Annual of Urdu Studies, v. 7, 1990 p. 88.

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Kristine M. Rogers



The world depicted in some of the poems of Nazir Qaiser is a grim one indeed. Blood runs in the streets. Daggers and severed limbs are everywhere. Earth and sun have been rotated, not on their axes, but upon the point of some gruesome sword. Creation is askew; human society, in chaos. Death and famine stalk the land, laying waste to all. The poet stands in the midst of this apocalyptic horror, uttering cries of personal and global anguish as well as calls to rally and resist.

In this dual role of principle victim and chief standard bearer, the poet interrogates the morning stars about the real reasons for such insane suffering. After all, Venus and Saturn have watched the endless succession of life and death upon our planet since time immemorial:

0 Red Stars in the East,

from the abundance of whose blood

have those flowers bloomed on the spears?

Those feet submerged in the dust,

what twist of fate were they?

0 Red Stars in the East,

on the point of which sword

have half the sun and half the world revolved?

Who were those brave men swaying back and forth

on the blind rope of a noose,

0 Red Stars in the East?

One surmises that the stars keep their counsel, and the poet must make up his own answers. It is a question of imagination from beginning to end. And the poet is brutally honest with himself and with us: sometimes his imagination fails him:

// the path of the wind were not blocked,

where would I go?

If I step outside the threshold

my heel is soaked in blood,

it seals the story of the times upon my forehead.

Like branches fallen from trees,

severed limbs throb within my eyes.

In the houses are the spectres of famine,

Annual of Urdu Studies, #7 gg

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