The Songs of Freedom: Exploring Shaikh Ayaz’s geniuses
Reviewed by Mubarak Ali Lashari
Shaikh Ayaz's greatness lies not only in composing poetry in Sindhi language but also in Urdu language equally. His poetry was embraced and appreciated by the Urdu readers and critics likewise. He was a poet of versatility and was a par excellent poet of all subject matters ranging from human feelings to the social, political, economic plight of people in the land. Thus, he was taken as one of the towering poets of Pakistan and sub-continent. His poetry is translated in almost all major languages of the world including English.
This book “Songs of Freedom” is compilation of four English books on and of Shaikh Ayaz. In these include, ‘The Storm's Call for Prayer', which was published by Oxford University Press, that consists of Shaikh Ayaz's translated poetry in English. The selected poetry of Shaikh Ayaz included in this book is translated by re-known translator Asif Farrukhi and Shah Muhammad Pirzado. They have tried their best to translate Ayaz's most prominent poetry. Besides this one, both of them have translated selected works and critical views on Shaikh Ayaz in Urdu.
The second one book is ‘Immortal Poetry of Shaikh Ayaz' written by J. M. Girglani. The book was published in Indian Institute of Sindhology. In it there are seven comprehensive chapters of commentary along with Shaikh Ayaz's poetry. The quality of translation of poetry is very noteworthy and of in-depth. He called Shaikh Ayaz as ‘a darling poet of Sindh'. In his compliments, Girglani wrote amply on the personality of Shaikh Ayaz, including references of many famous critics and scholars on Shaikh Ayaz. But his thorough exploration of Shaikh Ayaz's poetry is really outstanding. He exhaustively has written on themes, personas and sources of Shaikh Ayaz's poetry. He also included two appendices having excerpts of a paper and a list of Shaikh Ayaz's books with their Sindhi titles and valuable English translations of the titles.
The third one book included in this large manuscript is ‘The Songs of Freedom'. It is published by Zindagi Publications, Hyderabad Sindh. This book consists of Shaikh Ayaz's selected poetry and prose translated into English. The translator of this book is Saleem Noorhusain. The preface of the book is written by the person who is scholar at par on Shaikh Ayaz's poetry, Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo. He gave title as ‘A Minstrel Divine' to his preface who has written on Shaikh Ayaz's life and his poetic journey at length. And there is an excellent excerpt of the translator as prologue titled ‘Thus Spake Shaikh Ayaz'. In this English translation, there is good selection of poet's poetry but more notable is the translation of three operas written by sheikh Ayaz on ‘Death of Dodo Soomro', ‘Hanging of Bhagat Singh' and ‘Dacoits of Rani Kot'. These operas present a superior picture of Indus valley culture and norms along with its enlightened appreciation of Bhagat Singh, an Indian freedom fighter.
The fourth book included in this huge volume is ‘On the Bank of Indus'. The book is published by Shaikh Ayaz Chair, Shah Abdul Latif University , Khairpur Mirs Sindh. The translation of selected Shaikh Ayaz's poetry into English is carried out by Professor Lateef Noonari. The book consists mainly of shorter pieces of poetry of Shaikh Ayaz, although, there are some poems of good length. It is also panoramic array of selection of poetry and translation.
And finally, there are the write ups of Daily Dawn Review, which was published to pay tribute to Shaikh Ayaz on his death. This supplement of Dawn Review provides a great insight into the life, poetry and poetic journey of great poet Shaikh Ayaz. In this review include ‘The man and the poet' by Sirajul Haq Memon, ‘To eternity where he belongs' by Asif farrukhi, ‘In letter and Spirit' by Amar Jaleel and ‘The last salute' by Attiya Dawood.
All the above five most helpful supplementary documents are combined in one volume of 476 pages, published by Culture Department, Government of Sindh in 2010. This collection of books, which are either English translation of Shaikh Ayaz's poetry or appraisal treatises on him. It is worth reading and keeping in personal library in order to have knowledge of a poet of one century. He is not only representative poet of Sindh , Pakistan and Sub-continent but also well-known thinker, philosopher and prose writer. Thus, if someone wants to know Sindh and Sindhi literature, s/he should know Shaikh Ayaz and his literary and poetic genius.
Name of Book: Songs of Freedom
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