I’m no connoisseur of Urdu and I don’t even know the language properly. However, I have always loved the grace of the language and had liked the Ghazals. However, I had a very limited access to it and more or less dependent on the Ghazals Gayaki by the likes of Jagjit Singh and Ustad Ghulam Ali.
Hindi film music also had a good quality Ghazals but slowly taken over by various other kinds of songs having a greater commercial value. However, this increased my yearning to know more about Ghazals and but a major difficulty I faced was that I don’t know how to read Urdu Calligraphic, and then I find this book, which not only contains the English translation of the Ghazals, which are of high quality and maintains the spirit of Urdu poetry, but also the transcription in Roman. Due to this, even the orthodox connoisseurs, who think that Urdu Calligraphic should be used conserve the language, would like it as much as someone as amateur as me.
The anthology contains K.C. Kanda’s selection of 129 ghazals by 20 of Urdu’s finest poets: Mohd. Quli Qutab Shah, Siraj, Sauda, Zafar, Insha, Astish, Zauq, Ameer Meenai, Dagh, Hali, Akbar, Shad Azimabadi, Fani, Chakbast, Asghar, Jigar, Josh, Sahir Ludhianvi, Nasir Kaazmi, and Bani; and it supplements his earlier effort Masterpieces of Urdu Ghazal, containing 108 ghazals by nine major Urdu poets – Wali, Dard, Mir, Ghalib, Momin, Hasrat, Iqbal, Firaq, and Faiz; this volume comes with a 16 page introductory essay which provides some valuable information about the evolution of Urdu poetry in India. Further, the selection of each poet is preceded by a brief biographical-cum-critical note, and an authentic portrait of the poet.
It is a wonderful book for bedside reading and any poetry lover would like to have a copy of the book with him.
I would like to end with one of my favorite Ghazals by Mirza Mohammed Rafi Sauda (1713-1781):
Badla tere sitam ka koi tujh se kya kare,
Apna hi tu farefta hove, Khuda kare.
Qaatil humaari naash ko tash-hirhai zarur,
Aainda ta koi na kisi se wafa kare.
Fikr-e-maash, ishq-e-butaan, yaad –e – raftgaan,
Do din ki zindagi mein ab koi kya kya kiya kare?
Aalam ke beech phir na rahe rasm-e-aashqi,
Gar neem lab koi tere shikwe se waa kare.
Gar ho sharaab-o-khilwat-o-mahboob-e-khub roo,
Zaahid qasam hai tujh ko tu ho tau kya kare?
Khaakastr-o-patang-o-mashahd meri ki khaak,
Sham-o-shafaq ajab ho jo mil kar ura kare.
Ai waae bar aseer, ke par tor kar jise
Sayyad fasl-e-gul mein chaman se riha kare.
(How should one avenge on you for your tyrannous ways?
O, I wish you fall in love with your own face.
My corpse needs must be publicly displayed
To scare away the lovers from pledging love and faith.
Concerns of life, claims of love, remembering the bygone,
How many things can one do in a life so curtailed?
Creed of love will get dissolved if someone some day,
Even with suppressed lips against his love inveighs.
If wine, seclusion, and a darling cute together lie in wait,
Confess, O, priest, what would you do if you were in my place!
It will be a sight to see if the ashes of my grave,
Mingled with the dust of moth, across the horizon rage.
How accursed the caged bird whom in spring,
The hunter sets at large, with wings clipped away.)
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