We, Who Were Slain In Unlit Pathways

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Inspired by the letters of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Wishing for the roses of your lips
we offered ourselves to a gallows' twig
Longing for the radiance of your glowing hands
we let ourselves be slain in unlit pathways

On the gallows away from our face
darted the redness of your ruby lips,
waved the playfulness of your youthful locks,
shone the glow of the silver palms.

When the evening of suffering settled in your alleys
we came, as far as our steps could bring
Words of poetry on our lips, a lamp of anguish in our hearts
Our suffering was a testimony to your beauty
See, we were faithful to our pledge
We, who were slain in unlit pathways.

If failure was our destined end
your love was indeed our own doing.
Who is to blame if all the roads of passion
led to the killing grounds of separation.

Picking up our flags from these grounds
will march forth more caravans of your lovers
For whose journeys' sake, our footsteps have
shortened the lengths of the agonizing quest
For whose sake we have made universal
by losing our lives, the pledge to your faithfulness
We, who were slain in unlit pathways.

(Montgomery Jail, 15 May 1954)

(Prison Journal)

© Faiz Ahmed Faiz