On the Eve of Loneliness
Sami Rafiq
SHAM-E-TANHA by Zahida Zaidi Aabshaar Publication, Aligarh, 2011, 175 pp., 200
April 2011, volume 35, No 4

Zahida Zaidi was a poet, dramatist, translator and critic whose literary contributions belong to the realms of both Urdu and English literatures. She was a prolific writer passionately concerned with the pulse of the times so one comes across varied political, cultural and social themes in her work. She was innovative too in her use of various literary forms. Sham-e-Tanhai was Zahida. Zaidis fifth collection of poetry. Though Zahida Zaidis poetry is multifaceted in its variety of themes, a persistent preoccupation with mans place and situation in the universe and his relationship with the divine can be found in all the collections of her poetry, Urdu as well as English. In the present collection of Urdu poems she has dealt with this theme with more immediacy and intensity. The philosophical concerns in the book remind the reader of Iqbal and Wordsworth whose spiritual and intellectual maturity in relation to the perception of the divine were the culmination of age and experience.

The uniqueness of Zaidis poetry lies in her ability to seek God through human experiences rather than as a solitary entity dissociated from humanity. Though she is aware of the classical and epic contexts of mans search for the divine in English and Urdu literatures, she is not satisfied until she brings innovative words and images to express herself. The search for the divine is not a new subject in the present collection, for associations with the divine and manifestations in the form of loss, pain, darkness, alienation and desire for union are also present in the earlier collections.

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