The Modern Ghazal of Pashto

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The Modern Ghazal of Pashto, Muhammad Humayun Huma
Published in Khyber.ORG on Monday, July 28 2003 (http://www.khyber.org)


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The Modern Ghazal of Pashto

Muhammad Humayun Huma

Publishing Date: Monday, July 28 2003

Modern Ghazal may be defined as "the poem in form of Ghazal which reflects tangible signs of th life, such as environs, needs and vicissitudes of the time, and human feelings and aspirations in such a way that it should not only entertain but enlighten also the mind with meaningful thoughts."

In Pukhto such effects can be traced much earlier than Urdu poetry. Until the reform movement of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, not only the ghazal but the entire literature of Urdu, except for some parts of the poetry of Nazeer Allahabadi, was swirling within the festive precincts of the court. The poet was obsessed by conventional metaphors and symbols of flower and nightingale, flower and thorn, candle and moth, spring and autumn, face and locks etc. He was not aware of the realities of life. Nor did he know how to address needs of the time in poetry.

Pukhto also inherited, like Urdu, ghazal from Persian, but from the very beginning it has been illuminated with the light of dynamic and objective thoughts to address, somehow, needs of the time. The nationalist spirit and Pukhtun traditions in the works of Khushhal Khan Khattak stemmed from his practical and eventful life to animate his verses with all the vigour and verve. Even Abdul Rahman Momand, who escaped the strife of time to the cool shadow of mysticism, viewed home, grave and Pekhawar alike in the prevailing chaotic conditions.

Although this revolutionary trend, which put the ghazal on the track of life and obliged our poet to sing the lore of life, is not so clear in the ancient poetry as it has now become the dominant feature of the modern ghazal, yet a curious study would definitely find rays of such dynamic thinking in that poetry. The ancient poet of Pukhto had not turned eyes from the needs of time which radiates brilliance of his mind and sharpness of his observation.

For example, in the classic poetry Maghul and Maghulwala grew into metaphors for oppressor and oppression, usurper and usurpation, exploiter and exploitation, rival and rivalry, and so on. Almost all the celebrities in the field used these metaphors aptly to portray the suppressive and exploitative nature of the rule:

يو به نيسم مغل واله ده رقيب ستا
په رښتيا کښۍ زېږؤلې پښتنه يم
(عبدل حميد)

Mughalwala of thy Rival I will not bear
Were I borne truly, by a Pakhtun Mother
(Abdul Hamid)

د کوڅه ګټ به دې پرې نږدم رقيب ته
آفريدې شم ؤ مغل ته خېبر نيسم
(علي خان)

I will not leave thy street to the rival,
As Afridi, I guard Khyber against the Mughal.
(Ali Khan)

Otherwise, too, the woeful conditions of the time were criticised bitterly in ghazal, such as:

غريب خلق مرده ګان پکښۍ وريتېږي
ظالمان ناکر منکر و پېښور ګور شو
(عبدل حميد)

Poors are burning in, as if they are dead,
Cruels are Nakir Mankir, and Peshawar a grave.
(Abdul Hamid)

Nakir and Mankir are the two angels who examine the spirits of the departed in the tomb. They are normally depicted as harsh and merciless investigators.

هميشه به په هند کښۍ نه اوسې خوشاله
وه آخر به اسې اوزې له جهيمه
(خوشحال خان خټک)

Not for good you will live in Hind, O, Khushhal!
The sinner is taken out of the Hell, after all.
(Khushal Khan Khattak)

The dormant embers of life made fire when signs of revolution appeared among the people and the youth lifted the banner of freedom. The whole land, streets and markets were saturated with the blood of the brave and bold youths. The poetry also took a sharp turn along these changes. Ghazal came out of the flower-bed of fancy and imagination. When the poet, the prisoner of locks of illusory sweetheart and intoxicated with the wine of imaginary lips, opened his eyes, he felt the roaring flames around. The earth was a burning iron-plate. The mouths of the youths were foaming blood. They had put their lives at stake for the freedom, and were all out to fight the powerful and shrewd usurpers. The poet of Pukhto also woke up to the reality and jumped into the incinerator of the situation. He wove the hair of locks with the hanging noose:

