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Shahr-i-ashob is the Urdu phrase for the grief felt for a city (typically due to the fall of a city or a change in its ethos). Shahr means city and ashob means lament or grief. The ‘zer’ in the middle is the connecting vowel that brings the two words together to give it the meaning of ‘Lament of a city’.

Here is a paper from Columbia University that refers to literature or poetry that explores the idea shahr-a-e-ashob as lamenting for a city or even a larger ‘urban disarray’ or a ‘socio-political crisis’: Shahr-e-ashob

An excerpt: By virtue of their shared subject and the common attitude of lament that they take toward that subject, literary critics have understood the poems of the Lament as examples of a single semantic genre of poetry (sinf-i sukhan) known as the shahr-ashob. How has the shahr-ashob been described? In tracing the history of the term through the Persian, Turkish, and finally Urdu literary traditions, the critic is confronted by the fact that as a genre of Urdu literature, “shahr-ashob” takes on a different meaning from the one that it bears in Persian and Turkish poetry. In the latter, the shahr-angez or shahr-ashob (the city-exciter or city-disturber), is a young boy whose desirability agitates the hearts of the citizens of a particular place (Munibur Rahman).  

It is not clear why the signification of the term shifts when it comes to Urdu, but according to what is as far as I am aware the first attempt at a definition of the Urdu shahrashob as a poetic genre (sinf-i sukhan), it comes to signify a poem detailing a sociopolitical crisis…

The above formulation by Naʿim Ahmad makes no mention of the urban setting that we would expect to characterize a genre known as “shahr-ashob,” and in his essay on poetic genres Shamim Ahmad more explicitly states that several types of geographical space other than the city may be the subject of a shahr-ashob (143).

Other words combine with the word ‘shahr’ to create different meanings:


Shahr-e Gholghola is the City of Screams, a 13th century city in Bamyan, Afghanistan which was conquered by Gengis Khan after months of surrounding.

Shahr-i-sabz is the City of Green. Shahr-i-sabz is a city in Qashqadaryo Province in southern Uzbekistan located approximately 80 km south of Samarkand. Once a major city of Central Asia, it is primarily known today as the birthplace of 14th century Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur. Formerly known as Kesh (i.e., “heart-pleasing”) and tentatively identified with the ancient Nautaca, Shahrisabz is one of Central Asia’s most ancient cities. It was founded more than 2700 years ago. Its name was officially changed to Shahrisabz in the modern era.

Below is an article by Nakul Krishna that featured in the Caravan Magazine that covers literature about different Indian cities and how new literature is a variation on the old literature of lament: