History of Urdu Poetry/ Shayari
Urdu poetry witnessed its growth and development during the early eras of 13th century, when some bards of the north India initiated in varied experimentation with the style. They were Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Ghalib, Mir Anees, Allama Iqbal and Josh Malihabadi. However the ingrained classic forms of Urdu poetry that contemporary generation are accustomed with did not really take on a final shape until the 17th century, when Urdu became the official language of the court in the Indian subcontinent.
Elements of Urdu Poetry
Like Elizabethan English which is complete with social and regional realities, Urdu holds a remarkable wealth of the conventions of many cultures and languages. This element got a great boost in the 18th century as there was no media to convey information to the public. This is where Urdu poetry became a more intimate form of communication among people even through social tribulations. Musha'era was a specific type of Urdu poetry that was used as a means of communication. As the culture penetrated India, musha'eras developed warmth and intensity mainly through the poets in Delhi. This popularized Urdu poetry in the Mughal Empire. Gradually this poetic language became a thing for royalty and a way to convey reverence to the emperor.
Urdu Poetry in Modern India
Today a significant part of Indian culture, just like other languages, the history of Urdu poetry also shares origin and its influences with other linguistic traditions within the Urdu-Hindi-Hindustani mix. Urdu poetry gained immense popularity in the 18th century when Urdu replaced Persian as a major language of the region. In the 18th there was a scarcity of newspapers. Urdu poetry's history is an amazing journey that is replete with intrigue for the curious onlookers. However, the amazing intensity with which it continues to thrive amidst the hurly burly of the cotemporary age bears the testimony of its presence.
Forms of Urdu Poetry
There are various forms of Urdu poetry. While some have remained a literary piece, many have become songs in the form of classical music.
Ghazal: Often refers to a collection of at least five or more couplets that expresses a deep emotion or any culture. Set of two liner couplets of a ghazal should end with the same rhyme. These couplets should be within one of the predefined meters of ghazals.
Hamd: The word “Hamd” is taken from the holy Qur'an. Hamd translates to praise in English so this form of urdu poetry is often dedicated in praise of Allah.
Marsiya: This form of Urdu poetry is composed in memory of the death of Hasan, Husain, or their relatives. Every stanza has six lines which includes a rhyming couplet at the end. This is a tradition of Mir Anis which is inherited by many marsia writers Mir Nawab Ali 'Munis', Dulaha Sahab 'Uruj', Mustafa Meerza urf Piyare Sahab 'Rasheed', etc.
Masnavi: This Urdu poem is written based on the genre of Roman. It consists of couplets in bacchic tetrameter with an iambus at the last foot.
Na’at: This is a form of Urdu poetry specially written and narrated in the praise of Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Tazkira: This form of poetry is composed as a biographical anthology.
Ruba'i: This style of Urdu poetry describes a collection of quatrains. The term Ruba'i originated from the Arabic word “quatrain” which represents a four-line stanza or a complete poem.
Qawwali: It is a devotional poem written in accordance to Sufi philosophy. Qawwali as a form of Urdu poetry traces its origin in India.
Qasida: It is an ode written in the form of a satire addressing a benefactor or describing an event. The rhyming is similar to ghazal but often a bit longer.
Nazm: It is a general Urdu poetry that is written in the form of Sonnet. Nazm can based on any subject be it human emotion, incident, culture, etc.
Literary personalities inspiring Urdu Poetry
Literary personalities, as far back as Amir Khusro (1253-1325) and Kabir (1440-1518) later inspired Urdu poets, and served as linguistic and intellectual sources. Ghalib, Anis, Meer, Dard, Dabeer, Iqbal, Zauq, Firaq, Josh, Jigar, Faiz and Syed Shmad Shah (Ahmad Faraz) are among the greatest poets of Urdu literature. The tradition is mainly concentrated in the subcontinent. In the year 1947, following the Partition of India, it found main scholars and poets residing mainly in present day Pakistan. Mushairas (or poetic expositions) are today held worldwide in metropolitan areas.
Famous Urdu Poets
Urdu poetry traces its origin in the 13th century with “Tuhfat-us-Sigh” written by Amir Khusro. Later this poetry found profound expression with Bande Nawaz and Kabir. Below is a list of renowned Urdu poets from 15th century to the modern times.
15th Century Urdu Poets: Meera, better known as Meerabai or Sant Meerabai was a poet who celebrated the art poetry in both Hindi and Urdu through her devotion.
