Urdu Poetry

Urdu poetry (Urdu: اردو شاعری Urdu Shayari) is a rich tradition of poetry and has many different colours & types. It has generated its root from Arabic and mainly from Persian and is an important part of Indian and Pakistani culture.

Like other languages, the history of Urdu Poetry does not have a firm starting point and shares origins and influences with other linguistic traditions within the Urdu-Hindi-Hindustani mix. Literary figures as far back as Kabir (1440–1518) and even Amir Khusro (1253-1325 AD) deserve mention as influences later Urdu poets draw on for inspiration as well as intellectual and linguistic sources. Meer, Dard, Ghalib, Anis,Mustafa Meerza urf piyare saheb(Rasheed) Syed Sajjad Husain(Shadeed), Allama Dr.Syed Ali Imam Zaidi (Gauher) lucknavi. Syed Sibtey Husain Naqvi (JAUHER), Dabeer, Iqbal, Zauq, Josh, Jigar, Faiz and Firaq are among the greatest poets of Urdu. The tradition is centered in the subcontinent. Following the Partition of India in 1947, it found major poets and scholars residing primarily in modern Pakistan. Mushairas (or poetic expositions) are today held in almost every major metropolitan area in the world. Over this period, Urdu poets have produced a large number of primarily poetic works.

Forms of Urdu poetry

The principal forms of Urdu poetry are:[1]

  • Ghazal, usually a short love lyric, sometimes a poem on a general subject. Strictly speaking it should have the same rhyme throughout. Urdu ghazals for the most part are artificial and conventional.[1]
  • Qasida, a kind of ode, often panegyric on a benefactor, sometimes a satire, sometimes a poem dealing with an important event. As a rule it is longer than ghazal, but it follows the same system of rhyme.[1]
  • Marsiya (or elegy), is nearly always on the death of Hasan and Husain and their families, but occasionally on the death of relatives and friends. It is usually in six-lined stanzas with the rhyme aaaabb. The recitation of these elegies in the first ten days of Muharram is one of the greatest event in Muslim life. A fully developed marsiya is always an epic.The famous marsia writers who inherited the tradition of Mir Anis among his successive generations are Mir Nawab Ali ‘Munis’, Dulaha Sahab ‘Uruj’, Mustafa Meerza urf Piyare Sahab ‘Rasheed’, Syed Muhammad Mirza Uns, Ali Nawab ‘Qadeem’, Syed Sajjad Hussain “Shadeed” Lucknavi, Allama, Dr.Syed Ali Imam Zaidi, “Gauher” Luckhnavi the(great grandson of Mir Babber Ali Anis).

The Majlis of 25 Rajab, is historically important Majlis of Marsiya in Lucknow, in this majlis Mir Anis used to recite Marsiya. After Mir Anis well known marsiya writers of Mir Anis’s family as Dulaha Sahab ‘Uruj’, Mustafa Meerza urf Piyare Sahab ‘Rasheed’, Ali Nawab (Qadeem) and Syed Sajjad Hussain ‘Shadeed’, inherited the legacy of reciting marsiya. Presently, Dr. Syed Ali Imam Zaidi (Gauher) Luckhnavi (grandson of ‘Shadeed’) recites self composed Marsiya.

  • Masnavi, in the majority of cases a poetic romance. It may extend to several thousand lines, but generally is much shorter. A few masnavis deal with ordinary domestic and other occurrences. Mir and Sauda wrote some of this kind. They are always in heroic couplets, and the common metre is bacchic tetrameter with an iambus for last foot. The Religious masnavi Histori of Islam (Tarikh-e-Islam Az Quran) written by Dr.Syed Ali Imam Zaidi Gauher Lucknavi.[1]
  • Tazkira, biographical anthology, almost always of poetry alone. This is often a mere collection of names with a line or two of information about each poet, followed by specimen of his composition. On the other hand it may be the history of Urdu poetry with copious illustrative extracts. There are really no good tazkiras. The best give biographical details, but fail in literary criticism, and we get little idea of style or poetical power, still less of contents of poems. Even the large anthologies do not systematically review an author’s work. Most of them have the names in alphabetical order, but one or two prefer historical order. The majority quote only lyrics, and the quotations, usually chosen at random, do not illustrate poetry.[1]
  • Nazm Urdu nazm is a major part of Urdu poetry. From Nazeer Akarabadi, Iqbal, Josh, Firaq, Akhtarul Iman to down the line Zahida Zaidi, Paigham Afaqui and Farhat Ehsas Urdu nazm has it’s distinct identity. It has covered common life, philosophical thinking, national issues and the precarious predecament of individual human being.

Collection forms of Urdu poetry

The principal collection forms of Urdu poetry are:[1]

  • Diwan, a collection of poems, chiefly gazals.[1]
  • Kulliyat, literally a complete collection of poems, but often applied to any collection containing poems of various kinds. Thus, Akbar Allahabadi published three kulliyats.[1]

Formation

Urdu poetry forms itself with following basic ingredients:

Genres

The major genres of poetry found in Urdu are:

Foreign forms such as the sonnet, azad nazm or (Free verse) and haiku have also been used by some modern Urdu poets. Urdu Poetry

Pen names (Takhallus)

In the Urdu poetic tradition, most poets use a pen name called the takhallus. 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. Thus Ghalib, whose official name and title was Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan, is referred to formally as Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, or in common parlance as just Mirza Ghalib. Because the takhallus can be a part of their actual name, some poets end up having that part of their name repeated, such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

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 as a type of ‘signature’.

Scripts used in poetry

In Pakistan, Urdu poetry is written in the standard Nasta’liq calligraphy style of the Perso-Arabic script. However, in India, where Urdu poetry is very popular, the Perso-Arabic is often found transliterated into the Devanāgarī script, as an aid for those Hindī-speakers, who can comprehend Urdu, but cannot read the Perso-Arabic script. With the dawn of the internet and globablisation, this poetry is often found written in Roman Urdu today.

Example

The following is a verse from an Urdu ghazal by Sher Khwaja Mir Dard:

Roman Urdu:

dosto dekhā tamāśhā yahāN kā bas.
tum raho ab hum to apne ghar chale

English translation:

Friends, I’ve seen the spectacle of this place- enough!
You stay here; I’m heading home.

Reference: Wikipedia