Opinion| Taj Mahal—One of the Wonders

Creative Corner

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is considered a symbol of love and beauty. In this case, I want to present it through the eyes of an Indian poet, Sahir Ludhianvi. He offers a different perspective on it. He focuses on the poor workers who built this palace. My favorite thing about this world is the universality of human emotions of love contrasted with the unbalanced distribution of wealth. Powerful people enjoy the benefits at the expense of the poor. My favorite part is the repetition:

“Even so, my love, let us meet someplace else.”

The primary emotion is not hatred of the structure, but rather aggression at society's contradictions. This poem is rich in irony. The poet mocks the tomb when he says love is doomed forever under this mausoleum.

Before quoting a poem, I’d like to quote the background of the structure of Taj Mahal: (Source Cited: Encyclopedia)

“Taj Mahal, also spelled Tadj Mahall, mausoleum complex in Agra, western Uttar Pradesh state, northern India. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahān (reigned 1628–58) to immortalize his wife Mumtaz Mahal (“Chosen One of the Palace”), who died in childbirth in 1631, having been the emperor’s inseparable companion since their marriage in 1612. India’s most famous and widely recognized building, it is situated in the eastern part of the city on the southern (right) bank of the Yamuna (Jumna) River. Agra Fort (Red Fort), also on the right bank of the Yamuna, is about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the Taj Mahal.” Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

Here is the poem:

For you, my love, the Taj Mahal
may well be the quintessence
of ardour; while full well
may you regard
this exquisite vale. Even so,
dear one, let us meet
someplace else.
What worth, these lowly ones,
loitering in the halls of the lords,
where on every path lie etched
remains of pomp and glory?
What worth then, the passing
of lovelorn souls?
My love, behind the veils
of love’s proud proclamations,
did you see the signs
of imperious grandeur?
You, who revel
in mausoleums of dead kings,
did you not heed the dark hovels
that fostered us?
Beyond count are those, in this world
who have lived and loved.
Could anyone deny the truth
of their passions?
But they, like us, stay destitute,
without the means
to erect monuments to their love.
These edifices, these tombs,
these battlements, these forts,
haughty relics
of the conceit of emperors
are left behind like resilient creepers
on the face of the world,
seeped in the blood
of our forefathers.
My love, those artful hands
who created this beauty
would have lived
and loved too; but their lovers
are long gone, nameless,
without a trace.
To this day, no one has lit
a candle in their memory.
The lush gardens and palaces,
the Yamuna’s edge;
the exquisitely carved portals,
the arches and niches,
the handiwork of the one
emperor who, buttress’d
by infinite wealth
has mocked our very love,
our impoverish’d, destitute love.
Even so, my love,
let us meet
someplace else.
Poet: Sahir Ludhianvi Translated By Mustansir Dalvi
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Muhammad Nasrullah Khan is the publisher of Creative Corner. His short stories and poems are well-recognized internationally for his unique style. His creative work has appeared in Adbusters, Evergreen review, Indiana Voice Journal, Newtopia Magazine, Gowanus Books,Offcourse literary Journal University at Albany, The Raven Chronicles, and many others. His book is available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D7WZXVL

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