↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Monday, October 31, 2005

Faiz Ahmad Faiz`s Anniversary - Dr. Afzal Mirza

From particular to universal

A number of poems Faiz wrote were inspired by some personal or political events. His art lay in creating everlasting poetry around them

By Dr Afzal Mirza

In his book Dast-e-Tah-e-Sung Faiz Ahmad Faiz wrote, "I don't know the reason why I write poetry but it can be the environment of my childhood in which poetry was much talked about. There was incitement by friends as well and then there were matters related to heart. I am talking about the first part of Naqsh-e-Faryadi which carries my writings of the period between 1924 and 1929. Those were my student years. These verses are the outcome of intellectual and emotional consciousness experienced by every young man of that age. But now when I look back I find that it was not a single period rather there were two periods with different subjective and objective experiences. The period between 1920 and 1930 was the period of a strange carelessness, contentment and emotional confusion. Besides serious discussion about important national and political movements in our poetry and prose most of us would write as if indulging in frivolities."

The period Faiz refers to in this excerpt is the one during which Hasrat Mohani, Josh, Hafeez Jallundhari and Akhtar Sheerani were great names in the realm of poetry. But according to Faiz that period did not last long. Changed economic circumstances cast a gloom on his poetry which is evident from the last few poems of the first part of Naqsh-e-Faryadi.

In 1934 Faiz completed his studies and in 1935 joined MAO College Amritsar as a lecturer. It is here that Faiz met Sahibzada Mahmuduz Zafar and his enlightened wife Dr Rashid Jahan. Both the husband and wife were among the pioneers of progressive writers' movement in India.

Faiz too became an active member of the association. So the second part of Naqsh-e-Faryadi depicts the change in his thinking that came with his coming into contact with progressive writers. Thus begins the period of Faiz's poetry with a purpose.

Naqsh-e-Faryadi was published in 1941 and eleven years later Dast-e-Saba appeared. The period falling between the publication of these books was of great political turmoil. Not only the world saw the emergence of the phenomenon called Fascism but a world war was fought and won by the allied forces against this menace. Since Soviet Russia was a part of allies therefore the leftist elements throughout the world joined the allied efforts against Fascist forces. In order to play his role, Faiz served the British army from June 1942 to December 1946. During this period the independence movement also entered a crucial stage. The Muslims of the subcontinent came up with their demand for Pakistan that became a reality in 1947.

In 1952 Faiz was imprisoned along with others for conspiring to overthrow the government of Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. Dast-e-Saba carries many a poem that Faiz wrote during his incarceration. There are, however, four poems written on different events that deserve special mention. In the poem Ay dil-e-betaab thehr Faiz has used the word teeragi (darkness) for the advent of Fascism and has expressed his usual optimism that Subh honay ko hay ay dil-e-betaab thehr (Dawn is round the corner. Be patient my heart).

The other poem is Aik syaasi leader kay naam (To a political leader). Faiz told his biographer Dr Ayub Mirza that the poem was written in 1942 and was addressed to Mahatma Gandhi. Actually Gandhi's stand on the world war surprised all those who considered Fascism as a great menace for the world.

Faiz wrote:

Tujh ko manzoor nahin
ghalba-e-zulmat laikin
Tujh ko manzoor hay
yeh hath qalam ho ja'ain
Aur mashriq ki kamingah
main dharakta hua din
Raat ki ahni mayyat kay
talay dub ja'ay

(You don't like that the darkness conquers everything
But you want that these hands are chopped off
And the day that pulsates in the hideout of the East
Gets buried under the steely corpse of night)

The third poem is Subh-e-Azaadi written on the independence of the country. This poem was dubbed as anti-Pakistan by the authorities. Faiz was moved by the events that preceded and followed the partition in which millions perished and were made to leave their homes in destitution. And all this suffering brought more misery to the common man. So he declared it "a blotted light and night-smitten morn". The later events, however, proved the correctness of poet's vision.

