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JANUARY 2002 Contents
Asian Art -
at Every Alien Door'
Page 2 of 3
- Evolution & trends
Professor Gilani Kamran
Noon Meem Rashed (d. 1975), and Faiz Ahmad Faiz (d.1984) had already made a name in modern poetry in the War years (1939 Ė 1945). Rashedís Mavra (Beyond) was published in 1940, while Faizís Naqsh Faryadi (Complaining Sketch) came out in 1941. These collections were slim volumes of poetry. The maturer poetry of both Rashed and Faiz was published after 1947. Faizís Zindan Nama (The Prison Poems 1956) and Sar-e-Wadi-I-Sina (In the Sinai Valley 1971) give a wide spectrum of his creative talent. He employed erotic ghazal phraseology for the interpretation of socio-political reality. He believed that human suffering made life ugly. His cult of the Beautiful was social and human, and he admired those who struggled for a better future for common man. His poetry gave solace and hope to men in the developing societies of the post-colonial Afro-Asian world.
Rashedís La Mussavi Insan (x = Man) published in 1969, and Guman ka Mumkin (Speculations) published after his death in 1976, give him a very significant place in modern Urdu literature. His poetry is metaphysical, both in its content and treatment. He has portrayed the intellectual situation of educated Muslim generations of the early decades of this century, who had been confronted with the worldview where the traditional theological map appeared to have become outdated, and in its place a lonely world looked them in the face. Rashedís poetry employs emotion matured by thoughtful contemplation, and claims a close reading for rendering a rewarding meaning. His poems Israfeel ki Maut ( death of Israfeel), and Safar Nama (A Travelogue) are lovely pieces of great poetry. Rashedís poetic world is inhabited by crowds of bewildered men, by Adam, Angels, and by an archetypal figure Ė Hassan the pot-maker, and even by God. In a wider sense, Rashed has, through his poetry, addressed the educated generations of his culture at one of the most critical moments of their history.
Wazir Aghaís poems made nature a subject of discovery, and portrayed what is pleasant and good-looking in its various forms. He added manís sub-conscious self to the view of the human being and described his deeper spiritual anguish in a changing world. He believed in the sanctity of the Soul and portrayed it in metaphors that give finite descriptions to the amorphous phenomena. His poems also reveal a rational treatment, where the mind of the man of science appears to be entering the world of poetry in an unpoetical age.
Nevertheless, the cry of the dislocated man was heard in Munir Niaziís poetry. His weird imagery of ghosts and witches externalised the state of extreme dread, which generally haunts man when he enters a new environment with the details of massacres, arson and the genocidal scenes in his childhood imagination.
The traditional ghazal poetry found its most powerful voice in Nasir Kazmi (d.1972). (Ghazal is traditional poetry in Muslim culture based on mystical love phraseology). He wrote ghazals in a new strain of feelings, and made ghazal a vehicle of sorrowful experience. His ghazal is memory-based and its pathos emerges from recollections of past associations. His poetry had great appeal in the early years of Independence Ė it consoled and healed the bruised sentiments of the people who had undergone un told hardships in moving out of their original homesteads to come to Pakistan. Nasir Kazmiís ghazal is significant in the sense that it adds the anguish of abandoned homes to the tears and sighs of ghazal poetry.
In poetry, the note of political protest was represented by Habib Jalib (d.1995) , and Ahmed Faraz. Fehmida Riaz wrote her poems to project the feminist view of reality in the male dominated social order. In the tradition of ghazal poetry, Parveen Shakirís verses made a popular appeal for a fresh view of life and nature. Her ghazal poetry enriched the tradition with new metaphors and images.
An anthology of poetry in English language, named First Voices, was published in 1965. It introduced Ahmed Ali, Zulfikar Ghose, Shahid Hosain, Riaz Qadir, Taufiq Rafat and Shahid Suhrawardy. This anthology was edited by Shahid Hosain and published by Oxford University Press, Karachi. Taufiq Rafatís Arrival of the Monsoon was published in 1980. InamulHaqís Recollections appeared in 1984, Daud Kamalís A Remote Beginning in 1985, Athat Tahirís Just Beyond the Physical in 1991, Yousuf Abbasiís The Bleeding Roses came in 1981. Alamgir Hashmiís Sun, Moon and Other Poems was published in 1992. It was followed by Ejaz Rahimís The Imprisoned Air in 1993. Adrian Akbar Husain, Salman Tariq Kureshi, Nadir Husain, Waqas Ahmed, Jocelyn Ortt-Saeed, Hina Faisal Imam, Ikram Azam and Sikandar Hayat have also published their collections of poems.
The state of literature soon after independence had aroused a great controversy among the writers. Literature was expected to have a new direction, though it was rather early to relate literature to any undefined expectation. The short story on communal riots had fairly confused the spectrum. The writers who had migrated to Pakistan had their own views on literature. Nevertheless in 1951, Mohammed Hasan Askari (d.1978) made a statement that literature in Pakistan had come to a dead end, and there was inertia in literary activity. According to him the way out of this inertia lay in the discovery of national spirit for the inspiration of literature. In 1960, Askariís Sitara Ya Badban (The Star or the Sail) was published which attempted to resolve the controversy. There was no sense, he said, in being blown by the wind of popular ideas. Only the Pole Star guided the ships on the heavy seas. Askariís view was a calculated commentary on the western influence as an informing principle of literary activity. But the image of the Pole Star, though good and practicable for old navigation, could not define the nature of literary activity in Pakistan. He, however, suggested a creative back view of old literary tradition, but could not find a literary model produced in contemporary creative practice. In 1979, his book Jadidiyat (Modernism), which was published after his death, openly denounced the influence of modern West, particularly the western Reformation countries, and accused them of having alienated the spirit of man in the present time. Askari warned the writers in Pakistan to keep away from the Renaissance influences of the modern western world. He had, while denouncing the west, categorically looked for some ideal unification of the spirit and the body in creative writing. Nevertheless, his denouncement of the western learning had a following among writers.
The issue, which had been overlooked by Askari, was formulated by Jilani Kamran in his book Nai Nazm ke Taqaze (Principles of New Poetry) published in 1964. He pointed out that the real issue was that of literary identity, which could impart a distinctive coloration to literature produced in Pakistan. He offered the solution in the formulation of the question: Who am I? Ė which was supposed to provide cultural identity to oneís writing. Jilani Kamran introduced Sufism as the framework of poetic writing, and recommended the use of the Sufic Pronouns (I and Thou) as measures of emancipation from the morbid and unproductive social environment. His first collection of poems Astanze (The Stanzas, 1959) experimented within the stipulated requirements and his later work Bagh-e- Duniya, (The World Garden) published in 1987, elaborated his thesis by creating a literary model on the synthesis of Muslim ethos and Western learning. Bagh-e-Duniya was inspired by the idea of Muslim cultural renaissance. It is a long poem, with the archetypal figures of the Murshid-e-Qum (The Wise Man of Qum), the Children of Iblis, Sheikh-e-Jehan, Zinda Rud (Iqbalís poetic name), Alberuni and Ibn-e-Arabi. This poem by Jilani Kamran offers a hopeful view of reality and constructs the vision of a future in modern poetic idiom.
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