16th Century Urdu Poets: During this time Hindi language found a new expression in poetry with profound influence of Urdu. This Indo-Aryan language was called Hindavi that represented both Hindu and Urdy styles. Famous poets of this time are Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali, Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, Ali Adil Shah I, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Ibrahim Adil Shah II, and Chandar Bhan Brahman.
17th Century Urdu Poets: Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil Dehlavi, Wali Muhammad Wali, Shah Mubarak Abroo, Siraj-ud-Din Ali Khan Arzu, and Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Janaan were the famous poets of this century.
18th Century Urdu Poets: Urdu poetry of this period was marked by Mirza Muhammad Rafi, Mohammad Meer Soz Dehlvi, Qayem Chandpuri, Mir Taqi Mir, Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, and Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, among others.
19th Century Urdu Poets: This century saw a rise in popularity of Urdu poetry under Momin Khan Momin, Mir Babar Ali Anis, Bekhud Badayuni, Alam, Zaigham, Bekhud Dehlvi, Niaz Fatehpuri, Raaz Chandpuri, Josh Malihabadi, Munavvar Lakhnavi, Abdur Rauf Urooj, and others.
Modern Urdu poets: From 1910 to 20th Century the Urdu poetry went through a revival under several poets like Mustafa Zaidi, Rajendar Nath Rehbar, Shahzad A. Rizvi, Masud Husain Khan, Qateel Shifai, Mazhar Imam, Gulzar, Nida Fazli, Fehmida Riaz, Rahat Indori, Salma Shaheen, Riaz Tasneem, Bhupendra Nath Kaushik, Javed Akhtar, and many others.
Collection Forms of Urdu Poetry
There are two main collections of urdu poetry namely Diwan and Kulliyat. Diwan is a collection of poems, mainly of ghazals by one single author. Diwan highlights the culture or life of the poet. Kulliyat is literally an absolute compilation of poems, but often applied to any collected works having poems of different kinds. Akbar Allahabadi published three Kulliyats during his lifetime, all based on the genre of satire.
Formation of Urdu Poetry
Urdu poetry forms itself with following basic ingredients:
Bait Maqta Sher
Bait-ul-Ghazal Matla Shayar
Beher Mavra Shayari
Diwan Misra Tah-Tul-Lafz
Husn-E-Matla Qaafiyaa Takhallus
Kalam Qaafiyaa Tarannum
Kulyat Radif Triveni
Genres of poetry found in Urdu
Qasida Manqabat Doha
Qat'a Marsia Fard
Qawwali Masnavi Geet
Rubai (a.k.a. Rubayyat or Rubaiyat) Munajat Ghazal
Salam Musadda Hamd
Sehra Mukhammas Hazal
Shehr a'ashob Naat Hijv
Soz Nazm Kafi
Wasokht Noha Madah
Foreign forms of poetry such as the sonnet, Azad Nazm or (Free Verse) and haiku have also been used by some modern Urdu poets.
Use of Pseudo name in Urdu Poetry (Takhallus)
In the convention of Urdu poetry, maximum poets use pen name known as Takhallus. This can also be a part of poet’s given name or may be something else adopted as an identity. The conventional tradition in knowing Urdu poets is to state the Takhallus at the very end of the name. The word Takhallus, which means "ending", is derived from Arabic. This is so because in case of Ghazals, the poet would usually fit in his or her pen name into the final couplet (Maqta) of every poem.
Poetry in Urdu language was greatly influenced by the West mainly the European poetry. As a result, though rather late, poets of Urdu language seriously took to writing sonnet. Azmatullah Khan (1887-1923) is believed to have introduced this layout to Urdu Literature. The other prominent Urdu poets who wrote sonnets were Akhtar Junagarhi, Akhtar Sheerani, Noon Meem Rashid, Mehr Lal Soni Zia Fatehabadi, Salaam Machhalishahari and Wazir Agha.
Some legendary Urdu poetry
Here are some of the famous lines of Urdu poetry (in English) immortalized by yesteryears poets.
“Hum ko maluum hai Jannat ki haqiqat lekin, Dil ko khush rakhne ko “Ghalib” ye khayal achha hai” - by Mirza Ghalib
“Aur bhi dukh hain zamane mein mohabbat ke siwa rahaten aur bhi hain wasl ki rahat ke siva Mujse pehli si muhabbat mere mehboob na maang” – by Faiz Ahmad Faiz
“Tere bina zindagi se koi sikwa toh nehi Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin zindagi to nei” – by Gulzar
Kyu darein zindagi mein kya hoga Kuch na hoga toh tajurba hoga” – Javed Akhtar