What is the summary of "Do Not Ask My Love" by Faiz Ahmed Faiz?

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This poem does two things: it puts our own losses and sorrows in perspective when held against the great evils that exist in the world, and it asks that we do not dwell on what has been tried failed, but rather look to the future and to fixing those existing ills—those things over which we may as yet have some control. The poem is spoken to an old lover, and the first seven lines concern the relationship between this person and the speaker; the lovers lived, at that time, in a world populated only by each other. “Beyond your eyes,” the speaker wondered, “what could the world hold?” At that time, “the world’s grief was far.”

But with the dissolving of their relationship the reality and vastness of the world crept back into the speaker’s life, and his or her own trials suddenly seem trivial in comparison to all else that the world contains. “The world knows sorrows other than those of love, / Pleasures beyond those of romance.” Life is not one person’s relationship, but a vast global empire of emotion, of beauty and terror and everything in between. And after enumerating a handful of the terrible things that are going on in the world today—slavery, war, subjugation—the speaker asks two questions. “My gaze returns to these: what can I do? / Your beauty still haunts me: what can I do?”

With this juxtaposition, the speaker affirms that there are ways he or she can be useful in the fight against evil in the world; there are no ways he or she can be useful in pining for a lost lover. The latter of these things is hopeless; the former is not—it is  instead a good fight, and an honorable one. And so, at the end of the poem, the speaker repeats that the world is greater than the sum of one couple’s lost love; that there is real, damaging suffering occurring all around us, and so the speaker asks of his own past lover, “Do not demand that love which can be no more.” There are greater ills which demand our attention—things that can still be changed.

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