‘The Death of Stella D’Cruz’ and other poems

01 December 2014

About The Poems Afzal Ahmed Syed is one of modern Urdu literature’s most highly regarded poets, and certainly its most original one. As the poems here show, he animates and variegates lyric feeling with splashes of narrative zest; to the traditional motifs and themes of Urdu poetry he adds a cosmopolitan irony and a range of unusual and beautifully worked allusions (consider the exquisite reference to Herodotus in ‘On The Way Home From Empress Market’); and, in contrast to the conventional poetic musings and murmurs of the self, he loves to dive into the vivid worlds of a range of protagonists—often women—who under the light of his attention come to seem both plebeian and mythic. We infer the nature of the lyric speaker from what he says about others.

These poems are all taken from Syed’s collection Rococo aur Doosri Dunyaen (Rococo and Other Worlds), a major work recently translated into English by the writer Musharraf Ali Farooqi, and published in India this month by Yoda Press.

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    Afzal Ahmed Syed has published three collections in Urdu of the modern nazm genre—titled Chheni Hoi Tareekh (An Arrogated Past, 1984), Do Zubanon Mein Saza-e Maut (Death Sentence in Two Languages, 1990), and Rococo Aur Doosri Duniyaen (Rococo and Other Worlds, 2000)—and one ghazal collection, Khaima-e Siyah (The Dark Pavilion, 1988). His latest work was the first Urdu translation of Mir Taqi Mir’s Persian divan.