Amir Khusrau’s ‘The fine lads of Delhi’

Delhi and its fine lads
with their turbans and twisted beards
openly drinking lovers’ blood
while secretly sipping wine.

Willful and full of airs
they pay no heed to anyone.

So close to the heart, they rob
your soul and tuck it safely away.

When they are out for a stroll
rose bushes bloom in the street.

When the breeze strikes them from behind,
see how the turbans topple from their heads

When they walk, the lovers follow,
blood gushing from their eyes.

Their heads puffed up with beauty’s pride,
their admirers’ hearts are gone with the wind.

These cheeky, simply Indian lads have made
Muslims into worshippers of the sun.

Those fair Hindu boys
have led me to drunken ruin.
Trapped in the coils of their curly locks
Khusrau is a dog on the leash.

(From his masnavi Qirān al-sa’dain. Translation by Sunil Sharma. )

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