Annual of Urdu Studies, v. 4, 1984 p. 1.


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THE FUTURE OF THE GHAZAL:

A SYMPOSIUM1

Translated by Muhammad Umar Memon

Nay a Daur invited some distinguished intellectuals to comment upon the following:

Western literary influences upon traditional Urdu poetry served to popularize the new poem (jadid nazm) and raised hopes that it would now be possible for Urdu poetry to go beyond where first Hali and then Iqbal had left it, and that after myriad technical and poetic experiments another Iqbal would emerge, giving Urdu poetry a new color (rang) and rhythm (a hang), as T. S. Eliot had given new life to English poetry by compressing countless experiments since Browning. The emergence of the new ghazal (§?aza2) after 1947, however, forces us to conclude that the development of our poetry has become arrested. The "return" to the ghazal is symbolic of our desire to avoid confronting the modern world with its changing rhythm and color and our satisfaction merely with travelling in a bullock cart in a jet-age.

The ghazal reinforces our habit of seeking only the easy. It has a fixed structure, fixed also are the symbols and allusions that make poetic communication fairly easy; it even has a fixed prosodic structure. Otherwise ordinary things appear terribly significant in it.

The ghazal is recited, while the nazm is read. We can best describe the difference between the ghazal and the nazjn as that between radio and book. In an age when the color and rhythm, the pace and melody of life are changing, does not the ghazal seem totally divorced from contemporary time, severely inhibiting intellectual growth and creativity?

Man's life today is no longer as simple as it used to be; even the concept of love has lost its former simplicity. In this situation, does not the revival of a genre whose basis has all along remained merely "talking with or to women" indicate obscurantism? Ghalib, with his characteristic perspicacity, had sensed as much and admitted:

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