kaun angDaai le raha hai ‘Adam’

do jahaN laDkhaDae jaate haiN

-Abdul Hameed ‘Adam’ (1910-1981)

A loose, prosaic translation would read:

Who is it stretching her limbs ‘Adam’?

There is a quake in both the worlds (this, and the one hereafter).

The couplet cited here is a good example of the easy-to-comprehend master of the Ghazal form in Urdu. The underlying eroticism and sensuous visual image the first line evokes, is brilliantly completed in the next—a distinctive quality of Adam’s work.

Abdul Hameed ‘Adam’ was born in Gujranwala, Pakistan in 1910. His early work bears the influence of Hafeez Jalandhari and Akhthar Shirani, both of whom held sway in the 1920s. He also came under the spell of the redoubtable Josh Malihabadi.

Known to have been a quiet, unassuming person, Adam’s poetry is a reflection of his personality. He selected short meters and demonstrated extraordinary skill in simplicity of thematic expression. He is a master of rhythmic arrangement of words. His verses, simple as they may seem, are often layered and profound at another level. Adam, like Daagh, is a good starting point for students of the Ghazal.

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