Best Book on Writing and Life: Kalil Urdman, poet and social critic. Originally, from Turkey, Turkish, author and political activist. Best Poetry of Khalil Urdman Qamar. Book review.
Best Book on Writing and Life: Kalil Urdman, poet and political activist. Originally, from Turkey, author and political activist. Best Poetry of Khalil Urdman Qamar. Book review. Poets responded with love and respect for this collection of poems.
“The Tortoise and the Hare” by Khalil Urdman are a brilliant poem. The poem is written in Urdu, but the translation into English is not very clear. The first few lines of the poem give us an idea of what we are reading, a poem about a tortoise and a hare. We get the basic plot in the first few lines, but the translation into English leaves something to be desired.
The translation into English makes the poem quite short, but this is not a problem because we know that these words were chosen by the poet in the moment, as they occurred to him. So the poem is rich with meaning. It contains simple words, which make it very powerful. The rhyme scheme is also very simple, which adds to its impact. As far as the actual poem is considered, it contains very strong terms, and uses poetic forms very effectively.
“The Tortoise and the Hare” has been translated into many languages, and is the oldest known copy in Urdu. But it is not the only one, it is just the oldest. The language of the people who wrote rehmann was spread over a large area of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so many of the words were borrowed from this oral tradition. It is likely that other copies were also written in this language, but they are all lost now.
This poetic classic is much more than a translation. The poet presents us with an experience in the Pakistani, rural life, which mirrors many things we can all relate to – the struggle for survival, the need for friendship, the quest for freedom. It is a very positive and hopeful poem, which is at once simple and profound. Because it is written in Urdu, we can be sure that “The Tortoise and the Hare” were originally a very positive piece of poetry.
But when translated into English it is often difficult to appreciate its literary merit, or indeed the true meaning of the poem. Few people who try to read it to understand the underlying meaning. Fewer still are able to translate it into contemporary English, and even fewer still have the patience and willpower to understand what the underlying message is. I have had very good success with “The Tortoise and the Hare” as a translation, after I had tried several other translators before. But in spite of its seeming success as a translation, it remains very hard to understand.
A better approach might be to view the poem in the right perspective, as a teaching tool. It teaches us to see the world from the perspective of a humble villager, living in a poor village that is threatened by approaching strangers, a stranger who come to offer his help, and eventually a stranger who become a beloved husband and father. At first sight the tale of the hare and the tortoise looks very strange, but we soon realize that it is not so very strange after all. It is the simple, honest, and powerful human spirit of a common man that finds the sweetness in this extraordinary story.
In modern day Pakistan, where I was born, the term “Khalil” means brothers. A popular folk song glorifies the bravery of the mujahedeen, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their nation. In fact, many young men today look at the mujahedeen as a sort of heroes. They are willing to die for their country, their families, and even their friends. Their beloved ones like to sing songs like those of “Lissajali”, which is a popular folk song written by Syed Muhammad Zakir Hussain, but one that accurately describes the true nature of their heroes:
The beauty of this particular poem is that Hussain manages to combine all of the genres of literature that we know and love, and makes it all seem like one coherent piece. When you read “Lissajali” you get transported to a different place and time, a place where love and affection are as fresh and as plentiful as the flowers that bloom in spring. It is because of this that “Lissajali” remains on the top of the list of the most popular poems ever written by a Pakistani and is still commonly recited even today.
It is important to note that “Lissajali” also has a sequel, “ymes”. These poems are in turn extremely poignant, as the events of the first poem unfold before your eyes. It is my hope that we will see more Pakistani writers write such poetry. For now, try to remember the name of this great poet and try to enjoy “Lissajali”. You can always read the sequel to Lissajali if you so choose.