I remember the days when I tried hard to make sense of the following powerful poetic verses by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. It was my first semester in Masters. Then, I started reading about the history of this nazm that was titled as ‘Zindāñ Ki Ek Shām’.
zulm kā zahr gholne vaale
kāmrāñ ho sakeñge aaj na kal
jalva-gāh-e-visāl kī sham.eñ
vo bujhā bhī chuke agar to kyā
chāñd ko gul kareñ to ham jāneñ
These magical lines were written by Faiz in jail. Faiz revolutionized the emotion and challenged the framework of power with a brush of love. His poetry, rich in progressive thoughts and active commitments, made him the revolutionary poet of his time.
One hand dipped in romance and another in patriotism, Faiz intentionally portrayed his concern regarding the sufferings of common public, downtrodden masses and women in his poems.
He was well versed in the classical poetry in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Persian, and English. He once said, “The true subject of poetry is the loss of the beloved” as he was the true follower of Sufi poet Rumi. His philosophy of life, was measuring people who had been excluded or marginalized. He was a great proponent of love for all human beings. A trait which can be traced in the mystic verses of Rumi.
Faiz also rejected the notion of “art for art’s sake” where he beautifully talked about the eternal creativity of beauty and love, not only dwelling into the ideas of beauty and love, but he also carried the voices of the downtrodden in his poetry seeking justice for the sake of humanity.
Apart from his poetic skills and being a revolutionary poet, Faiz was a journalist, songwriter, and activist. Faiz believed that poetry is not just weaving words into a lyrical form, it is also a struggle not only for life but also for art. This struggle of art made him the first Asian poet to win the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963, and also a nominee for the Nobel Prize.
Faiz with his powerful pen blended the 14th-century ghazal (drawn from Punjabi poetic ideals like loss and longing, as well as from Sufi philosophy) with 20th-century modern poetry like free verse into beautiful master piece.
Faiz’s poetic verses were sunk in the ocean of love with a wave of revolution.
I would like to conclude it with the thought-provoking lines of Faiz in which he poured his emotions and doubts on despondency borne out of the partition of India:
ye daaġh daaġh ujālā ye shab-gazīda sahar
vo intizār thā jis kā ye vo sahar to nahīñ
ye vo sahar to nahīñ jis kī aarzū le kar
chale the yaar ki mil jā.egī kahīñ na kahīñ
falak ke dasht meñ tāroñ kī āḳhirī manzil
English translation :-
This freckled light, this night-eaten dawn,
This is not that long-awaited dawn break,
This is not the dawn in whose longing,
We set out believing we would find, somewhere,
In heaven’s forest within stars of destination..”
Views expressed by the author are personal.