Khattak
The Tartar's Dream
Worlds Apart
Abu al ‘Ala al-Ma‘arri
To the Punjab Pirs
The Self
Satan’s Petition
To the Headmaster
The Philosopher
The Eagle
Disciples in Revolt
The Last Will of Harun Rashid
To the Psychologist
Freedom of Thought
The Lion and the Mule
The Ant and the Eagle


Spring’s caravan has pitched its tent At the foot of the mountain, making it
Look like the fabled garden of Iram With a riot of flowers—iris, rose,
Narcissus, lily, eglantine,
And tulip in its martyr’s gory shroud.
The landscape is all covered with A multicoloured sheet, and colour flows
Even in the veins of stones like blood.
The breezes blow intoxicatingly in a blue sky, so that the birds
Do not feel like remaining in their nests
And fly about. Look at that hill-stream. How
It halts and bends and glides and swings around,
And then, collecting itself, surges up
And rushes on. Should it be stemmed,
it would
Cut open the hills’ hearts and burst the rocks.
This hill-stream, my fair saki, has
A message to give us concerning life.
Attune me to this message and,
Come, let us celebrate the spring, which comes but once a year.
Give me that wine whose heat
Burns up the veils of hidden things, whose light illuminates life’s mind,
Whose strength intoxicates the universe,
Whose effervescence was Creation’s source.
Come lift the veil off mysteries,
And make a mere wagtail take eagles on.
The times have changed; so have their signs.
New is the music, and so are the instruments.
The magic of the West has been exposed,
And the magician stands aghast.
The politics of the ancient regime
Are in disgrace: world is tired of kings.
The age of capitalism has passed,
The juggler, having shown his tricks, has gone.
The Chinese are awaking from their heavy sleep.
Fresh springs are bubbling forth from Himalayan heights.
Cut open is the heart of Sinai and Faran,
And Moses waits for a renewed theophany.
The Muslim, zealous though about God’s unity,
Still wears the Hindu’s sacred thread around his heart.
In culture, mysticism, canon law and dialectical theology—
He worships idols of non-Arab make.
The truth has been lost in absurdities,
And in traditions is this ummah rooted still.
The preacher’s sermon may beguile your heart,
But there is no sincerity, no warmth in it.
It is a tangled skein of lexical complexities,
Sought to be solved by logical dexterity.
The Sufi, once foremost in serving God,
Unmatched in love and ardency of soul,
Has got lost in the maze of Ajam’s ideas:
At half-way stations is this traveller stuck.
Gone out is the fire of love. O how sad!
The Muslim is a heap of ashes, nothing more.
O Saki, serve me that old wine again,
Let that old cup go round once more.
Lend me the wings of Love and make me fly.
Turn my dust to fireflies that flit about.
Free young men’s minds from slavery,
And make them mentors of the old.
The millat’s tree is green thanks to your sap:
You are its body’s breath.
Give it the strength to vibrate and to throb;
Lend it the heart of Murtaza, the fervour of Siddiq.
Drive that old arrow through its heart
Which will revive desire in it.
Blest be the stars of Your heavens; blest be
Those who spend their nights praying to You.
Endow the young with fervent souls;
Grant them my vision and my love.
I am a boat in a whirlpool, stuck in one place.
Rescue me and grant me mobility.
Tell me about the mysteries of life and death,
For Your eye spans the universe.
The sleeplessness if my tear-shedding eyes;
The restless yearnings hidden in my heart;
The prayerfulness of my cries at midnight;
My melting into tears in solitude and company;
My aspirations, longings and desires;
My hopes and quests;
my mind that mirrors the times
(A field for thought’s gazelles to roam);
My heart, which is a battlefield of life,
Where legions of doubt war with faith—
O Saki, these are all my wealth;
Possessing them, I am rich in my poverty.
Distribute all these riches in my caravan,
And let them come to some good use.
In constant motion is the sea of life.
All things display life’s volatility.
It is life that puts bodies forth,
Just as a whiff of smoke becomes a flame.
Unpleasant to it is the company of matter, but it likes to see
Its striving to improve itself.
It is fixed, yet in motion, straining at
The leash to get free of the elements.
A unity imprisoned in diversity,
It is unique in every form and shape.
This world, this sex-dimensioned idol-house,
This Somnat is all of its fashioning.
