A legendary poet like Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) needs no introduction. In Pakistan, where one authoritarian government has made way for another since 1947, Faiz’s person and work is largely known as a symbol of resistance. In his poetry, he represented the people’s longing for freedom and democracy and became a source of inspiration for those seeking to build a just society.
Faiz began his career as a lecturer in English at Amritsar, but switched to journalism after the Second World War. He went on to become the editor of The Pakistan Times. In 1951, he was charged with complicity in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case and imprisoned. It was his four-year term in prison that gave him first-hand experience of the harsh realities of life and provided him with much-needed solitude to translate his thoughts into poetry.
As a poet, Faiz began writing on the conventional themes of love and beauty, but soon these thoughts were submerged in the larger social and political issues of the day. An admirer of Karl Marx, Faiz was also honoured by Soviet Russia with the prestigious ‘Lenin Award for Peace.’
Over the years, Faiz’s poetry has provided hope during the dark days of martial law, even as recently as November 3, 2007, when former president General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency.
Twenty-five years ago, when Faiz passed away at the age of 73, Dawn described him as the ‘greatest Urdu poet of his time,’ who became a living legend for ‘his intrepid struggle against what he himself once described as “the dark and dastardly superstitions of centuries untold”.’
Today, to mark Faiz’s death anniversary, Dawn.com invites its readers to share their favourite lines by the masterful poet and help keep the power of his poetry alive.
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