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Simply Eternal

Jaskiran Chopra

By Ali Ahmed . Translated by Shoaib Hashmi
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 237, Rs.499.00


Reading Faiz and also reading about him is always a fascinating experience. The hold that his poetry and his personality has over our imagination cannot be easily described. It is simply eternal, like all that he ever wrote. Knowing in depth about the factors and influences that worked to create the timeless wonder which is Faiz Ahmed Faiz is thus an enlightening and enjoyable experience. And added to this is the warmth and intimacy of this biography which is the first ever tribute to him by his family. Faiz Ahmed Faiz can be described as a ‘cross-cultural poet’. Influences like Keats, Shelley and Byron were rapidly assimilated by the young Faiz into his own tradition. This was quite natural as Faiz studied and taught English literature and his knowledge of it was profound. At the same time, he was imbued with the Sufi ideals of Hafiz and Rumi and all the great Urdu poets. Romance and politics, sensuous lyricism and fiery passion mingle inextricably in Faiz’s poetry. ‘The true subject of poetry is loss of the beloved,’ he wrote but, in his case, the ‘beloved’ could mean a lover, the country, freedom or, even, revolution. He had grown up in the intellectual ferment after World War I, the wave of romanticism, the hopes of the October Revolution, the emergence of a working class, the stirrings of nationalism. Faiz had seen economic hardship, sleeping often on an empty stomach. Faiz has lived and will live on in the hearts of millions of poetry lovers across the world. Faiz Ahmed Faiz was born a century ago on February 13 in Sialkot in pre-Partition Punjab. It was indeed a fortunate and auspicious day for the world of poetry. He grew up surrounded by literature with a father who was a friend to many writers, including Muhammad Iqbal. All these aspects of Faiz’s life have been vividly decribed in this biography. There have been several biographies of Faiz published since his death but this one, by his grandson Ali Madeeh Hashmi, with poems translated into English by his son-in-law Shoaib Hashmi, is special. Faiz Ahmed Faiz was and continues to be one of the most popular iconic Urdu poets of the Indian subcontinent. Since his death in 1984 ,the interest in his ideas and work has only grown, and the ideals that underlined his poetry—love, freedom, justice and hope—continue to inspire people ...

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