Sabz…The Persian word سبز sabz means “green”, “black”, or “dark”. In Persian erotic poetry, dark-skinned women are addressed as sabz-eh. Green the color of nature, presents itself in so many shades and tones in the hills and mountains, truly dark beauties standing tall, peering at you from different places. Gulzar captures these moments, these lamhe, in this poem.
After I read this poem, I tried to visualise the many views of the hills covered with trees that I have been fortunate to see. I always wonder when I stand looking at the trees so far beyond, that seem like a speck, what lies beside it, can I reach it, what path leads to it?
What I loved most about this poem was the eagle or the storyteller, bringing us the story about different trees, like they were real people, with their quirks and idiosyncrasies. It reminded me of my house-help and how she bought us news from our apartment and stories from around the neighbourhood block.
If Green is the color of jealousy and envy, would the color of gossip be jade or may be olive?
Sabz Lamhe from Selected Poems by Gulzar
safedi cheel jab thak kar kabhi niche utarti hain
Pahado ko sunati hai
Purani dastaan pichle pedo ki!
When tried of winging around
The white eagle descends
It speaks to the mountains
Of trees that once were.
Wahan deodar ka ek unche kad ka, pedh tha pehle
Woh badal baandh leta tha kabhi pagdhi ki surat apne patto par
Kabhi doshale ki surat usi ko ordh leta tha~
Hawa ki tham ke bahe~
Kabhi jab jhumta tha, use kehta tha,
Mere pao agar jakrhe nahi hote, mein tere saath hi chalta!
There a tall deodhar had stood once
It would tie the clouds to its leaves like a turban
Or wrap them around like a shawl
Holding the breeze
Swaying, it would say
If i was not rooted, i would waft away with you!
Udhar sheesham tha, kikar se kuch aage
Bahut larhte the woh dono~
Magar sach hai ki kikar uske uche kad se jalta tha~
Surili sitiyan bajti thai jab sheesham ke patto mein,
Parinde beth kar shaakhon pe, uski nakle karte the
And there, a little ahead of the keekar
Was a sheesham
The two would fight a great deal
But the truth was that
The keekar was envious of the sheesham’s height!
When the wind whistled through the leaves of the sheesham
The birds on its branches would imitate the sound.
Wahan ek aam bhi tha,
Jis par ek koyal kahi barso tak aati rahi~
Jab bor aata tha.
Udhar do teen the jo gulmohar, ab tak baki hai,
Woh apne jism par khode hue namo ko hi sehlata rehta hai
Udhar ek neem tha
Jo chandini se ishq karta tha
Nashe mein nili padh jati thi saari pattiyan uski.
There was a mango tree too
For years a koel would alight on it as it flowered
Nearby were a few gulmohars, of which only one remains
It spends its time assuaging the pain
Of the names gouged on its body
And here a neem tree, in love with moonlight
Drunk with joy its leaves would turn blue
Zara aur us taraf parli pahadi par,
Bahut se jhadh the jo lambi-lambi saanse lete the,
Magar ab ek bhi dikhta nahi hai, us pahadhi par.
Kabhi dekha nahin, sunte hai, us waadi ke daman mein,
Bade barghad ke ghere se badi ek champa rehti thi,
Jahan se kaat le koyi, wahi se dudh behta tha,
Kayi tukdho mein bechari gayi thi apne jungle se!
A little further away, on the next mountain,
A rustle of pines could be heard breathing deeply
But today not one can be seen there!
I have not seen but it is said
That in the embrace of that valley lived a champa
Larger than the big banyan tree
Lush, milk white sap oozing from its cuts.
The poor champa was taken away
From this jungle in so many pieces.
Safeda cheel ek sukhe huye se pedh par bethi
Pahadho ko sunati hai purani dastane unche pedho ki
Jinhe in past-kand insaan ne kaanta hai, giraya hai,
Kai tukde kiye hai aur jalaya hai!