په شاد و مد چې ئې هر قوم ده هر ملت غواړي
هغه يو شۍ دې، هغه ده چا هريت غواړي
(حمزه شنواري)

That everyone of the nation wants so eagerly,
Is one object - the freedom - that they want.
(Hamza Shinwari)

The poet invented attractive metaphors and symbols for national conventions and Pukhtun traditions to touch, and appeal to, the sense of self-consciousness of the people, such as:

دا سرکوزي پښتون عشقه ولې؟
ستا د زلمو هغه پګړې څه شوې؟
(حمزه شنواري)

What for this insult, O, Pukhtun love!
Where are those turbans of your youths!
(Hamza Shinwari)

Turban is considered the symbol of honour like the crown.

د عالم په حقيقت کښۍ سرګردانه
ته ده مځکه نه وتې نه شې که آسمان شې
(حمزه شنواري)

Confused you are in search of the temporal entity,
You can't leave the earth, even if you rise to sky.
(Hamza Shinwari)

Between the start and the current era, stretches the 48-year long history of our country which can also be divided into two eras. What happened during the first decade, or a little more than that, and what impact that situation cast on our poetry, needs a separate discussion. Nevertheless, this much would be sufficient to say that sacrifices rendered for freedom have borne the fruit of freedom. But the point at which the nation had arrived did not show the signs of utopia. That state of uncertainty was described in the language of ghazal as:

په قافله چې څه کانې اشوه
دا چې منزل سره نزدې اؤده دي

What has happened to the caravan,
Sleeping so close to destination.

ربه! سکون ځما جنت کښۍ نيشته
قرار ځما په طبيعت کښۍ نيشته

O, Lord! no relief I have in Paradise,
There is no comfort in my nature.

These two verses composed in 1953 by Ayub Sabir describe the situation of the time. One can easily infer from such forceful expression in such a sweet, meaningful and pricking figurative language that Pukhto ghazal reflects the very life.

دا منم چې توره شپه ده تېره شوې
خو د ورځې په آثار هيس پوه نه شوم

Agreed, the dark night has passed,
But I don't see any sign of the day.

هر يو بوټې هر يو ګل په ژړا سر دې
زه په خوند د دې بهار هيس پوه نه شوم

Every plant and every flower is wailing,
I didn't relish the taste of this spring.

This one verse of Sabir also indicates the features of Pukhto ghazal of that time in relation to the contrast between worries for life and worries for the sweetheart:

نور غمونه دې دنيا څه لږ خو نه دي
د جانان غمونه لرې لرې لرې

Not less are other woes of the world,
Adieu, O, the worries of sweetheart!

It was a cursory look at the ghazal of the first era. During the first four years of the second era there was no way to expression of sentimental ideas due to undue sanctions. The mind was anaesthetised but the heat of heart was blistering the tongue. After the spell of hibernation under the four-year freeze, our poet again yawned, lit the candle of his senses, and blew the trumpet to indicate the delicacies of time:

دا چې شونډې مې پرچې دي ده زړه بهار کښۍ سکوت دې
طوفانونه پکښۍ پټ دي خاموشي ئې يو آغاز دې

Parched are my lips, lull in the ocean of heart,
Storms are lurking there, taking breath to rise.

هر اوښکښۍ اسوئيلېشي په فضا کښۍ
بل چې اؤر مې په احساس او په شعور شي
(قمر راهي)

Every tear breaks into sob in the air,
When my passion and sense catch fire.
(Qamar Rahi)

هر داغ مې چراغ کړې دې د زړه تورو تيارو کښۍ
رڼا راته د ژوند ځکه په غمونو کښۍ ښکاريږي
(محمد اقبال اقبال)

Of every bruise I made a lamp in the dark of heart,
So, I can see the light even in the gloom of life.
(Muhammad Iqbal Iqbal)

The wizard can perceive the situation of that time behind the `tear, darkness, bruise' in these verses. But the poet has not lost the heart and hope and gives clear indication to his people to the bright future.

