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I Too Have Some Dreams

I Too Have Some Dreams: N.M. Rashed and Modernism in Urdu Poetry

A. Sean Pue
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt6wqc4d
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  • Book Info
    I Too Have Some Dreams
    Book Description:

    I Too Have Some Dreamsexplores the work of N. M. Rashed, Urdu's renowned modernist poet, whose career spans the last years of British India and the early decades of postcolonial South Asia. A. Sean Pue argues that Rashed's poetry carved out a distinct role for literature in the maintenance of doubt, providing a platform for challenging the certainty of collective ideologies and opposing the evolving forms of empire and domination. This finely crafted study offers a timely contribution to global modernist studies and to modern South Asian literary history.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95893-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    The lines above, from the free-verse poem “I Too Have Some Dreams” (Mere bhī haiñ kuchh ḳhvāb) by N. M. Rashed (Nażr-e Muḥammad Rāshid, 1910–1975), introduce the central concerns of a crucial figure in the history of poetic modernism in Urdu. The passage describes the forces of ruination in an age in which the rivers have run dry and cities have returned to desert or been ravaged by human destruction. Against these forces of desolation, the narrator calls out to “love,” asserting that he still has his own dreams. In the remainder of the poem, the narrator notes the...

  6. ONE Embodiment
    (pp. 19-41)

    In 1941, N. M. Rashed publishedMāvarā(The Beyond), a work celebrated as the first volume of free verse, orāzād naz̤m, in Urdu.¹ The poetry, which vividly describes the subjective experiences of a narrator whose life resembled that of both the author and his readers, solidified Rashed’s reputation. The formal experimentation that was the hallmark of this volume remained important throughout the poet’s body of work. His association with free verse also led him to be classified as a modernist poet by Urdu critics, and the reception of his poetry remains tied to the category of modernism itself.

    For...

  7. TWO Position without Identity
    (pp. 42-64)

    The centerpiece of n. m. rashed’sĪrān meñ ajnabī aur dūsrī naz̤meñ(A Stranger in Iran and Other Poems) is a formally innovative freeverse poem in thirteen parts that describes the experiences of an Indian soldier in Iran during World War II. British and Soviet armies had invaded Iran in 1941, pushing aside Reza Shah Pahlavi and dividing the country between them. N. M. Rashed arrived in Iran two years later, serving in the Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate as part of the occupying British Indian Army.¹ Although his poem records the impressions of an Indian soldier-poet, its setting in Iran...

  8. THREE Allegory and Collectivity
    (pp. 65-90)

    Soon after india and pakistan gained independence, N. M. Rashed articulated a theme of separation between word (ḥarf) and meaning (maʿnī) that he reworked in a number of ways in his later poems. On the one hand, this separation referred to the disconnection between state ideology and practice, particularly, if not exclusively, in the context of Pakistan. On the other, it signified a gap between human language and metaphysical meaning in general. Though Rashed’s poetry mourns this disconnection, it also doubts that such a connection was ever truly present. His late poetry consistently challenges the certainty of conventional meanings and...

  9. FOUR Temporality
    (pp. 91-121)

    N. m. rashed’s allegorical poem “Another City” (Ek aur shahr, §19) is a densely written meditation on time and progress and their effects on the self. It begins by describing how in the other city, the “desire for self-understanding hides its face in darkness.” Knowledge of the self would presumably provide some light, but instead a mountain of “boundless haste” looms on every pathway. The inhabitants of the other city are ironically described as “valiant Western heroes”(afrangī mardān-e rād), using a phrase common to the poetry of Muḥammad Iqbāl.¹ “Thirsty for fresh blood,” the heroes’ hearts are greedy like...

  10. Conclusion: HASAN THE POTTER
    (pp. 122-140)

    A book about n. m. rashed’s work would be incomplete without a discussion of “Ḥasan Kūzahgar” (Hasan the Potter, §26–§29), a long poem in four parts that was split across N. M. Rashed’s final two volumes. Many critics consider it to be one the greatest statements about love and creativity in Urdu poetry, the masterpiece of Rashed’s late period, and among the finest free-verse poems in the language. The poem is a monologue in which the potter Ḥasan addresses the mesmerizing Jahāñzād (literally “daughter of the world”). Each section is set in a different time and place, and each...

  11. APPENDIX: Poems in Transliteration and Translation
    (pp. 141-228)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 229-250)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 251-262)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 263-270)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-276)