A Child’s Prayer, translated by Manal Salman

May my wish leave my lips as a prayer,
May my life be that of a candle flame, dear god
May the world’s darkness fade with this spirit of mine
May every place light up by the shine of mine
May my home be beautified by this spirit of mine
The way a garden is beautified with flowers

May my life be that of a moth, dear god
May I love the flame of knowledge, dear god
May my work be supporting the deprived
May I love those who are hopeless and needy
My dear God! Protect me from evil!
Guide me on the straight path

 

I chose this poem because I was familiar with it as my parents grew up reciting it in their schools. I heard it very often and did not always understand what it meant. The beauty of translating it was that I discovered the true meaning of this poem and found that it was a not just a poem, but a prayer. Some words were in complex Urdu that I did not understand and so I talked to my family to find out the meanings and it really connected me to my culture. I tried my best to retain the rhyme scheme, but it was challenging as words in Urdu do not sound like English. It is a short yet powerful poem; really emphasizing the power of words and hope.

 

Original poem by Allama Iqbal