Urdu poetry

Timeline for Urdu and Hindi languages and their recognition
Urdu replaces Persian 1837 under British rule
Hindi and Urdu granted equal status 1900
Urdu declared sole national language in Pakistan 1948
Hindi granted separate status and official precedence over Urdu and all other languages in the Republic of India 1950

Urdu poetry (Urdu: اُردُو شاعرى Urdū S̱ẖāʿirī) is a rich tradition of poetry and has many different forms. Many of the poetic forms and structures are of Arabic origin. Today, it is an important part of the cultures of South Asia. Meer, Dard, Ghalib, Anees, Dabeer, Iqbal, Zauq, Josh, Akbar, Jigar, Faiz, Firaq, Shakeb Jalali, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Shair, Mohsin, Faraz and Faizi are among the greatest poets of Urdu. The language of Urdu got its pinnacle under the British Raj, and it received official status. All famous writers of Urdu language including Ghalib and Iqbal were given British scholarships.[1] Following the Partition of India in 1947, it found major poets and scholars were divided along the nationalistic lines. However, Urdu poetry is cherished in both the nations. Both the Muslims and Hindus from across the border continue the tradition.

Its fundamentally a performative poetry and its recital, sometimes impromptu, is held in Mushairas (poetic expositions). Although its tarannum saaz (singing aspect) has undergone major changes in recent decades, its popularity among the masses remains unaltered. Mushairas are today held in metropolitan areas worldwide because of cultural influence of South Asian diaspora. Ghazal singing and Qawwali are also important expository forms of Urdu poetry. Bollywood movies have a major part in popularising Urdu poetry with younger generations.

Forms of Urdu poetry

The principal forms of Urdu poetry are:[2]

Collection forms of Urdu poetry

The principal collection forms of Urdu poetry are:[2]


Urdu poetry forms itself with following basic ingredients:


The major genres of poetry found in Urdu are:

Pen names (Takhallus)

In the Urdu poetic tradition, most poets use a pen name called the Takhallus (تخلص) . This can be either a part of a poet's given name or something else adopted as an identity. The traditional convention in identifying Urdu poets is to mention the takhallus at the end of the name. The word takhallus[7] is derived from Arabic, meaning "ending". This is because in the ghazal form, the poet would usually incorporate his or her pen name into the final couplet (maqta) of each poem.

Scripts used in poetry

In Pakistan and Deccan region of India, Urdu poetry is written in the standard Nasta'liq calligraphy style of the Perso-Arabic script. However, in north India, where Urdu poetry is very popular, the Perso-Arabic is often found transliterated into the Devanāgarī script, as an aid for those Hindī-speakers, who can comprehend Urdu, but cannot read the Perso-Arabic script. With the dawn of the internet and globalisation, this poetry is often found written in Roman Urdu as well as in Hindi script. In India mostly it is known as Shayari.

Example of Urdu Ghazal

The following is a verse from an Urdu ghazal by Arif Farhad:

تم نہ آنا وقت کے دریا میں بہ کر اس طرف
میں تومچھلی کی طرح الجھا ہوا ہوں جال میں

Roman Urdu:

Tum na aana waqt k darya main beh kar is taraf.
Main to machli ki tarah uljha huwa hun jaal main

English translation:

Don't come towards this side in the river of time!
I am captured in the net like a fish.

See also


  1. Language, religion and politics in North India. Lincoln, NE: IUniverse. 2005. ISBN 978-0-595-34394-2. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Bailey, Thomas Grahame (1932 & 2008). A History of urdu literature (PDF). Association press (Y.M.C.A.). ISBN 978-0-19-547518-0. Retrieved 15 July 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. "A Ghazal- Meaning, History, Form, Style and Tips to Write - YoAlfaaz | Share Your Feelings". www.yoalfaaz.com. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  4. Encyclopedic dictionary of Urdu literature p.565 https://books.google.com/books?isbn=8182201918
  5. The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume Five) p.4146 https://books.google.com/books?isbn=8126012218
  6. "DMOZ - Arts: Literature: World Literature: Indian: Urdu". www.dmoz.org. Retrieved 2016-05-08.
  7. A Brief History of Persian Literature, by the Iran Chamber Society.
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