Poem - Main aur Maikhana

In the Tavern

Urdu poetry brims with talk of wine and tavern-keepers;

The tavern has always been the poet’s second home,

As he taunts the abstemious preacher.

Poets have fired so many arrows at preachers over the centuries

That not a single arrow remains in the quiver.

I too am a poet, but somehow I don’t fit this mold:

I neither drink nor treat my friends to drink,

And I’ve never made the preacher the object of my barbs.

One day, when the restaurant was full, I had to sit at the bar;

Seeing my unease, the bartender said,

“Yes, I can bring drinks, but also food to feed you;

I can make you drunk, but I can keep you sober as well.

All this is part of my profession.”

I wish the preacher had been there to see this sight:

A sober poet in a tavern, eating dinner,

While the tavern-keeper safeguarded my faith.