Correlation of Mirza Ghalib and John Keats is like a fresh breeze of spring in the genre of comparative Urdu literature. There is a jot of creation of original books in Urdu literature in the present scenario. Original work in the field of Creative literature, be it in prose or poetry, as well as in criticism or research, is scarce. In such a situation, the acceptance of the latest Urdu book ‘Mirza Ghalib and John Keats: A Comparative Study of Thought and Art’ by Dr. Zaheer Hasan, who lives far away from the well-known Urdu settlements in a city like Mathura, is much prominent.
Scholars perceive poetry as name of a state of the heart. Poetry can be separated from man only when the heart itself is separated from man. The essence of poetry is to put these heart-felt sentiments and emotions into words. Poets, who more perfectly put the vehemence of heart in words were considered to have a greater degree and hold in poetry. In the history of poetry, John Keats and Mirza Ghalib are those high-ranking poets who reached the limits of success in describing the heart of man, especially through such styles and words, that are taken as shining exemplars in the art of poetry.
Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) and John Keats (1795-1821) both found the same era. Mirza Ghalib was born in 1797, while John Keats was born just two years before him in October 1795. But both died in the month of February. However, Keats bid goodbye to the world in a short period of 26 years and Ghalib was blessed with a long life of 72 years. Ghalib was born into a wealthy family of swordsmen while Keats had access to a rural family background.
Due to domestic problems, Keats did not get the opportunity to get education and Ghalib lacked formal education too. Both lost the custody of their parents in their childhood. Other members of the family were somehow able to raise them up.
Growing up, Keats received his medical education and training in a doctor’s clinic, while Ghalib confined himself to courtship. Both spent most of their lives in economic meagre-ness. Both of them, according to their own taste and intuition, studied their contemporary required disciplines, other sciences and arts in depth. Both remained victims of malady, death, and social attacks of their loved ones throughout their lives. Both fell in love in the days of youth; however both of them had to mourn the failure of their love, due to which they were even treated contemptuously at times. Both remained undaunted by the political turmoil of their time and the scholars of knowledge and literature did not leave any effort to break their courage.
Ghalib received a lot of moral, social and financial support from his friends and Keats from his friends as well as his publishers. A considerable number of their works got published in their lifetime, but both of them always resented their insufficient acceptance. There are numerous similar coincidences that both have in common and their comparative study yields very useful results. Dr. Z. Hasan has made the comparison of the same individual, technical, and social pictures of these two heroes of history and literature as the subject of scholarly discussion. Moreover, the fact is that it has been presented with great artistic maturity.
Dr. Z. Hasan compared thoughts of Ghalib with Keats’s poetry and concluded that these two great poets explore the eternal emotions of humanity and often seem to be walking on the same path. Similar thoughts arise in their minds; they are saddened by similar sorrows and they both search for peace and contentment in the beauty, fragrance, and colours of the same world. Both respected the tradition but went their separate ways. They studied the ancient poets and remained their devotees, but made their own paths to walk.
Mirza Ghalib is the exponent of lofty philosophical ideas, which include personal concepts about life, death, reality, beauty, and time. John Keats also seems to confirm these ideas in his poetry. Keats reveals the secret of beauty and reality through his relationship of suffering and pain. The industrial revolution and the movement of France did not separate Keats from his duty. He failed in business, failed to get the family out of financial difficulties, failed in love and his poetry was also severely criticized. He failed on several occasions, but despite disappointments, and financial difficulties, he did not back down from his God-given duty. Ghalib also had to face many kinds of sorrows. He also had to witness personal suffering and the persecution of the era of 1857, due to which he presented some images of poverty and misery that will continue to touch and warm human hearts for centuries.
According to Z. Hasan, both the poets are neither philosophers nor moral preachers. They do not like poetry that teaches morality. Neither did they live according to religious beliefs nor a pure life. But the reader will not find philosophy or morals anywhere better than their words.
Dr. Z. Hasan’s original book in English titled ‘John Keats and Mirza Ghalib’ is a summary of his D. Litt. thesis. Last year, he translated this English book into Urdu. Dr. Syed Ikhtiyar Jafri, an Urdu researcher compiled this translation in the form of a scholarly book and published it in 490 pages at the end of 2021. Author’s notable achievement is that he has delved deep into the poetry of Mirza Ghalib and John Keats and presented their gems to the readers. More than that, he then compared the brilliance of these gems with the artistic nimbleness which is the standard of today’s taste and intellect. Therefore, reading this book will be a cause of intellectual development and consolation for all Ghalib as well as Keats and more specifically, poetry lovers.
Syed Ilham Jafri is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Shoa Falak