Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Tuesday Platform: In these times of love and oppression



We are living in strange times. The economic development of the last century has made an intrusive impact in all our lives. Everything has capital value, almost everything is monetized. This economic progress has been accompanied with rising inequalities in the society. I am not for making a proclamation that democracy has failed but I think we may find it so that the neoliberal policies of the modern democracies have rather only exacerbated the many divisions in our society. In recent years, we have also seen the rise of populist leaders in many countries with majoritarian leanings who have come out to exploit these divisions to rise to power. Oppression and repression on the basis of economic class, race, skin colour, sexual and gender identities, caste, religion, et al. haven't abated even when we are almost two decades through the 21rst century.

When anyone talks about love in this age and time with me, I can not help but remember Faiz Ahmad Faiz and the combination of romanticism with his revolutionary ideas in many of his works. Here is a translation of one of Faiz's most popular poems, "Mujh se pahli si muhabbat mire mahboob na maang" (translated by Kashmiri-American poet, Agha Shahid Ali):

Don't Ask Me for That Love Again

That which then was ours, my love,
don't ask me for that love again.
The world then was gold, burnished with light --
and only because of you. That's what I had believed.
How could one weep for sorrows other than yours?
How could one have any sorrow but the one you gave?
So what were these protests, these rumors of injustice?
A glimpse of your face was evidence of springtime.
The sky, wherever I looked, was nothing but your eyes.
If You'd fall into my arms, Fate would be helpless.

All this I'd thought, all this I'd believed.
But there were other sorrows, comforts other than love.
The rich had cast their spell on history:
dark centuries had been embroidered on brocades and silks.
Bitter threads began to unravel before me
as I went into alleys and in open markets
saw bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood.
I saw them sold and bought, again and again.
This too deserves attention. I can't help but look back
when I return from those alleys --what should one do?
And you still are so ravishing --what should I do?
There are other sorrows in this world,
comforts other than love.
Don't ask me, my love, for that love again.

"Mujh se pahli si muhabbat mire mahboob na maang", Faiz Ahmad Faiz, tr. by Agha Shahid Ali

This is Anmol (alias HA) and I welcome you all for a wonderful week of poetics ahead at this Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. I would definitely recommend Faiz and Agha Shahid Ali to all those who haven't read them before. For The Tuesday Platform, share one link to a poem, old or new, that you would like all of us to read. Do not forget to visit the linked-up verses of others. Reading and sharing our thoughts with each other inculcates that sense of community here that we all cherish so much. I look forward to reading you all. Happy Tuesday!


11 comments:

Thotpurge said...

What a combination that is- Shahid Ali and Faiz. I turn to my copy of Rebel's Silhouette over and over again. So glad you posted this one, Anmol.

Jim said...

A bright and cheery morning.
The flowers have been working 
All through the night they have toiled 
I'm glad, Anmol, that you posted this poem with its disturbing thoughts. 
Makes us think

Toni Spencer said...

Good morning! Something light and summery today , harkening back to my teenage years.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Ha, I linked before I read, Anmol.......I just penned a poem for tomorrow's prompt at Midweek that would speak to this, but too late, I already linked. Smiles. I feel such discouragement at what is going on everywhere, I cant imagine what it is to be young in the middle of so much that is wrong. Thanks for hosting, kiddo. This is very interesting and topical.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Scrambled, Not Fried.....I love your poem, but cant find a place to comment?

Kim Russell said...

Good evening, Anmol and all toads in the garden! It's been another cold day here in North Norfolk and I will be ready for bed soon. I'll try to read this evening but may have to return in the morning when my eyes are less blurry!

Susie Clevenger said...

Hi everyone! I am working on short stories. This one is a bit dark, but my muse insisted. :)

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

How wonderful! I love Agha Shahid Ali's poetry and obviously must waste no time time acquainting myself with Faiz's. Thank you, Anmol.

I am linking one I wrote just now for dVerse, where some of us are playing with the Rubaiyat.

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

Good morning all- Joining in! I hope everyone is well.

Vinitha Dileep said...

That's a beautiful and thought-provoking poem. Such a gem! Thank you for sharing! :)

Anmol (HA) said...

Dear Rosemary, This website would be a good place to start for the purpose; it has translations of some of his poems by different translators (including Shahid Ali). And there's a book of translations of Faiz's poems by Shahid Ali as well. Like Rajani mentioned previously, it's called The Rebel's Silhouette.