Pashtu Poetry

Visions of Love: Sufi Poetry of the Pashtuns

Poetry by the popular poet, Abdul Rahman Baba.

Translated by Robert Sampson

This book is a celebration of the poetry which forms the core of the deeply spiritual and expressive oral culture of the Pushtuns. The poetry in this volume is a selection from the work of their most popular poet – Abdul Rahman Baba. The English translator has attempted to free the verse from the constraints of rhyme and metre to communicate its essence.


Contentment is the satin cloth under my
patched cloak;
I appear to be a beggar, but secretly am
king of the whole world.
Rahman Baba was born in 1650 and lived near Peshawar towards the end of the Mughal era. He wrote at a time when the mystical face of Islam, known as Sufism, was dominant in local culture. Like other Sufi poetry, a delicious ambiguity exists in the expression of love for the Divine and the human beloved. Rahman’s vision of love – with its soaring values of equality and tolerance – is a refreshing antidote to the obsession with rank, power and sectarianism that has so come to plague our world.

The poems are accompanied by photographs of modern-day Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan; monochrome in a sepia tint on cream coloured paper, with a photograph on every other page.

Published in 2008; English; 100 pages; 8″ x 7.5″ [Size]; Paperback; ISBN 978-969-8343-41-5

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Sow Flowers: A Selection of Pashto Poetry

Selections from Rahman Baba, The Poet of the Afghans translated into English by Robert Sampson & Momin Khan.

A selection of the most striking verse written by the famous 17th Century Pashtun poet, Rahman Baba. This simple, pocket-size book contains 120 of Rahman Baba’s best known poetic couplets, written in Pashto script with English translation.

Published in 2003; Pashto Script/English; 4″ x 5.25″ [size]; 56 pages; ISBN 969-8343-28-8

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The Nightingale of Peshawar: Pashto Poetry

By Jens Enevoldsen, selections from Rahman Baba

The Nightingale of Peshawar is an unsurpassed English translation of fifty poems from the work “diwan” of the 17th Century Pashtun mystic “Poet of Divine Love”, Abdur Rahman Baba. Each poem is also presented in the original Pashto script, with English poetic translation on facing pages, with cultural and linguistic annotations, and a scholarly introduction by Jens Enevoldsen.

Published in 1993; Pashto/English; Hardback; 7″ x 9.75″ [size]; 204 pages; ISBN 969-8343-00-8

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Rohi Mataluna: Pashto Proverbs

New Edition by Leonard N. Bartlotti and Raj Wali Shah Khattak.

Rohi Mataluna is a selection of 1,350 Pashto proverbs (mataluna) from the mountainous (rohi) Afghan borderlands. English translations and cultural annotations provide insight into the world of the Pashtuns from the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier. This second edition has been completely revised and expanded, and includes extensive notes on Pashtun culture; the social usage of proverbs; Islam and the “code of honor”; background stories; parallel texts; the poetics, form and structure of Pashto proverbs; and a detailed Index of key words.

Published in 2006 by Interlit Foundation and Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar; Hardback; 385 pages; ISBN 969-8343-35-0

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Sound the Bells, O Moon Arise: Pashto Proverbs and Folk Songs

By Jens Enevoldsen, with a preface by Dr. Leonard Bartlotti.

A selection of Pashto proverbs and tappas (folk songs) in Pashto script with English translation and cultural illustrations. “Through proverbs and tappas; Pashtuns paint miniature portraits of themselves.” This book provides a mini portrait gallery of Pashtun culture, including religion, ethics and human nature. It is a window into “a world in which faith and pakhto, honour and shame, power and weakness, friendship and rivalry are lived out in the dangerous, ambiguous social world of common Pashtuns.”

Published in 2000; Pashto/English; 5″ x 7.75″ [size]; 80 pages; ISBN 969-8343-15-6

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