It is not its way to repeat itself:
You are not I, I am not you.
With you and me and others it has formed
Assemblies, but is solitary in their midst.
It shines in lightning, in the stars,
In silver, gold and mercury.
Its is the wilderness, its are the trees,
Its are the roses, its are the thorns.
It pulverises mountains with its might,
And captures Gabriel and houris in its noose.
There is a silver-grey, brave falcon here,
Its talons covered with the blood of partridges,
And over there, far from its nest,
A pigeon helplessly aflutter in a snare.
Stability is an illusion of eyes,
For every atom in the world pulsates with change.
The caravan of life does not halt anywhere,
For every moment life renews itself.
Do you think life is great mystery?
No, it is only a desire to soar aloft.
It has seen many ups and downs,
But likes to travel rather than to reach the goal;
For travelling is life’s outfit: it
Is real, while rest is appearance, nothing more.
Life loves to tie up knots and then unravel them.
Its pleasure lies in throbbing and in fluttering.
When it found itself face to face with death,
It learned that it was hard to ward it off.
So it descended to this world, where retribution is the law,
And lay in wait for death.
Because of its love of duality, It sorted all things out in pairs,
From mountains and from wilderness.
And then arose, host after host,
It was a branch from which flowers kept
Shedding and bursting forth afresh.
The ignorant think that life’s impress is
Ephemeral, but it fades only to emerge anew. Extremely fleet-footed,
It reaches its goal instantly. From time’s beginning to its end
Time, chain of days and nights, is nothing but
Is but one moment’s way for it.
A name for breathing in and breathing out. What is this whiff of air called breath?
A sword, and selfhood is that sword’s sharp edge.
What is the self? Life’s inner mystery,
The universe’s waking up.
The self, drunk with display, is also fond
Of solitude;—an ocean in a drop.
It shines in light and darkness both;
Displayed in individuals, yet free from them.
Behind it is eternity without beginning, and before it is
Eternity without an end;
It is unlimited both ways.
Swept on by the waves of time’s stream,
And at the mercy of their buffeting,
It yet changes the course of its quest constantly,
Renewing its way of looking at things. For it huge rocks are light as air:
It smashes mountains into shifting sand.
Both its beginning and its end are journeying,
For constant motion is its being’s law.
It is a ray of light in the moon and a spark in stone. It dwells
In colours, but is colourless itself.
It has nothing to do with more or less,
With light and low, with fore and aft.
Since time’s beginning it was struggling to emerge,
And finally emerged in the dust that is man.
It is in your heart that the Self has its abode,
As the sky is reflected in the pupil of the eye.
To one who treasures his self, bread
Won at the cost of self-respect is gall.
He values only bread
he gains with head held high.
Abjure the pomp and might of a Mahmud;
Preserve your self, do not be an Ayaz.
Worth offering is only that prostration which
Makes all others forbidden acts.
This world, this riot of colours and of sounds,
Which is under the sway of death,
This idol-house of eye and ear,
In which to live is but to eat and drink,
Is nothing but the Self’s initial stage.
O traveller, it is not your final goal.
The fire that is you has not come out of this heap of dust.
You have not come out of this world; It has come out of you.
Smash up this mountainous blockade,
Go further on and break out of this magic ring of time and space.
God’s lion is the self;
Its quarry are both earth and sky.
There are a hundred worlds still to appear,
For Being’s mind has not drained of its creative capabilities.
All latent worlds are waiting for releasing blows
From your dynamic action and exuberant thought.
It is the purpose of the revolution of the spheres
That your selfhood should be revealed to you.
You are the conqueror of this world
Of good and evil. How can I tell you the whole of your long history?
Words are but a strait-jacket for reality:
Reality is a mirror, and speech the coating that makes it opaque.
Breath’s candle is alight within my breast,
But my power of utterance cries halt.
Should I fly even a hairbreadth too high,
The blaze of glory would burn up my wings.

Translated by: M. Hadi Hussain

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