14th December marks the birth anniversary of one of Urdu’s most iconic and innovative poets, or perhaps the single most innovate poet: Jaun Elia.

Elia was born in 1931 in the town of Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, British India. He was fluent in 6 languages, Urdu, English, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit. But these are things we all know. We all know this as well, that Jaun broke boundaries in the tradition of Urdu poet, establishing himself as an cynical and realist poet. He refused and mocked the long standing romantic devices of Urdu tradition and invested literary tools to reflect the hopelessness and meaningless suffering that is life.

PG collected for you a selection of his 6 most iconic couplets.

On the misery of inability to express

Androon e hisar e khamoshi
Shor ki tarhaan mach raha hoon mein

On looking beyond the mirror

Kis liye dekhti ho aaina
Tum to khud se bhi khoobsurat ho

Aino’n ko zang laga
ab main kesa lagta huun

On Condemning Silence

Bolte kiun nahi mere haq mein
Aable parh gaye zabaan mein kia

On Distance and Separation

chand ne taan li hai chadar-e-abr
ab vo kapre badal rahi hogi

On Emotional Intimacy

dil ki taklif kam nahin karte
ab koi shikva ham nahin karte

On the Futility of Romance

mere kamre ko sajane ki tamanna hai tumhen
mere kamre men kitabon ke siva kuchh bhi nahin

Jaun Elia rose from being a cult classic to a poet of modernity and rebellion. Posthumously, Elia garnered a mass following in the young generation. It is surprising to see his following increase even with the tragic backdrop of the slow demise of Urdu in Pakistan.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *