The History of Urdu Poetry
#64# The Greek philosophers say that verses are composed of imaginary things that have nothing to do with realism or truth. When the poet sees natural objects or events, whatever thought comes into his heart, he versifies to suit his purposes. His thought is not bound by truth. When he sees the light of dawn appear, sometimes he says that milk began to boil over from the cauldron of the east, sometimes he says that an ocean of mercury began to surge. Someone is coming from the east, releasing camphor into the air. The morning comes scattering bamboo-nectar. Or, for example, the sun has come out, and its rays don't yet show. The poet says a golden ball has bounced up into the air. The morning is coming, bearing a round golden tray on her head. Sometimes, keeping in mind the crowing of cocks, the radiance of the dawn light, the glittering of the sun and its rays, he shows the pomp and splendor of the morning, and says that the king of the east, mounted on the dusky steed of the sky, jeweled crown on his head, bearing the spear of his rays, has appeared from the east. When in the evening the poet sees the glorious red twilight, he says the sun has lain down in the curtained bed of the west, wrapped himself in a vermilion blanket, and gone to sleep. Sometimes he says that the cup of the sky is overflowing with blood. No, the halls of the west have caught fire. When he sees the moon in a night sky filled with stars, he says that sequins have been sewn onto a covering of lapis lazuli. On the river Nile, the ship of light goes sailing along. And little silvery fish swim all around.
In short, there are many such things that give extreme pleasure. But they have nothing at all to do with reality. Even so, in the device-shop of the world poetry is an extraordinary verbal device from the divine Deviser. Seeing it, wisdom is stupefied. For first, people write a theme in one line, and read it in prose. Then they write the very same theme, with only some words shifted around--and look at it! It achieves another state entirely. Or rather, some new elements are born in it.
#65# One: There is that special quality that everyone calls *metricality.
Two: The power of the speech increases. And such sharpness comes into the theme, that the razor of its effect abrades the heart.
Three: A simple thing becomes so pleasurable that everyone reads it and enjoys it. We know from experience that when the feeling of happiness or grief and anger, or some kind of passion and enthusiasm, agitates the heart, and it runs up against power of expression, then metrical speech spontaneously falls from the lips--the way the collision of stone and iron generates fire. Thus a poet is someone in whose temperament this innate quality exists. Although the natural-born poet may sit down at some special time and decide to compose a verse, in reality his heart and his thoughts are always pursuing their task. In the workshop of nature, the thing that his senses perceive, and that somewhat affects his temperament, is not granted to everyone. Whether pleasure and liveliness, or annoyance and aversion, whatever mood he himself experiences, he's necessarily always searching: 'What words can there be, and how can I give them a construction, so that the mood that pervades my heart when I see this, will also overspread the hearers' hearts, and I can say the thing that will affect the heart?'
Sometimes the poet sits by himself in a cell, sometimes he wanders alone, apart from everyone. Sometimes he can be seen in solitude, beneath the shade of a tree. And he's happy with this. However wretched a situation he may be in, he's a king by temperament, and a [generous] Ḥātim in his heart. The king has armies and soldiers, offices and courts, and all the wherewithal and equipment for governance. The poet has nothing. But with words and meanings he prepares and displays all that equipment--or rather, thousands of levels more. The lands the king conquers, or treasuries he gathers, through year after year of dangerous martial encounters--the poet sits at home and gives them to whomever he wishes, and himself has no care for them. #66# The king is not so happy having conquered a land, as the poet is having found a word that will be appropriately fitted in its place. And the truth is that he doesn't even care about the land.
On this subject, what I have seen with my own eyes is that the house in which Shaiḳh Ibrāhīm 'Żauq' used to spend his time was narrow and dark. In the hot season, it became oppressive. When some of his old friends visited, sometimes they felt uncomfortable in it and said, 'Move out of this house! It's not fit to sit in for even a moment--how can you stay here day and night?' He made polite noises, but said nothing more. Sometimes he smiled. Sometimes he would begin glancing at the ghazal he was composing. Sometimes he looked at their faces. God had given him houses, gardens, all the requisites for comfort and relaxation, but he stayed put there--in such a way that he would leave only when he died. But then, look at his odes and ghazals. Does any king have in his kingdom the wherewithal for such glory and radiance, and pomp and circumstance? It was as if all the wealth of the kingdom belonged to him alone, so that he put it to use however he wished. When he read his poetry, no king who was the master of a kingdom could have been happier than he. Because the king had constantly to take care of his kingdom, while the poet was free of care.
