The beauty of Urdu has been charming us for years now.
Urdu was relevant, poignant and beautiful even before the age of netizens, remixes and EDM, and it still manages to find ardent lovers.
We may actively seek out Urdu works and devour them now, but there were certain poets and their popular works, that first allowed us to discover the magic of this language.
Not many of us may have stumbled to search meanings of words, or understand the true beauty of Urdu expressions, had these people and their works not made the language popular.
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These poets infused Urdu expressions and words seamlessly into lyrics, ghazals and shayaris, making them not only easier to understand, but also enabling us to slowly fall in everlasting love with the language.
So here is a list of poets of different eras, who have been a major reason why we fell in love with the language in the first place.
1. Mirza Ghalib
Ghalib’s prominence in Urdu poetry can never be disregarded. It is difficult to pick one poem or shayari from the numerous gems that he has gifted us, and the beauty of his poetry is that the emotions expressed in his couplets are still relatable.
2. Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Faiz Ahmad Faiz and his work truly touches the human heart. He evokes emotions because his poetry is rarely without an accompanying haunting quality of pain. If there is someone who understands loss of love, it has to be Faiz saab.
The extent of Gulzar’s excellence as a poet, lyricist and writer can never be mapped. Gulzar adapted his writing with the changing times, but the capability to evoke human emotions was and will always be the cornerstone of all his works. Picking a single song to represent him is impossible, but this work comes pretty close.
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4. Javed Akhtar
It can be easily said that Javed Akhtar honed his craft as much as he inherited it, considering his parents were also excellent writers and poets. But it’s the simplicity of his works that make them so memorable.
5. Ada Jafri
Regarded as the “The First Lady of Urdu Poetry”, Ada Jafri managed to express herself at a time when the society was especially conservative towards women in poetry. She has mostly written ghazals and her works were an expression of her experiences as a wife and mother.
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6. Firaq Gorakhpuri
Firaq Gorakhpuri was the pen name of eminent poet and writer Raghupati Sahay. A noted poet, most of his work came into creation during his tenure as an English lecturer in Allahabad University. However, the relevance of his work is not bound by time.
7. Sahil Ludhianvi
Popularly known as Sahir, Sahil Ludhianvi was an amazing Urdu poet, who also penned some classic songs for Bollywood. His work is still remembered, and oft recited, by budding poets and admirers alike.
8. Bashir Badr
Bashir Badr, who was a prominent Urdu poet, spent a large majority of his adult life as a lecturer at Aligarh University. With more than 7 collections of Urdu poems, his understanding of the language and excellence of craft can never be questioned.
9. Majrooh Sultanpuri
Urdu poetry has the power to reach your soul, and Majrooh Sultanpuri’s works are just the perfect example of this. From writing iconic songs for movies, to memorable ghazals that his admirers can recite in their sleep, his creations are simply beautiful.
10. Rahat Indori
Rahat Indori’s poetic brilliance has made him one of the most acclaimed celebrity Urdu poet of all times. His renowned mushaira performances, and famous lyrics have only added to his fame and popularity over the years.
11. Parveen Shakir
Sadly there have not been many women Urdu poets who’ve achieved the same level of fame as their male contemporaries, but Parveen Shakir and her work definitely stands out. There are few poets who’ve managed to equally excel in free verse and technical ghazal style, and Parveen Shakir is definitely one of them.
12. Nida Fazli
He is a prominent Hindi and Urdu poet, lyricist and dialogue writer. His use of colloquial language in his ghazals and nazms not only caught the attention of film makers, but also managed to make his work extremely popular, and rightfully so.
13. Ahmad Faraz
Faraz’s works gained immense popularity, to the point that he was considered to be second only to Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The reason is simple – his works express the anguish, joy and simplicity of love in a way few other poets have been able to.
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14. Wasim Barelvi
Jagjit Singh has lent his soulful voice to many works by Wasim Barelvi, making his creations timeless. His works will always make you sit up, take notice and reflect. His poems make for a delightful read indeed.
15. Jaun Elia
Having seen the horror of partition first hand, Jaun Elia expressed his pain and anguish through his revolutionary poetry. Perhaps, this is why even the love that he talks about is always unrequited. His ghazals, especially on the destructive power of love, are hauntingly beautiful.
16. Mir Taqi Mir
Mir is the 18th century poet who is often credited with giving shape and structure to Urdu language itself. Often remembered as the ‘God of Poetry’, he was a pioneer of the Urdu poetry form of ghazal.
17. Aqbar Allahabadi
Akbar Allahabadi managed to convey satire through his Urdu verses, and that’s where his true excellence lies. Thus, his verses expressing love stand apart from the rest of his contemporaries, even when the subject remains the same.
18. Muhammad Iqbal
He did coin the iconic poem ‘saare jahan se acha‘, but there was much more to his work than a patriotic creation. His views on human emotions, expressed in his ghazals and nazms, have managed to travel through time.
19. Kaifi Azmi
Fondly remembered as the Urdu poet who brought Urdu literature to Indian motion pictures, Kaifi Azmi managed to carve a name for himself at the time when Indian cinema saw some of the finest lyricists, like Ludhianvi and Sultanpuri.
Admirers of Insha have often regarded his works as reminiscent of Amir Khusro, and yet his poetry has influenced a lot of young poets. He had a humorous take on life, that reflects in his work as well.
Truly, Urdu has a unique magic, and it’s because of many such artists that we’ve been blissfully enchanted!
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