Is It Plagiarism?

Mansur Qureshi

Quratulain Haider is one of my favourite writers. She had a very thorough knowledge of English literature and quotes English poets ever so often in her works, translated into Urdu so beautifully that they could pass as original Urdu writing. She always took care to credit the original poets to avoid any possibility of accusations of plagiarism. Her integrity in this respect is very well established. I was extremely surprised, therefore, when I did not find any credit given to anyone for the following beautiful lines which appear in her short story titled 'Sar e Rahe'. They don't stand separately on their own and appear to be an integral part of a free flowing Urdu text:



The first time I had read 'Sar e Rahe' in her collection of short stories titled 'Sheeshay ke Ghar' some years ago, I had admired the beauty of these lines as I had admired the beauty of many other lines in the same short story. But this time they rang a bell and I could recall William Butler Yeats' famous poem 'He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven' of which these lines turn out to be an almost word for word translation. Following is what Yeats had written:

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

I do not believe that Quratulain was trying to pass off these lines as her own work. My copy of the book, published by Sang e Meel Publications, Lahore in 2004 does not credit Yeats for these lines. Did the earlier copies do that? Is there another explanation? I would really like to know so that I can defend my favourite author against any suggestion of (inadvertent) plagiarism.
End of text