Just as no ground can remain without things growing on it, according to its capacity, so no language can remain devoid of poetry, according to the capacity of its native speakers. The colorfulness and verdure of everything that grows reveals the characteristics of its ground. In the ranks of languages, every poem shows the refinement of its language and of the native speakers of that language, and the level of their intellectual cultivation and sophistication of temperament.
The birth of Urdu poetry: If we reflect on the origin of the Urdu language, and cast an eye over its writings, we will see that poetry comes before prose. And it's an extraordinary thing, that the child [Urdu] would first compose a verse, then learn to talk. Indeed, poetry was a fervor of the temperament, therefore it emerged first. Prose was weighty with the burden of sophistication; when it was #67# needed, it made its appearance. No Urdu prose composition can be found before A.H. 1145 [1732-33], although as for poetry, if we sift through oral *tales and accounts in books, the conclusion emerges that when Braj Bhasha, with its wide courtesy, gave a place to Arabic and Persian guest-words, in people's temperaments this natural growth [of poetry] too sprang up. But for hundreds of years it manifested itself in the form of dohrās--that is, Persian meters and Persian ideas were not present.
Amīr Ḳhusrau's inventions and innovations: Amīr Ḳhusrau, who had an innovative temperament of a high order for creation and invention, used a mixture of Braj Bhasha [with Persian] to open a magic-house of literary style in the land of poetry. Ḳhāliq bārī, a condensation of which is still the daily fare of children today, was in many voluminous parts. In it Persian meters first made themselves felt, and from it we can also tell what words were current at the time that have now been given up. In addition, he composed many riddles of a rare and extraordinary refinement, from which we can tell what relish the salt of Persian had added to the flavor of Hindi. Mukarnī, misjoinders, do suḳhanahs, and so on are the special quality of his mirror. I record examples of each, because from them too some information can be gathered about the language of that period.
Riddles: [Examples are provided: riddles based on #68# the neem-berry, the mirror, the fingernail, and the dumb person.]
Songs for women: In Delhi, or rather in a number of the cities of India, the custom is that at the height of the rainy season, most women have stakes driven into the ground--or if there's a tree, they use that--and have a swing put up. They gather together and swing, and sing songs, and enjoy themselves. There will scarcely be a single woman among them who doesn't sing this song: 'My beloved said he would come, / My lord has not come, / Alas, my beloved said he would come, / He said he would come, would come, / He has not come for a whole twelve months, / Alas, my beloved said he would come', and so on. This song too is by Amīr Ḳhusrau, and it is in the Barvā rāg that he invented. Bravo!--what tongues those people had, that whatever fell from their lips pleased the whole world, and engraved itself on the heart of the age! Composers have composed thousands of songs, singers have sung them; they are here today, and forgotten tomorrow. Six hundred years have passed. His songs are alive even today, and give brightness to every rainy season. If this marvelous acceptance is not an innate, divine gift, then what is it?
For grown-up women to sing, there were songs like that. For young girls to sing about their 'beloved' and their 'lord' was not suitable; but they too had longings in their hearts, they too had to celebrate the glory of the season. For them, he composed other songs. Thus, it's as if a girl is in her in-laws' house. The rainy season has come; she swings. And remembering her mother, she sings, 'Mother, send my father please, for the rains have come (that is, to bring me home), / Daughter, your father is old, for the rains have come (that is, how can he come?), / #69# Mother, send my brother please, for the rains have come, / Daughter, your brother is young, for the rains have come (that is, how can a child come so far alone?), / Mother, send my uncle please, for the rains have come (that is, those two excuses don't apply to him), / Daughter, your uncle is frivolous, for the rains have come (that is, does he ever do what I say?)'. Just look a bit closely. Despite their learning and venerability and high level of poetic thought, when those people bent toward lowness, they reached down so far that they dug up even seeds from under the ground. Look at these words and thoughts--how they are immersed in Nature [nechar]! How very genuinely they present the natural thoughts and heartfelt longings of women and girls!
He invented mukarnīs: He ought to be called the inventor of mukarnīs as well: [three examples].
