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Poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote in English as fluidly as he wrote in Urdu. One of his English masterpieces titled ” The Unicorn And The Dancing Girl” is given below. In the 1960s Faiz wrote this script in blank verse for a short documentary on Mohenjodaro. It was never produced.

Dancing Girl

Dancing Girl

(an English original by Faiz)
In Pakistan as elsewhere in Asia
And Africa time past is time present
And in the past – the past
Which neither man nor history remembers –
There was no time.
Only timelessness.
The timelessness of the city of dead
And the graves of nameless saints
With their tattered flags
Which never rallied anyone to any cause
And their earthen lamps which shed no
Light on the mysteries of human darkness.
The timelessness of the unicorn
Presiding over pots and pans
Over weapons and vanities
Of the city of dead
Who is not even a unicorn
Is not even a legend
For even a legend is a memory
And the memory is in time
But the past is timeless
Like the eternal snows of
Timeless mountains
The eternal sands
Of timeless deserts
And the waters
Of the timeless sea
And written within this eternity of silence
The music of time began
In the leap of a lonely spring
Out of the encrusted womb of a wilderness of rocks
The joyous limbs of the dancing girl
Defying the motionless unicorn
And dancing waters on their festival
March to the sea.
Thus time was born
And cities arose on the plains
Attracting an unending caravan
Of human feet arching in and
Out of the timeless mountains
Parthians, Bactrians, Huns and Scythians,
Arabs, Tartars, Turks, and White Men.
But as time unwound its first
the unicorn which is the past
grabbed it in its blind hoofs
and spun it round and imprisoned it within itself.
And time became
The endless drone of the waterwheel
The creaking of the wooden cart
The hum of the spinning wheel
The closed spectrum of light and shadow
The heat and cold of the seasons.
Although men matched their strength
Against the wheel
To fight and create
Much that was good and beautiful
But everything moved within
Its own remorseless orbit
Even the dance of the dancing girl
Imprisoned within the circular whirl
Of her own limbs
And the gaze of eager eyes in a close-set circle.
For the wheel was fate
And custom
And the will of the unknown powers
Which predestined all beauty
To death and decay after its span
And mighty cities to dust.
And small men gave up
The fight
And accepted the yoke
To circumambulate their
Allotted round of days
Like blindfold oxen.
And the wheel was fate
And the yoke was ‘karma’
And fear and want and pain
And withering of age
And death with its mercy
And the tyrant with no mercy in his heart.
Until the present
And then the striving and the strain
The sorrows and dreams and passions and yearnings
Of numberless beings
Over untold centuries
Snapped the yoke
And broke the wheel
To unleash an orgy of frenzied movement
The wheel clanking away on steel tracks
Speeding on metalled roads
Whirling on airfields
In giant factories
Explosives ripping up the timeless
Mountains to release power
Earthmovers ploughing through timeless sands to admit water
Men and women
Boys and girls
Unyoked from fate and ‘karma’, and
Custom and the dream of an unknown will
The joyousness of the dancing girl
Rippling in abandon through the young flesh
Of countless limbs
And the unicorn reduced
At last to a mere design on a fabric
A mere decoration on the wall.
And yet
Time present is still time past
In faces
In places
In custom and ritual and the grave of the nameless saint
In hunger and want and pain and the withering of age
The birth of time out of timelessness
Is beset like all births
With travail, and hope, and joy and apprehension.
And its birth in Pakistan as elsewhere in
The newly liberated countries of Asia
And Africa
Is as yet only a small flag of freedom
Raised against
The bannered and embattled host of
Fear and want and hunger and
And the death of human hearts.