What Is Love In Urdu Poetry

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Love in Urdu poetry is a broad and complex topic, which can be understood in multiple ways. Urdu poetry is typically written in a 2-3 line format, with some poets making use of couplets; two lines, that rhyme with each other and express some idea or emotion. Love is a persistent theme, with many of the great Urdu poets drawing from their own experiences and relationships as inspiration for their work. A core factor of Urdu poetry is its use of imagery, figurative language, and symbolism, to convey emotion and a particular idea or concept. Various styles and topics like romance, philosophy, religion, and beauty have been explored by poets who have used love as an emotion to set the tone within their poetry. In this article, we will explore the ways in which love is explored and expressed through Urdu poetry.

The Importance of Love

Throughout history, love has been a popular theme to explore in literature and art. The same can be said for Urdu poetry, which has been often used to explore the complexities and nuances of relationships; the initial excitement of finding love, the deep connections that can be created between two individuals, or the pain of a broken love, or expectations and obligations imposed on relationships. It is not just love between two individuals that has been explored in Urdu poetry, but love for an ideal, whether it be freedom or divine love. Allama Iqbal, a philosopher and poet, was well known for his spiritual views and for being a champion of freedom for his people. His poetry explored his own interests and beliefs, making use of both Islamic values and concepts, as well as more universal ideas such as the power of nature and the power of dreams. In his poem ‘Lab-e-Darya’ (The Banks of the Sea) he talks of the power of dreams and eternal love; a love not bound by the constraints of society or the limits of mortality. Through this poem, he expresses a divine love and connection to something greater.

Love in Subcontinental Poetry

Love has been explored in Urdu poetry since it’s inception at the hands of Mirza Ghalib. One of the most renowned figures within the Urdu poetic tradition, Ghalib wrote about aspects of life within the context of the culture and society of the Indian Subcontinent. His work often touched upon topics such as unrequited romantic love, beauty and longing; making use of similes to elaborate on the sentiments he wished to express. His poem ‘Nukta-e-Chin’ (Touch of Grace) is used to express the sorrow of a lover for a beloved, who exists in a impossible place, and is unattainable. Similarly, poets like Mir Taqi Mir and Faiz Ahmed Faiz have used love and relationships to explore the complexity of human emotion, with many of their works expressing the joys and sorrows of the human condition.

Romantic Expression

Urdu poets have often made use of romantic expression to explore emotions and further develop the narrative within their poetry. This has been done through the utilization of metaphors and imagery that evoke a particular emotion or tap into a certain sentiment. For example, a poet may make use of a metaphor of a river, to speak of the never-ending emotions of love between two individuals or of a broken heart. Symbolism has also been used, in the form of a nightingale or a rose, to bring forth the romantic notion of two lovers, longing for one anothers touch. These metaphors and symbols are often used to explore the highs and lows of a relationship, and express a universal emotion.

An Analysis of Love

Aside from the expression of love in Urdu poetry, poets have also taken the opportunity to analyze, reflect and critique the emotion itself. They have done this through the exploration of various topics such as the harshness of expectations and the ideals imposed upon relationships, the role of gender within society and the consequences of abandoning love. This provides readers with an opportunity to understand and reflect upon their own relationships and to view love in a more thoughtful and critical manner.


Urdu poetry has a long and rich tradition which explores a variety of topics, including love. Poets have used their craft to explore the joys and sorrows of the emotion, as well as to analyze, reflect and critique various aspects within relationships. As a result, readers are presented with an opportunity to explore, understand and reflect upon their own relationships, as well as to gain insight into the complexities of love.

Religion and Love

Religion also plays an important role in the exploration of love within Urdu poetry. Since much of Urdu poetry is rooted in the Islamic and cultural values of the Indian Subcontinent, it is unsurprising that religion has been used as a tool to express a certain emotion. For instance, Allama Iqbal, a Muslim Sufi, often wrote of divine love; of the connection between one and the divine, and of the way in which the universal order dictates that individuals come together through love. Nasir Kazmi, another noted poet, wrote of the nature of love for one’s religion, where a deep and passionate love for God is an essential part of faith and practice. Such poets provide an insight into how Islamic values inform the expression of love in Urdu poetry.

