M. Jalil's poems

IF YOU ARE NOT THERE...

Though mad nightingales their joying
to the springtime garden tell -
Will the world for me be joyless,
if you're not with me as well!

Though the woods and grasses rustle,
though the apple - tree blooms fair,
Still the sweetest fruit is bitter
if my loved one isn't there!

Though the butterflies are flitting
and disporting on the lea -
I'll be sad unless my pretty,
dainty butterfly's with me!

Even angels, even peris
are for me a host of shades -
If there's not with me my lovely,
my incomparable maid!

1920
Translated by Jessie Davies

TO AMINA

That will do, my pretty sage. Please, no more.
With such trifles pure affection don't mar.
You'd not strike a fellow traveller, would you?
You and I - our road runs far, very far.

I am loyal to you with all my heart,
I'll be true to you till dust turns to dust.
Do you want to make me bitter and sore
When I see you look at me with distrust?

Since I know that I've committed no crime,
Just the thought of trial and sentence seems
unfair:
All your dreadful charges don't mean a thing,
So my dear, my biased judge, please forebear!

1937
Translated by Lydia Kmetyuk

THE GIRL'S SONG

My beloved, joy of my life,
To fight for his land departs.
My beloved, joy of my life,
Is taking his friend's heart.

I am parting from my beloved.
How hard it is to part!
Let him come back to his native land,
Through all battles pass unharmed.

The news I await and love him
I'll be sending to my djigit.
The news I await and love him
Is to him the sweetest gift.

June 1942
Translated by Dmitry Priyatkin

A PLEA TO MOTHERLAND

Forgive me, Motherland, whose name
Was on my lips in bitter strife,
Forgive me - to your sacred glory
I failed to sacrifice my life.

I didn't betray you for a moment
To save my life, a speck of dust.
The Volkhov Front knows - I to my oath
Was faithful to the very last!

I feared not when I heard the blast
Of bombs and bullets' buzzing sound.
I faltered not when blood and corpses
Was all there was to see around.

Although on every side the road
Was cut, although my chest was burnt
With my hot blood, I shed no tear -
My limbs were weak, my soul was strong.

The shade of Death, raw - boned and morbid,
Game close to me, and then I thought:
"Oh, take me, Death! To end in bondage,
A wretched slave, my life refuses!"
Yes, it was I wrote to my darling:
"Be not afraid, clear is my aim:
I may be dead, I may be wounded,
But never will my oath be stained!"

Yes, it was I wrote fiery verses
In bloody combat: "I have sworn
That when I see my Death approach
In His face I shall smile with scorn!"

I wrote: "Your love, my darling, will help
Me face the pain of death
And, spelled in blood, my dying words
Shall witness to my faith!"

I wrote: "I'll give my life in combat
And then lie peacefully asleep."
Believe me, Motherland - to a burning
Heart this the oath to keep.

But Fate was cruel, Fate was mocking...
And Death, you've not borne me away.
What could I do - at a fateful moment,
Quite suddenly, my pistol failed.

A scorpion is firmly biting
Himself when he's besieged by fire,
An eagle proudly rushes down
The cliff - and such was my desire.

Believe me: yes, I was an eagle
And, to avoid the hostile nets,
I wished to spread my wings, go rushing
Down from the cliff to meet my death...

I wished... but could I?... My companion,
My pistol, would not say a word,
The enemy took hold of me
And tied my hands until it hurt.

Now I'm in bondage... Every morning
I look to the East, where new days start,
The flame of vengeance bursts in poems
From a captive eagle's wounded heart...

The East is like a friendly banner,
It paints in red the skies at dawn...
I wish, I wish you knew, my dear,
It's not with pain, with grief, with fear
With wrath my captive heart does burn!

There is one hope - a night in August
Will help me flee the dungeon deep.
My sacred wrath, love for my country
Must help me break from slavery!

There is one hope - that soon, dear comrades,
Of your ranks I'll form part again,
With mutilated, but unbending,
Unstained, inviolable heart!

July 1942
Translated by Dmitry Priyatkin

FREEDOM

When with the light of dawn I am awaking,
Or when I sink into sleep's dark abyss,
I have a feeling that there's something wanting,
That there is something very much amiss.

