Internalizing Faiz Ahmad Faiz: Problematic of Impact and Response
1. Internalization: Two Paradigms
Let me begin by posing some interrelated questions concerning internalization. Let me ask, to lay the ground, as to what is internalization, what does it signify, how does it work, what does it entail, how does it matter, and what does it offer in a limited or a broader context?
Let me try and offer some interrelated answers to the questions posed above. Internalization is an act of personalizing, or subjectivizing a phenomenon or a condition. It signifies the acquisition of a state of being and a way of enrichment, and works through discovering kindred kinds, both consciously and unconsciously. It entails the cultivation of a liberal attitude that helps discover and imbibe ideal figures or values, and finally, it matters and contributes towards the attainment of a state of mind that serves as a basic condition for comprehensive human development. Precisely, it is a way of interiorizing a condition by acquiring and incorporating chosen marks and icons. At a more intricate level, it is a psychological process of inclusive growth which involves a critical method of rejecting and selecting modes and motifs to develop an inclusive identity.
I would like to put forward a thesis that in the literary context, the process of internalization works at two different levels which may be identified as the primary and secondary levels of internalization. The primary level of internalization is rather natural, unilateral, and home-bound. At this level, informed people from a cultural site operate within the very confines of their own site and respond to their authors and texts as naturally as they do to their cultural logos. As a literary capital accumulated over long periods of time becomes a part and parcel of their collective consciousness, it gets interiorized or internalized in the normal course of their personal development. In this process of growth, people develop a natural affinity with their authors and texts for which no conscious effort at internalization is required to be made. This implies that a Shakespeare, for example, is as easily and naturally internalized by an English reader, as a Ghalib is by an Urdu reader. As such, this primary level of internalization relates with the framework of a given literary tradition where words, images, metaphors, symbols, and myths—independently or cumulatively—constitute integral part(s) of the common literary imagination of a people.
As opposed to the primary type, the secondary type of internalization is bilateral or even multilateral, and makes serious demands upon the readers belonging to a different cultural site. It concerns an alien context where people from one cultural domain are required to develop a level of familiarity with a different set of emblems, values, linguistic habits, literary forms and styles, belonging to another cultural domain. As the texts and authors are unfamiliar in the new cultural site, and as the literary manners and motifs are alien, a conscious effort is required to be made to appreciate the value of those literary formations. Only after those formations strike the imagination of this new set of readers, the question of their acceptance, and subsequent internalization, may arise. It implies, therefore, that an English reader will have to make a deliberate attempt at internalizing a Ghalib, for example, as an Urdu reader would have to do in the case of a Shakespeare. It would, thus, appear that while internalization is a natural, rather a biological process, in the first case, it is a deliberate and a demanding one in the other. However, both the processes of internalization help the people grow both unilaterally and multilaterally, and they contribute towards the comprehensive development of literary readership.
More important than the primary type of internalization, however, is the secondary type where authors and texts find space in the literary imagination of the other people characterized by different sets of socio-cultural identifiers. It is in the secondary domain of internalization that a reader sets out to negotiate with a kind of text which is different in its essential make up, compared with the text in his own language. This thesis may well be examined, for example, in the context of the English readership and its engagement with the literatures of India. With reference to the Indian context, it may be justifiably posited that the English readers have been picking on the classical Indian authors and texts, rather traditionally, ever since the eighth decade of the eighteenth century. This engagement with India, and the Indian religious and secular literatures, continued through the next two centuries, which resulted in imparting a stereotypical identity both to India and its literatures. This choice of reading the Indian literatures was not so much for the purpose of internalizing Indian literatures, as it was for discovering the mystique of India, and for incorporating India in the larger framework of the world literature for academic reasons. This approach underwent a change, however, in the later part of the twentieth century with the postcolonial need for a more catholic exploration of the new areas of writing. It also underlined, in the process, the larger relevance of these literatures in the liberal spaces of the modern world, as also the significance of the new sensibility that these literatures represented. Today, the growing acceptance of Indian literatures in the English speaking world may be read as a due acknowledgment of the contemporary need to afford space to authors and literatures of new affiliations from the major literary sites of the world, more especially the erstwhile colonies. These new authors and literatures are now placed face-to-face with those from the typical English stock, leading to the birth of a new literary condition. With the breaking up of the long-preserved citadels of the British literary culture, a different scenario is emerging with respectable space for literary expressions representing complex social configurations, minority discourse, political resistance, and stylistic variations. The modern literary horizon is, thus, remarkably widening with the dissemination of literatures from other languages, which has been possible largely because of the respectable translations of these literatures in the English language. This has also happened in the case of Urdu literature which has, so far, been supposed to be a curious and romantic language even in its homeland. No longer being a curio of a language and literature, select Urdu texts are now finding their new habitats in English literary capitals, far beyond the confines of India and Pakistan.
