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The Poem “Don’t Ask Me for That Love Again”

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    The poem “Don’t Ask Me for that Love Again” is counted amongst the great works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. It is representative of his romantic and social concern amalgamated curiously into one. However he has given the impression that romantic love alone is not the end of life but the affairs of the practical life, society and the world at large are also important and one needs to pay attention to them with equal care. He explains why he can no longer cocoon himself inside romantic love.

    Much of Faiz’s poetry follows the conventions of ghazal, the classical for of traditional Urdu poetry, which has been influenced by Persian Literature. But his work revolutionizes the conventions, extending the meanings of many traditional terms. For instance, Faiz often addresses poems to his “beloved”, a central word in ghazal vocabulary. In his hands, it refers to both a person and also to the people as a whole, even to revolution. He sees the individual as existing within a wider context:

    “The self of a human being despite all its loves, troubles, joys and pains is a tiny, limited and humble thing.” In this poem, Faiz makes a departure from convention of looking at the beautiful beloved, “while acknowledging her immense importance-to accept his social commitment as more important than their love.” He celebrates his beloved’s beauty by praising her as his own world. “The world was then was gold, burnished with light- and only because of you.” And described her charming face as, “A glimpse of your face was evidence of springtime”.

    However with the dissolving of their relationship, the reality and vastness of the world crept back into the speaker’s life and his own trials suddenly seem trivial in comparison to all else that the world contains, “The world knows sorrows other than those of love, Pleasures beyond those of romance.” Life is not one person’s relationship but a vast global empire of emotion, of beauty and terror and everything in between. Also after enumerating a handful of the terrible things that are going on in the world today-slavery, war subjugation-the speaker asks two questions, “My gaze returns to these: what can I do? Your beauty still haunts me: what can I do?”

    With this juxtaposition, the speaker affirms that there are ways that he or she can be useful in the fight against evil in the world; there is no way that they could be useful as pining lost lovers. The poet’s poignancy is revealed when he remembers how the rich exploit the poor and compel them to lead a life worse than animals. The historians depict the past of mankind as bright and glorious but the reality is otherwise-“bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood”.

    When he thinks of the matchless beauty of his beloved he is made internally conscious of the maligned beauty of human life at the hand of the rich. They are simply groaning under the suppression and he cannot alone enjoy the pleasures of his romantic love. This changes the romantic atmosphere of the poem into thoughtfulness and it ends in a grave and serious mood. The last line of the poem, “There are other sorrows in the world”, has become proverbial and shows how he was a humanitarian in his attitude.

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