Misjoinders: At a well, four female water-carriers were drawing water. Amīr Ḳhusrau, walking along the road, felt thirsty. Going to the well, he asked one of the women for water. One of them recognized him. She said to the others, 'Look, this is Ḳhusrau himself'. They asked, 'Are you the Ḳhusrau whose songs everybody sings, and whose riddles and mukarnīs and misjoinders everybody listens to?'. He said, 'Yes'. At this, one of them said, 'Compose something about rice pudding for me'. The second named a spinning wheel, the third a drum, the fourth a dog. He said, 'I'm dying of thirst. First give me some water to drink'. They said, 'Until you compose what we said, we won't give you any water'. He quickly composed this #70# misjoinder: '"I cooked rice pudding with effort, I burned the spinning wheel; a dog came and ate it up--you sit and play the drum!" Come on, give me some water!'
In the same way, he sometimes used to compose a ḍhakosalā; this one too is of his invention: [one example]. Do suḳhanahs: [three verses]. Do suḳhanahs in both Persian and Urdu: [three verses].
In music, his temperament was a bīn [=vina] that played music without being plucked. Thus instead of the Dhrupat [=Dhrupad], he composed brief song-texts for specific rāgs, and invented a number of rāgs. Many of his songs for these rāgs are still on the lips of the women and men of India to this day. The Bahār rāg and the rainy-season festival have taken their color from his temperament. Shortening the bīn, he also made it into the sitār.
An anecdote: A wandering faqir came as a guest to Sult̤ān-jī Sahib [Niz̤̣āmuddīn Auliyā]'s place. In the evening, he sat at the dining-cloth. After eating, they began to talk. The traveler spread out so many reams of talk that much of the night passed, and it just didn't end. Sult̤ān-jī Sahib yawned somewhat, and stretched himself a bit, but that simple-minded person didn't understand at all. Sult̤ān-jī Sahib, fearing to hurt the feelings of a guest, could say nothing; having no choice, he had to stay seated. Amīr Ḳhusrau too was present, but he couldn't speak up. Then the midnight gong was struck, and at that time Sult̤ān-jī said, 'Ḳhusrau, what hour has struck?' He petitioned, 'It's the midnight gong'. Sult̤ānj-ji asked, 'What voice can be heard in it?'. He said, 'I understand it to say: "You ate bread--go home. You ate bread--go home. Go home--go home. / You ate bread--go home. I haven't mortgaged the house to you. Go home--go home."' #71# Think of how the sounds move and stop, and how they express each and every stroke of the gong, and what effect this had.
An anecdote: [A story about how Ḳhusrau versifies the sound of a cotton-carder at work.]
An anecdote: At one end of the neighborhood was the shop of an old female tobacconist; Chimmoa was her name. The loafers of the city used to drink bhang and smoke [another marijuana preparation called] charas there. When Amīr Ḳhusrau came back from the royal court, or left his house for a relaxing stroll, she used to greet him most respectfully. Sometimes she stood there with a huqqah ready to offer him. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, he always took a couple of puffs. One day she said, 'May I take your misfortunes upon myself! You make thousands of ghazals, songs, rāgs, and rāginīs. You write books. Compose something in this servant girl's name too.' He said, 'Very good, Bī Chimmo'. After some days, she again said, 'For the innkeeper-woman's son, you wrote Ḳhāliq bārī. If you would just please write something in this servant girl's name too, what would be the harm? Through the blessing of your name, my name too would live on.' Since she asked again and again, one day it occurred to him. He said, 'All right, Bī Chimmo, listen: Others have four gongs a day,b Chimmo has eight gongs a day (that is, she is grander than kings) / #72# No one from outside came, all the city people came (that is, it is not the place for barbarous rustics, but for sophisticated people) / Preparing a clean and polished cup, with no dirt in it, she set it before them (that is, she presents them with a clean, pure cup of bhang, in which there are no impurities) / While at other places the measure is a toothpick, at Chimmo's place the measure is a club'. Bhang-drinkers pride themselves on drinking bhang thick enough so that a straw would stand upright in it. He exaggerates by saying that she makes bhang in which a club would stand upright. Well--thanks to him, Chimmo's name has remained.
If you want to know the truth, just as every living thing has an age, so a book too has an age. For example, the Shāh nāmah is nine hundred years old. Consider the Sikandar nāmah to be seven hundred years old. Call the Gulistān and the Bostān six hundred years old. The age of [Yūsuf] Zulaiḳhā is about three hundred. But they are all still young. In Urdu, Bāġh o bahār, Badr-e munīr, and so on, are young. Fasānah-e ʿajāʾib is at its last gasp. Many books initially find fame, then sink into obscurity; it's as if they were only children when they died. Many works come into existence and are published, but no one bothers about them; these children were stillborn. A number of books live for a fixed length of time; they are the ones used in the government schools. For as long as they're prescribed in the curriculum, that's how long they're printed. And, willy nilly, they're sold, and people read them. When they're removed from the curriculum, they die; no one bothers about them in the least. /Acceptance by hearts and the pleasure of poetry are God-given. [--Ḥāfi]/ May God grant this boon.
