A Fragrant Rose on the Birch of Poetry

By: Dr. Maqsood Jafri
Professor Shazia Akbar is a fragrant rose on the birch of poetry as the odor of her passions has spread a charming aura all around. Her four books of poetry had been published and well received at national and international level. Her three books have been translated into English language by an eminent worldly recognized poet of English Professor Mohammad Shanazir, whose poetry book titled “ The Cold Stars”, has fascinated multitudes world over. A poetess and novelist of America Ms. Annie Johson has tributed the excellence in his mastery on the art of translation. She writes :” I think poets everywhere will love to read what Mohammad Shanazar has translated for the eyes and minds of people who love good poetry.” In a way she acknowledges the high merit of translation with the sublimity of poetry written by the poetess. “The Coin of Death”, is the poetry book of Shazia Akbar that contains variety of topics depicting the innate and intrinsic poetic excellence and impassioned visionary flow and flux of pent- up passions expressed in the chosen moments of creative and intuitive pensive moods in tranquility. She has mailed me this book and sought my opinion on it. I feel morally obligated to write a brief review on this book as it is a great addition to the present literature. These poems portray the candid trances of emotional outbursts and meditative moods. Her poetic diction is unique, facile, lyrical and simple. John Keats regarded poetry like the fresh leaves sprouting on the boughs in spring. He also regarded poetry the fruition of intermittent inspiration. Shazia Akbar also composed verses when she is captured and seized by the intense passions and the wave of intuition sways her. In the Preface of the book she writes: “ I have a natural relation with words, diction, and poetry. I neither can contaminate it nor have the authority to do so. I only write it naturally in those days when I can not resist and after then, I even can not remember whether I am a poetess or not.” A great poet Mirza Ghalib also in one of his Persian couplets had said:
“Ghalib we the poets do not deliberately write poetry; it is revealed on us and is known as our art ”. Once, I visited great Poet Josh Malihabadi and during conversation , he also expressed the same views about poetry. Poetry is self- catharsis. It is the expression of the inner feelings. William Wordsworth considered the poet hypersensitive like a barometer. Passions are the bases of poesy. The poetry of Shazia Akbar is the outcome of her passionate soul. Great poet Matthew Arnold was of the opinion that poetry is the criticism of society and needs serious attitude towards life. The poetry of Shazia Akbar is three folded. It is romantic, revolutionary and reflective. She is not a common traditional poetess. Her poetry mirrors bitter realties of life and as a reformer accomplishes and furnishes the grand and noble purpose of reformation. Sidney said : “ The purpose of poetry is to please while the opinion of Dr. Johnson was the purpose of poetry is to teach. In the poetry of Shazia Akbar, we find pleasing and teaching poems. Her poems are sublime and superb so far as the diction, idiom , style and content is concerned. A great poet is neither a banter nor a jester. The apex of sincerity and seriousness are the foundations of immortal poetry. The poetry of John Milton, Sheikh Saadi, Hafiz Sherazi, Rumi and Iqbal has achieved the heights of immortality because of serious message. Sublime poetry is also a revolt and rebellion against dictatorship and oppression.
In the galaxy of Urdu Poetesses, she made her distinct position. Her poem titled “ The Daughter of a Stone Crusher” is nationally and internationally well received and appreciated.
There are 66 poems in this book. The poems titled December,Good Morning, love is a Forest, A Mad Girl, Golden Sunny Eyed, Meeting In The Skies and Dreams Sans Shrouds are replete with intense romantic streaks. The poems titled The Daughter of a Stone Crusher, The Coin of Death, A Bonded Maid, and Beggary are very revolutionary poems. Other poems like Every Wound Can’t Be Endeared, We: The Poets, 16th of December, Mysterious Indifferences and Evolution are reflective poems. This book is a bouquet of flowers of many shades and colors. It depicts the maturity and erudition of the poetess along with her subconscious mind i
and insightful personality. I would like to quote a few lines from her representative poem titled “ The Daughter of a Stone Crusher”, she says:
“ I am a daughter of a stone crusher,
Poverty is my progeny,
In sweltering heat at noon,
I work with my parents,
Brother and sister,
At brim of the road, the whole day,
I crush the stones,
And in hardness of each Stone,
I crush my dreams.
On my face and fingers
Redness of the sunlight shines.
All water of my tears
Drips drop by drop in my sweat,
As if someone sighs and pants”.
This lengthy poem depicts the subconscious of the poetess.She yearns and dreams for social justice in our rotten and wretched society that is under the stone wall of feudalism and capitalism. I am remembered of a famous poem of Iranian poetess Parveen Ahtehsami whose poem on the Plight of an orphan girl is heart wrenching. The great Urdu poets of the Sub- continent like Dr. Iqbal,Josh Malihabadi, Sahir Ludyanwi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib and Ahmed Faraz are the shining stars on the firmament of revolutionary poetry. We need such writers who can awaken the slumbered masses and mobilize them for an iconoclastic revolution for a welfare state based on the solid foundations of freedom, democracy, moderation, justice , love
and compassion. I welcome Shazia Akbar in the realm of the coterie of positive writers who cherish the dreams of higher human values.
February 17, 2021

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