هر مقصد بې زړه چاؤدن نه حاصليږي
ګل شي هاله ده کاکئ چې زړه فګار شي

No gains could be gained without pains,
Flower blooms when the heart of bud is hurt.

په سختو د زمانې چې ظهير نه شې
لمر راخيژي د شفق په سور انګار کښۍ
(ميان خير الحق ګوهر کاکاخيل)

Don't be grieved by the trials of time,
Sun rises from the red embers of aurora.
(Mian Khairul Haq Gohar Kakakhel)

Signs of the modern trend are clearly perceptible in these verses which unfold the miseries of life in such a figurative language that enhances the beauty of the poetry with meaningful ideas.

After trudging the initial stages of evolution, when we cast a glance at the ghazal of today we are pleased to see a number of young poets in the field. The mind of traditional ghazal-go poet has also been illuminated. He gives new meaning to old word. The scope and sphere of poetry were stretched and expanded with objective thinking. Diverse shades are blended in a way that every one feels the flavour of his own taste. The modern ghazal proves explicitly that the poet combs the curls of locks but does not ignore the curves on the way of life. Sometime both, the curls and curves, are inter-woven in such a way that it becomes difficult to tell one from the other.

ستا د يادونو برکت دې بې مثال تېريږي
هسې خو ژوند ګنې زړګيه په جنجال تېريږي
(قمر راهي)

By virtue of your memories, it's exemplary,
Otherwise the life passes with much ado.
(Qamar Rahi)

ناکړدې د زمانې شي زما يادې
چې را يادې ناکړدې زه د اشنا کړم
(ډاکتر امين)

Afflictions of the time come to my mind,
When I recall misbehaviour of the friend.
(Dr. Amin)

ستا تر واره دا دې داره پورې راغلم
اندازه دې کړه د زلفو سلسلې اوس
(لطيف وهمي)

Here at your door I get in the noose,
Just imagine now the curls of your locks!
(Latif Wahmi)

دا غمونه انديښني دي، شواخون او زيګرکون دې
دا زما د ژوند قصئ دي په خپل زړه ئې تيرومه
(موهيب الله شوق)

Woes and worries, trials and tribulations,
Are tales of my life that I suffer mutely.
(Mohibullah Showq)

With such an art our poet puts the spirit of life in the rhythm of ghazal that has the passion and beauty of romanticism and the import and impact of realism, the depth of philosophy and the worth of social norms, cue to historical events and hint to political ideologies. In short, the language of the modern ghazal of Pukhto is rosy and versatile with sweet and sore realities coated in delicious delicacies of romanticism.

With all its contrasting colours and shades and variable topics, there is no change in the conventional pattern of ghazal. Brevity and mystery are its basic elements and metaphors its cosmetics. There is no doubt that statement of realities in detail and with precision hurts the tender form of ghazal. Even if disciplined in rhythm and rhyme, the language without figures of speech can not make a ghazal. The modern poet accepts all the norms and mores of ghazal, but his similes, metaphors and symbols are not related to a sweetheart that never exists. The modern ghazal has all the traditional topics of love, but the metaphors of flower and nightingale, hunter and cage, bait and snare, are symbols for the real objects of life. Darkness and light, autumn and spring, day and night, makeup and aurora, sun and moon, lamp and candle and so on and so much, are given new meanings. Nevertheless, with such a revolution in the domain of ghazal, its charm and impact have not faded, but has rather increased many-fold. This is the mystery of modern ghazal.

There are two distinct schools of ghazal in Pukhto even today, one is traditional and the other is modern. But, if not impossible, it is, of course, difficult to draw a line between the two. Because both the trends are applied in modern ghazal with such adeptness that they can not be separated. Even the traditionalist can not evade the urge of life and is obliged to express realities in ghazal. On the other side even the herald of innovative trend, has to relax, at times, under the cool shadow of fancy. This is an established fact that the ghazal-go poet of Pukhto has sharp observation and brilliant mind. Whatever his affiliation is he has a watch on the changing situation of the world and new trends in literature, and considers the import of needs and demands of life.

