Sunday, November 18, 2007

Poetry as an Antidote to "Rulers of the Masses"

This morning I have been listening to Iqbal Bano's beautiful rendition of Faiz's ghazal "Yeh mausam-e-gul garche" and thinking about poetry as the highest of art forms. The subtlety of thought and the economy of expression required for good poetry militates against a lazy, rambling and unstructured mind. The Nobel laureate poet Joseph Brodksy starts his collection of critical essays "Of Grief and Reason" with a wonderful quote from W.H. Auden: "Blessed be all metrical rules that forbid automatic responses, force us to have second thoughts, free from the fetters of Self."

It is in the terse reflectiveness of poetry that we, in Joseph Brodsky's words, "discover, in place of the anticipated consent and unanimity, indifference and polyphony; in place of the resolve to act, inattention and fastidiousness. In other words, into the little zeros with which the champions of the common good and the rulers of the masses tend to operate, art introduces a 'period, period, comma and a minus,' transforming each zero into a tiny human, albeit not always a pretty, face."

With that, here are some verses of Faiz's ghazal mentioned above from "Sham-e-Shehr-e-YaaraN" that precipitated this reverie:

Yeh mausam-e-gul garche tarab khez bohat hai
Ahwaal-e-gul-o-lala gham angez bohat hai

Ik gardan-e-makhlooq jo har haal meiN kham hai
Ik bazoo-e-qaatil hai keh khooN rez bohat hai

Kyoon mish'al-e-dil Faiz chupao tahe damaN
Bujh jaye gi yooN bhi keh hawa tez bohat hai


Faisal Irfan Mian said...

Faiz deserves a much more proper post from you.... or several of them

Zakintosh said...

Dunno if you ever saw my Faiz CD-ROM. But this ghazal reminded me of how I ended the presentation:

Phir Faiz ka jaesaa koee aaya to uthay gee
Yeh gardané makhlooq jo har haal meñ kham hae

Anonymous said...

I too listened to this remarkable rendition of Faiz's ghazal by Iqbal Bano while driving down to my work. I wished if the rulers of this subcontinent had the sensitivity and the slightest passion towards the poetic expression. Unfortunately, they are too engrossed in pursuit of personal aggrandizement; the masses remain their prey on which they feed once a five years and then leave them lifeless till the next vote.

The first line - " Yeh mausam-e-gul garche tarab khez bohat hai;
Ahwaal-e-gul-o-lala gham angez bohat hai",

reminded me of the celebrations of India’s success epitomized by the raging share-market (it has since got tampered) on the one hand and the unprecedented peasants’ suicides on the other. We can only lament –

"Kab nazar mein aayegi bedaag sabze ki bahar,
khooN ke dhabe dhulein ge kitnee barsaatoon ke baad"
- Faiz again.

I don't see any more Faiz walking on this sub-continent. We are increasingly becoming a generation subservient to trade and profit-making by hook or by crook. How will a delicate, sensitive heart and mind find a meaningful expression in this so-called pragmatic world? How will a fragile thought survive this robust selfishness? What a shame?