About the Poem
|Time Period||1961 CE|
|Meters||khafeef musaddas makhboon mahzoof|
= – = = / – = – = / – – =
khafeef musaddas makhboon mahzoof maqtoo’
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One example of an excellent contemporary Urdu ghazal is “Dil Men Ik Leher Si Uthi Hai Abhi” by Nasir Kazmi, a Pakistani poet. Kazmi (1925-1972) was born in Ambala in East Punjab during the British Raj, and moved to Lahore during the partition of India. His poems are often written in short meter (چھوٹی بحر / chHoTi beher) and have a relatable and modern quality to them. “Dil Men Ik Leher” was first published in 1972 in Nasir Kazmi’s book Deewan, though according to his Kulliyat (compilation of complete works) it was written in 1961 (links below).
Written in a clear and charming style, “Dil Men Ik Leher” inspires hope through its uplifting imagery and calls upon the reader to be proactive in life. It’s great to listen to when you are searching for some positivity: a wave is rising, a fresh breeze is blowing, a barrier is being torn down, and a window of opportunity is opening…
Literary scholars have sometimes criticized the entire tradition of Urdu ghazals for being atomistic, i.e. being composed of several unrelated couplets. “Dil Mein Ik Leher” is a strong example to the contrary. The first two verses indicate that some kind of positive change is taking place, although we are not sure what. The third couplet hints that something has been missing (or someone, as we find out). In the next two verses, it appears that the fresh change was the return of memories of the speaker’s beloved – and perhaps she herself is on her way. In the next three couplets, the speaker has sprung to action, searching through the city, looking for an open window, and calling his friends to rise up as well. Finally, the last verse leaves us with optimism for what the future will bring. The central message of “Dil Men Ik Leher” is to stay optimistic and take action to pursue your goals, even though they may seem distant.
“Dil Men Ik Leher” has famously been sung by two Pakistan artists, Tassawar Khanum (1950-present) and Ghulam Ali (1940-present). Both versions are powerful, but one notable feature of Ghulam Ali’s recording is all of the variation he creates when singing the word “leher”. By fluctuating the tone, pitch, and length of the word, he evokes the image of waves in the ocean.
Text, Transliteration, and Translation
دل میں اِک لہر سی اُٹھی ہے ابھی
dil meN ik leher si uTHi hai abHi
A sort of wave has risen in my heart just now;
کوئی تازہ ہوا چلی ہے ابھی
koi taaza hava chali hai abHi
Some fresh breeze has blown by just now!
شور برپا ہے خانۂ دل میں
shor barpa hai khaana-e dil meN
An uproar is growing in the chambers of my heart;
کوئی دیوار سی گری ہے ابھی
koi deevaar si giri hai abHi
Some kind of wall has fallen just now!
بھری دنیا میں جی نہیں لگتا
bhari dunya meN ji naheeN lagta
My heart is not satisfied in this crowded world;
جانے کس چیز کی کمی ہے ابھی
jaane kis cheez ki kami hai abHi
I wonder, what am I still lacking now?
تو شریکِ سخن نہیں ہے تو کیا
tu shareek-e sukhan naheeN hai to kya
So what if you are not joining me in conversation?
ہم سخن تیری خامشی ہے ابھی
ham-sukhan teri khaamushi hai abHi
Your silence is speaking with me right now!
یاد کے بے نشاں جزیروں سے
yaad ke be-nishaaN jazeeroN se
From traceless islands in my memory,
تیری آواز آ رہی ہے ابھی
teri aavaaz aa rahi hai abHi
Your voice is reaching me just now!
شہر کی بے چراغ گلیوں میں
sheher ki be-chiraagh galiyoN meN
Through the unlit streets of the city,
زندگی تجھ کو ڈھونڈتی ہے ابھی
zindagi tujH ko DHoonDti hai abHi
Life is searching for you right now!
سو گئے لوگ اُس حویلی کے
so ga’e log us haveli ke
The people of that house have fallen asleep,
ایک کھڑکی مگر کھُلی ہے ابھی
ek kHiRki magar kHuli hai abHi
But one window has opened just now!
تم تو یارو ابھی سے اُٹھ بیٹھے
tum to yaaro abHi se uTH baiTHe
Friends, you stood up and have sat down already,
شہر میں رات جاگتی ہے ابھی
sheher meN raat jaagti hai abHi
But in the city, the night still remains awake now!
وقت اچّھا بھی آئے گا ناصرؔ
waqt achchHa bHi aa’e ga naasir
Good times will also come, O Nasir!
غم نہ کر زندگی پڑی ہے ابھی
gham na kar zindagi paRi hai abHi
Don’t grieve, your whole life is still ahead of you now!
The following line does not appear in Nasir Kazmi’s ghazal, but has been added in the musical renditions:
کچھ تو نازک مزاج ہیں ہم بھی
kuchH to naazuk mizaaj haiN ham bHi
Partly, the issue is I have a sensitive temperament,
اور یہ چوٹ بھی نئی ہے ابھی
aur ye choT bHi na’i hai abHi
But it’s also that the wound is fresh right now!
Also, note that the Ghulam Ali version opens with the following couplet from the famous poet Dagh Dehlvi:
ہر دل میں نئے درد سے ہے یاد کسی کی
har dil meN na’e dard se hai yaad kisi ki
In each heart, new pain causes remembrance of someone.
ملتی نہیں فریاد سے فریاد کسی کی
milti naheeN faryaad se faryaad kisi ki
No individual’s grievances match the grievances of another.
Further Reading and References
- Deewan (1972) by Nasir Kazmi. You can find this poem on pages 31-32 of 147. [link]
- Kulliyat-e-Nasir (1992) by Nasir Kazmi. In this compilation of all of his works, you can find this poem on pages 194-195 of 604. [link]
- Husain, Initizar. “Nasir Kazmi’s Salaam to the Trees and Birds of Lahore.” Dawn. 10 March 2013. This article was written to commemorate Nasir Kazmi’s 41st death anniversary. [link]
- “The Works of Nasir Kazmi.” Dawn. 7 July 2013. This article covers Kazmi’s literary career and achievements. [link]
- Deewan-e-Daagh by Dagh Dehlvi. You can find the couplet quoted by Ghulam Ali on page 163 of 190. [link]
- An older, black-and-white recording of Tassawar Khanum singing the same ghazal [link]
- Asha Bhosle version, in a more modern style, released in 2005 [link]
- Osman Mir version, released in 2019 [link]
Shad, Hamza. “Dil Men Ik Leher: A Refreshing Ghazal”. The Khusrau Project. 15 February 2023. khusrau.com/dil-men-ik-leher/.