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English Poetry of Sindh– An Early Period     

Dr. Dur Muhammad Pathan

 

It is said that Indian was born under a romantic star. It learned to lisp in the manner of Byron and Scot in the verse of Derozio in his The Fakeer of Jungheera, a metrical tale.

Derozio (1807-31) was the father of Indian English poetry. He was half Indian, half Portuguese. But as a teacher of English at Hindu College, Calcutta, since 1928, he inspired a number of young Indians with a love of the English language and literature.

Henry Louis Vivian Derozio died young. He left some impressive poetry behind him like Chorus of Brahamins and song of the Hindustan Minstrel. His love of social reform and free thinking were taken up by some of his disciples.

As far as the contribution of Sindh towards English poetry is concerned, it possesses an amazing history. Though, Britishers were very much there in Sindh after the conquest of the country by Charles Napier, yet both rulers and subject were found reluctant to work for the English. The reason behind such a passive policy was obvious: The government was not too eager to open English schools mainly because of the expense. Whereas the Muslims were strongly against the study of English.

Initiation of teaching English and process of learning this foreign language started with patronage of individuals without any support of the government. The Karachi Free School, for instance, started functioning in 1846. This school was funded by Captain Preedy, the Collector of Karachi, who thought he would help spread Christian morality through it. Such efforts solidly convinced the Muslims that the foremost reason in the minds of the British authorities for opening of the English medium schools in Sindh was to convert them and their children to Christianity. However, the breakthrough was made by enlightened and progressive reformers like Hassan Ali Effandi, Syed Allahando Shah, Diyaram Gidumal and Sadhu Hirananad. They had to fight on two fronts: “their own compatriots who mistrusted English education, and the authorities who were aloof and arrogant”.

Consequent upon the introduction and expansion of the western education system with English language as medium of instructions, the local educated people, possessing command over language, started contributing towards English literature and language. English poetry of Sindh can be classified as under:

a. British Sindhian Poetry:- The poetry written by the British serving in Sindh on local themes.

b. Sindho-Anglian Poetry:- The poetry written by the Sindhis in English.

It is matter of fact that progress and development of English literature in Sindh has remained untouched topic for the researchers. Nothing has been said about the first English poet of Sindh and his/her poetry. I am of opinion that “A SONG OF THE 22nd REGIMENT” is the first ever English poetry, that took birth in Sindh. Nothing is known about the poet, perhaps he was witness to the fall of Meanee. This song appeared in “Sind Gazette” in its issue of 14th February 1886. This song has been dedicated to Napier, the invader of Sindh. Let us reproduce the song here:

 

A SONG OF THE 22nd Regt.

I

You may talk of Colin Campbell

Or of Outram for Rose;

(Not such duffers either in the Mutinee)

You may talk O’ Warren Hastin

But you breath you’ll all be wastin’

Charley Napier is the boy for me!

Oh! Charley Napier is my darling!

My darling! My darling!

You may talk o’ Warren Hastin’

But your breath you’ll all be wastin’

For it’s Charley is the boy for me!

 II

You may talk o’ Balachava,

Waterloo or Inkerman,

But I’ll trouble you a finer sight to see,

When across the sandy nullah

Swept the twenty-second colour,

Oh! Meanee was the day for me!

For Charley Napier is my darling!

My darling! My darling!

As we swep’ across the nullah,

Queen’s and Regimental colour,

Oh! It’s Charley was the boy for we!

 III

You may hear how Buonaparte,

Knocked the Russians into fits;

Or how Nelson smashed him up upon the sea!

But old Beloochee lion

To the Desert he sent fly in!

Sure it’s Napier is the Gineral for me.

Oh! Charley Napier is my darling!

My darling! My darling!

When the old Beloochee lion

To the Desert he sent fly in!

Sure it’s Napier was the Gineral for me!

 IV

Have you heard how Patrick Murphy

Lay a dyin’down in scinde?

He’s a Rifleman- but, hang it! from Tralee.

“Keep your heart up, Pat”, says Charley!

“Sure, sir Charles, I’m doing rar’ly,”

with the cholera, lads, as black as black could be

Oh! Charley Napier is my darling!

My darling! My darling!

“Keep your heart up, Pat”, says Charley,

“Sure, sir Charles, it’s like a coach wheel yet! Says he.

