14 March 2009

Persian and Hindi

Since I lived in Ahwaz, Iran, for a year (I was known as the Filipino teaching American literature in Iran!), I have always been fascinated by Persian poetry. Here is the first stanza of a poem, written about 1300, not by an Iranian but by an Indian, using the Persian language in macaronic style. The first and third lines are in Persian, the second and fourth lines in Brij Bhasha (a dialect of Hindi). The poet is Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn al-Dīn Khusrow (better known as Amīr Khusrow Dehlawī):

Zeehaal-e miskeen makun taghaful,
duraye naina banaye batiyan;
ki taab-e hijran nadaram ay jaan,
na leho kaahe lagaye chhatiyan.

Wikipedia translates the lines as:

Do not overlook my misery
Blandishing your eyes, and weaving tales;
My patience has over-brimmed, O sweetheart,
Why do you not take me to your bosom?

Since I do not know enough Persian (I had to learn to speak it, though not to write it, to teach my students) and I know absolutely no Hindi, I cannot say anything substantial about the original text, but the English translation appears to place it squarely within the Persian poetic tradition.

The poet, btw, was born to an Afghan father and an Indian mother and grew up in Delhi. I presume that his mother tongue was Brij Bhasha, though he wrote mostly in Persian in his early years. Later in life, like many second-language poets today, he deliberately set out to write in what was to become a national language, in his case Hindavi (the early form of Hindi and Urdu).

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