A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF KEATS’S “ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE”AND MAJAZ’S “NAZRE ALIGARH”
Asrarul Haq was the real name of the poet Majaz who has also been called the Keats of Urdu poetry. As the pioneer of the Progressive Writers movement he brought a new life into Urdu poetry by expressing in it the emotions and aspirations of the Muslim youth of pre Independence India.
There is much that Keats and Majaz have in common besides the romantic and lyrical beauty of their poetry. Both Keats and Majaz had short lives crowded with the tragic reality of unrequited love and financial hardship. But neither gave up their passion for poetry , in fact, the harshness of life only made their verse more intense and meaningful. I found some similarities between Keats’s famous “Ode to a Nightingale” and Majaz’s “Nazre Aligarh”. Though the subject matter of Keats’s famous Ode consists of musings on the ephemeral nature of dreams and the subject matter of Majaz’s poem is a celebration of the rich culture of Aligarh Muslim University, yet there are some common threads between the two that prompted me to explore the same subjects and compare the two poems. Even though the poems belong to two poets of two different countries and different time periods of history, yet the images from nature are quite similar and both poets are seeking an ideal world.
Quite a few critics have discovered in the Ode an element of personal escape from the harsh world of reality.
Ironically it was written when Britain was a dominant colonial power. Majaz’s poem, on the other hand, was written around the time when India’s struggle for independence was gaining further momentum. Majaz’s poem also has a spirit of assertion of the Indian Muslim identity. One cannot forget the ideas of Franz Fanon when he said that assertion of identity is the last stage of rebellion against colonial rule. A close comparative study of the selected poems also reveals some similarities in the use of nature imagery, but the point of divergence lies in the cultural colouring of these images of nature. While the poetry of the romantics specifically that of Keats, was characterized by a love for nature, a quest to transcend material cares and a meditation on human experience, the poems of Majaz too possess these elements, but a difference is created by the Indian Muslim cultural background and national identity. There is an interesting contrast between the presence of biblical and Greek symbols such as Ruth and Bacchus and his pards in the Ode and Majaz’s use of symbols from Islamic and Muslim history like Shiraz and Egypt in his poem.