Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Poets Are Indispensable

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 12 September 2023 Recently, screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar spoke of the power of poetry when he was given an honorary degree by the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Javed Akhtar ----- Poets are the fearless chroniclers of our times and the conscientious custodians of society. There's a very old Turkish adage, "Savid Enton Shyari Niz Naab " (Poetry conveys the truth most effectively). It sure does. A poet holds up a mirror to society. A true poet speaks the truth without mincing the words. When lies become lice, poets try to comb them out. A perfect example is poet Dr Navroze Shavak Kotwal's famous couplet: Jaha'n Jhoot Ko Milti Rahti Hai Panaah/ Waha'n Sach Ka Bolna Bhi Hai Gunaah (Where lies are encouraged all the time/ Speaking the truth is no less than a crime). This couplet seems to have been written for the times we're in. Politics of lies and lice is rampant. The rampart of truth and integrity has developed cracks. The votaries of truth and honesty are being branded as traitors and criminals. Keep singing paeans to a megalomaniac at the helm. The moment you say something against him and his political outfit, you're doomed. Yet, the voices of poets like Kotwal cannot be subdued and subjugated. Recall Majrooh Sultanpuri's famous couplet, "Sutoon-E-Daar Pe Rakhte Chalo Saron Ke Charaagh/ Jahan Talak Ye Sitam Ki Siyah Raat Chale" (Keep putting the candles of heads on the pillars of the scaffold/ So long as this oppressive night goes on). Or remember Faiz Ahmad Faiz's immortal Nazm 'Hum Dekhenge ' or We'll see). It's recognised as a universal poem of protest. Faiz wrote Hum Dekhenge in January 1979, while visiting the US. It was a time when his country’s (Pakistan) first democratically elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had been overthrown in a coup by General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977, was about to be hanged. Apart from writing this poem against the Zia dictatorship, Faiz also had in mind the Iranian people who were struggling against a dictatorial monarchy in their country at that time. As I stated at the outset, every poet is a conscience keeper of his times. Though disillusioned, a poet is always optimistic that better times are on the anvil. Sahir Ludhianvi's famous Nazm, 'Woh Subha Kabhi Toh Aayegi, ' springs to mind: "Inn Kaali Sadiyon Ke Sar Se Jab Raat Ka Aanchal Dhalkega/ Jab Dukh Ke Baadal Pighlenge, Jab Sukh Ka Saagar Jhalkega/ Jab Ambar Jhoom Ke Naachega, Jab Dharti Naghme Gayegi/ Woh Subha Kabhi Toh Aayegi..." A very perceptive contemporary poet Anjum Lakhnavi perpetuates the noble tradition of poetic truthfulness and insightful observation/s when he writes, "Naghme Dard Ke Tarane Ban Ke Rah Gaye/ Tareekh Ke Qisse Afsane Ban Ke Rah Gaye" (History has become fiction in our country/ Sorrows of people are the bread and butter for the powerful, rather it's their pastime). Our history is being systematically altered, nay adulterated, to suit a different and diabolical narrative. These profound poetic sensibilities constitute a poet's persona and objective. They're the beacons. Though Plato is famous for having banished poetry and poets from the ideal city of the Republic, the role of poets in our society can never be belittled. They're indispensable. Their significance can never be dwarfed. Long live poets. ------- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: https://newageislam.com/spiritual-meditations/poets-indispensable/d/130658 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

No comments:

Post a Comment