Twenty-sixth January Poem by Sahir Ludhianvi Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


The poem “Twenty-sixth January” was written by Sahir Ludhianvi. The poem talks about the day on which India became a republic. The poem describes the struggles of the people to get freedom.On the other hand it also speaks about the fake promises made by the leaders.

About the Poet:

Sahir Ludhianvi was a poet and film song lyricist who worked in multiple languages. He was born in Ludhiana, Punjab, British India, in March 1921.Sahir Ludhianvi is the takhallus or pen name of the famous Indian poet Abdul Hayee. He wrote many poems in the Hindi and Urdu languages.


The poem “Twenty-sixth January” was first written in Urdu. Later it was translated into English. In the translated version it doesn’t have any rhyme scheme. So, the poem is in free verse.


The poet Sahir Ludhianvi used both iambic metre and trochaic metre in the original version of the poem.

Poem Analysis:

Lines 1-2:

Come, let us ponder on this question

What happened to all those beautiful dreams we had dreamt?

The speaker of the poem asks the questions to the readers. Before independence, some leaders made promises to uplift the lives of Indian people. After getting the power, they ignored the promises. So, the speaker is asking questions about all the beautiful dreams they tried to portray before getting the power.

Lines 3-4:

When wealth increased why did poverty also increase in the country?

What happened to the means of increasing the prosperity of the people?

The speaker is approving the fact that the wealth of the country has increased. But, on the other hand, the number of poor men has also increased. So, he is questioning the readers about the actions the leaders have taken for the prosperity of people. He wants to remind the leaders.

Lines 5-6:

Those who walked beside us on the street of the gallows

What happened to those friends and comrades and fellow travellers?

Before getting independence, all people irrespective of their age stood up for their freedom. But now, everything has changed. The leaders who made promises have forgotten the lives of people.

Lines 7-8:

What is the price being set for the blood of martyrs?

What happened to the punishable ones for whom we were ready to lay down our lives?

The speaker is questioning the leaders regarding the blood shed of people for independence. He feels that the leaders supported their party members and left the punishable ones loose.

Lines 9-10:

The helpless cannot even afford a shroud to cover their nakedness

What happened to those promises of silks and brocades?

The speaker feels that the poor people cannot even get out from their suffering. Nothing has changed in their lives. So, the speaker is asking the people who were governing the country about the fake promises they made to get the position.

Lines 11-12:

Cherisher of democracy, friend of humanity, wisher of peace

What happened to all those titles we had conferred upon ourselves?

The speaker talks about the titles like, Cherisher of democracy, friend of humanity, wisher of peace. All these titles were suitable to India before getting independence. but everything changed once we got freedom.

Lines 13-14:

Why is the malady of religion still without a cure?

What happened to those rare and precious prescriptions?

The speaker here talks about the religious disagreements. He compares this with disease. The phrases like “Unity in Diversity” couldn’t cure this disease in the minds of people. Even after getting independence, people’s mind got enslaved to these religious views.

Lines 15-16:

Every street is a field of flames, every city a slaughterhouse

What happened to the principles of the oneness of life?

In these lines, the speaker compares “street” to “a field of flames’ ‘. It metaphorically means that everyone is burning others’ lives. People have forgotten the oneness of life. It led to religious outbreaks in the country.

Lines 17-18:

Life wanders aimlessly in the wilderness of gloom

What happened to the moons that had risen on the horizon?

The people showed inhumanity towards one another. So, living in India feels like wandering aimlessly in a gloomy place. So, the speaker feels after getting independence,our dream of a free and proud nation vanished in the shades of religion. Here, the “moon” is the symbol of hope. He feels, even the moon had left India by seeing the inhumanity.

Lines 19-20:

If I am the culprit, you are no less a sinner

O leaders of the nation you are guilty too

The speaker accepts that he is one among the culprits. But, he feels that the leaders are equally responsible for breaking their own promises.

So, he says that leaders must also feel guilt for the sins they committed.