(Thanks The Nation Lahore 27 August 2002)
Dr Saeed, who is a Professor of Urdu at Ankara University in Turkey has lately written his book on writer and his art. It is a collection of good articles on various contemporary poets (except Hafiz Jallundhari) who represent the literary responsibility of modern Urdu poetry, and are enlightening and very informative as a work of criticism.
The short article on Hafiz Jallundhari is a tribute paid to his reputation, though Hafiz Jallundhri belonged to the second decade of the last century. It is true that Hafiz belonged to earlier generation which came to fame in the last days of the British Raj, yet he outlived the Raj, composed the National Anthem of Pakistan, and was alive for a long time in this country.
The author suggests that these are the songs which would ensure the poet's reputation in times to come. But the songs were written in 1920s, and have thus made the poet's reputation a thing of literary chronology. And since Dr Saadat Saeed's book had been written, much on date in Pakistan, the national anthem as a poem was expected to be treated as distinguished piece of writing to enlighten the readers of its poetic and literary merit over more than a structure which had been certainly created by Hafiz by virtue of his long experience in poetry-writing. That would have given a significant worth to the books as contemporary writing.
It, however, goes to the credit of Dr Saadat Saeed that he has analyzed the poets Iftikhar Jalib and Aftab Iqbal Shamim who are regarded as 'difficult writers'. Dr Saadat Saeed has treated poetry in 'an age of prose'. That is not a simple statement: An age of prose' brings about quite a number of changes in perception and creative performance.
The fact is that Dr Saadat Saeed has been the finest of our literary critics
who has realized that our culture has entered the age of prose, not in Pakistan
only, but also throughout the Muslim world and has caused momentous changes in
the world view. That change has replaced the poetic with rhetorical. The
contemporary writers have taken to rhetorical exercise and as a result poetry
has disappeared, and thus made a versification the major mode of expression thus
all those who show off as poets are perhaps no poets but versifiers only. This
change over from the Age of Poetry to an Age of Prose has indeed impelled the
poets and critics to find out the range of difference which has set in, not only
in their calling but also in the matter of performance. Dr Saadat Saeed has
qualified Iftikhar Jalib as a source of new insights. "Iftikhar Jalib has
rebelled against the outdated principles of poetry. He has given preference to
non-aesthetic performance." That, of course, has not a very difficult matter
with Iftikhar Jalib who had been a student of law and had hardly any background
in creative writings. He was, thus a man of the age of prose without any
elevating inclination. "He has used the words to
Dr Saadat Saeed has in this description made Iftikhar Jalib protagonist of modern way of absurdism. He is a mirror-image of the decadent west without providing any cultural differential. In his constructions, Iftikhar Jalib had indeed failed as a poet, and also in his observations as a critic, he how simply imitated the defunct values of a decadent culture to enrich the raw minds of developing society. His valuations have been turned down by the present day thinkers of the larger world. Dr Saadat Saeed has, thus exposed Iftikhar Jalib by describing him as 'the source of new insights'. Which going through this slim volume by Dr Saadat Saeed, one can easily spot out the headlines of modern thinking. Aftab Iqbal Shamim has based his versified writings on unlimited liberties and Rebirth. Lack of love and hopelessness, in an industrialised environment is also a major headline. Urban wilderness is the theme of another set of verification. Unrealized human condition and "un destinated" living, city of lights which is also a habitation of darkness and the cult of the Negroid have covered the skyline of present day existence and truly speaking one may ask, is there anything common between the man living in such a climate and he who lives in our world?