 V

Now Paddy’s time- expired,

Sure he’s taken his discharge,

And it’s likely, lads, you’ll find him in Tralee,

Diggin’ taties or such trifles.

Since he left the sixtieth Rifles.

Singin’ Charley is the boy for me!

Oh! Charley Napier is my darling!

My darling! My darling!

Diggin’ taties or such trifles

Since he left the sixtieth Rifles,

Singn’ Charley is the boy for me!

 VI

So whoever you may fancy,

Get your audience some where else,

Where the Russians or the Russians might agree;

But you’d better so I reckon,

Not come near the Twenty-secon’

For it’s Napier is the boy for we!

Oh! Charley Napier is my darling!

My darling! My darling!

So you’ld better, sir, I reckon,

Not come near the Twenty-secon’

For it’s Charley is the boy for we!

Mr. Batty was owner of a theatre company. He was not only a famous director, but a poet also.

Following prologue was recited by him on the occasion of HYDERABAD WEEK, celebrated on 22nd August, 1884:

Prologue

Dear Brethren

“Ladies and Gentlemen I mean – that’s right.

I come to beg of you a boon to-night.

A humble suppliant before you stands

To ask your alms, I mean, of course, your hands.

Look on our follies with indulgent eye-

Pardon our chuks and pass them smiling by-

And what more festive season could we seek,

Than this, the festive season of our Week;

When friends from far hold out in greeting glad,

The hand of fellowship to Hyderabad,

To-day the races did your hours beguile;

To-night we strive to win the ladies’ (s) mile.

Now if you‘ll take the programme form my lips,

I’ll try to give you all the strainghtes tips,

Point out the favourites and spot the winners,

And ask your sympathy for our beginners.

And first your veteran champion I must mention,

One who’s about to leave us on his pension,

And rest a far from Aryan Brethrens’ quarrels,

On beds of roses, mixed with well-earned laurels.

Among our favourites the first is he,

Our “confidence” “Begum” ara “Enderby”

Look down the programme and you’ll see

One who shall queen it as Hermione.

Fairer than marble – could the sculptor’s art

Perpetuate such grace, ‘O’t would win

each heart.

But when you hear her voice’s thrilling tone,

You’ll thank the Gods she is not turned to stone.

Next her fair cousin – she should

change her name-

For you’ll all say no faires ever came

Upon our stage ; her name is a misnomer

And no more like her, than I am like Homer.

The comes Eliza – who it will be seen

As servant maid demure and stately queen

Shall win you homage; and I’ll warn you here,

To wait and until you’ve seen her Guinevere

I our last tableau – our chef d’oeuvre to-night.

And mind you note the nun who bears the light.

Then there’s sweet fatima – you all will feel

‘S as keen, as polished, and as true as steel,

What man, I ask, that has a tender heart,

Would hesitate to take a women’s part ?

Then comes king Arthur, not we trust too late

For you to see him in his glorious (s) Tait.

To his skilled ta’te we owe our stage machinery,

But to a fairer hand our prettiest scenery.

And now I’ll say no more but just farewell,

And wish you all the blessings tongue can tell,

 Sweet rest to all of you, who hard a work are-

May all your pay be doubled by the sirkar,

And may the time soon come when the Rupee

May mean two shillings, if not nearly three!

Then would we wing our flight, a glad some band,

To spend our paisa in a happier land,

And; joyous, stand together, ere we go,

And chant a poem of the P. &. O.”

 

John Jacob set new trends in the administration that paved way for social and cultural change in the District Jacobabad. “The Jacobabad Week” later on known as “Horse Show” was an addition to this new change. How it was seen and experienced by the people? Let us peep into the poetry. It is being reproduced here from “The Sindh Gazette”, from its issue of 7th, January 18885.

 

The Jacobabad Week-Christmas, 1884

These “Weeks” are a weakness in Sindh,

so I learn

Hyderabad and Karachi each have their turn,

But the best tumasha they over have had

Was Christmas week this year at Jacobabad.

Ladies and gentlemen, servants and nags,

extra Lsts., horse-boxes, baggage and bags,

The railway officials were driven quite mad

By traffic all going towards Jacobabad.

Mem sahibs and sahibs,

spinsters and mashers

Doctors, civilians, gunners and slashers,

From Karachi, Quetta, Shikarpur, Hyderabad,

Had taken their tickets to Jacobabad.

