A city has a beat to it. a story, a rhythm. and no where poetry is more poignant than in delhi .
This is the city of mirza ghalib . His tomb still rests near the jama masjid. His locality of ballimarah still echoes of an era of poetry of love of more subtle
But why restrictr ourselves to urdu? There are some cities that inspire poetry and delhi is one of them. It’s aura of power,politics,old world charm lends itself to words deftly bound in poetry.
let’stake a stroll,shall we?
We’ve already talked about the legend that was ghalib. A revolutionary poet for his times,who’s style of poetry challenged the then established norms of simple ,hard hitting ghazals. He challenged the listener and so prominent was he in lending his identity to the city that ballimarah and ghalib are considered synonymous.
His attachment despite all odds with delhi shine through beautifully in this sher-
Hei ab is mamure mein qaht-e-gham-e ulfat Asad
Hum ne yeh maana keh Dilli mein rahe, khayenge kya?
Zauk was also a prominent poet ,albeit grown out of prominence with time. The poet laureate of the mughal court. He was in the mughal court during times of extreme unrest. This is when he wrote the legendary sher in the beginning. Once you’re in love with a city no matter the circumstances you stay. It doesn’t matter what comforts lie elsewhere and delhi particularly lends itself to such loyality. The beats of the heart of delhi, are too strong to let go. zauk is also one of the most frequent writers who incorporated delhi in his poetry. He dosen’t glorify the city,He peeks at the inequalities and injustices as well. but the love for the place still shines through.
– sheik ibrahim zauk
The presence of the mughals is strong in delhi ,and so is the presence of urdu poetry,another prominent poet without which a discussion on poets in delhi is incomplete is mir taqi mir. although not born in the city( he was originally from agra) , he is now identified as a prime example of the delhi style of urdu poetry. Unlike ghalib, he favored simple language and presented his ideas with common urdu words.
His love for the city is beautifully displayed in this couplet-
Koochey nahin dilli ke, auraaq-e-musawwir hain
Jo shakl nazar aayi, tasveer nazar aayi
He wasn’t ignorant to it’s cruelties though, he has written often about the harshness of delhi.
Deeda-e-giryaan hamaara neher hai
Dil-e-kharaaba jaise Dilli sheher hai
But we sometimes choose to see only the beauty in the things we love,and this is a brilliant example of love, albeit for a place and not a person.
I would like to conclude by talking about daagh dehlvi, his pen name itself illustartes his love for the city. dehlvi means “belonging to/from delhi”. Such was his fame that he was honored by the nizam of hyderabad by several poetry honors. I leave you with this wonderful example of urdu poetry by the legend.
gar maraz ho davā kare koī
marne vaale kā kyā kare koī
– a lover of the city