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Love, Desires and Sorrows: A Comparative Analysis of the Lives of Parveen Shakir and Forough Farrokhzad

Parveen Shakir and Forough Farrokhzad are one of the leading women in their respective literatures. As their readership and popularity continues to expand, it is significant to have an insight over the comparative study of both the poetesses. Not only the works but their lives have a lot in common. A thousand miles apart, having different cultures, languages, eras and regions both the women faced a considerable number of same events in their lives and expressed their feelings through poetry basically Ghazals on various themes.

Credits: dariyakeuspaar

Poetry possesses the feelings and emotions by capturing the impressions of life in the web of their elegant expressions. Since classical times, women have been contributing towards this field with great fervor. When we talk about women in poetry, the names of Parveen Shakir and Forough Farrokhzad can never be overlooked.

Forough Farrokhzad was an influential Iranian poet and film director often called “the Sylvia Plath of Iran.” On the other hand Parveen Shakir was a Pakistani poet and civil servant who is credited to bring a distinctive feminine voice to Urdu poetry. The lives and works of both have been said to have similar elements. Parveen was born in 1952 in Karachi, Pakistan whereas Forough was born in 1934 in Iran. Unfortunately, both of them passed away at a younge age in a traffic collision, Parveen died in 1994 and Forough said goodbye to this world in 1967. Both of them are said to have begun writing poems in their childhood, but it is peculiar to note that Parveen is said to be the “most educated poetess” in urdu literature while Forough attended school until class 9, after which she was sent to art and embroidery classes.

Parveen was highly educated. She received two undergraduate degrees, one in English Literature and another in linguistics including masters in both the fields followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Karachi. She attended Harvard University for M.A. in Bank Administration. Parveen taught for 9 years before she qualified Pakistan Civil Services Examination and became a civil servant. Professionally Forough was also a filmmaker and she is credited to have made one of the most prominent films of Iranian cinema. She completed a documentary film on Iranian lepers(1962); acted in stage production of Six Characters in ‘Search of an Author’ (1963). Shewas the subject of UNESCO film(1965).

Both Parveen and Forough married as per their choices. Forough married Parviz Shapour, a satirist, her neighbor and distant relative. Parveen married Syed Murad Ali, who was a doctor in military. Sadly, the marriages didn’t last long and ended up in divorce. Parveen had a son Syed Murad Ali, with whom she lived until her last breath, but Forough lost the custody of her son, Kamyar Shapour.

Credits: Google
Caption: Google Doodle honouring Parveen Shakir on her 67th birth anniversary in 2019.

Parveen and Forough wrote on almost same topics. A thousand miles apart in different times, both of them left an immortal impression in the universe of poetry using the themes and metaphors never used before. Fearlessly, Forough went on to create history as Iran’s first modernist poet where the society was male dominated. In a similar manner, Parveen sought to break this cast on Urdu poetry of being male dominated since its inception. Parveen hosted Mushairas and performed frequently. Both the poetesses hailed as the most prominent ones in their regions and aroused a freedom of expression in the women.

According to Sholeh Wolpe, Forogh’s poetry was the poetry of protest through revelation of innermost world of women, their secrets desires, sorrows and longings and aspirations. Both of them wrote Ghazals (a form of poetry having a fixed number of verses, traditional in Urdu and Persian), and their poems were unique in the sense that they encouraged the freedom of expression in women.

The most renowned works of Forough include The Captive (1955); The Wall (1956); Rebellion (1958); Another Birth (1964); Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season (1974). Some of the most prominent works by Parveen include Khushbu (The Fragrance, 1976) Sad Barg (marsh marigold,1980), Khud Kalami (conversing with oneself,1990), Inkaar (refusal,1990), Maah-e-Tamaam (full moon,1994) and Kaf-e-Aaina (edge of the mirror).

They left the world at an early age, leaving behind their legacy in their literary masterpieces which inspire the young generations, especially women, to think, feel, express, act, write and live.

Abdullah Khan is a student pursuing Turkish Language and Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Ambrisha Zubeen

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Written by Abdullah Khan

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