By Ehsan Sehgal
Urdu Tehreek, Holland; Pp 1,007; Rs 1,200
Khwaja Ehsan Illahi Sehgal is the author of the collection of poetry titled Zarb-e-Sukhan, the book under review. It is poetry collection written over a span of 42 years by him. It comprises fresh poetry as well as that, which was already published. The poetry of the book under review was widely appreciated in India, Pakistan and all over the Urdu world's circles. Many crooners in Pakistan have rendered Ehsan Sehgal's poetry also. He is a poet, writer, journalist and an activist at the same time. His first publishing was in the shape of a novel Khushi Ba'ad Gham in 1968 followed by a poetry book titled Kalam-e-Sehgal. Both met with a mixed response, the latter criticised more for its 'Beher-o-Arooz' (metres) rather than for its contents. That is why Ehsan probably is very particular in the regard and has taken pains to mention the metres below each and every piece of poetry included in his present book. It must have been a gigantic, painstaking effort despite the fact that he does not believe in these restrictions (Pg 14). Famous Indian poet Nida Fazli agrees with Ehsan Sehgal that the experiments in both traditional and untraditional knitting of thought process have been widely accepted and with the passage of time such changes have found a place in the mainstream literature. He compares Ghalib's thought in the couplet 'Tawaqo Khastagi Mein Jin Sei Thi Kutch Daad Paaney Ki/ Woh Hum Sei Bhi Ziyada Khasta Taigh-e-Situm Nikle' (The ones whom I looked forward for encouragement were found to be victims of denigration more than I was) with that in Ehsan's 'Tu Apney Dukhon Ki Kar Na Baat/ Yehi Dukh Main Nei Bhi Sahe Hain' (Do not talk of your pains as I have suffered more) (Pg 32). Ehsan Sehgal's third poetry book Sheher-e-Jazbaat was published in 1972 with two critical reviews by poet Ibn-e-Insha. Sehgal finds some pluses in nazm format also. In this context, he refers to Paul Valery's book The Art of Poetry where the author has admitted that the restrictions of metres reduce the expression of emotions in poetry. Sehgal's earlier poetry books are Parwaz-e-Takhial, Andaz-e-Takhaial, Saaz-e-Takhaial, Naaz-e-Takhaial, Afkar Ki Khushboo and Charagh-e-Dard. Ehsan Sehgal dedicates a complete chapter on the 19 metres in vogue traditionally and those not. Then he discusses 24 metres of 'Rubai' in a separate chapter. He goes beyond the traditional metres and gives the details of 'Paband Sha'ari' (poetry controlled by meters) on the principals of 'Sabab, Watad and Faasila'.
Each and every person has ability to think but many lack the ability to express it. The one who has the ability to express is either a poet, a writer, a painter, a dancer or alike. Emotions have to accompany the means of expression. That is why Sehgal says 'Yehi Abad Hei Yeh Azal Hei/ Jamal-e-Rang-e-Sukhan Ghazal Hei' (It is both the beginning and the end if a ghazal has the beauty of colours of art in it Pg 144). The couplet identifies the ingredients of a ghazal.
The first chapter of collection of poetry comprises 'Naatia Kalaam', the second 'Manqabat', the third ghazals in the metre of 'Rubai' (Quatrain) followed by separate chapters on ghazlain (Rubai metre) 33 ghazals, ghazlain (Marawaj Aur Ghair Murawaj Auzan Kei Naye Tajrube) (experiments in the traditional and non-traditional metres) 546 ghazals, Rubaiaat, Mahiye, Paband and Nasari Nazms (restricted and prose poems). For the interest of poetry lovers it is mentioned here that basically Ruba'i belongs to Persia and its metres had been created by a non-Arab poet Abul Hassan Rodeki and that was also brought into practice by non-Arab and Urdu poets. Ruba'i (quatrain) has special metres containing 24 categories (one can say "divisions" or "branches" too). Ruba'i can only be composed in those special metres, not any other normal meter. Ruba'i consists of only four lines, its two lines called 'Sehr' (Stanza). Ruba'i's first and second line must end in rhyme (example-as behold and cold.), third without rhyme, but within 24 special metres, that cannot be changed and fourth line again in the selected rhyme, but that fourth line (misra) contains high, strong and complete and deep meanings, that must be related with above three lines. There should be addressed only one point or subject, not as like ghazals or other forms of the poetry have.
The book under review is a large quantum of work. The only option left with this reviewer was to select a sample and quote a few representative couplets to assess the variety of boldness, truthfulness and aesthetics present in Ehsan's poetry. He says 'Jo Khuloos Tere Chehre Pe Hei/Woh Khuloos Tere Dil Mein Nahi' (The compassion seen on your face is not present in your heart).