Urdu: Poetry in Language

If we look into the meaning of the very word ‘Urdu’, we find its Turkish origin means ‘camp’ or ‘army’, because of its predominance among army-men (‘Lashkari Zuban’ or ‘the language of the army’). It is a beautiful blend of Persian, Turkish, Arabic and local Hindi dialects and is known to be one of the origins of Hindi, and has a reputation for fascinating non-Urdu speakers for years.

My first tryst with Urdu was when I was four or five and my mornings were intricately touched with the ornate tune of ghazals wafting into the air. I was too young to figure out the lyrics then but I was very fond of how they sounded, and the soulful music became an integral part of my mornings, thereafter.
My growing penchant for poetry then led to an expedition into the beautiful verses of Urdu. The beauty of Urdu not only lies in its sonically pleasing aesthetics but also in the sheer skill with which the words make our hearts wrench in the idyllic reality of it all.

The legacy of Urdu manifests itself in its largely popular verses on love and heartbreak, as well as in revolutionary literary works that brought about radical changes at the time.

Below are the seventeen most beautiful Urdu verses that I go back to time and again, like the folded corners of the yellowed pages of a favourite book and never have they failed to enchant and move me.

  1. fāsla nazroñ kā dhoka bhī to ho saktā hai
    vo mile yā na mile haath badhā kar dekho

           (The distance between our eyes can be deceptive
stretch your arm out, and see if they meet)

 -Nida Fazli

      2.   aae the hañste khelte mai-ḳhāne meñ ‘firāq’
jab pī chuke sharāb to sanjīda ho ga.e

(We came to the tavern all gay and frolicsome
now having drunk the wine, sombre we have become)

– Firaq Gorakhpuri


    3. ab to un kī yaad bhī aatī nahīñ

          kitnī tanhā ho ga.iiñ tanhā.iyāñ

        (Nowadays even her thoughts do not intrude
see how forlorn and lonely is my solitude)

-Firaq Gorakhpuri


     4.  aage aatī thī haal-e-dil pe hañsī

          ab kisī baat par nahīñ aatī

         (Nothing now could even make me smile;
I once could laugh at my heart’s own plight)

-Mirza Ghalib

5.  maut kā bhī ilaaj ho shāyad

      zindagī kā koī ilaaj nahīñ

        (For death a cure there well may be
but for this life no remedy)

– Unknown


6. bas-ki dushvār hai har kaam kā āsāñ honā

     aadmī ko bhī mayassar nahīñ insāñ honā

 (It is difficult that every goal be easily complete
for a man, too, to be human, is no easy feat)

 -Mirza Ghalib

7. zindagī ke udaas lamhoñ meñ

     bevafā dost yaad aate haiñ

 (In life’s sad moments one tends
to recall the faithlessness of friends)



8. bevafā.ī pe terī jī hai fidā
qahr hotā jo bā-vafā hotā

 (I sacrifice my heart upon your infidelity
were you faithful it would be a calamity)

– Mir Taqi Mir

 9. kitne muflis ho ga.e kitne tavañgar ho ga.e
ḳhaak meñ jab mil ga.e donoñ barābar ho ga.e

(However many paupers passed, and wealthy went and came
when they were consigned to dust they were all the same)

 -Sheikh Ibrahim Zauq

10. āgāh apnī maut se koī bashar nahīñ

      sāmān sau baras kā hai pal kī ḳhabar nahīñ

       (The time of his death, man cannot foresee
uncertain of tomorrow, yet plans for a century)

-Hairat Allahabdi

11. duniyā meñ ham rahe to ka.ī din pa is tarah

      dushman ke ghar meñ jaise koī mehmāñ rahe

      (I did stay in this world but it was in such a way
a guest who in the house of his enemy does stay)

 -Qayem chandpuri


12. duniyā ne terī yaad se begāna kar diyā

      tujh se bhī dil-fareb haiñ ġham rozgār ke

      (This world has caused me to forget all thoughts of you
the sorrows of subsistence are more deceitful than you)

 -Faiz Ahmed Faiz

13. sāhil ke tamāshā.ī har Dūbne vaale par

      afsos to karte haiñ imdād nahīñ karte

     (To a drowning person, they on the shores who stand
do lend their sympathy, but not a helping hand)

 -Fana Nizami Kanpuri

14. aaj nāgāh ham kisī se mile
baad muddat ke zindagī se mile

     (Today I chanced on someone unexpectedly
it was after ages life was face to face with me)

 -Khumar Barbankavi

15. kuchh to majbūriyāñ rahī hoñgī
yuuñ koī bevafā nahīñ hotā

     (she would have had compulsions surely
faithless without cause no one can be)

-Bashir Badr

16. koī samjhe to ek baat kahūñ
ishq taufīq hai gunāh nahīñ

       (if someone were to listen, one thing I will opine
Love is not a crime forsooth it is grace divine)

 -Firaq Gorakhpuri

17. Bak rahā huuñ junūñ meñ kyā kyā kuchh
kuchh na samjhe ḳhudā kare koī

       (Lord I pray that no one comprehends
All that I rant and rave in ecstasy)

-Mirza Ghalib



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