Hamza Shinwari is the standard-bearer of the traditional school of ghazal, yet there are many lines of his ghazals which are innovative:

دا هستي هره زره د په خار بوخته
زه به ولې د چا کم يم چې مزدور يم؟
(حمزه شنواري)

Every atom of the universe is at work,
Why should I be lower to be a labour.
(Hamza Shinwari)

دا پرون چې لاړو نن ؤو، او سبا چې راځي نن دې
پرونې خبره پرېږده، ننې خبرې وايه
(حمزه شنواري)

Past-day was today, and next-day is today.
Give up talks of yesterday, talk of today.
(Hamza Shinwari)

د زړه شمع په خنداه خنداه کښۍ ژاړه
چې ماحول واړه تاريک دې چې ئې وينم
(حمزه شنواري)

O, the candle of heart! weep but with joy,
The whole atmosphere is dim, as I feel.
(Hamza Shinwari)

Traditional figures of speech are translated into the modern language of ghazal with a cognizance of the prevailing situation, such as:

زمونږ په برخه هغه وريځۍ چې ازغي توکوي
هغه چې ګل توکوي هغه په چا اورائيده
(قلندر موهمند)

We have, in our lot, the clouds of thorns,
For whom they rained which grow flowers!
(Qalandar Momand)

سرې غوټې ده شين پلو نه غلې غلې ګوري
رو به دې سلام ته په قطار شي لېونيه
(سيد تقويم الحق کاکا خيل)

Crimson buds stare from behind the green corner of the veil,
Gradually they will fall in to salute you, O, the crazy one!
(Syed Taqweemul Haq Kakakhel)

The modern ghazal-go poet is well aware that the time demands of him exposition of the realities of life, adversity of the time and disorder of the situation, instead of rosy lips and silky locks. But he can not renounce the conventional pattern of ghazal due to its extreme delicate nature.

د ديدن غرونه سوري نه شو شيرينې
خپل سرونه مو وهلي په تشو دي
(ډاکټر محمد اعظم اعظم)

The rocks of union were not broken, O, Shirin!
So, we have hit our own heads with the axe.
(Dr. Muhammad Azam Azam)

اوس دلته ګوته زمونږ مينه ته څوک نه شي نيوې
بلا داغونه مې د وينو لا په دار پراته دي
(عبدل رؤف زاهد)

None can now lift a finger at our love,
Many stains of my blood are still on gallows.
(Abdul Rauf Zahid)

دا څه سپرلې دې چې ګلونه تار په تار پراته دي
زړه او زيګر مې د حالاتو په انګار پراته دي
(اسرار د تورو)

What a spring that flowers are scattered in shreds!
My heart and soul are put on the embers of conditions.
(Israr Da Toru)

نا معلومه انديښنه دې رابرسېره
را په برخه لويه شپه د تلؤسو ده
(حسن سوز)

Strange worries are sticking out,
Long night of anxiety being in our lot.
(Hasan Soz)

بڼر کښۍ د مرغانو ميلې جوړې شوې
ماتې د ښکاري د کور پنجرې شولې
(ډاکټر شير زمان تائيزئ)

Birds are overjoyed in thickets,
Perhaps cages of hunters have broken.
(Dr. Sher Zaman Taizai)

Class discrimination, aggression and usurpation are common problemson the earth. These aspects are now parts of international literature, and they are discussed in Pukhto ghazal also:

دا تر څو به په خوارانو را پريؤزو
خدايه ! څومره تندرونه دي آسمان کښۍ
(ايوب صابر)

For how long they will hit the poors!
O, God! how many bolts are in the store!
(Ayub Sabir)

جونګړه کښۍ منم په فريادونو دي لړلې
خو ستا هم په محل کښۍ ورځې شپې دي چې تيريږي
(پريشان خټک)