In short, amidst all this creative enthusiasm and tumult of invention, one more fresh innovation emerged, about which three things are worthy of our attention:
One: By means of romantic themes, the sequence of verses that we call 'ghazal' came into our hands. That observance of rhyme, or *refrain and rhyme both. In the same way, first the *opening verse, or a number of opening verses, then some verses, finally a *concluding verse, and in it a pen-name.
Two: Persian *prosody took its first step into India.
Three: Persian and Bhasha were mixed together like salt and pepper, in such a way that the language makes you smack #73# your lips. One aspect of this is the most worthy of note: that they made the woman alone the originator of love, which is a peculiar feature of the poetry of India. But we cannot say when this revolution in love-making took place. The aforementioned ghazal is: [an illustrative ghazal attributed to Ḳhusrau].
In the early period of invention, such [mixture of language] is usually the case. Time gives correction to the beginners; then it shapes the language and brings it to a high level of excellence and proper style. But at that time no one made efforts in this direction, to enable this style to become popular. Indeed, Malik Muḥammad Jāʾisī wrote, in addition to his masnavi Padmāvat, dohrās and songs, and of such a high rank that in the work of Doctor Gilchrist Sahib they are of extraordinary help. The surprising thing is that we have not a single verse of his in any of the Persian meters. In the Deccan one Saʿdī passed through, about whom only this much is known: that he considered himself the Saʿdī Shīrāzī of India. And it's surprising that Mirzā Rafīʿ Saudā, in his anthology, has recorded the following verses of his under the name of Shaiḳh Saʿdī Shīrāzī: [a three-verse #74# ghazal].
The dohrās of Kabīr and Tulsī Dās, and so on, are on everyone's lips. But they permit us only the authority to say that in that era, Persian words had come to be commonly used by the Hindus as well. These dohrās had no connection to the poetry that came from Persian and manifested itself in the dress of Urdu--and that dispossed the native lord and made him sit in a corner.
There was an individual called Ḥāmid; we don't know when he lived. They say that he was the one who composed the Ḥāmid bārī. I've only seen one seven-verse ghazal of his, from which it appears that he was perhaps some Punjabi gentleman. From this ghazal, I content myself with the opening verse: [one verse]. If these are poetry, then from that time onwards countless poets can be found in the Punjab. The poetry of this region even now continues to be in verses [bait] of that very style. But these poets and their poetry are not those whom we are discussing. Aḥmad Gujarātī is a contemporary and compatriot of Valī, and he says: [three verses]. Sevā is a writer who lived in the Deccan, who translated the Rauẓat ush-shuhadā into the Dakani language. His *elegies are still recited in its imambaras. And it's likely that there were many poets of his kind in those times, but we cannot call such poetry literary poetry.
A writer named Navāz, in the time of Farruḳh Siyar, translated the Shakuntalā into Bhasha. #75# The reason for the weakness of Urdu poetry in that era was presumably that most capable, native speakers of Urdu didn't consider composing poetry in Urdu a source of pride. If they wanted to compose something, they composed it in Persian. Although indeed the ordinary people, if they were able to compose metrically and wanted to fulfill their longing for expression, said whatever came to their lips. The foreigners who were poets, composed verses in Persian. They didn't know Urdu; if they composed anything in Urdu, it seems to have been by way of amusement. Thus if you look at the miscellaneous verses of Mirzā Muʿizz Mūsavī Ḳhān 'Fit̤rat', who was the cream of the poets of Iran and one of the best poets of the realm of ʿĀlamgīr, and after him at the miscellaneous verses of Qizilbāsh Ḳhān 'Ummīd', it seems that they were unable properly to express themselves even in the broken, undeveloped language current at the time. Thus Mirzā Muʿizz says, [one verse]. Although Qizilbāsh Ḳhān Ummīd is very famous in Persian, and his warm friendliness in gatherings with the people of India is well known, he expressed his accomplishment in Urdu like this: [one verse].
