This book is a companion volume to K.C. Kanda’s earlier book, Masterpiece of Urdu Ghazal which contained English translations of 108 ghazals selected from nine major poets: Wali, Dard, Mir, Ghalib, Momin, Hasrat, Iqbal, Firaq and Faiz. The present volume contains 129 ghazals, representing 20 outstanding urdu poets: Mohd. Quli Qutab Shah, Siraj, Sauda, Zafar, Insha, Aatish, Zauq, Ameer Meenai, Dagh, Hali, Akbar, Shad Azimabadi, Fani, Chakbast,Asghar, jigar, Josh, Sahir Ludhianvi, Nasir Kaazmi and Bani. Thus this anthology, taken together with The Masterpiece, may rightly claim to be a fully representative collection of Urdu ghazals in English translation.
The ghazals included in this volume are carefully selected, keeping in view their intrinsic, artistic quality, the universality of their content and their accessibility for the average reader. Each ghazal is first presented in Urdu calligraphics; this is followed, on the opposite page, by its English translation which, in turn, is followed by the Romanized versions of the Urdu text. Further, the selection of each poet is preceded by a brief biographical-cum-critical note, and an authentic portrait of the poet. Another important feature of the book is the introductory essay on Urdu ghazal, which discuss in detail the origin, development and peculiar characteristics of this art form.
K.C. Kanda has taught English literature to under-graduate and post-graduate students for over 30 years in Delhi University. He holds a Doctorate in English from the University of Delhi, and M.A. degrees from Punjab and Nottingham University (U.K). He is also a first class M.A. in Urdu from Delhi University.While English poetry has been his specialty professionally, Urdu poetry has been his love since his school days. His publications include : An Anthology of English Poetry (Arnold Heinemam, 1976); The Two Worlds of Tennyson (Doaba House, 1985); Masterpiece of Urdu Rubaiyat (Sterling Publishers, 1994). The earlier volume, Masterpiece of Urdu Ghazal, is now counted among the bestsellers. K.C. Kanda is currently working on the Master Poems of Urdu, which would contain English translation of famous Urau nazma in verse form.
This book is a companion to my earlier volume, Masterpieces of Urdu Ghazal, which was published in 1990, and contained English translations of 108 selected ghazals from nine major poets: Wali, Dard, Mir, Ghalib, Momin, Hasrat,Iqbal, Firaq and Faiz. The Masterpieces received some good, commendatory reviews in various journals and newspapers and is now classed, according to the Indian Review of Books (March-April, 1993) among the top ten best-selling books of non-fiction. Some reviewers of the said volume had opined that my selection, rich and representative within its limits, had left out certain famous Urdu poets, whose contribution to the ghazals is by no means inconsiderable. In fact, I was myself aware of this deficiency, and had expressed the hope, in the preface, that I would, in due course, produce the second volume, which would fill the gap and introduce the readers to another set of outstanding poets whose ghazals now form a valuable part of our literary heritage. Accordingly, I present in the following pages a collection of 129 ghazals, representing 20 poets, arranged in a chronological order: Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah, Siraj, Sauda, Zafar, Insha, Aatish, Zauq, Amir Meenai, Dagh, Hali, Akbar, Shad, Fani, Chakbast, Asghar, Gondvi, Jigar, Josh, Sahir, Nasir Kaazmi and Bani.
Anyone interested in Urdu poetry would agree that these are the most well known poets whose ghazals are much sought after at literary and cultural gatherings. It was the want of space, and not the want of deserts on the part of these poets, which compelled me to exclude them from the Masterpieces. Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah, the first poet of the series, has a unique historical importance, for he is the founding father of Urdu poetry and has left behind him a voluminous collection of rich and varied verse. Insha, Aatish, Amir Meenai, Shad and Chakbast are representatives of the Lucknow School, without whom the story of the Urdu hazel would remain incomplete. Nasir Kaazmi and Bani represent the new trends in modern Urdu ghazal, which is eager to break with the traditional poetry of love and romance and explore new recesses of the human mind. This anthology, taken together with its companion volume, may thus rightly claim to be a fully representative collection of Urdu ghazals in English translation. The present day living Urdu poets are, however, outside the plan of this book.
The ghazals included in this volume are carefully selected, keeping in view their intrinsic artistic quality, the universality of their content, and their accessibility for an average reader. These poems are then rendered into simple, lucid and rhythmical English, taking care to preserve their sense and spirit, and to reflect, as far as it is possible in translation, the cadence and metrical effect of the original. Feeling that an essential part of the appeal of the ghazal lies in the music of its rhymes, have attempted rhymed verse in my translations. However, when a suitable rhyming word eluded my grasp, I have taken recourse to assonance instead of rhyme.
I am aware of the inadequacy of translation as a substitute for the original. The inadequacy becomes all the more pronounced when the language of translation is far for removed from the language of the original, as is English from Urdu. But I am assisted in my task by my innate love of Urdu poetry, and an intimate understanding of English poetic idiom, acquired over a long period of studying and teaching English as a student and university teacher. Moreover, I am prompted to undertake this task not by any external pressure, or by considerations of material gain, but by spontaneous impulse, and a desire to propagate the pleasures of Urdu poetry. There is no gainsaying the fact that poets are great benefactors of society. They give us intellectual and emotional delight, uphold us in times of distress and depression, humanize our feelings and enrich our mind. This translation is my humble return for the rich fund of joy which these poets have offered me at all hours of rain or sunrise.
The pattern followed in this book is similar to the one adopted in the Masterpiece of Urdu Ghazal. Each ghazal is first presented in Urdu calligraphics: this is followed, on the opposite page, by its English translation, which, in turn is followed by the Romanised version of the Urdu text. The Romanised version should enable even the non-Urdu knowing readers to have a feel and flavour of the Urdu language. Further the selection of each poet is preceded by a brief biographical-cum-critical note which should help the reader in relating the poet to his milieu, and in understanding the features of his mind and art. The biographical note is also accompanied by an authentic picture of the poet.
Another important feature of the book is the introductory essay on the ghazal, which discusses in a clear, lucid manner, the origin, development, and characteristics of this art form, and explains with suitable illustrations, the kind and quality of its salient themes, imagery and idiom. The introductory essay is, in fact, a revised version of the one prefixed to the Masterpieces. It is hoped that the book will succeed in kindling and satisfying the intellectual and aesthetic tastes of the lovers of poetry.
I am beholden to all my friends who provided me with necessary assistance and encouragement in the writing of this book. I am specially grateful to Professor J.S. Neki, my friend and counselor, from whose valuable advice I have always benefited. I am also thankful to Professor Gopi Chand Narang, the renowned scholar and National Professor of Urdu, who gave me the initial stimulus to undertake this work, helped me in choosing the poets and getting useful background information about them. For my source material I have drawn entirely upon Delhi University Library (North Campus) and this would not have been possible without the help and cooperation of my valued friends in the library: Mr. M.L. Saini, Mr. N.A. Abbasi and Mr. R.C. Chibber, to all of whom I offer my sincere thanks. I am no less indebted to Mr. Ali Siddiqui, Founder and Originating Secretary of the Aalmi Urdu Conference, who as before, furnished me with the portraits of some of the poets, which now adorn these pages. Affectionate thanks are also due to my son, Dr. Arun Kanda, who painstakingly scrutinized the manuscript and proofs and pointed out many typographical errors. Finally, I am obliged to Shri S.K. Ghai, Managing Director, Sterling Publishers, who took sustained interest in the preparation of this book, and gave it its present beautiful shape.
In the introductory essay on the Ghazal pre-fixed to the Masterpiece of Urdu Ghazal, I have discussed in detail the salient features of this form, and examined its characteristics themes, imagery and technique. For the benefit of those who haven’t had an occasion to read this essay, reproduce below the main points of my arguments, with suitable illustrations, chosen, generally, from the poets included in this volume.
The form of the ghazal originated in Iran in 10th century A.D. It grew from the Persian qasida, which verse form had come to Iran from Arabia. The qasida was a panegyric written in praise of the emperor or his noblemen. The part of the qasida, called tashbib, got detached and developed, in course of time, into ghazals. Whereas the qasida sometimes ran into as many as 100 couplets or more in monorhyme, the ghazal seldom exceeded twelve and settled down to an average of seven or nine couplets. Because of its comparative brevity and concentration and its lyrical potential, the ghazal soon eclipsed the qasida and became the most popular from of poetry in Iran. It was nurtured, among others, by Rodki, Saadi, Hafiz, Naziri, Iraqi, Maulana Romi and Urfi.
