‘Spring’ has been an inspiration for poets of all languages and backgrounds, but its treatment in Urdu poetry is quite peculiar and interesting.

Urdu poetry is highly metaphoric. Nightingale (bulbul) represents a lover (aashiq), while the beloved (mashooq) is a flower (gul). The heart (dil) encompasses tenderness and impatience, while the liver (jigar) stands for pain and perseverance. The collar of a shirt (garebaan) represents dignity, which sadly always ends up getting torn in the case of lovers (ushaaq). The lover and the beloved themselves are symbolic references, that extend to anyone who sincerely seeks a person or a purpose.

Spring is a very special time in Urdu poetry. While the rest of the world celebrates the arrival of color and fragrance, great melancholy descends over the Urdu lover. The beauty of Spring kindles a longing to be with the lost beloved. Red flowers are particularly notorious, because they cause the lover’s heart to bleed (literally!).

I created a collection of Urdu poetry on this theme, and made an attempt at translation. Translation of poetry from its original language is like looking at the shadow of fire, or the reflection of moon in water. But it’s still something, which is of course better than nothing.