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KARACHI: Urdu poetry assessed

August 14, 2004

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KARACHI, Aug 13: The Ombudsman of Sindh, Mr Yusuf Jamal, gave an assessment of Urdu poetry "After Faiz, Josh and Firaq." It was the speaker's favourite topic, so he enlivened the evening with his oration, quoting fluently couplets and verses, he found landmarks in literature.

The Library and Adbi Committee of the Karachi Gymkhana was the host of the occasion.

Although the speaker covered the entire Urdu poetry, but at the end he found that literature was losing its grip and the number of readers was diminishing by each passing day. Firaq from any poetic standard was a great poet and when he said:

Dekh raftar-i-inqelab Firaq
Ketni ahista aur ketni tez.

He knew that history was moving fast and the paradigm had changed. That slur of history was rare in present times. As for Josh, he was an ocean of knowledge with tremendous command on languages - Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Yousuf Jamal said.

Referring to the Progressive Writers Movement of 1936, Mr Jamal said, it had great impact on literature. Faiz in the company of Dr Ahmad and Dr Rasheed Jahan was influenced by the movement.

Later as the war (1945) ended, the literary movement was divided into two currents - Progressive, and the exponents of Halqai-arbab-i-Zauq. Also, the decade of the 40s saw the resurgence of patriotism, based on nationalism and also on religion.

The religious fervour also played its part in dividing the writers and the readers. Art and propaganda, both travelled side by side, when Faiz said:

Maen nay jo tarz-i-fughan ki hai chaman mein ejad
Faiz gulshan mein wohi tarz-i-fughan thehri hai.

Faiz walked on a thin and a very delicate line drawn between art and propaganda. But sadly, that diction was not followed by later poets, Yousuf Jamal said. Ahmad Faraz was popular for his romantic vein and was certainly a big name in resistance poetry.

Mr Jamal recalled N.M. Rashid, a master in the technique of poetic diction also acknowledged by Faiz. Among later poets - as he could recollect some noteworthy names - he mentioned Iftekhar Arif, Munir Niazi, Majeed Amjad, Aziz Hamid Madni, Jamal Ehsani, Perveen Shakir, Fatema Hasan, Shaheda Hasan.

He recalled Saqi Farooqui's couple of verses for their deep emotional appeal. As far Mustafa Zaidi - he would have developed into a great poet and would have "crossed the line", had he not died young, Mr Jamal remarked.

Mr Jamal in the end concluded that it was "an open-ended experimental talk", and should be followed by similar discussions on other genres of literature. Nasim Gandhi hosted the function and thanked the guests.