Bare Branches: Written by Ahmad Faraz, Translated by Daud Kamal
Read our complete notes on the poem Bare Branches by Ahmad Faraz. Our notes cover Bare Branches poem summary, analysis, and themes.
Bare Branches: The Poem
There’s not even the shred
Of a cloud
In the sky’s glittering desert.
The days are heavy upon us
And the trees
Empty of birds.
They have poisoned
Our streams and wells-
Even the air has turned hostile.
Blend your flame with mine-
Help me push back the years.
Poets are mirrors
And their reward
A shower of stones.
Bare Branches Introduction:
The poem is written in a harsh tone by a renowned Pakistani poet Ahmad Faraz and translated by Daud Kamal. The poem speaks of the ills and evils of politics. The poem is a corrosive satire directed to those who play chair game, for whom coming into power at the cost of the lives of the poor subjects is not a big deal. The poem is also a mirror to the readers who blindly follow the ill-intentioned politicians. The poem ends with a sympathetic view of poets who are never left un-accused.
Bare Branches Summary:
In the first stanza (line 1-3), the poet says that sky is showering a scornful heat and it has not a single bit of cloud that could give a hope of better weather. The sky`s glittering desert means that the sky has become a desert which is always hostile towards life and this desert like sky is not in a mood to shower rain- a symbol of life. The poet indicates that the scenario is full of heat and cruelty: there is not a single instance of hope for the people living under this sky. This is directed towards the people of Pakistan.
In the second stanza (line 4-6), the poet tells that the days are heavy upon us which clearly indicates that the cruel ruler has darkened the whole country and they cannot even breathe freely in a good way. he is of the view that the ruler`s fear is spread far and wide that even the trees are empty of the birds. The birds have migrated to the other regions for the fear of survival. This could also mean that the environment of the country is such violent and the air in so much engulfed in poisonous smells of the weapons that even birds cannot survive in it.
In the third stanza (line7-9), the poets states that the those who are in the conflict of shared interests and are against the happiness of subject have snatched the basic necessities of life form this poor and wretched creature. They have gone to such extent, they even poisoned the streams and wells. Water which is the symbol of life has been disastrously polluted with the weaponic material that it has become the symbol of death and people avoid using this water. It can also be said that cruelty has gone to such extremes that even the water is not safe means the whole country is in the vogue of war and war-stricken environment. In the next line the poet shares his grief over the misuse of aerial space and says that one can smell the explosive smells in the air. He says that no one is safe and politicians have brought the country to the brink of destruction.
In the fourth stanza (line 10-12), Ahmad Faraz suggests that it is only love that can vanish away the ravages of current time. He says that the true feeling which possess, are in need of your patriotic feelings and only then we can hope for the betterment of the situation. His call is for true patriotic people. He asks all the persons who want to have a better place for life to join hands sincerely to outbreak the monopoly of those few people who consider themselves the demi-gods of those poor people. In his opinion unity due to patriotic feelings can bring about the revolution and can demolish the shackles of tyranny.
In the fifth stanza (line 13-15), the poet tells that all the poets are the true mirrors of the society, they write what they see because they are sincere towards their nation and motherland. He says that poets are never biased against any political authority or any other institution but they are never celebrated, albeit, there true voice is always suppressed. He says that whenever a poet want to reform the society he is labelled with traitor and anti-country and that he is gifted with exile of different punishments. Here we can see an autobiographical note of Ahmad Faraz`s own life as well.
Bare Branches Themes:
The major theme of this poem is pessimism. The whole composure of the poem is of pessimistic note. The poet is talking about the dilemma of the country and his countrymen. He is trying to illustrate the backdrop of blond following. The country is at the verge of destruction, the environment is very gloomy and the layers of sadness, solitude and dejection can be seen around. Happiness can be found nowhere.
The poem is in fact a corrosive satire on the political situation of the country. He is inculcating it in the minds of the readers that because of the wrong decisions of politicians and selfishness, the country is to break down. He is making the people realize their fault of electing wrong people in to the business of government who are in the positions not for the betterment and welfare of the people but to satisfy their own greed of money.
The poem is in fact an invitation for the joining hands towards country and for the country. The poet wants to make the people recognize and rectify their mistake of wrong choice. He wants the people to start a collective effort for breaking the cruel chains of tyranny and to move ahead for the better future of generations to follow because it is now in their hands to make a bright future. As one of the poets has said;
Khuda Ne Aaj Tak Us Qoam Ki Halat Nahi Badli,
NA ho JIs Ko Khayal Khud Apni Halat K Badalne Ka.
Bare Branches Analysis:
The title Bare Branches is a metaphor for spring and desolated place. The poet through the title presents the very scenario of the country where the air is polluted with the explosives and water is contaminated with death instincts. The poet has drawn the picture of such a land where life survival is at risk because it had been brought to this condition by the natives who are the snakes in the sleeves. May Kis K Hath Pe Apna Lahoo Talash Karun,Tamam Shehar Ne Pehne Huwe Hain Dastaney.
The poem can be analyzed from the following three perspectives.
- Political instability
- Martial Law
- Colonial Systems
Taking the first point, it can be seen that the poet wants to demonstrate that the wrong choice of people can be very hazardous for the country and its subjects. Sending wrong people to the cabinet can bring about calamitous changes in a country as we have witnessed in 1971. The poet is trying to teach the lesson that it is because of the in competent government that a country falls into political instability and this political instability does not only cause rift inside the country but the economical, financial and international relations of the country are badly affected. The overall progress of the country gets stopped, as can be seen in the case of Afghanistan. He also opines that the people who possess wisdom and want to use their rights in raising voice against such incompetent people are always in hot waters because of the majority given to those loafers by the illiterate and blind following class.
Martial law has never been a desired sort of government in any country across the globe. Forces are to protect the country not to run the day to day to business of the country. It has been very unfortunate that Pakistan has continuously been fallen in to the hands of greedy Martial administrators who have done nothing for the welfare of people rather they have filled their accounts. Ahmad faraz is of the same opinion that Marital law has adversely affected not only the overall progress of the country but in fact it has also made an environment of uncertainty due to which people have started going abroad. He says that those Martial law administrators, for the sake of their longer regime, suppress the voice of masses raising against them and spread a wave of horror and terror inside the country. This has also been seen that the people of writing have always suffered in such regimes and this is what exactly Ahmad Faraz writes towards the end of the poem because he along with some other voice raising poets suffered very much.
In colonial system, we see that the colonized never progress because the colonizer never appreciate the progress of colonized. The colonizer wants to suppress the colonized because of their own insecurities. We have witnessed extreme massacres in subcontinent under British Raj. The poet poem is highlighting such scenarios where the colonizers have subjugated the colonized for their own benefits. Not going far, the Qissa Khwani , Peshawar massacre in 1928-29 where Britishers killed many of the innocent Pashtuns in order to maintain their hold over them. The second and third stanzas of the poem are depicting these situations when people avoid coming out of their homes for day to day life because of fear.