Symbolism of Love

Symbols are also profound tools for expressing ideas of love in Urdu poetry. This is present in the works of poets such as Mirza Ghalib and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, where symbols such as a nightingale, a rose, or a river are used to evoke a particular emotion. Such symbols are often used to explore the nature of love and its effects on individuals; to convey the idea of longing and the power of attraction, or to depict the sorrow of a broken heart. In the works of Ghalib, symbols are used to explore the romantic notion of an impossible love, while in the works of Faiz, symbols are used to express a deep and passionate love of an ideal or a cause.

The Language of Love

The language of love is an important element of Urdu poetry; used as a tool to further explore and elaborate on the emotion’s nuances. Poets like Mirza Ghalib make use of couplets or of similes to create vivid imagery or to explore romantic notions. This can be seen in his poem ‘Nukta-e-Chin’ (Touch of Grace), which paints a picture of a beloved who is unattainable, and of the lover’s remorse for chasing an impossible dream. On the other hand, poets like Allama Iqbal use jaunty language and bold imagery, to express the idea of divine love and the power of dreams. Such language is often used to create bold and vivid scenes, and to express a deep and passionate sentiment.

Love and Sacrifice

The concept of love and sacrifice is another important aspect of Urdu poetry, and this is often explored through the notion of a greater ideal, or a cause that one is devoted to. This can be seen in the works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who often wrote of the lofty aims of achieving freedom and justice. Through his works, Faiz explores the idea of love for a movement or an ideal, and the sacrifices that one must make to move towards such changes. Similarly, poets like Zahir Dehlvi and Dagh Dehlvi also wrote about the importance of self-sacrifice and of courage in the face of adversity; of the power of standing firm in ones beliefs and of the larger implications that this can have on the world.

Love and Society

Love is also explored in Urdu poetry with regards to its place in society. Such poets as Mir Taqi Mir, have written of the societal expectations and pressures that are imposed upon relationships. Through his works, Mir speaks of the double standards that exist concerning romantic relationships between men and women, and of the expectations and obligations that are often seen as normal in such arrangements. He often speaks of the power relations within societal conventions, and of the ways in which these can often lead to oppressive systems of power and control. These themes are explored through the use of metaphors and symbols, to give readers an opportunity to reflect upon their own relationships and to gain insight into the complexities of love in a patriarchal society.

The Pain of Love

The pain of love is another common theme within Urdu poetry, and this is often explored through the notion of a broken heart or of longing for a beloved. Poets such as Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, make use of strong imagery and powerful metaphors to express the sorrow of a broken heart, and to reflect upon the pain of love as its a human condition. Qasmi speaks of the effects of such love and often uses symbols such as a river, to convey the idea of a never-ending love. Such poets provide readers with an opportunity to understand their own suffering, in the face of a broken heart, and to reflect upon the sorrows of life.

The Joys of Love

The joys of love is another important aspect of Urdu poetry, as poets often explore the initial delight of making a connection with another individual, and of the possibilities that a relationship can bring. Such works as ‘Salam-e-Tasawur Ko Ab Kuch To Kaho’ (Say Something About Imagining You In My Dreams) by Ahmed Faraz, explore the joy of being in love and the thrill of newfound happiness. Faraz speaks of the joy and excitement of finding a suitable companion and of the hope that can be gained in such situations. His work gives readers a chance to reflect upon the joys of a relationship, as well as to gain insight into the anticipation of a new love.

Love and Nature

The relationship between love and nature is another topic that is explored in Urdu poetry. Poets such as Mirza Ghalib, often make use of metaphors to illustrate the power that nature can hold over individuals, and to express the idea of a deep connection between two individuals. Ghalib speaks of the way in which love can be found in nature, and how it can be a source of comfort and solace. Similarly, poets like Faraz Ahmed, often talk of the joys and beauty of love in nature, of the idea of unity and interconnectedness, and of the peace that can be found in such a setting. Such poets provide readers with an opportunity to explore the beauty of love in nature and to gain insight into the joys of connecting with another person, with the natural world.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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