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Speak Up is a revolutionary poem originally written in Urdu as “Bol Ke Lab Azad Hein” by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. In this poem, the poet urges his countrymen to speak up against injustice, violence, and foreign rule. The poet uses strong metaphors to fill courage among the people. The poem has been divided into three stanzas which we will discuss in detail.
Speak, your lips are free. Speak, it is your own tongue. Speak, it is your own body. Speak, your life is still yours.
The poet asks his countrymen to speak up as their lips are free. They should speak up because the tongue in their mouth is their own, similarly, their body is their own and their life is still their own. No one can exercise rule over our speech or our body. Hence we should use our freedom to speak up against the colonial rule.
See how in the blacksmith's shop The flame burns wild, the iron glows red; The locks open their jaws, And every chain begins to break.
The poet then asks his countrymen to look into the blacksmith’s shop. There when flames burn wild i.e. the heat becomes intense, the iron kept in the fire becomes red. All the lock which had earlier captured the iron open their jaws and all the chains holding the iron break.
Here the poet is trying to show the power of courage and strong willpower to his countrymen. “wild burning flame” symbolises our anger against the rulers, and red iron symbolises people with strong resisting power. Once we overcome our fears and exercise our freedom, all the locks and chains will break away and we will be able to achieve our real freedom.
Speak, this brief hour is long enough Before the death of body and tongue: Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet, Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.
In this stanza, the poet says that we should speak because this brief time that we have is enough for us before our body and tongue die i.e. until we die, we have enough time to speak against the colonial rule.
We should speak because the truth is still alive i.e. colonial rule is repressive and against humanity. Hence we should speak whatever it may be. The poem gives a strong message of courage, passion, willpower, and the goal of standing against the wrong.