Rendered into English Verse by Taufiq Rafat
This book is a collection of poems by the great Sufi poet of Punjab, Bulleh Shah (1680–1758), translated into English by Taufiq Rafat, one of Pakistan’s premier English language poets.
Born Abdullah Shah, Bulleh Shah belonged to the oral tradition and his poems are primarily in Punjabi as well as in Siraiki. Bulleh Shah’s poetry is in the Kafi style, already established with the Sufis who preceded him, and extensively use the Rubbay (Quatrain) form. Several of his verses are an integral part of the traditional repertoire of Qawwali, the musical genre which represents the devotional music of the Sufis. Following the tradition of Sufi poetry, the poems in this collection refer to love of or for God, or the Mentor, or the desire for absorption in nature, described through symbolic references to local customs pertaining to weddings, funerals, journeys, and harvests.
Playwright, translator, and poet, Taufiq Rafat (1927–1998) was regarded as one of the finest Pakistani poets writing in English. Postulating a fundamental ‘Pakistani Idiom’, he revolutionized English language writing in this country by adapting and naturalizing English to express the Pakistani experience.
Born in Sialkot in 1927, Rafat was educated at Dehra Dun, Aligarh, and Government College, Lahore. His work featured in all three of Oxford University Press’s early collections of Pakistani English poetry, First Voices (1964), Pieces of Eight (1970), and Wordfall (1976). He was published overseas in the celebrated literary-political journal, Encounter, as well as in Poems of the Commonwealth, and Mentor’s Modern Asian Literature. His first collection of poems, Arrival of the Monsoon, was published in 1985, and Taufiq Rafat: A Selection, was published as part of Oxford University Press’s Jubilee Series in 1997. Half Moon, his last collection of poems, appeared posthumously in 2009. His poems have been set in secondary school and college English courses in Africa, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as in the Intermediate English syllabi in the Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan.
Rafat’s renditions of Punjabi classics into English include, Puran Bhagat by Qadir Yar, and the poems of the great Sufi master Bulleh Shah.