‘A riveting resurrection of the city of poets, the city of history, Saif Mahmood’s learned and evocative book takes us to the heart of Delhi’s romance with Urdu verse and aesthetics.’—Namita Gokhale
Urdu poetry rules the cultural and emotional landscape of India—especially northern India and much of the Deccan—and of Pakistan. And it was in the great, ancient city of Delhi that Urdu grew to become one of the world’s most beautiful languages. Through the 18th and 19th centuries, while the Mughal Empire was in decline, Delhi became the capital of a parallel kingdom—the kingdom of Urdu poetry—producing some of the greatest, most popular poets of all time. They wrote about the pleasure and pain of love, about the splendour of God and the villainy of preachers, about the seductions of wine, and about Delhi, their beloved home. This treasure of a book documents the life and work of the finest classical Urdu poets: Sauda, Dard, Mir, Ghalib, Momin, Zafar, Zauq and Daagh. Through their biographies and poetry—including their best-known ghazals—it also paints a compelling portrait of Mughal Delhi. This is a book for anyone who has ever been touched by Urdu or Delhi, by poetry or romance.