By extending the two paradigms of primary and secondary internalization, that is, one within a given literary culture, and another beyond it, we may find a way to understand and contextualize, one of the most popular Urdu poets—Faiz Ahmed Faiz—in a fresh and larger perspective. To make my point, I may posit that Faiz stands already internalized at the primary level among those who write and speak the language Faiz himself spoke and wrote in. At this level of internalization, he has already become a part of the cultural heritage of Urdu and its related linguistic clusters. What distinguishes Faiz further is that he stands internalized not only in various linguistic and literary circles of India and Pakistan but also among the common people who see their aspirations reflected in him and their tones of voice echoed in his rhythmic renditions. By this logic, Faiz is not only a poet but a popular icon who has been read, researched, sung, and celebrated more than any other modern Urdu poet, and turned into a myth in his own lifetime. This process of internalization in the case of Faiz relates, in fact, with a larger literary phenomenon of impact and response. As one of the canonical figures in modern Urdu poetry, Faiz made a remarkable impact on the common man, the literary reader, the political establishment, and the literary canon. As such, he has been received much more liberally than any other literary figure in and outside his own geographical and literary boundaries. While his reception in the Indian subcontinent for his multiple merits is one aspect of his worth, his reception in the larger English reading circles is yet another facet of his literary and political significance. The following section makes an effort to examine how he is remarkably relevant to a larger world, and how he may find his appeal among the English readers in an age characteristically marked by increasing political upheavals and continuous social flux, irrespective of place and the modes of governance.
2. Faiz and the English Reader
Of the several collections of English translations, exclusively devoted to Faiz, I would like to examine only three done by V. G. Kiernan, Naomi Lazard, and Agha Shahid Ali. They help me take my argument further regarding how this poet may possibly be internalized by a readership completely unaware of his poetry and poetics, his socio-political baggage, and his larger relevance in the contemporary world. Translating Faiz has not only been a curious literary engagement for these translators; it has rather been a matter of making a space for a virile voice that deserves to be heard like those of Pablo Neruda, Nazim Hikmet, and Mahmoud Darwesh in the complex socio-political scenario of the modern world.
Kiernan, Lazard, and Ali, the three major translators of Faiz, offer substantial material for us to study as to how this poet sounds and appeals in the English language, and whether their translations may possibly help those readers internalize Faiz who do not know either the Urdu language, or its literary baggage. Let us examine their intentions behind translating this poet, their commonalities and differences, and finally, their end products that they handed over to the readers in the English language. All three of them come from three different backgrounds: Kiernan is a historian of British origin known for his Marxist readings of history, his works on imperialism, Shakespeare, and his translations of Iqbal and Faiz; Lazard is a poet of American origin whose poems have appeared in major American journals apart from her own collections; and Ali who identified himself as a Kashmiri- Indian-American, is an English poet, an American academic, and a multicultural being. English was the medium of expression for all of them, and all of them took up Faiz as a major project with their individual aesthetic principles in place. They respected Faiz for his world view and his poetry, and they evidently wanted him to transcend his language and location. All of them had personal access to Faiz, and through him to his individual poems, as none of them knew the language that Faiz wrote in. Lazard and Ali, being poets, produced their versions of Faiz quite differently from the one that Kiernan produced. Kiernan identified with Faiz on ideological level and approached him to validate his own way of looking at history and human predicament; Ali identified with him on cultural level and wished to find a space for him in a larger world that knew little, or sometimes even nothing, of the eastern literary figures deserving attention; and Lazard saw in him a poet who would bring a new way of apprehending the broader realities of life to the American readership. The three ways of approaching Faiz are, in fact, the three possible efforts to help an alien reader internalize this poet whose impact on the Urdu readership had been rather phenomenal ever since the publications of his first collection of poems, Naqsh-e-Faryadi in 1941, and who had enough potential to attract the English reader for all his poetic and socio-political worth.
While choosing to translate Faiz way back in 1945, putting his work in print in 1958, and making further revisions in 1971, V. G. Kiernan did not only make a significant attempt at bringing him to serious readership in the English language, he actually ushered what may be called a Faiz translation industry. Kiernan’s Poems by Faiz is a pioneering work in many respects. He provides the Urdu text, along with its English transliteration, and the literal prose renderings before he offers his translation. He also supplements his translations with brief notes to the poems as required. As a translator his intentions are clearly laid out as he wished to cater to a larger readership—the Western students of the Urdu language, the East Pakistanis, and the Indians who might like to read Urdu literature of West Pakistan.  Kiernan’s is the first serious attempt at translating Faiz with a well laid out scheme and methodology. While his ‘Preface’ lays out the principles of translation and makes comments on the Urdu text and the transliteration, his detailed ‘Introduction’ offers observations on Faiz, his life and times, historical context, and literary traditions, which help us contextualize him in a larger framework of time and place. Kiernan’s work may be marked as an academic exercise that follows a proper methodology in order to present a poet before a new readership that may be unaware of the language in which the poems were originally written. By selecting poems from different anthologies in order of their appearance, he creates a sense of the poet’s development in terms of themes and style. He approaches Faiz first by paraphrasing the poems and then rendering them into verse translations. Each poem is faithfully and diligently rendered, with notes wherever required. He balances the English linguistic devices and bridges the hiatus between two different cultural conditions. Even though Kiernan has a certain group of readership in mind, his work caters more liberally to anyone who may like to approach Faiz in the English language. In this respect, Kiernan is quite objective and neutral in reading and rendering Faiz, and his work eminently qualifies for a larger readership.
