There was a cultural rivalry prevalent between Delhi and Lucknow school of Urdu poetry. There were various discussions made about Dihlavi and Lakhnavi poetry as two diverging streams, writing that the new age ushered in two kinds of poets: those who honoured their ancestors and those who forged new paths of their own. Along the new paths, lay flights of fancy and linguistic creations of great delicacy. Such an advent is explained as natural in the course of any language's evolution, and the point is illustrated by the observation that Delhi's linguistic authority had begun to be less strictly observed within a generation after its artistic elite's migration to Lucknow.
Although the delineation of a distinct Lakhnavi style of poetry had already begun in the early time, even so a distinction of schools had not yet been formalized. But this special style, and as a result of this, from their time onward two separate schools of Delhi and Lucknow were established, whose special characteristics can be distinguished from one another.
Conceptions of Dihlaviyat and Lakhnaviyat are typically approached against the backdrop of Lucknow and Delhi as centres of culture (marakiz). The conventionally held picture of Delhi and Lucknow as marakiz depicts rivers of wealth flowing in Lucknow in contrast to desperation in Delhi that gave rise to melancholic spirituality:
The political conditions created great despair. Delhi's poetry is thus rife with the pain of existence and the sorrow of love. The legacy of Sufism had given birth to a climate of spirituality, upon which Dihlavi poetry was founded. While in Lucknow, rivers of wealth flowed,-riches rained down and there was a proliferation of pleasure-seeking, an excess of material wealth. This state of affairs brought about licentiousness and imbalanced thoughts and actions. The result was that poetry became a vehicle for coquetry, blandishments, coarse language and enumerations of feminine beauty.
In comparison with sorrow and attachment of Dihlayiyat to Lucknow's superficial gaiety seems thin and cheap. Lakhnavi poets concentrated on enumerations of feminine beauty but omitted loftiness of thought. There is not that flame, that profound lamentation that tone of longing which there is in the poetry of Delhi.
The prejudice against Lucknow apparent in the remarks above has permeated nearly every critical work since the earliest publications in Urdu literary criticism. This is true even of those critical works which pay homage to the markaz of Lucknow, in affirmation of its importance as a major Urdu centre.
Although the ghazal is known to exist in a realm independent of the temporal and political worlds (at least as far as subject matter is concerned), it is precisely this temporal, political world which Urdu readers and critics often evoke in their literary analysis.
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