Writer and his Art (Fun Aur Khaliq) - Gilani Kamran

(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.

I have referred to the national anthem not because it has been omitted by Dr Saadat Saeed.while writing in a belated perspective. I have pointed out its omission as no critic, notwithstanding common writer has ever attempted to write on the national anthem as a poem. It was very welcome opportunity for Dr Saadat Saeed to be a pioneer in this respect. I advise that this omission may be rectified when a new edition of the present work is undertaken by the author. A discussion of the, national anthem was realty in the spirit of the book as it was mainly about the Art which the writer intended to create in his literary enterprise.

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
understand and define the modern being of man, and to discover its changing behavior."

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?

As a matter of fact these themes only throw the human state indifferent situations and show that an age of prose, of argument and human emancipation, has set in and the role of the writer has changed. Either poetry has disappeared, which means that man has lost his soul or that man is in quest of a meaningful living. In those circumstances, man and all humanity get lost when they have no meaning for themselves. Dr Saadat Saeed has rightly analyzed the state of man in our age of prose and has pointed out the critical nature of , the human condition. This slim volume of articles analyses the depth of a situation witch invited the reader to threat it as a serious human problem.