This book offers a representative selection of humorous and satirical Urdu poetry, drawn from the works of seventeen major poets, including the classics like Mohammed Rafi Sauda and Akbar Allahabadi, besides the famous practitioners of this art in the 20th century, such as Zarif Lucknavi, Sayed Jafri, Haji Laq Laq, Dilawar Figar and saghir Khayyami. Primarily meant to amuse and tickle the readers, humour is quite often used by Urdu poets as an instrument of social satire, as in Family Planning (Shaukar Thanvi), Poetic Symposium (Sayed Mohammed Jafri), Ek Chehlum Par (Raja Mehdi Ali Khan) and Mehmaan-e-Khasoosi (Raza Naqwi Wahi). Such poems treat a serious theme humorously, and perform the twin tasks of providing delight and instruction.
The poems are chosen on the basis of their artistic and thematic quality. These are then translated, verse by verse, into English, and transliterated in the Roman script for the benefit of the non-Urdu-Knowing reader. This is probably the first book of its kind in Urdu-English translated literature. It will evoke, it is hoped, a welcome response from the lovers of poetry.
K. C. Kanda holds a doctorate in English and a first-class first Masters degree in Urdu literature. It was this double competence in English and Urdu, and his life-long adoration of Urdu poetry, that prompted him to undertake the translation of the best of Urdu poetry into English. A recipient of the Delhi Urdu Academy Award for 'excellence in translation' in 1998, his first book, Masterpieces of Urdu Ghazal, was published in 1990. Since then, he has produced eight other books of this kind -on Urdu Poetry and on individual poets like Mir Taqi Mir and Firaq Gorakhpuri. All those books (published by Sterling) are very well received by the readers, and have run into several editions. In addition, he has written the following books relating to English poetry: An Anthology of English Poetry (Arnold Heinemann), The Two Worlds of Tennyson (Doaba), Tennyson's In Memoriam (Sterling), and Browning's Selected Dramatic Monologues (Sterling).
In my previous books of translations I have confined myself to the mainstream of Urdu poetry which is predominantly serious, lyrical and exalted, presented mostly in the popular mode of the ghazal. The present book is meant to introduce the reader to the specimens of humorous and satirical poetry, which, by treating a serious theme humorously, tries to serve the twin tasks of providing delight and instruction. Exploiting the curative potential of humour and laughter, it rouses the reader's interest in the aberrations and anomalies of life, which affect our everyday existence in a vital manner. As a consequence, the reader, while he feels tickled and regaled by such poetry, also finds himself a chastened and a wiser man in the end.
The book contains 70 poems drawn from the works of 17 major poets, including Akbar Allahabadi, Zarif Lucknavi, Haji Laq Laq, Sayed Mohammed Jafri, Zameer Jafri, Dilawar Figar, Saghir Khayyami, and others. The poems have been carefully chosen, translated into English, and transliterated in the roman script for the benefit of the non-Urdu knowing reader.
Collecting these poems from different, scattered sources has not been an easy task, and I am grateful to several of my friend who have assisted me in this regard. I am specially indebted to Dr. Gopi Chand Narang, the renowned scholar and National Professor of Urdu, who guided me in the selection of the poets and their poems. Sincere thanks are also due to my friend, Mr. Parkash Chander, a veteran journalist and a reviewer of repute, who gave me invaluable help by lending some rare and relevant books from his personal collection. No less helpful was Mr. Nazar Burney, deputy librarian of the Jamia Millia Library, and a humorous poet in his own right, who ungrudgingly extended to me his expert advice whenever it was needed. I am also beholden to Mr. Saghir Khayyami, an eminent humorous poet of Delhi, with whom I have had the privilege of personal consultation. I found him warm, witty and winsome, like his own poetry. Finally, I must record my sense of gratitude to Mr. S. K. Ghai, Managing Director, Sterling Publishers Private Ltd. Without whose co-operation and active interest in this project, the book could not have seen the light of day. With so many benefactors at my back, I am encouraged to believe that the book will elicit a welcomes response from the lovers of poetry, and will make a signal contribution to the wealth of translated Urdu literature.
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