In its form, the ghazal is a short poem rarely of more than a dozen couplets in the same meter. It always opens with a rhyming couplet called matla. The rhyme of the opening couplet is repeated at the end of the second line in each succeeding verse, so that the rhyming pattern may be represented as AA, BA, CA, DA and so on. It is not just the rhyme at the end of the line, returning in every alternate line which produces the special musical effect of the ghazal. This effect derives itself from the combined action of what are technically called qafia and radif. Qafia is a rhyme-word which generally occurs towards the end of the line, but before the radif which marks the end of the line and is repeated, often unchanged, throughout the ghazal in the second line of each couplet. In the following line of Ghalib: “Dil-e-nadaan tujhe hua kya hai”, “hua” is the qafia and “Kya hai” each line, wheras “hua” is replaced by different words on the same rhyme, such as “dawa”, “mudda”, “majra”, “ada”, “hawa”, “duaa”, etc. Although there are ghazals which do not adhere to the system of qafia and radif, the overall proportion of such ghazals is small, and their popularity has never equalled that of the traditional ghazal , supporting qafia and radif.
To the readers of English poetry, accustomed to the natural flow of blank verse or free verse, the observance of qafia and radif, in addition to that of metre, amy seem an unnecessary encumbrance, but not so to the Urdu poets and their readers encumbrance, but not so to the Urdu poets and their readers who have learnt to enjoy the added pleasure of the extended rhyme. If radif and qafia tend to curb the flight of imagination, they also enforce artists discipline and enhance the magic and musicality of verse. Infect, an audience used to the style and content of Urdu poetry, always gets a special delight by anticipating the rhyme word or phrase, and by chanting it along with the poet like a member of the chorus. The opening couplet of the ghazal is always a representative couplet; it sets the mood and tone of the poem and prepares us for its proper appreciation. The last couplet of the ghazal, called maqta, often includes the pen-name of the poet, and is more personal than general in its tone and intent. Here the poet may express his own state of mind, or describes his religious faith, or pray for his beloved, or indulge in poetic self-praise. The different couplets of the ghazal are not bound by the unity and consistency of thought. Each couple is a self-sufficient unit, detachable and quotable, generally containing the complete expression of an idea. Those who look for the logical evolution of thought-structure if the ghazal. In fact, some important critics have pointed out this flaw and pleaded for reform. Taking this advice, some poets, including Hasrat, Iqbal, Akbar and Josh have written ghazals in the style of a nazm, based on a single theme, properly developed and concluded. But such ghazals are an exception rather than a rule, and the traditional ghazal still holds the sway. However, we do set of verses connected in theme and thought. Such a thematic group is called a qita, and is presumably resorted to when the poet is confronted with an elaborate thought difficult to be condensed in a single couplet.
The ghazal came to India with the advent and extension of the Muslim influence from 12th century onwards. The Moghuls brought along with them Iranian culture and civilization, including Iranian poetry and literature. When Persian gave way to Urdu as the language of poetry and culture in India, the ghazal, the fruit of Indu-Iranian culture, found its opportunity to grow and develop. Although the ghazal is said to have begun with Amir Khusro Dehlvi (1253-1325), Deccan in the South was its real home in the early stages. It was nursed and trained in the courts of Golconda and Bijapur under the patronage of Muslim rulers. Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutab Shah (1565-1611) whose ghazals mark the beginning of this anthology, was the founding father of the ghazal. He has left behind him a collection of 50,000 verses, including, not only ghazals, but also marsias, masnavis rubaies and qitas. Among the other poets of Deccan, Wajhi, Hashmi, Nusrati and Wali may be counted among the pioneers. It aws Wali Deccany (1667-1707) who was instrumental in synthesizing the poetic streams of the South and the North. Wali’s visit to Delhi made in 1700 was an event of historic significance. His poetry introduced the Persian-loving North to the beauty and richness of Urdu language, and acquainted them with the true flavour of the ghazal, thus encouraging its rapid growth and popularity. In course of time the ghazal attained wide acceptance and currency. It became the darling of the poets, the ornament of the courts, and a source of aesthetic and emotional delight for the whole lot of sensitive common folk.
Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries may be regarded as the golden period of the Urdu ghazal, for it was during this time that the ghazal developed and attained its high stature. The main centres of Urdu poetry where the ghazal was specially nursed and refined were Delhi and Lucknow. The illustrious ghazal writers, Mr, Sauda, Dard, Ghalib, Momin, Zauq and Zafar, all belong to the Delhi School, whereas Mushafi, Insha, Jurrat, Shad and Aatish are among the better known poets of the Lucknow School. Of the Two, Delhi School is adjudged superior. The poetry of this school is remarkable for its imaginative insight, truth of observation, and appropriateness of style. The ghazal of the Lucknow School, comparatively speaking, is wanting in the depth and genuineness of feeling, which it tries o make up by surface elegance and alacrity of style.
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