Thu. Feb 9th, 2023

English translation of the famous Khowar Lyrical song “Torkhow Bagh-e-Bustan”

Poet: Late Sher Nawaz Khan from Mehlp, Torkhow

Translator: Zahid Ali Nizari Shorkharvi

  1. I wish it would have rained over the arid wheat field. My heart would have undergone juvenescence if my Beloved had smiled.
  2. O my Mirza-e-Alam (unique personality of the world), thou hast really become a Mirza, Thou hast put a dagger (filled with potion of love) into my heart.
  3. Turned to Blue Pigeon, I will hover over Beloved’s home. Put a gold embroidered cap on silky hair.
  4. It is easy for me to tell your door from the neighboring doors: the latch is copper made. The Malang is eager to see you.
  5. Torkhow is a garden filled with perfume (of colorful blossoms); Istaru is its Shahr-e-sham. O my soul, I wish that I may not see myself parted from you.
  6. There is a high Nakh (a plank- made bed) in front of your house, with a willow tree over it. May Allah grant you to me while you are still beautiful.
  7. I shall circumambulate your village; your village is a shrine (sacred place) to me. Illuminate my way, o my Ruby and Jewel.
  8. If I were a Qalamdar (qalunder/ amulet-maker/mystic), I would wander in the homeland and help the aims and wishes of the lovers and beloveds come true, with my blessings and prayers.
  9. O my Mirza-e-Alam, neither the damsels of the country nor the celestial ladies of the paradise are as beautiful as is your (small) finger. (A single finger of your outshines /surpasses their beauty).

10. The battlefield of the army of my love has come to be unoccupied. My sweetheart having left, the homeland of my heart has come to be unoccupied.

11. Arise, o my soul! The sky has turned to whey (become bright and clear blue); come and warble to me for it is soothes heart to hear your sweet voice early in the morning.

12. O my Mirza-e-Alam, my soul; don’t weep. Cast not on the rival the amorous eye which you have ever cast on me.

Critical Analysis of the Khowar Folk Song “Janat Sonoghur”

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions, says William Wordsworth, the poet of nature, in the history of English literature. Wordsworth used common rustic language as a befitting means of expression of powerful emotions in appreciation of nature. These very elements of simplicity of language, powerful imagination and spontaneous overflow of it, are manifested in the poetry of Sonoghro Malang.

It is a descriptive lyrical poem, with uneven distribution of stanzas, with various rhyme patterns, most of which are couplets. We can title it‘Ode toSonoghur’. Various figures of speech especially simile, metaphor and irony are found in the poem.

Late Ziarat Khan Zerek,who is said to have created panegyric poetry in praise of the Ahl-e-Bait and the Imam of the Time, wrapped in the veil ofadmiration of his native village, was a prominent figure in the history of Khowar poetry. Some refer to his poetry to be mystical. One stanza is given below as an example. This was written when the 48th Imam Aaqa Sultan Muhammad Shah’s (A.S) Imamat Platinum Jubilee was celebrated. The poet says:


Ta Malang khurushiasumzamano sum, hi zhan, dish dunyo sum

Lohpaisotolkoronyandurdano sum, hi zhan, durdnno sum


Traslation: I, Thy Malang (lover/hermit), am cross with the contemporary age, and with the unpromising world. They weigh base coinage with the Pearl___ alas!___ with the (most valuable) Jewel (of Spirituality).

Here I would like to discuss “JannatSonoghur”, which can be rightly called a Masterpiece. The poet uses imagery in a skillful way. He successfully utilizes the form of language that suits poetry. Almost ever

The famous folk song ‘JannatSonoghur’ is one of the popular lyrics in the history of Khowar language and literature. In this song, the famous poet, Late Ziarat Khan Zerek, known as ‘Sonoghro Malang’ describes the scenic beauty of the breathtaking valley of Sonoghur_____ the poet’s native village, and known far and wide for its natural beauty. He describes its attractiveness, alluding to its cool and fresh water; luscious fruit; beautiful water channels; mouthwatering blackberry; and the chirping and twittering and warbling Maynas of brown attractive colour and Mayon, a local bird of eye-catching  beauty famous for its sweet and melodious voice;. He makes skillful use of his extraordinary imagination in admiring the velvety green grass and the umbrella over him——– the metaphor umbrella has an implied meaning and refers to the shadowy trees which give cool comfort to the body and mind.

Along with this, he also expresses his gratefulness to Allah, for His Bounties and Benevolence, in the following stanza.


Ma mulagaazbakhmal, sorashukhoor

Dunyaoyotam, Allaheishukoor


Translation: I am sitting on the velvety grass, beneath an umbrella (perhaps the shadowy tree or the sky). O Allah, I am thankful to Thou for the Bounties Thou hast provided to me.

The poet was his namesake____Zerek___ literally meaning Wise and clever or shrewd. In the eyes of common folk he was Gaderi, Madman. He satirizes the cold attitude of the people in these words:


JannatSonogur ugh ochemewa

Sonogro Malang, Gaderiawa


Translation: Jannatsonoghur (is famous for its crystal clear pristine cool spring) water and (it’s delicious luscious juicy) fruit. (However for my decision of turning the upper barren part of sonoghur to an irrigated lovely land, now in the eyes of the locals) the Malang of Sonoghur is a Madman.

This stanza can be linked to the fact that when he asked the locals to dig a canal to make the steep upper area of Sonoghur habitable and cultivable, which had been left barren, they refused to do so. Disappointed by it, he set himself to work. Every day he would dig a small length of canal with the aid of an antler-made pickaxe and then fill it with earth. To see this, the other people declared him “Gaderi’___ literally meaning The Madman. But to their surprise, a day came when this seemingly unwise act proved to be a really wise deed; he had completed a long water canal. Perhaps the poet uses this title as irony and satire at the society. Thus the poet has proved his practical wisdom and shrewdness in the form of Kishmanja above the mainland of Sonoghur.

Another stanza from one of his poems is shared with the honorable readers.

Phurduruk ma khoshmilkhonokoriDuderyargoyanmilkhonowori

Translation: Phurduruk (a common wild herb) is beloved to me (only) owing to (its growing in the neighborhood of) Milkhon (a popular eye-catching purple fragrant flower of the violet family). From a long distance is coming the sweet smell of Milkhon.

In these lines, Zerek alludes to the expected advent of the good time, when he will see his beloved, for whose Didar he has been waiting for long. Probably the flower Milkhon symbolizes his beloved, and Phurduruk symbolizes the people who live in the company of his beloved.

To sum up, Khowar literature is rich in almost all genre of literature; its poetry shows the great power of imagination the poets were gifted. Ziarat khan Zerek has produced truly commendable form of lyrics for which he will always be remembered as one of the greatest poets of Chitral.

May his soul rest in peace!

Zahid Ali Nizari is a Lecturer in English at the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School Kuragh.

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