Ella Frances Sanders



I learnt a lot about Urdu poetry last night and went to sleep entirely exhausted; I find such extensive digging to be both inspiring and heartbreaking, because I can never know what it feels like to talk or write in these tongues as a native speaker. But their beauty is unchanged by that, and in addition to the quote I did yesterday for Day 37 of the 100 Day Project, below I've got a handful of intrigue and other small snippets of Urdu poetry consisting of couplets, or Sher, often used to form Shayari, which is a musical form of poetry allowing a person to express deep feelings or explain sentiments rhythmically. It goes without saying that this rhythm is lost in translation, but they are still rather lovely.

I can also tell you that Urdu poetry is fundamentally performative, and that poets gather to perform their works at events called Mushaira, which are a much beloved aspect of the culture. I imagine that would be an entirely astounding thing to attend. There seems to be too many great poets of Urdu to count, but among them are: Meer, Dard, Ghalib, Anees, Daag Dehlvi, Dabeer, Iqbal, Zauq, Josh, Akbar, Jigar, Faiz, Firaq, Shakeb Jalali, Ahmad Nadeem, Qasmi, Shair, Mohsin, Faraz, and Faizi. It's quite overwhelming. I then got stuck wondering why the name of the poet kept appearing in the actual pieces, and consequently found this: In the Urdu poetic tradition, most poets use a pen name called the Takhallus (تخلص). This can be either a part of a poet's given name or something else adopted as an identity. The traditional convention in identifying Urdu poets is to mention the takhallus at the end of the name. The word takhallus is derived from Arabic, meaning "ending". This is because in the ghazal form, the poet would usually incorporate his or her pen name into the final couplet (maqta) of each poem.

This is by Iqbal, mentioned above.

Ye khaamosh mizaaji tumhe jeene nahi degi
Isdaur me jeena hai to kohram macha do

Anees, Naddem

And these two seem to be unknown in terms of author, but you'll see why I couldn't resist.

Ik esi b ghari i thi ishq may k hum
Khak ko hath lagaty tu sitara karty

Humne kaanto ko bhi narmi se chua h aksar
Logbedard hai jo phoolo ko masal dete hai

We have touched even thorns softly,
People are so heartless that they squash flowers.

And lastly, I couldn't find an Urdu translation for this, but the line rather stuck and I'll keep looking for the source.