Saturday, 7 November 2009

Poppies: Love and Peace

The poppy is a curious symbol of war and peace, sleep, death, remembrance and love. It is also, without doubt, connected in our minds with our opium production, recreation and ruin. As we lead up to Armistice Day, today, my interpretation is mostly positive.

The poppy has been used in classical poetry - John Alexander McCrae's poem, In Flanders Fields, is perhaps amongst the best known war poems.

The poppy theme appears in a poem by Ghani Khan, celebrated artist, Pashto poet, and son of Bacha Khan. It appears here, in its English version.

A Poppy Flower
by Ghani Khan
In a desert, once, on a hunt did I find,
With a radiant smile, a flower so fair;
Sadly, I approached and sighed, “Ah! Of my kind
Are you too – a hapless flower from a beloved’s hair.
Frail fingers wouldn’t take you to a soft face so close,
Nor would you be kissed by lips delicate and rose.”
With a silent smile the flower replied, “Don’t lose heart!
This desert I wouldn’t give up for the gardens of Iran,
A solitary I am here while legions are there,
Amidst this cursed soil I stand apart.
In this gray desert, a flamboyant flame of divine light am I,
Beauty’s silent song, a miracle from the sky.
In your garden, there are thousands of flowers like me –
A nameless droplet in a nameless sea.
You too, in your desert, don’t feel forlorn,
To behold you at last shall come a sore
Tor_Khan تور خان


  1. Dear Sir,
    It's a beautiful and wonderful translation. You will be pleased to know that recently I published some of Ghani baba's translations in a chapbook, Ghani Khan: A Poet of Social Reality. I am planning to publish a revised version of the book. I wonder if you would like this translation of yours also published in the book, with your name as the translator. Kindly do let me know.
    With regards,

  2. Arif Khattak Sahib,

    Salaamoona wa Pakhair Raghley.

    The translation, alas, is not mine :( so I don't take the credit. It comes from the Ghani Khan wordpress site. Check out the link.

    Best of luck with the publication!


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