The fourth poem is addressed to Iranian students who fell victims to the brute show of force by the Iranian monarch after an unsuccessful bid by Dr Mossadegh to topple the king. It is a moving poem full of pathos.
Yeh kaun jawan hain

Yeh lakh lut
Jin kay jismon ka kundan
Yun khak main raiza
raiza hay

(Who are these young men,

O the land of Ajam
These large-hearted
The jewel of whose bodies
Is scattered on dust in pieces)

Faiz's subsequent book Zindan Nama (The Letter from Prison) was also the outcome of his incarceration (1951-1954) and contained some of his famous poems on the subject of incarceration. But it also carried a poem titled Ham Jo Tareek Rahon Main maray ga'ay (We who were killed in dark pathways). The poet here refers to the wave of McCarthyism in America that targeted leftists and fellow travelers. The poem, inspired by the letters of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg which were circulated
throughout the world, is full of intense patriotic feelings in a universal tone:

Tairay honton kay phoolon ki

chahat main hum
Dar ki khushk tehni pay
waray ga'ay
Tairay hathon ki shamaon ki
hasrat main hum
Neem tareek rahon main
mare ga'ay

(In love of the roses of your lips

We offered ourselves to the dry twig of gallows
Longing for the radiance of your glowing hands
We let ourselves be slain in half-lit pathways)

Faiz's next book Dast-e-Tah-e-Sang (Hand Under a Stone) was published in early 1960s. It carries a thematic poem Aaj Bazaar Main Pa Ba Jaulan Chalo (Let us walk with fetters in the street). It was written in 1959 when Faiz was once again imprisoned under Ayub's martial law. He was taken to a Lahore Fort torture cell passing through the streets of Lahore in a horse-driven cart with his fetters on.

Faiz's book Sar-e-wadi-e-Sina (In the valley of Sina) consists of poems written between 1965 and 1971. The collection also contains two thematic poems Lahu Ka Suragh and Zindan Zindan Shor-e-Anal Haq written on the occasion of firing on Karachi people protesting against the rigged election of Ayub Khan as president:

Na muddai na shahadt hisab
paak hua
Yeh khoon-e-khak nashinan
ha rizq-e-khak hua

(Neither plaintiff nor witness but the decision was made

It was the blood of the wretched of the earth, so it mingled with the earth)

Faiz wrote two poems on the 1965 war with India. One is Black Out and the other is the dirge of a soldier killed in the battle. It begins with the verse Utho ab matti say utho/Utho mairay laal. The title poem Sar-e-Wadi-e-Sina is written on Arab-Israel war of 1967. On Pakistan's 20th birthday in 1967, he wrote his masterpiece poem Dua (Prayer) that jolted the sensibility of every reader. It contains a wish-list that every common man of Pakistan cherishes.

Shaam-e-Shehr Yaraan is his next book It carries Faiz's various poems written during his journeys abroad, some Punjabi poems and poems written on request. The only poem written on an event is Dhaka Say Wapsi Par (On return from Dhaka). Written in 1974 it begins with the verses:

Hum keh thehray ajnabi itni

mudaraton kay baad
Phir banain gay aashna
kitni mulaqaton kay baad
Kab nazar main a'ay gi
baidagh sabzay ki bahaar
Khoon kay dhabbay dhulain
gay kitni barsaaton kay baad

(We who became strangers after so much expression of affection

After how many meetings shall become friends again
When shall we see the beauty of blotless verdure?
How many monsoons will wash out the patches of blood from it?)

In his last two books Mairay Dil Mairay Musafir (1978-1980) and Ghubar-e-Ayyam (1981-1984) one finds poems written in exile. After Ziaul Haq imposed martial law in the country, Faiz spent most of his time abroad. In Beirut he edited Afro-Asian Writers' Journal Lotus, an assignment given to him by his friend Yasser Arafat. These two books carry most of his writings relating to civil war in Beirut and fight for Palestinian cause. Even here there are many poems which can be said to have been written on a particular event back home. For example, Ham To Majboor-e-Wafa Hain was written on the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto:

Tujh ko kitnon ka lahu

chahi'ay ay arz-e-watan
Jo tairay aarz-e-bay rang ko
gulnaar karain

(The blood of how many people you require my country

To impart flower-like tinge to your colourless face)

In a poem titled Idhar na dekho in Ghubar-e-Ayyam Faiz has castigated those writers and intellectuals who were sold to the regime and has compared them with those who "decorating their bodies with the cross of truth left the world and are now prophets among the people."

November 20, 2002 was Faiz's 18th death anniversary


Post a Comment

<< Home