Everyone agrees that poetry as it is today made its appearance in the Deccan. Thus Mīr Taqī 'Mīr' too in a verse has expressed it in a poetic way:
/It's not for nothing that I've made a practice of composing in Rekhtah--
My beloved was a native of the Deccan/.
And Qāʾim, his contemporary, has said clearly,
/Qāʾim, I made Rekhtah look like a ghazal--otherwise
it was a feeble trifle in the Dakani language/.
In any case, in the time of ʿĀlamgīr, Valī lit the lamp of the poetry that in the time of Muḥammad Shāh became a star and shone in the sky, and in the time of Shāh ʿĀlam became a sun [āftābc] and reached its zenith.
At the beginning of [my account of] Urdu poetry, it is worth mentioning that in Sanskrit one word has quite a number of meanings. For this reason, in it, and in its offshoot Braj Bhasha, wordplay with double meanings and #76# *punning was the foundation of dohrās. In Persian, this verbal device exists, but less commonly. In Urdu, at the very first, the foundation of the verse was laid on it. And among the poets of the first era, this rule was constantly observed. I record some verses of that period as examples: [seven examples]. Shāh 'Ḥātim', with great effort, purified Urdu of these discolorations; this will be described in the section about him.
The remains of this corrupt matter continued to be used in Saudā's time. Thus he too has complained about those gentlemen, in an ode of which this is one verse: [one verse]. But the entertaining thing is that when he found the chance, he too, here and there, composed such verses. Thus he has said,
/The gem-cutter's son is not less than the Messiah
If a turquoise is 'dead' [=dull] he 'revives' [=polishes] it/.
Although in comparison to former times, that style has not at all endured, to the extent that it has endured it has gained such ascendancy over our language that it obstructs the expression of themes that we now need to convey. Nor should it be forgotten that just as a young bird sheds its previous #77# feathers and new ones keep emerging, our language too has been constantly changing its words. Thus I have pointed out many words in the poetry of our poets from era to era.
It is an unhappy state of affairs that our poetry has become ensnared in the toils of a few trifling ideas: that is, romantic themes, carefree drinking of wine, creating illusory colors and scents without the rose or the rosegarden, bewailing the calamity of separation, delighting in imaginary union, feeling an aversion to the world, and on top of this experiencing the oppression of the heavens. And the outrageous thing is that if we want to speak of some real matter, we express that very idea in metaphors--the result of which is that we can do nothing. My friends! I see that the exhibition hall of sciences and arts is open, and all the peoples have been displaying the handwork of their literature. Don't you see on what level our language stands? Yes--you can clearly see--she lies there on the doormat!
Among our elders, in Delhi first Mirzā Rafīʿ Saudā, then Shaiḳh Ibrāhīm Żauq, produced a fine force in their poetry by the chasteness of their language, the polish of their words, the trimness of their constructions. Mīr Taqī Mīr and Ḳhvājah Mīr 'Dard' well expressed the themes of lamentation, sadness at heart, alienation from the world. Ġhālib, on some occasions, followed excellently in their footsteps--but he was a lover of *'meaning-creation', and he gave more attention to Persian, so that in Urdu, the number of his more or less [ġhāliban] unblemished verses has not turned out to be more than one or two hundred. Jurʾat wrote with the greatest excellence and piquancy about the affairs of lover and beloved, and the inner feelings of both. Momin Ḳhān, despite his love for obscurity, followed in Jurʾat's footsteps. In Lucknow, Shaiḳh Imām Bakhsh 'Nāsiḳh' and Ḳhvājah Ḥaidar ʿAlī 'Ātish', Rind, Ṣabā, Vazīr, and so on did justice to the claims of poetry.
But then, just think: what's the value of making mere verbal 'parrots and mynahs'? The poet who cannot express our every kind of meaning, and our heart's every longing, is like a broken pen that cannot shape a complete letter. In Delhi, the seat of government, which was the mint for Urdu literature and poetry, Żauq and Ġhālib brought traditional poetry to its termination. In Lucknow, #78# starting with Nāsiḳh and Ātish, the lineage went on until Rind, Vazīr, and Ṣabā. At one time the saying was well-known, 'An inept poet becomes an elegy-composer, and an inept singer becomes an elegy-reciter'. But in Lucknow such accomplished experts in both these branches arose, that they shed luster on their roots. For this reason we can say that Mīr 'Anīs' and Mirzā 'Dabīr' are the termination of the Urdu poets. And since the birth of masters of accomplishment in this art depends on the highest level of prosperity and the appreciation of the age and numerous other requisites, and now the complexion of the times is absolutely against all this, India ought to despair entirely of the progress of this poetry and the birth of such poets. Although if some new fashion [faishan] should arise--God knows what accomplishments, and what accomplished people, might appear!
