Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim Zauq (1789–1854), the famous Urdu poet and scholar of literature, poetry and religion, who wrote poetry under nom de plume (takhallus) “Zauq” was the appointed poet laureate of the Mughal Court in Delhi, just at the age of 19. Later he was given the title of ‘Khaqani-e-Hind’ (The Khaqani of India) by the last Mughal emperor and his disciple Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Zauq was a poor young man, with only ordinary education, who went on to acquire learning in history, theology and poetics in his later years. He was a prominent contemporary of Ghalib and in the history of Urdu poetry the rivalry of the two poets is legendary. During his lifetime Zauq was more popular than Ghalib for the critical values in those days were mainly confined to judging a piece of poetry on the basis of usage of words, phrases and idioms. Content and style were not much taken into account while appreciating poetry, which is where Ghalib triumphed.
The qasida was Zauq’s special forte. Zauq’s idioms were homely, but no one has a greater number of signal phrases memorable for thought or music. His language was polished and his diction elegant. He used several styles successfully and, though not as great a thinker as Mirza Ghalib, had a more melodious flow of language.
Here is a ghazal penned by him –
laayi hayaat aaye, kazaa le chali chale
apni khushi na aaye, na apni khushi chale
We are the making of another’s bidding, the universe creates us and we are born to this Earth, death calls us and we leave with it. Neither is our being by our will or happiness, nor is our release.
behtar to hai yehi ke naa, duniyaa se dil lage
par kyaa karen jo kaam na, be-dillagi chale
It is best to not set one’s heart and mind to this world,
But then what is one to do, when this detachment is also of no use or purpose.
duniyaa ne kis ke raah e fanaa, mein diyaa hai saath
tum bhi chaley chalo yoon hi, jab tak chali chaley
When has the world ever provided comfort or company if your final journey for departure, Till this life is on, keep proceeding on this journey, as everyone else
jaate hawaa e shauk mein hain, is chaman se zauq
apni balaa se baad e sabaa, ab kabhi chaley
As I leave this garden when I had come for some breaths of fresh air, Zauq
The cool breeze can continue forever, it doesn’t really matter to me anymore
Here is a link to the ghazal –