“Night flows these days like a wave of wine, 

Dawn opens like a rose full of colour and scent; 

If cups are desolate, have some respect for spring; Fill the heart with desire, the eyes with blood.”

–Faiz

Faiz Ahmad Faiz born on February 13, 1911, in Sialkot emerged as one of the greatest Urdu poets in the post-partition era. His poetry was a reflection of people’s aspiration for a homeland where they would have dignity, respect and access to basic needs. What makes Faiz distinct from his contemporaries, however, was his response to contemporary moments of crises that made his poetry distinctively critical. His verses challenged power structures and government failures to address the concerns of the poor.

Tariq Ali in his essay “Cervantes in His Times and Ours” argues that great works of literature are rarely, if ever, produced in isolation. They are a reflection of life within social, political, and historical environment. One can but disagree. There was a time, not too long ago, when socio-political affairs would give people inspiration —inspiration that was dealt with graceful expression. And the expression would contain great depth and sophistication of thought. And all this found a way in the powerful poetic expression of Faiz. Today, socio-political affairs lead to disillusionment and unaddressed resentment at best. The artists who used to cumulate heartfelt sentiments into a single verse are all gone; and they have taken with them, the art of expression.

The need of the hour is to revisit the fluidity of words, the intoxicating intellectualism, and the passionate artistry. Because, when art suffers, we suffer.