Iqbal,Eagle and me

1 Oct

“From love’s plectrum arises
the song of the string of life
Love is the light of life
love is the fire of life”
    ― Allama  Muhammad Iqbal

Allama  Muhammad Iqbal is the poet- philosopher of Pakistan. In India Iqbal is most well known for writing the patriotic song Saare Jahan Se Achchha Hindustan hamara ( Anthem of people of Hindustan). Its ironical. Iqbal is also well revered in Iran and Central Asia. I want to focus on Iqbal use of ” Eagle” as a metaphor. That’s struck me most and put an indelible impression on me.  Here is a poem..

The Eagle’s Advice to its Youngster

“You know that all eagles are, of essence, one:

A handful of feathers, they have the heart of a lion.

Be of good nature, and of mature strategy

Be daring, dignified, and a hunter of big game.

Do not mix with partridge, pheasant, and starling

Except if you should desire to hunt.

What lowly, fear‑stricken group they are

That they wipe their beaks clean with dust!

The falcon that imitates the ways of its prey

Becomes the prey of its own prey.

Many a hunting bird that descends to earth

Perishes through mixing with pickers of grain.

Take care of yourself  and live in contentment.

Live the life of one brave, strong, and rugged.

Leave for the quail the soft and delicate body;

Develop a vein tough like the horns of a deer.

Any joy that becomes the lot of the world

Is due to hardship, toil, and fullness of breath.”

Well did the eagle speak to its son:

“One drop of blood is better than pure wine.

Do not, like deer and sheep, seek out company;

Go into seclusion like your ancestors.

I remember this of the words of the old falcons:

‘Do not make your nest on the branch of a tree.’

We do not make nests in garden or field,

For we have a paradise in mountains and deserts.

To pick up grain from the ground is an error,

For God has given us the vastness of the skies.

One of noble stock, if he scrapes his feet on the ground,

Becomes more despicable than a house bird.

For falcons the rock is a carpet­

Walking on rocks sharpens the claws.

You are one of the yellow‑eyed of the desert,

You are noble of nature

You are noble‑born, one who, on combat day,

Draws out the pupil of the tiger’s eye.

Your flight has the majesty of angels,

In your veins is the blood of the falcon.

Under the humpbacked, revolving sky

Eat what you catch, be it soft or hard;

Do not take your food from another hand,

Be good and take the advice of the good.”

Source :

I rediscovered Iqbal from a speech of brilliant cricketer turned politician Imran Khan. ( please refer to post on Imran Khan)  The great man quoted Iqbal ” Oh falcon , do not be scared of this gusts of wind hitting at you, they are only meant to take you higher”. It struck me and helped me tide through trying phases of life. Every body is kind and encouraging but you got to face  adversities yourself.  That’s love. Iqbal’s poems helped me grit through or knuckle through. I am still work in progress. I made Love and strength  religion.

In my little notebooks, have written down English translations of Iqbals’s ” Shaheen” ( Eagle). Yes I got my first tattoo done on Eagle. My little way to internalize Iqbal. I still read it in my dark phases. I read it today and compelled to share this with you. The poetry is  passionate and in the hands of the true , it is a benediction but shudder to think in the hands of the fundamentalists , it could be  lethal. I hope Iqbal gives strength to all.  

Love and strength to all. Hope you like the poem. Have a nice day friends. Thank you!

3 Responses to “Iqbal,Eagle and me”

  1. followyourshadow November 9, 2013 at 3:09 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. Really enjoyed it

    • sureshvn November 9, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Most Welcome ! God bless you!


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