To tell all that happened when we got there

Would take up more time than I have to spare,

So I’ll merely mention, and then I’ll be done,

The events which caused us such capitol fun.

There was racing and chasing

in tops and silk Jackets;

Badminton, billiards, tennis, polo and racquets;

There was pigsticking too, and,

I’m glad to report,

With a good show of spears

and good show of sport.

An “At-Home” was given by the gallant 1st Sindh Horse,

Another by the “2nd” as a matter of course;

A third-the 1st Belooch ball-made

up the number,

And valses and polkas deprived us of slumber.

Too long it would take me,

nor might it please,

To speak of the dinners, suppers, and teas;

But all visitors this year I’m sure would be glad

To spend Christmas week

next year at Jacobabad.

On 15th, September 1885, function was held in the Volunteer Hall of Kotri Station. It was for the benefit of the European School. This function was organized by amateur Musical Entertainment. On this occasion, following comic song was sung by Mr. Southern.

 

Far, Far, Away

For amusements Kotree once (…………..?)

Far, far, away.

Now grumbling, growling is the game

Sad, sad, to say.

But I’m glad this week we have done well,

Thanks much to FrazerNash, carnell,

Hip, hip, horray.

To-night in harmony revelling,

Last night in barn pies wallowing,

Far, far, away.

We’ll see a change on New Year’s Day.

Glad, glad to say.

To the S.P.D we’ll bid good-bye,

A lack a day!

Now may the sircar deal on the square,

And separate wheat from tare,

Blow chaff away.

Then good old hands need no despair,

But many faces most disappear,

Far, far, away.

If with Russia we go to war,

Far, far, away.

You’ll find “G” company to the fire

Far, far, away.

No doubt the time is about to come

For us to fight for hearth and home,

Far, far, away.

But from our duty we’ll never fly,

Th’o in tussling with the Beer we die,

Far, far, away.

Mr.  Hart Davies, ICS, Session Judge of Karachi got his retirement in 1897. He was given farewell party and entertainment by the citizens of Hyderabad, prior to his departure from Sindh. Sindhi poet Khushiram composed verses in Sindhi language. The following is a literal translation of his some verses:

 

Farewell to Hart Davies

Unrivalled is God, the Author of the Universe,

He created one beloved- it is Hart Davies.

May God save the Queen, who rules us now,

She sent a chosen person- it is Hart Davies

A fire among trees, a rose among flowers

A lofty cypress in garden- it is Hart Davies

A store-house of knowledge, profoundly clever,

Shining in fame- it is Hart Davies

Smiling and affable, sweet of tongue

Eager to promote education- it is Hart Davies.

When came to Sind as an Educational Inspector

Promoted the cause of Education-

it is Hart Davies

Those backward in Education, became clever,

They became poets- it is Hart Davies

They wrote new books and became scholars,

He gave them handsome rewards-

it is Hart Davies.

All work bore fruit, indeed, not lost in vain,

Pupils became proficient in arts-

it is Hart Davies

An Assistant Commissioner first,

then the Manager,

He filled high offices- it is Hart Davies.

As vazir he gave noble advice,

Was esteemed by his superior,

it is Hart Davies.

Freed Zamindars from debts,

bettered their condition,

His fame was resounded- it is Hart Davies.

As Session Judge and

Judge of the Sadar Court,

Worthy and amiable- it is Hart Davies.

Typical in honesty, impartial in Justice,

In these unmatched- it is Hart Davies.

      In the same year, there appeared a ballad in the Sindh Gazzette. Nothing is known about the poet. However, poetry is reproduced here:

 

A Bicycle Ballad

A fool there was and he bought a wheel

(Even as you and I)

Some leather and rubber and a hunk of steel

(We know how sore in a week he’d feel)

But the fool only thought of the miles he’d reel

(Even as you and I)

Oh! The trouble he spent,

and how double he bent!

(The fool with his lead pipe wheel)

For the dealer had seemed of honest intent

And had told him ‘t was cheaper

to buy than rent.

But that was n’t at all what the dealer meant

(The dealer that sold the weal).

For the wheels weren’t round,

and tubes weren’t sound

(The wheal lies there on the heap);

And the tyres were made of paper, he found

While the bearings were cast-iron

balls under ground.

And he’d sell the whole thing

for nothing a pound

(The wheel that he got so cheap)

 

The material/data/information can be provided on request.

 

© Fayaz Sindhi 2010