Tag Archives: Urdu Poetry

A tribute to Ralph Russell – RIP

Shaheryar Ali

“Not a famous man” Ralph Russell called himself in his autobiography “Findings, Keepings: Life, Communism and everything“. It’s quite an understatement. Anyone who loves Urdu and has any interest in the literary movements in Indian subcontinent knows Ralph Russell. He was one of those rare men who become legends in their life time. Ralph Russell spent all his life serving Urdu language. He popularized it , built structures and mechanisms of teaching Urdu in Europe especially in the UK. He has been called the “Baba e Urdu of Britain”. He developed friendships with great Urdu poets and writers. He wrote books introducing the classic Urdu poets , introducing their thought and craft to the western audience.

Ralph Russel’s life is an inspiration. His struggle, his commitment to humaniyy and the oppressed and his continuous unrelenless opposition to colonialism, imperialism , capitalism and wars. In that he can be compared to likes of Eric Hobsbawm, perhaps the greatest of historians of our times. Just like him Russell remained till his death “an unrepented communist”

Just like every progressive Russell started his quest by adopting “Atheism”, which led to “humanism” than to Socialism and Communism. The opposition to poverty, war, oppression, colonialism,censorship, imperialism bound him to communism for life. He was sharply critical of the degeneration of Communism in Soviet Union and China. He never accepted their adoption of totaliterianism which is anathema to Marxist thought. Continue reading

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Filed under Left, Literature, Urdu, Writers

Mir Taqi Mir

By Bhupinder Singh

Mir wrote more profusely than Ghalib and much of it, like Kabir and Insha, in simple words. There are a number of ghazals in the long behr, but the most memorable ones are in the short.His stress on feminine beauty (or, in other words, formalism) unlike in Ghalib, lead the late Ali Sardar Jafri to observe that Mir had one foot in modern and another in what in Urdu poetry is derisively called kanghi choti ki shayari.

Some of Mir’s sheyrs are hauntingly simple and touching:

nazuki uske lab ki kya kahiye
pankhadi ik ghulaab ki si hai

yeh jo mohlat jise kahain hai hum
dekho to intzaar sa hai kuch

And my favourite ghazal (rendered memorably by Mehdi Hassan- and according to me the finest ghazal ever sung):

dekh to, dil ke jaan se uthta hai
ye dhuan sa kahan se uthta hai

gor diljale ki hai ye falak
shola ik subha yaan se uthta hai

khana e dil se zeenhara se na ja
koi aise makaan se uthta hai

yoon uthe aah us gali se hum
jaise koi jahan se uthta hai Continue reading

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Filed under History, Pakistan, poetry, Urdu