Tappa or ټپه, as we write it in Pashto, is the shortest, most comprehensive and most attractive poem of the world. Pashto language is proud of it. Tappa is an important part of the Pashto literature. It has a format of tow lines. The first of nine syllables and the second is of thirteen syllables.
According to Rajwali Shah Khattak, ‘ Tappa is the oldest and most popular genre of the Pashto poetry. It is liked very much by the Pushtoons of all ages irrespective of their age and sex. Countless Tappas have been added by unknown poets and are sung with unsurpassed popularity. Lyrically, the Tappa is a composition of two unequal meters, in which the first line is shorter than the succeeding one, yet it reflects all human feelings and aspirations elegantly. Be it laborers, peasants, or women, everyone’s sentiments find expression in the Tappa.
It is also common among the Pashtoons that a boy of school would sing it, the elders in their hujrahs, the women in their home and Godar alike. It is the only song sung in the time of grief and on the occasion of marriage. In music it is sung with the traditional Pashto musical instrument ‘Rabab’ and ‘Mangay’. Tappa has upto 16 different models of harmony. Nowaday it is being sung with full orchestra. Tappa is the song, which used to be sung without musical instruments but musicians have composed different compositions for it. In mountains and in the deserts, it is still sung without some instruments.’
Here are some tappas with English translation:
گلونه ډېر دي خداى دې ډېر کړي
د صبر گل به خپل اشنا له ورکومه
The garden is full of flowers but I have to present the flower of patience to my friend.
ځان دې زړو جامو کې جوړ کړو
لکه په وران کلي کې باغ د ګلو وينه
She dressed herself in tattered clothes and Looks like a garden of flowers showing through the ruins of a village.
بس کړه په دغه ځاى يې پرېږده
څوک چې ښايسته اشنا لري غمجن به وينه
Let us close and leave these Tappey alone, Those who have a beautiful lover, have to put up with some sadness…
Here are my two favourite tappas:
په لويو غرو د خداى نظر دى
په سر يې واورې په لمن زيړي گلونه
کابل د ښو ځوانانو ځاى دى
ما د نېستۍ د لاسه پرېښوده ميينه
A good collection of the tappas is available here.