Agreed, inside the hut the time is wailing,
But thy time in the palace is also passing.
(Pareshan Khattak)

The personal feelings of the poet in the woes-ridden society also
blink at the social and economic needs like this:

زړه کښۍ ډير څه زما غواړي چې پرې اوکړم
دا زړه سره غريبي بده بلا ده
(سعدالله جان برق)

Desires are many-fold, but what to do!
O, my love! there is the imp of poverty.
(Sa'dullah Jan Barq)

دا خپل کور د وجاړ غولي په تيارو کښۍ
هميش ډوب شم لکه لمر مازيګر ستړې
(سعيد ګوهر)

In the dark ruined court of my home,
I sink tired like the evening sun.
(Saeed Gohar)

Worries for the sweethearts are there in the modern ghazal of
Pukhto, but the poet gives priority to worries for the time and does not feel any hesitation in saying:

بس دې محبوبې مينه ډيره اوشوه
راشه چې خپل کړو دا اؤلس غمونه

Too much affection, my love, we have had,
Let us now turn to sorrows of the people.

Poetry of not only Pukhto but of other languages also is used in as a means of effective communication in politics. But reflection of political problems may be found rarely in poetry of languages other languages than Pukhto:

زه که ستا د څنړي ګل يم تل به ګل يم
رقيبانو له که حسن د ويت نام شو

I'm a flower for your locks, and will be for ever,
No matter if your beauty becomes Vietnam for rivals.

رقيبان چې ستا په حسن ناحق بلوڅي
د هندوان سره جنګ مې په کشمير دې
(قمر راهي)

Rivals covet your beauty for nothing,
I fight with the Hindus for Kashmir.
(Qamar Rahi)

زه د زلفو ته د مخ په تمه
زه د هندوانو نه کشمي غواړم
(حمزه شنواري)

I stare at your locks for your face,
As if begging Kashmir from the Hindus.
(Hamza Shinwari)

The modern ghazal has come out of the labyrinth of imagination and has become a vehicle of representation of the real life. Our poet has full faith in the human values and keeps aloft the standard of humanism. Many changes have since occurred in the world in the field of ideologies, but the poet takes light from that torch for his thinking, the rays of which illuminate the dark paths of humanism. In the light of that torch, the man learns the lesson of peace, brotherhood and equality. Spiritual attachment of our poet with that eternal fountain can be guessed from these verses:

دريغه چې سفر زما د مينې هم
خوږ لکه سفر مې د هجاز شوې
(عبدل جبار حامد)

Journey of my love, too, I wish,
Be as sweet as journey to Hijaz.
(Abdul Jabar Hamid)

عجيبه غوندې خومار دې، عجيبه غوندې نيشه ده
د بوته د خومخانې نه هما اوسخل، خوند ئې نور دې
(همايون هما)

Strange drowsiness, strange intoxication it has!
Huma took from Butha tavern with different taste.
(Humayun Huma)

This brief note on the active mind behind Pukhto ghazal and expression of the realities of life in the language of ghazal, transpires that a revolution has come about in the modern ghazal of Pukhto of the day. It becomes clear that the ghazal of Pukhto goes ahead beside the situation. Although signs of the real situation are perceptible in the poetry of all the times, but now that the global situation is changing so quickly the speed of the poetry has also accelerated. In this era, with the rise of emotion to stand against the aggressive and suppressive powers, Pukhto ghazal has taken turn to represent national emotions. It has absorbed impact of the era and has picked up realities in its fold. The Pukhto poet, irrespective of his political and ideological affiliation, has widened the sphere and scope of subjects of the ghazal, and radiated his thoughts with the beams of the new light. Whether it is the fancy of love and affection or intricate problems of philosophy, struggles against class discrimination and social injustices or preaching for action, in all these subjects, the rays of radical changes in the life, and of the new light, are quite visible.

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The Modern Ghazal of Pashto, Muhammad Humayun Huma
Published in Khyber.ORG on Monday, July 28 2003 (http://www.khyber.org)