The Poetry of Social Commitment: A Comparative Study of P. B. Shelley and Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Article By Wani Nazir


Date: | Read: 197

Modern world, although a colossal expanse of different nations, has shrunk into a small global village and in this global village literature of different nations has seeped into every other nation’s literature in such a way that a universal literature has been fostered all over the globe.
Following the same track Urdu literature, too, during almost past hundred fifty [150] years has continued its endeavors and ventures to keep itself in harmony with the international developed tendencies besides its national accord, and if looked at meticulously, our eyes will not fail to see that these endeavors have been mostly conscious. Urdu, on the one hand to outstretch the circle of its own literature, and on the other hand to wed with the world wide scholastic and literary movements, has not left any stone unturned. Urdu literature has been influenced by the western literature mostly after the publication of Maulana Haali’s, Muqadima-e- Sh’er-u-Shayri.
A common thread of thought runs through some poets of both the literatures. This thread of thought also runs through Shelley an English poet and thinker, and Faiz an Urdu poet and revolutionary.
The most striking affinity between Shelley and Faiz is their revolutionary creed and fervor. The bases of their revolutionary faith are surprisingly identical. They base their premise on the optimistic faith in a better future, the Golden Age. The optimistic faith underlies all the poetry of Shelley from Queen Mab to Hellas. In Queen Mab, Shelley’s revolutionary creed is surfaced as he writes:

“Let priest-led slaves cease to proclaim that man
Inherits vice and misery, when force
And falsehood hand over the cradled babe
Stifling with rudest grasp all natural good”

But the same Queen Mab divines a bright future for mankind. God, Heaven and Hell are the three words which tyrants exploit now, but the time is not far off when the inherent good of man will triumph over evil as;
“Yet every heart contains perfection’s germ”.
Like Shelley, Faiz, in all his poetry emerges as a revolutionary from Naqshe-Faryadi to Ghubari-Ayyam. He writes:
“Na raha jinoon-e-rukh-e-wafa pay rasan ye war karoo gai kya
Jinhein jurm-e-ishq pay naaz thaa who gunahgaar chalay gaye

Sarfarooshi kay andaaz badlay gayee dawat-e-qatel par maqtal-e-shahar mai
Daal kar kooy-e-grdan mai tok aagaya, laadkar koyi kandhe pay daar aagaya

Karoo kaj jabeen pay sar kafan mare qaatelun ko gumaan na ho
Ki garoor-e-ishk ka baankpan pas-e-marg humnay bula diya

Like Shelley, Faiz is also sanguine about a better future, a beautiful tomorrow. This is the very asset which gifts him with optimism instead of grief and sorrow. This optimism doesn't blind his eyes from dreaming of a beautiful future and from the hope of a new dawn.
Conscience enhances its verification and corroboration because of the intensity with which he gives a glad tiding of transmogrifying his Kishti veeran (waste land) into a green and verdurous piece of land.

Hai apni kishti-veeran sarsabz is yaqeen say
Aayange is taraf bi ik roze abro-baaran

Saba nay fir dar-e-zindaan pay aake di dastak
Sehar qareeb hai dil sai kaho na gabraye

Shelley emerges as an optimistic in one of his odes, Ode to the West Wind. The ode ends in a note of optimism when the poet arguers well:
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
Faiz not only does have a hope of better dawn, but he is sanguine and confident. His idea is that if he does not reap the harvest of the struggle, what matters, those who will come after him will get enshrined with its beatifications.

Bala sa hum nay na dekha to aur dekhein gey
Faroog-e-twale saut-e-hazar ka mausam.

In this regard, Siraj Ajmali, the author of Tarqi Pasand Tehreeq Aur Urdu Gazal writes,
“Faiz Ahmad Faiz is the name who observes the Dajla of life even among the frenzied drops of society.”
Faiz’s poetry has a tremendous appeal. His verses, written in Urdu, translated into many languages, appeal not only the poets, writers, and the educated, but also to the common masses. His poetry communicates the experiences of people and their pain, suffering, and struggle of the societies collectively. Through his poetry, Faiz wishes to awaken and enlighten the people and develop in them an understanding of their own destiny. His powerful, motivated poetry paints not only a verbal picture of the struggle of humanity, the turmoil, the suffering and pathos but also the beauty and romanticism of our daily lives. With bold motivated expression, he beautifully paints any subject he touches, gives them a new meaning, a new trend, a new style; and the richness and depth of his thought gives Urdu poetry a new dimension.

His poetry with its understanding of humanity, realism and liberalism combined with finesse, pulsates and projects the events of the centuries. With the magic of his words, he influences three generations in his lifetime. His Naqsh-e-Faryadi, Dast-e-Saba and other literary works will continue to live on. Faiz’s sparkling wit, passion for the people, analysis of human mind and its identification with the throbbing of their heart endears him to scholars, teachers, students, music lovers and all those who have love for aesthetics. The line from the earliest of his famous poems,

“mujh se pahli si muhabbat, meri mahbub, na mang”
“Don’t ask me now, Beloved, to love you as I did”

Tells us of the beginning of a new consciousness, awareness that a man’s love for a woman cannot be-all and end-all of life, and he must be aware of, and deeply affected by the suffering of the poor and the exploited. This reflects that he was socially committed and learned to be the friend of the oppressed. Both Faiz and Shelley are saturated with their enthusiasm for a passion which is closely allied to their commitment to bring social change that we can feel just by going through two of their famous poems, Kuttay and Song to the Men of England respectively.

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Wani Nazir, India

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