KARACHI: Scholars have described the death of famous marsiya nigar (elegy writer) Sahir Lakhnavi as a great loss to classical Urdu marsiya, saying he was the last of the poets of his generation, who kept alive the tradition of classical marsiya in the subcontinent.

Sahir died after protracted illness here on Monday.

Sahir Lakhnavi, whose name was Syed Qaim Mehdi Naqvi, was born on Sept 6, 1931, when his family temporarily stayed in Karachi. He held degrees of MA, LLB and DILL.

He left behind four daughters and a son. He penned around 20 books, including three collections of marsiya — Ayat-i-Dard, Ahsas-i-Gham, Mata-i-Gham — and a collection of qaseeda.

Sahir Lakhnavi showed his proficiency and skills in nearly all genres of poetry, including ghazal, qataat-i-tareekh, qaseeda (a poem in praise of someone) and nazm, but marsiya and qaseeda were his specialties where he demonstrated his excellence, writers and poets told Dawn on Tuesday while expressing their sorrow over the demise of the poet.

Prominent scholar and poet Prof Sahar Ansari said that an era of classical marsiya had ended with the death of Sahir Lakhnavi. The late poet was “the real ambassador” of the Lakhnavi scholarly culture in Karachi, he said. He added that Sahir spent his whole life in educating the younger generation on the importance of linguistics and the use of appropriate words in writings.

He kept the traditions of classical marsiya alive with his classical pieces of elegies, but he also commented on current issues in his marsiya, which showed that his style of marsiya writing was different from the works of Anees and Dabeer.

Noted poet and researcher Dr Hilal Naqvi mourned the death of one of the senior poets of his time in the subcontinent, and said that Sahir Lakhnavi was a descendant of the Ghufran Ma’ab family, the prominent learned and religious family of Lucknow. The late poet was the author of various books on different topics, including poetry and history. He spent the last two decades with severe health problems, but he did not stop reading and writing, which spoke volumes over his higher level of dedication towards research and literature.

He pointed out that the deceased poet in his famous book, Marsiya Per Aitrazat Ka Tanqidi Jaiza (A critical review of the objections raised about marsiya) carried out a profound research work on the front of marsiya. In the book, he defended the literary stature of marsiya, and responded to the allegations of famous critics on elegy, he said.

Dr Naqvi lamented that Urdu literature and marsiya lost a great poet and writer.

Prominent intellectual and poet Firasat Rizvi said that the death of the respected poet and writer had added to the scarcity of learned people in the metropolis. He said that after partition Karachi had become the hub of literary artists and intellectuals, but now the city had lost a number of great personalities such as Sahir Lakhnavi. He said that the poet had worked on many literary fronts such as linguistics, prosody (Ilm-i-Arooz), history, theology, tafseer, seerat, etc.

He said Sahir was dedicated to his ideas and literary work as the prolonged illness could not stop him from writing. Most of his 20 books were published during his poor health, he mentioned.

The poet also had a profound insight into ancient Urdu and Persian literature, he said and added that Sahir was famous not only for his extraordinary poetic skills and work but also for his high-quality prose. Mr Rizvi described Sahir’s death as an irreparable national loss.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2019