In concluding the discussion, a question was put to the astrologer of Wisdom: 'The star of this poetry, which has declined into inauspiciousness--will it ever rise, and ascend to the heights of triumph, or not?' The answer came: 'No'. The question was asked: 'The reason?' The answer came: 'This is not the language of the rulers of the time, nor is it of use to them. Therefore they don't value it. They neither know it, nor consider knowing it a source of pride. From their side, the title that they give to our poets is that of "false flatterer".' Well then--oh Fortune! Oh Fate! The people whose poetry was considered an authority for our language--this is the kind of honor they have been given! Now there remain, to weep for this half-alive corpse, only a few old men--whose pathetic voices are sometimes raised in the tone of a deep sigh, and then remain unheard within their breasts. When sometimes they feel a little ease, they arrange a mushairah and meet and sit together; and they please themselves by receiving praise from one another. The poor poets--that they should be content with just this much praise, so as to keep alive the memorials of their elders! But what should they do about their stomach? That hellish void isn't filled by any amount of praise!
Then the question was asked, 'Is there any means by which our luck can change, and once again we can see the garden of our poetry in bloom?' The answer came, 'Yes. To courage and ingenuity God has given a great fructifying power.' The situation is this: in Asia, the glory of such accomplishments comes from the attention of the rulers. Poets #79# ought to make the poetry useful to the rulers, or worthy of their enjoyment. If they make it so, those who compose verse will benefit; and to the extent that they benefit, their verse will become more widely talked about. Thus to that extent their mind and thought will be quickened, and will produce interesting inventions and attractive innovations--this is what is called progress.
You have seen that whatever store of literature Urdu has, is thanks to Persian. The ancient poets of Persia extracted pleasure from every type of theme. Later poets came to be confined to the ghazal alone, though the capable ones continued to compose odes as well. The Urdu poets, considering it an easy task and deciding to make their poetry widely popular, adopted the themes of beauty and love, and so on, and there is no doubt that what they did, they did very well. But those themes became so widely used that the ears have grown tired of hearing them. Those same fixed things! Here and there we move the words around, here and there we do some substitutions--and we keep on composing with them. As if they're morsels that have already been eaten--or at least chewed--by other people. We chew on them, and we're happy. Think about it--what relish do they still have left? Beauty and love--marvelous!--very fine! But for how long? Whether she's a Houri or a Pari, once you're stuck with her, she becomes sickening. How long can it be till you get fed up with beauty and love? And by now she's become a hundred-year-old crone!
Then, one more difficulty is that our ancestors stored up for us the provisions--words and meanings, metaphors and similes--for expressing these ideas. And by now these things come so fluently to our tongues that everybody can, with a little mental effort, compose something or other. If he should want to express in verse some other kind of thought, he does not find such equipment. If capable and practiced people should want to, no doubt they can do it. But the wretched themes of beauty and love, the beloved's downy cheek and beauty spot, and the words about the springtime in the garden--these have soaked deep into their mouths and tongues. If we want to say something, first we have to banish these things from our minds, then after that we can bring forth, in their proper places, similar novel metaphors, new similes, innovative constructions, and sophisticated verbal forms. And this is a task that demands much sweat and soul-exhausting toil. The lack of courage that has become the sovereign ruler of our people--can we ever have a better chance to stop it from affecting us than by doing this?
#80# This happenstance--well, whatever it has done, it has done. It has created this huge evil: it has caused our contemporaries to declare in unanimous chorus that Urdu poetry can only express romantic themes, that it doesn't at all have the strength and ability to express every theme. And this is a great black mark on the hem of the garment of our country's language. I ask myself, 'Who will wash it away, and how?' Indeed, this is a task for our youth, who in the land of knowledge have occupied both banks of the rivers, eastern and western. Their courage will irrigate the land. Their courage will bring water from both banks--and will not only wash away the black mark, but will also fill the people's lap with pearls.
a With the first vowel a short 'i', the second an 'o'.
b At that time, in the king's palace they used to sound the gong four times a day.
c 'Āftāb' was the pen-name of the king Shāh ʿĀlam. He himself was a very practiced poet, by whom four volumes in Urdu survive.