An ethereal world of poetry

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Intizar Husain

THE man known as Gulzar is a phenomenon unto himself. One may well wonder how he is able to draw from within himself a number of talents belonging to various forms of art and literature, and how he manages to pursue each one with equal involvement. I am more familiar with the two varieties belonging to literature: poetry and the short story. Each of these two activities asks for a devotion involving one’s entire personality. It is only then that one can achieve something worth serious literary consideration.

Recently, I received one more collection of his Urdu poems from him, along with an additional volume of its English translations published under the common title Pluto. The volume containing the original text has been published by Sang-e-Meel, Lahore, while the other volume has been brought out by Harper Collins publishers based in Delhi.

Surprisingly, the translated versions, too, carry with them an air of the original. In fact, they have been translated into English by someone who is a poet in her own right — Nirupama Dutt, who writes in Punjabi as well as in English, and also enjoys a good reputation as an art and literary critic.

If the collection of these poems has been brought out under the strange title Pluto there is a reason behind it. Let us know this reason as stated and explained by the author himself:

“Pluto lost its status as a planet recently. Scientists said ‘Away with you. We will not include you in our family of nine planets. You are not one.’ I had lost my place long ago when my family said, ‘How come [there is] a mirasi in a family of businessmen?’ My heart is saddened at Pluto’s sorrow on being rejected thus. It is so far away … so tiny … so all my pint-sized poems I gift to it.”

Imagine an exiled soul suffering from a sense of loneliness finding planet earth estranged from him; wandering aimlessly between earth and heaven, he eventually succeeds at finding, in the celestial world, an afflicted soul exiled like him. So now he can share his sorrow with Pluto.

The poems presented here should be seen as the outcome of this strange companionship. A number of poems help us to land in an ethereal world where the poet, armed with his poetic imagination, is seen moving pleasantly amid clouds, rainbow, stars and the rising moon:

Hold one end of the cloud

While I spread the other

And trying to the end of a rainbow

Swing under its

seven-hued arch

Let us ask the sun to rock the swing

Up and across the sky

Will you join me.

Here in these poems the poet appears to be communicating more with nature than with mankind. Mostly birds and trees are seen representing nature. The poet is keen to listen to what the birds say while chirping in their sweet voice:

These bids on the runway are not afraid

It simply surprises them to see man

Try on wheels in a race to go ahead

And fly away with the entire coop

Daintily resting her neck on one of her wings

The wise female philosophises to her mate

The poor fellows have no wings you know.

We feel like we are in an ethereal atmosphere with birds chirping and butterflies fluttering around us, and surrounded by trees:

Trees stand sedate

Serene as Buddhist monks in prayer

Knee-deep in water, arms raised

To a sky too clear

Calling out for one who does not reside there

In this atmosphere time too seems scattered in fleeting moments, and each moment carries a tender feeling, a word of love half-spoken. Each moment is transformed into an exquisite little poem such as the following:

Tell him

She whispered, head lowered

Her toe scraping the earth

As if searching for

The care of what she wanted to say

She kept silent

Stifled a sob

Then lifted her hand and looked away

And said once more

Just tell him this…

Intizar Husain, “An ethereal world of poetry,” in Dawn, July 5, 2015. Accessed on July 7, 2015, at:

The item above written by Intizar Husain and published in Dawn on July 5, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on July 7, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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