It is high time that the poetry of Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem get its due. It is now well-known that Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem (distinguished father of Mr. Muslim Saleem, a prominent journalist and litterateur) worked in obscurity and isolation in Pakistan toward the end of his life. His democratic and liberal views came head to head with dictatorial regimes and extremist tendencies.
His ideal was that the peoples of the world belonging to various religions and ethnic groups pursue their faith according to the dictates of their conscience and live in harmony with one other.
On a personal and micro level, he valued human values more than worldly grandeur. Dr. Saleem has expressed in his Urdu ghazal, "DASTE TALAB NA KAR DARAAZ JAAHO HASHAM NA KAR QUBOOL," what a person should strive for in life. It is a universal truth that poetry in one language does not lend itself well to translation into another language; something unique to its linguistic and poetic tradition is always lost in the transformation. However, I have made an effort at its translation as follows:
Neither ask for, nor accept, the vainglory of this world
Refuse to stoop to begging for coins
Know that your dignity should not be debased
Do not accept the comforts of life for which you must degrade yourself
If you have no gold, silver, pearls or diamonds to give away
Then it is shameful to accept them
Do not complain endlessly of tyranny
Nor shake your fist at Heaven, nor accept an agony of pain
Life is short; hence do not suffer during the lovely Spring
Enjoy the pleasure of the morn and do not accept the sadness of the night
Better to sacrifice the grandeur of a king for dignified poverty,
Choose the simplicity of Arabia and reject the pomp of Persia
O Saleem, bring into your heart a mother's love, not your own ego,
As you love God, refrain from wasting yourself on earthly desires.