Shahr Ashob by Saqib ( after 1857)

, Sher o Sukhan

From The Lament for Delhi1
Shahab al-Din Ahmad “Saqib”:

(Nawab Shahab al-Din Ahmad Khan Bahadur, pen-
named “Saqib,” the eldest successor of Nawab Ziyaʾ al-Din Ahmad Khan Bahadur; peerless in the
universe as a composer of poetry and prose, of the elect disciples of Nawab Asad Allah Khan Bahadur

Ancient Sky, Delhi’s mortal enemy,
what did you gain when Dehli’s every trace was lost?
Alas that Shah Jahan’s building should be dug up!
Alas, for Delhi’s splendour has been razed.
Neither the Fort is there, nor its old street.
Why, then, should Delhites think Delhi is Heaven?
Thanks to this city’s ruin, other cities are peopled.
Delhi’s autumn is the worldly meadow’s spring.
Why shouldn’t Delhites bemoan their luck
when Bakht Khan takes taxes from Delhi?
There were thousands of musicians with enchanting melodies, but now
the few ones left are singing elegies for Delhi.
God sent us a governor, just and wise,
then some of Delhi’s houses were peopled again.
Who is that ruler of Jamshed’s rank? Cooper sahib!
May he be called the Shah Jahan of Delhi!
Night and day, the citizens of Delhi chant:
God save the ones who brought such grace to Delhi!”
Once more the Jama Masjid’s bustle fills the market,
once more, every store in Delhi is adorned.
There is a beautiful museum in the Fort
like a Chinese idol-house it watches over Delhi.
Chandni Chowk was ruined, but then built anew
let us call it the youthful fortune of Delhi.
The colour of adornment in the Chowk’s garden is such
that even Paradise swears by the life of Delhi.
No doubt Iranians will hear this ghazal, and they’ll say:
“Perhaps Saqib was of the knowers of the language of Delhi.”

(From Salahuddin Ahmad, ed., “Fughan-e Dihli” (Lahore, 1954 [Delhi, 1863]

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