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Ghalib Urdu English Poems



Ghalib, Faiz’s forgotten English poem discussed
KARACHI Three meaningful sessions on Urdu poetry, with especial reference to Ghalib, were held on the penultimate day of the 4th international Urdu conference at the Arts Council on Thursday.

The title of the first session, presided over by Dr Shamim Hanafi and conducted by Naqqash Kazmi, was Ghalib-i-Ahd Afreen.

Dr Rauf Parekh immediately gave impetus to the sitting by analysing Ghalib’s objection to lughat naveesi (lexicography).

He said at a turbulent period in Indian history when Ghalib had time on his hands, he began flipping through Burhan-i-Qaitey and it didn’t take him long to find faults in it. He said this sparked off a series of arguments and counter arguments as four books against Ghalib’s observations were published. Quoting Nazeer Ahmed, Dr Parekh then gave a list of Ghalib’s objections and found loopholes in them.

He said Ghalib introduced those words into the Persian language which lacked credibility.

Amjad Tufail’s paper was on Ghalib’s influence on modern Urdu poetry. He unequivocally remarked Ghalib saw ahead of his time even before Sir Syed, and it was he who had advised Sir Syed to think along modern lines.

Talking about the poets who were openly impressed with the great poet, he said Iqbal, like Ghalib, had touched on philosophical topics in his nazms and ghazals. He said Faiz’z concept of raqeeb (rival in love) was also borrowed from Ghalib and Rashid’s Persianised diction too was inspired by his work.

Dr Zafar Iqbal’s topic was Ghalib’s prose in light of his letter writing.

He said two aspects clearly came out of his epistolary communication: humanism (insaani hamdardi) and caring for others (ghamgusari). He argued that Ghalib’s prose writing was a reflection of his personality.

Dr Qazi Afzaal Husain summarily rejected some of the earlier speakers’ observations, stating it made no difference what Ghalib thought of dictionaries or who wrote in Ghalib’s style; what mattered was that Ghalib stood tall among the rest of Urdu poets by virtue of his creative prowess. It was Ghalib’s creative prowess which changed the direction of tradition in Urduliterature — he neither had a predecessor nor a successor.

Dr Alia Imam said Ghalib was a timeless poet and his thoughts were relevant to date.

Turkish scholar Khalil Toqar shed light on the interest with which Urdu was learnt as a language in Turkey.

He lamented that some students had started taking interest in the language, but when they witnessed disinterest for the language in Pakistan, they were putt off.

Dr Shamim Hanafi commenced his paper on Ghalib by suggesting the topic was a challenging one.

He said it’s time we discussed great writers without using the crutches of terminologies (istalahat). He said the era in which Ghalib existed was full of tumult and the city he identified himself with had undergone tremendous destruction. In the face of it all, Ghalib kept going steadfastly, feeling the pain of his time.

He was a non-conformist and a bohemian. As far as the language went, he was an iconoclast. Though he was in favour of modern times, he was never impressed with the British. In many of his ghazals he looked back in time with wistfulness.


Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din
Baithey rahein tasawwar-i-janan kiyey huay


(The heart longs for old times
When we did nothing but think of beloved)



He said in the aforementioned ghazal, Ghalib repeatedly used the word ‘phir’ (again) which signified how hurt he was with the changingtimes. Yet he was adamant that:

Apni hasti se hi ho jo kuch ho
Aagahi gar nahin ghaflat hi sahi
(The self should attain everything
Be it wisdom or mindlessness)

The second session was on modern Urdu poetry. Ziaul Hasan was the first speaker who threw light on contemporary ghazal writing.

He said though experiments which were done with the genre by modern poets hadn’t been successful, they nonetheless kept its inherent strength intact. He said it was in the 1970s that new trends began to emerge, but in the 1980s they manifested themselves with full force. He said the genre brimmed with possibilities. He claimed it’s not how correctly words were used in ghazal but how creatively they’re employed which mattered.

Yashab Tamanna talked about those poets who were writing Urdu poetry in the UK.

Obaid Siddiqi told the audience that ghazal was such a powerful form that in India even poets of regional languages were adopting it. He said the word ‘modern’ was often confused with ‘new’. He pointed out ghazal was influenced by Persian, but it were Firaq and Nasir Kazmi who liberated it from the Persian clutches.

Syed Mazhar Jamil read out an interesting paper on one of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s forgotten poems written in English and published in the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore in March 1961.

The poem titled The Unicorn and the Dancing Girl was written against the backdrop of Moenjo Daro. He iterated Faiz not only wrote poems in Urdu and Punjabi but also in English, a fact which critics hadn’t looked into the way it merited. Sarshar Siddiqi, who presided over the meeting, objected to a speaker’s view that ghazal was a genre in which just two lines (misrey) were used.

The third session, conducted by Javed Hasan and presided over by Farhad Zaidi, was dedicated to two giants of Urdu poetry N. M. Rashid and Majaz.

Ambreen Haseeb Amber read out an analytical essay on Rashid and highlighted the element of storytelling (dastaan goee) in his poetry. She complained that his poems were read in bits and pieces and not in entirety.

Prof Sahar Ansari spoke on Majaz. Combining his speech with anecdotes and excerpts from some of the poet’s famous nazms, Prof Ansari commented that despite the great stature of the poet not much research work on Majaz had been undertaken. He mentioned Mustafa Zaidi in the same vein.

In the end known TV artiste Talat Husain recited five of N. M. Rashid’s poems, including Hasan Koozagar and Andha Kabari.

In the end two books –– Justuju Kia Hai by Intizar Husain and Jalib Jalib by Mujahid Barelvi –– were launched.

Known poet Anwar Masood was listed to recite his humour-laden poetry after the launch.
(Dawn)

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