More on Faiz: Notes on Best of Ahmed Faiz (2011)
Best of Faiz Ahmed Faiz (2011) by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Faiz’s work, translated from its original Urdu into English brings with it a sense of honesty and richly visceral language. While I often hesitate to read translations of a poet’s work simply because some of the rhythm and sounds are inevitably lost in translations, Faiz’s work often seems to transcend the boundaries of language. As I look to shape my own writing style and poetic voice, I find myself particularly drawn to the manner in which Faiz’s personal life mingles with his philosophical and existential musings in his poetry. Faiz’s poem “The Subject of Poetry” perhaps demonstrates this coexistence of themes most aptly. He writes:
“On every side stand high walls on constant guard
Behind which is buried the youth of countless men and women,
On every side are seen the burial ground of dreams
That illumin the minds of millions till today…
These are, and there must be many such subjects more…
But her softly opening lips
And her body’s bewitching curves
Work a magic unbelievable….
These are the subject of my verse,
The haunts of a poet’s mind,
And nothing else.”
Not only is this poem fascinating in the way that it shifts theme so quickly and unapologetically, but I also find it quite encouraging as a writer. So often, I find myself intending to write about a particular topic and then writing about something else altogether. This shift in subject matter can even prove a bit embarrassing; I find myself moving toward a notion of poetry as the vehicle for solemn and well-formulated musings on the human experience and the richness of life and I suddenly discover in the midst of writing that I am putting down on paper an experience that most readers would find far from serious or even eloquent. Faiz reminds me that there is a place for poetry that speaks of simple thoughts and the distractions, joys, and occurrences of the personal life. In fact, he reminds me that these “less profound” moments are often the most relatable and perhaps even the most personally relevant for many readers.