Published: March 24, 2021

In 1952, the great Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz (d. 1984) published a collection of poetry titled Dast-e Sabaa (The Hand of the Zephyr). This collection included a poem titled “Un Talaba ke Naam” (“For Those Students”) that was dedicated to young Iranian students who lost their lives in the struggle for peace and freedom. Since then it has been read as a tribute to the victims of every darkness that precedes light. It is in this spirit that we share it with you here, as a message of loss and hope in the aftermath of tragedy.

For Those Students

Who are these generous ones,
Of whose blood
The gold coins, clink, clink,
Into the earth’s continually thirsty
Begging-bowl are running,
Are filling up the begging-bowl?
Who are these young men, oh native land (of theirs),
These spendthrifts
Of whose bodies
The brimming youth’s pure gold
Is thus in fragments in the dust,
Is thus scattered street by street,
Oh (their) native land, oh native land?
Why did they tear out, laughing, and thrown away,
These eyes their sapphires,
These lips their coral?
The restless silver of these hands,
To what use did it come, into whose possession did it fall?

Oh questioning foreigner,
These boys and youths
Are fresh pearls of that light,
Are new-grown buds of that fire,
From which sweet light and hot fire
In the dark night of tyranny there burst forth
The garden of the dawn of rebellion,
And there was dawn in every mind and body.
The silver and gold of these bodies,
The sapphire and coral of these faces,
Glittering, glittering, shining, shining—
The foreigner who wishes to see,
Let him come close and look his fill:
These are the ornament of the queen of life,
These are the bracelet of the goddess of peace.

–Faiz Ahmad Faiz (trans. by V. G. Kiernan)

Here is a beautiful rendition by the contemporary poet and screenwriter Zehra Nigah: 

To read the poem in Urdu, Hindi, and transliteration, see: