The fundamental difference between a piece of prose and a work of poetry is that the latter has an intrinsic rhythm. This means that the arrangement of the words used in a poem makes its movement singing in such a way that the story it is trying to tell, or the message it intends to convey, becomes inalienably attached, and sometimes bound by. , the way consonants and vowels complement each other. This is usually done by poets using literary tools such as rhyme, alliteration, spanning, chorus, etc.

Pakistani poets writing in Urdu – free verse users included – have this innate sense of rhythm within them. It basically has to do with the fact that they can’t stay away from the effects of ghazal even if they don’t like the genre. Those who choose to write in English generally come from two backgrounds: either they have studied English literature and are therefore familiar with the iambic pentameter, the trochaic tetrameter and others; or, they master the language and feel it is their best form of expression.

Wajahat Malik’s first English verse collection, Charsi Nama and Other Poems, is a clear indication that he loves poetry. The compositions are in his preferred language, but the title of the book is taken from a poem in Urdu by Gul Zaman Charsi, Malik’s alter ego. So he knows how words in different languages ​​help a piece of poetry flow or make its movement heavy. Those who watch Pakistani Television (PTV) know Malik – who grew up in Mansehra – as the host of a travel show. His biography in Charsi Naama suggests that he also lived in Seattle in the United States, where his poems and short stories were published in different publications.

Before analyzing his efforts, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to reproduce the opening piece from the book here. Entitled ‘First Opium’, it underlines, in a roundabout way, the Urdu word charsi:

The waterfall is on fire
Squirming with a liquid cry
The ashes hide the spirits
And the flames are burning
With gallons of passion
Darkness is high
Sip the sound of life
While laughter is the only one
Curled up animal
The lips of smoking strangers
We slide on set stones
Chase the shadows from the outside
We are getting up
Dreamers on bamboo floors
Nude in lingerie
A smoking jungle
We crawl through spaces
Between the blinking stars
We are the playing children
Dissecting dreams in the desert
Rice fields of a night of happiness

A travel animator’s first book of English poems is proof of his romance, love of nature and his ability to impalpably merge the personal with the impersonal.

Clearly, there are poetic tools employed here, the first of which is personification, or giving human attributes to the inanimate: “wriggling with a liquid cry”, “naked in the lingerie of a smoking jungle”, ” laughter is the only animal. “Malik also appears (I repeat, appears) to come from a school of thought where image takes precedence over meaning. because of a certain “influence”.

At the same time, when reading the above poem, what you should not miss is Malik’s affinity with nature. He is a man who not only loves nature, but finds comfort in it. Certain references, such as that to the rice fields, give a green and agrarian touch to its lines, the movement of which is like the waterfall on fire – a beautiful oxymoron.

If you are a travel show host, it is not hard to understand that you would be a nature lover. So where does the very important element of the psychological landscape, from which no human can escape, fit into the scheme of things? Does it precede nature or does it follow it? It’s hard to say in the case of Malik. It can be said, however, that they are mutually reinforcing. The poem “For the Children of Astonishment” is an example:

We are the wide-eyed children of astonishment
Roam the starry sky
In search of obscured pleasures
That shines through our silent eyes
We know you know
Where we have been
Taverns in the sky
Where we were raised
The lust of elusive wisdom
Drink between words
And passable lies
I gave him the eye
And she saw through
Visions of green goodness
we had been served
Pleasures of lavender
Promised guest books
Higher roads and
Strange thoughts
That rose like fattening winds
In the sails of our glider ships
And our souls of concord
Dived deeper into the blue
Big eyes of the children of astonishment

Notice how the natural and the personal collide here without making a deafening noise. There are phrases such as “starry sky” and “lavender pleasures” with a sprinkle of green, gold and blue colors beautifully mixed with “obscured pleasures” and “passable lies”.

In addition, the plural pronoun “we” connects without fuss in the staff: “I gave him the eye. This means that, for the poet, the outside world is just as responsible for changes – or lack thereof – in the inner world. Or it could be the other way around.

Then in the middle of it all is the very personal side of Malik’s creative production. The personal is often confused in an impalpable way with the impersonal (society, nature). However, the intensity that one can feel from such a material comes from the depth of one’s being. “Misunderstood” will approve the request:

What i said stays in my heart
Spring has come and gone
Maybe a fantasy, all lost
We misunderstood the season
I misread myself by reason
The flowers, your perfume
A desire from afar
What I said still lies in my heart
It was heady times, a new beginning
Sirens of a strange promising call
The seasons were blinking, we were betrayed
We blinked, the colors of fall
The flowers holding a wilted leaf
Whispers in my heart
“We are the children of the changing seasons,
Love is transitory but a permanence of nothingness “
It hasn’t rained for a while
The sky, an orange rot
Winter is upon us
Our love, afterthought
I want you to understand
I want to remain misunderstood
Lest what I say
Stay at will in my heart

Again, the closeness to nature is undeniable, but notice how many times he uses the word “heart” in the poem. This goes to show that Malik is an incorrigible romantic as one of the many definitions of romanticism is: preference of the imagination (heart) over reason (mind).

Examiner is a staff member

Charsi Naama and other poems
By Wajahat Malik
Sang-e-Meel, Lahore
ISBN: 978-9693533521

Posted in Dawn, Books & Authors, October 24, 2021

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