My hands and feet ... they do not seem disabled,
I seem quite sound of body and of soul.
It's freedom that I lack! Yes, that's the trouble.
I cannot breathe the air a captive's doled.

When in captivity your speech is stifled,
Your living body is of life deprived.
And then it doesn't matter, not a trifle,
Whether you are dead or still alive!

Even if my limbs are whole, what do I profit?
It really makes no difference that they are.
My right to move of my free will is forfeit,
My every step, my every song is barred.

I grew up without parents yet I never
Felt hopelessly bereaved and all alone.
But now I've lost what I held even dearer:
My native land, the land that was my own.

In hostile country I am held a captive,
An orphan without liberty or home.
But to my foes I'm nonetheless destructive,
And so my life has been confined in stone.

Just like a golden bird you've flown forever,
My winged liberty, my freedom fair.
If only you had let me go together...
Oh why did I not perish, then and there?!

There is no way to plumb, no way to fathom
The pain that racks the heart for freedom lost.
When free, I did not know the price of freedom,
In slavery have I learned what freedom costs!

Should destiny one day destroy this prison,
And should it find me here and still alive,
To liberty, the sacred fight for freedom
I'll give each moment that remains in life.

July 1942
Translated by Lydia Kmetyuk

PARTING

A parting with a friend is past all bearing
When there's no hope of meeting any more.
Especially if the riches you can boast of
Comprise of love and friendship, nothing more.
When heart with heart are merged in such a
oneness
That they would die once they are torn apart,
And when the trials and labours of existence
Without one's friend would simply be too hard,
Your friend from you by destiny is severed
Forever, at a stroke right from the clear,
And lips are pressed to lips the last time ever,
Your face is seared by one last bitter tear...
There was a time I had so very many
Good comrades and true friends I held so dear.
Now I am all alone ... but now as always
Upon my cheek I sense their fervent tears.
I've no idea what storms and trials await me,
But even when my skin is parched with years,
No matter if the trace they leave is bitter,
I'll always quicken to a friend's last tear.
In life I've known much sorrow and affliction,
I have no tears left, my eyes are dry.
But I'd have found a tear for one I cherish.
The joy of seeing a friend would make me cry.
It is not days, but months and years of sorrow
That press down heavily upon my breast.
Oh, Fate, a meeting with a friend vouchsafe me!
It's really such a trifle I request...

October 1942
Translated by Lydia Kmetyuk

TO A FRIEND
А. А*

Don't take it hard, my friend, this too - soon
exit.
Immortal life... who bought, or made a deal?
You see, the kind of life a fellow chooses
Marks off his years and on them sets its seal.

But time itself, between your birth and death,
Is relative, an aspect of your day.
Our blood, outpouring, might be a beginning
Whose deathless wonder time shall not allay.

I swore an oath: I swore I'd give my life for
My people, country - all that they imply!
For this, though years by hundreds lay before
you,
Now wouldn't even you this moment die?

Through nights of endless dark, one waits the
dawning:
So I, for news of home, in this grim hell.
But if a whisper reach me from my birthland -
And I on foreign soil - what strength upwells!

To save my skin at the expense of honour:
No, better let me die! What would remain
Of life indeed, if your dear Motherland
Could spit right in your face - the face of Cain?

Such "happiness" as that, I have no need of.
Far better, death - no wrong is meant, I swear.
But in my homeland to become a stranger
So even water is begrudged me there?

Old fellow, see, our life is the minutest
Of sparks - our undefeated country is so vast.
Like sparks we die, go out - from death so
fearless
Will blaze a light transcendent, unsurpassed.

This death will put its mark on loyalty,
And as to courage - all our land will know.
Dear friend, and isn't it the culmination
Of our young lives? There'll be no bigger show.

If we're cut down so young, like growing
saplings,
Our roots without our people still will grow.
And youngsters say: As brave as that, that's
something! Death must be met by everybody - SO!

October 1943
Translated by Gladys Evans

* A.A. - Abdullah Alish, a Tatar writer, Jalil's comrade - in - - arms in the prison underground.

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