The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Following the tradition of modernity in Urdu poetry
Bhupinder Aziz Parihar

FOR Anjum Ludhianvi, the writer’s block has taken rather long to break. Muse visits him again when he completes his sixtieth year, and starts life afresh with renewed enthusiasm and faith in the power of poetry.

His first encounter with Urdu poetry was a sudden happening. It overpowered him, and threw him off his feet at a critical time of his career. He said goodbye to the MBBS that he was pursuing as poetry had taken him in its grip.

Anjum lived in the city of Sahir Ludhianvi, but never followed the vocation of a whole-time poet. On occasions, he published his ghazals in the respectable literary journals published in India and Pakistan such as Auraq, Takhleeq and others. This gave him enough satisfaction for literary survival. Participation in mushairas sustained his spirit. Today, Ajnum has no regrets. For that matter, a person with creative imagination can hardly afford any regrets in life. A poet is a creature of the moment who, in his own way, celebrates ‘moments of being.’


His new collection of ghazals — Khushboo Ki Lahren (in Devnagri script) is in continuation of the ‘Great Tradition’ of Urdu ghazal that Firaq Gorakhpuri termed as a ‘sequence of infinities.’ The great masters breathe in Ajnum Ludhianvi’s poetic perceptions. Here are a few couplets:

Dil ki basti mein ik makaan hai abhi

jiske aangan mein kuchh dhuan hai abhi.

** ** **

Paar karna hai shaam ka darya

Dil ko jana hai manzil-e --shab tak

Ek muddat se hai ajab aalam

Hum na roye na muskaraye hain.

** *****

Meri deewar mujhe kaisi saza daiti hai

Ek saya hoon, mujhe roz bata deti hai

Urdu prosody is a ticklish task. Anjum Ludhianvi enriched himself in the company of accomplished Urdu poets of Punjab — late Puran Singh ‘Hunar’, Sharwan Kumar Verma, Parveen Kumar ‘Ashk’, late Krishan Adeeb and Azad Gulati. He feels that the contemporary Urdu ghazal has reached its zenith in the poetry of Shaharyar. Shaharyar is his role-model. He appeals through the use of symbols, metaphors and simple language. Today, Anjum feels, Urdu poetry has gained popular appeal because of trite themes and statement of the obvious. For a genuine poet, however, poetry is a self-discovery, a peep into one’s private world. The ghazal is not a commodity meant for passive consumption. It has a life enhancing quality that reveals itself in the aesthetics of the ghazal and in its lyricism.

Anjum Ludhianvi’s critical insider is quite keen and alert. He is of the view that modernity in Urdu poetry has dwindled into a tradition as it further intensified the themes of loneliness, quest for identity and split personality. The mushaira audience is still interested in traditional poetry as it is familiar and is present in our collective unconscious. The poet feels that Urdu poetry today has fallen an easy prey to the media. A poet wants to be sung so that he is known and recognised although there is hardly any money in it. Anjum feels that fame and fortune should go together. In this sense, Nida Fazli and Bashir Badr are Anjum’s favourite poets. They are getting the best of both the worlds by using words as fragrance. This has another side to it. Popular poetry as a performing art is more or less made poetry. Anjum feels this kind of poetry lacks inspiration and the power to subvert our fossilised notions about art and life.

The future of Urdu ghazal is not bright as the younger generation does not know the script and the ustad — shagird tradition has nearly faded away. Senior poets must encourage upcoming poets. Writing poetry in Urdu without knowing the subtle nuances of the language is becoming a practice, especially in Punjab.

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