I have been doing one too many posts about poetry of late. But with Spring tip toeing in with all its splendor, can you blame me? Spring has been an inspiration for poets from nearly all languages. Who hasn’t heard of “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” (P.B. Shelley). Urdu poetry too is rich with ideas inspired by Spring. However, its treatment of the topic is very peculiar, but interesting nevertheless.
Urdu poetry is very metaphoric. Nightingale (bulbul) represents a lover while the beloved takes form of a flower (gul). The heart (dil) is seat of tenderness and impatience while the liver (jigar) stands for pain and perseverance. Shirt collar ( garebaan ) represents ego which is always assumed to be torn in the case of lovers (aashiq ka chaak garebaan). The lover and beloved (refered to as aashiq and mehboob respectively) have a very special place in Urdu poetry. Restricting it to the conventional boy-meets-girl type of love would be unfair. Infact, anyone who seeks a purpose with heart and soul is a true blue aashiq.
Now Spring is a very significant occasion for our Urdu aashiqs (the actual plural is usshaaq) as per poetry. While the world celebrates the opulence of color and fragrance as the flora turns into its full bloom, the aashiq grows melancholic. The beauty of Spring brings to mind the lost mehboob. As flowers of bright red color blossom, the wounds in aashiq’s heart start to bleed. The masses join in Spring celebrations, but the aashiq’s pain augments as he laments the loss of his mehboob.
The following is a collection of verses (ashaar) that convey the same meaning. I have made a modest attempt to translate it into English. Translation of poetry from its original language is the same as looking at the shadow of fire or the reflection of moon in water. Nevertheless, it is better than nothing.
Finally, how can we skip Faiz’s classic poem “Bahaar aai”. Have a happy spring!