World Poetry Day: Ever wonder what poets of Lucknow would look like today? AI answers!

World Poetry Day: Ever wonder what poets of Lucknow would look like today? AI answers!

Lucknow, once the fulcrum of Urdu poetry, has birthed innumerable eminent poets and writers.

The City of Nawabs is known for its thriving culinary heritage, elegant arts and crafts, embedded deep into its roots and a flourishing thespian culture. Additionally, the city has embraced various trends, over the past years, with many leaving a mark or missing it! However, Lucknow's legion of poets have remained evergreen in the pages of history.

So on this World Poetry Day, we dive into the sands of time and talk about some prolific writers and poets of Lucknow. But, we do it with a twist. Utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our favour, we find how they would've looked like if they were alive today! So enjoy these visual treats of eminent names in the field while we also tell you a bit about them.

Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810)

पत्ता पत्ता बूटा बूटा हाल हमारा जाने है

जाने न जाने गुल ही न जाने बाग़ तो सारा जाने है

That's right. The 90s song has been adapted from a sher composed by Mir Muhammad Taqi, or famously known as Mir Taqi Mir. He was an Urdu poet of the yore, flourishing at the time of the Mughals in 18th century. Mir spent his latter part of life in Lucknow, at the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah.

Now... imagine him chilling and strolling through Gomti Riverfront in 2024! What a wonder AI can be, right?

One of the stalwarts of Urdu poetry, Mir has often been considered as one of the three pillars of Urdu poetry, besides Mirza Ghalib and Allama Muhammad Iqbal. He has also been referred to as 'khuda-i-sukhan' (the god of poetry).

Mir composed soulful and poignant shayari and ghazals. So much so that Ghalib once wrote of him, “Reekhta ke tumhi ustaad nahi ho Ghalib, kehte hain agle zamane me koi Mir bhi tha."

World Poetry Day: Ever wonder what poets of Lucknow would look like today? AI answers!
Knocksense Unwind | From Meer Taqi Meer to Majaz, Lucknow has been home to the finest of Urdu poets

Mir Anees (1800-1874)

रंग उड़ते हैं वो रंगीन हैं इबारत मेरी
शोर जिसका है वो दरिया है तबियत मेरी
उमर गुज़री है इसी दश्त की स'इयाही में 'एन
पांचवी पुष्टि है शब्बीर की मदद में।'

Mir Babar Ali Anees, aka Mir Anees or renowned by his penname Anees, wrote rich poetry in Urdu. He frequented Persian, Urdu, Arabic and even Sanskrit words in his writings. Although born in Faizabad, Anees polished his art under the guidance of Imam Bakhsh Nasikh in Lucknow and lived in Old Lucknow in the latter part of his life.

Now, picture if he were alive today and shopping during Diwali from the lit-up market of Aminabad!

Famous for his prolonged and unique Marsias, he was a prominent name in the art of creating Mersia - a form of religious poetry. Anees was a fifth-generation poet of his family and also wrote salams, elegies, nauhas and quatrains.

Amir Meenai (1829-1900)

सरकती जाए है रुख़ से नक़ाब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता

निकलता आ रहा है आफ़्ताब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता

जवाँ होने लगे जब वो तो हम से कर लिया पर्दा

हया यक-लख़्त आई और शबाब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता

शब-ए-फ़ुर्क़त का जागा हूँ फ़रिश्तो अब तो सोने दो

कभी फ़ुर्सत में कर लेना हिसाब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता

सवाल-ए-वस्ल पर उन को अदू का ख़ौफ़ है इतना

दबे होंटों से देते हैं जवाब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता

वो बेदर्दी से सर काटें 'अमीर' और मैं कहूँ उन से

हुज़ूर आहिस्ता आहिस्ता जनाब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता

The 19th century Urdu poet Amir Meenai was appointed at the royal court of Awadh in the judiciary. He held high positions in the court in Lucknow and then in Rampur. Here, he was also the head of a library.

Now, if you think he'd look like Keanu Reeves today, we agree!

Meenai wrote a detailed, multi-volume Urdu dictionary named 'Ameer-ul-Lughaat' and gained momentous literary reputation. With his writings in Urdu, Persian and Arabic, the poet was extolled for his ghazals, especially in the na`at genre. Meenai was highly regarded by his contemporary poets Ghalib, Daagh Dehalvi, among others.

Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar (1847-1903)

झलका झलका सपीद-ए-सुब्ह

झलका झलका सपीद-ए-सुब्ह

तारे छुपते हैं झिलमिला कर

है नूर सा जल्वा-गर फ़लक पर

भीनी भीनी महक गुलों की

और नग़्मा-ज़नी वो बुलबुलों की

वक़्त-ए-सहरा और तंग हुआ है

बे-मय सब किरकिरा मज़ा है

इक चुल्लू के देने में ये तकरार

उठो जागो सहर हुई यार

दरिया की तरफ़ चले नहाने

ग़ट परियों के ज़नान-ख़ाने

मुर्ग़ान-ए-चमन ये नुक्ता-रानी

चूँ ब्रहमनान ये बेद-ख़्वानी

नौबत-ए-रंगत जमुना रही है

शहनशा-ए-मज़ा दिखा रही है

An Urdu novelist, columnist and editor, Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar belonged to a Kashmiri Brahmin family that settled in Lucknow. A Canning College (LU)-student, Sarshar went from being a school teacher to a newspaper editor (of Avadh Akhbar).

If he were alive today as a dynamic teacher and editor, he'd pretty much appear like this. Agreed?

One of his most praised works is 'Fasana-e-Azad' (The Tale of Azad) - a serialised novel. He also translated the Spanish epic 'Don Quixote' in the name of 'Khuda-e-Foujdar'.

Safi Lakhnavi (1862-1950)

ग़ज़ल उस ने छेड़ी मुझे साज़ देना

ज़रा उम्र-ए-रफ़्ता को आवाज़ देना

Safi Lakhnavi, or Syed Ali Naqi Zaidi, was yet again a celebrated Urdu poet. Born in Lucknow, Safi pursued his education at Canning Collegiate and started composing poetry at the age of 13.

AI shows us what he would've looked like in his youth in the modern day!

A people's poet, Safi's creations were adorned by sweet, simple language and was of the reformist nature. He was given the title of 'Lassan-ul-Qaum', which translates to 'outstanding spokesman of the people'.

Some of the poet's note-worthy works include 'Aghosh-i-Madar', 'Diwan-i-Safi', among others. Many people don't know this but the craft Safi used in his works is, till date, taught in Urdu programmes at colleges!

Bhagwati Charan Verma (1903-1981)

“व्यक्तित्व की उत्कृष्टता किसी भी बात को काटने में नहीं होती, उसे सिद्ध करने में होती है; बिगाड़ने में नहीं होती, बनाने में होती है।”

Bhagwati Charan Verma

Bhagwati Charan Verma, a celebrated Hindi author, wrote numerous novels, with his work 'Chitralekha' (1934) being converted into successful Bollywood films in his lifetime. In fact, two of his novels were transformed into films.

We're not sure if you could imagine the Godfather of 'Chitralekha' strolling in a shopping mall so here you go!

After receiving early education from his birthplace Safipur, Verma pursued his higher education from Allahabad University. He also worked as a Hindi advisor at Lucknow's All India Radio and inculcated a special connection to the city. His work 'Do Banke' depicts the city's culture in various hues.

The seminal writer was not only awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for his epic or five-part novel, 'Bhoole Bisre Chitra', but also went on to receive the Padma Bhushan in 1971.

Majaz Lakhnawi (1911-1955)

मैं आहें भर नहीं सकता कि नग़्मे गा नहीं सकता

सकूँ लेकिन मिरे दिल को मयस्सर आ नहीं सकता

कोई नग़्मे तो क्या अब मुझ से मेरा साज़ भी ले ले

जो गाना चाहता हूँ आह वो मैं गा नहीं सकता

Now, picture the exemplary poet Majaz Lakhnawi — the one who composed the beautiful verse above in the early 1900s — performing these lines today.

Majaz was often seen in the lanes of Lalbagh, with Hazratganj's Indian Coffee House being his go-to place! Imagine him all decked up for Eid! Wouldn't a guitar suit him? No wonder he garnered a huge fan-base among women in his own time.

Personifying romanticism in the city, Asrar-ul-Haq or Majaz was known for his revolutionary poetry and for creating soul-stirring Urdu nazms and ghazals. Not many people know that he was also Bollywood writer and poet Javed Akhtar's maternal uncle.

World Poetry Day: Ever wonder what poets of Lucknow would look like today? AI answers!
Poet of 'gulaab' and 'inquilaab': Tracing the great Majaz Lakhnawi's life & his roots to Lucknow

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