unheeN ko waqt ne sauNpi hai aaj raahbari

ke jin ke naqsh-e-qadam se hai raaste bezaar

-Ehtisham Hussain (1912-1972)

A rough and ready rendering into English would read...

Fortune has given such people leadership

Of whom the paths (by extension, the masses) are weary

While the lines need no interpretation, the beauty of the shair lies in the interplay of raahbari (leadership, raahbar—guide, raah-way) and raaste in the second line.

A renowned critic associated with the Progressive Writers’ Movement, translator and poet, Syed Ehtisham Hussain Rizvi hailed from Azamgarh, a cradle of Urdu literature which produced a galaxy of brilliant men who embellish the pages of the language’s literary history. Professor Ehtisham Hussain was the Head of the Department of Urdu at Allahabad University and is acclaimed as one of the front ranking critics of recent times.

Ehtisham Hussain was not a prolific poet, but wrote using original turn of phrase.

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