Zauq was born in 1789, the son of a poor soldier. He received little education, but he had an acute intellect and a powerful and retentive memory. He was a God-fearing man and above all a great lover of poetry. He was so passionately devoted to the latter that he was surnamed Fina-fil-shair—one who has merged his existence in poetry. By his singleness of purpose he attained a fair degree of scholarship, as well as a proficiency in history, tradition, Sufism and astrology. He had no worldly ambitions. In his later years he lived a deeply religious life and spent much of his time in prayer. Zauq’s great contribution to Urdu poetry lay in the refining of the language. He was a great artist, who knew the value of words. His wonderful command of the technique of versification, his love of assonance and verbal music, and his vigorous imagination produced verses of such brilliance and finish that they shine like jewels. Zauq died in Delhi in 1854.
In the mirror of existence
Thou art both spectator and image.
Who but Thee
Could face Thine own glory ?
Thine ear is not attuned,
O heedless one,
To the music of the garden;
Else wouldst thou catch the hymns of praise
Emitted by every leaf.
As the glance sees all
But is itself not seen of the seer,
So the Lord dwells in the eye,
But hidden from the eye.
Our relationship may be compared
To that of a rose with its scent.
He remains in intimate proximity,
But hidden, subtle, fugitive.
The lightning that strikes down the harvest
Is the fire of wisdom.
Ripeness is ignorance.
What, though an infinity of waving cornfields
Lie compacted in a single seed! To us
The seed itself stands for the cornfield,
The drop of water for the river;
We see the whole Prefigured in the part.
I am that ancient affliction
That has for ages inhabited this desert.
For long years I lay as an atom
Buried in the bricks of the Mosque,
For long years was I part of the temple.
Through very simplicity I have been by turns
At war and at peace with the Friend.
Once there is enlightenment
There is neither friendship nor enmity with anyone.
When the bubble finally bursts
It unites with the shoreless sea.