Portrait of a Poet
T.C.A. Raghavan
FIRAQ GORAKHPURI: THE POET OF PAIN AND ECSTASY by Ajai Mansingh Roli Books, 2017, 249 pp., 395
October 2017, volume 41, No XLI

This is an endearing biography of Raghupati Sahay or ‘Firaq Gorakhpuri’ one of the great Urdu poets of the last century. Written by a close relative it is an admiring but not uncritical portrait of the poet and largely based on conversations with and personal diaries and letters of the poet’s other close relatives. It is modest in its scope but makes for an engrossing read not just for the milestones of Firaq’s life and his literary achievements, which are well known, but also for the sense it conveys of his family and social and personal universe. Raghupati Sahay was born in 1896 in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh in a well-established Kayastha family. Landowning and professional incomes combined in it, as in many others, making for a gracious lifestyle in which love for literature and a passion for Urdu poetry was inculcated early. Raghupati Sahay’s father was thus to become a lawyer but he too was a poet of Urdu writing as Ibrat Gorakhpuri.

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