Naomi Lazard’s bilingual edition entitled The True Subject, is a fine example of one poet translating another poet. As one who had no access to the source language, Lazard’s engagement with the poetry of Faiz is one of an extremely demanding kind which is duly met in her association with Faiz who helped her apprehend the poems by offering the literal translations of his poems to her. Lazard identifies her problems in precise terms which relate with appreciating the role and nature of a particular word or a phrase, an image or a metaphor. She is also conscious of the problems that arise while negotiating with cultural differences and the subsequent loss of meaning that might occur if she failed to strike a proper negotiation. She is further concerned about rightly appreciating the grammatical constructs, charging her diction, identifying her images, strengthening her verbs, discounting adverbs and adjectives, and finding a way to re-create a poem in English with the same spirit, feeling, tone, and music which Faiz might possibly have in mind. Her other major problems relate with discovering an active rather than a passive and elusive way of expression, and evolving a distinct form for the poem.
Lazard addresses her problems by discovering a methodology of her own. She chooses to render many poems exactly as they were in words, images, and form in the source language, while in some others she chooses to be creative and liberal. She seems to confirm a truism rather insistently that translating a word for a word, or an image for an image, would make little sense to the English readership. She, thus, imbibes the spirit of the source text and tries to recast it in a way that may suit the genius of the English language and the English reader. Lazard’s is an act of striking a delicate balance between a text that exists in the source language and the one that might configure through the process of translational negotiation in the target language. As such, she prefers to interpret the poem on her own by finding her own image or cultural identifier to replace the ones executed by Faiz. She even discovers her own stanza pattern and her own titles which she considers to be more communicative and relevant to the English reader. She even dispenses with many of the words used in the source text and re-constitutes a poem either fully or partially for her readers. In spite of following such a revisionist methodology, Lazard does not impair the cumulative impact of the poem in terms of content and the essential style of the poet. She aims at the organic growth of her poem in translation with its own individual structure and poetics. Lazard’s poems are for the American readership translated with an intention to help them access and internalize Faiz. Her translations are a poet’s translations, a way of complementing a fellow poet, and to own him for oneself, as for one’s own people. Her essential aim was to re-create a poetic text, plausible in English both as a poem, and as a work of translation.
Agha Shahid Ali’s The Rebel’s Silhouette is a remarkable example of his passionate engagement with Faiz. He had an impelling and significant cultural reason to translate Faiz. He took it as ‘a terrible insult to a very significant element’ of his culture that Faiz should not be known to the western readership even though Nazim Hikmet and Pablo Neruda enjoyed their space there. Translating Faiz was thus an act of cultural recuperation for Ali which might justifiably lead the English readers to internalize Faiz. His decision to translate Faiz led him, first, to identify the problems he might have to face in engaging with this poet, and in meeting his professed intention of translating him. One of his major concerns related with how he would be able to negotiate with the English language to embody a new aesthetic order. The problem of his own bilingual and bicultural obligations and absorbing the music of the original text also posed another set of problems to him.
Identifying the issues in translating Faiz was, however, easier for Ali than finding a method to resolve them. He internalized Faiz for himself in an unusual way, that is, not by reading him but by listening to his poems in the voice of Begum Akhter, the iconic singer of India. Ali’s sharp auditory imagination gave him a feel of the Faiz poem and its internal rhythm which he apprehended as an orchestration of a culture. The image and the music proved, in fact, to be the two essential elements that brought Ali in tune with Faiz. Just as the raga and the poem coalesce in Begum Akhter, the image and the music blend in Ali and they help him re-create Faiz in the English language. Ali made an attempt to re-compose a Faiz poem without any irritable reaching after the theory of translation, as he saw each poem as an independent unit of expression. Translating Faiz has been, for him, a process of discovering his other self, a process in which his potential to belong and to transcend, to adhere and to disengage is at test again and again, and it is ultimately the poet, rather than the translator, in Ali who claims the other half.
Ali’s title, The Rebel’s Silhouette, however, calls for some close scrutiny. His calling Faiz a ‘rebel’ does not seem quite convincing. His explanation that Faiz is a rebel because he defies man-made courts and considers man to be only a plaintiff in the courts of the universe, does not really hold good. He is, on his own admission, a ‘plaintiff’ and a plaintiff like him would hardly ever choose to be a rebel. Faiz does not raise loud slogans; he only utters soft notes of expostulation and is impelled by his spirit of liberation. His Marxist view of history, his association with Progressive Writers Movement, Afro-Asian Writers Association, his exiles and imprisonments—his whole life—so to say, do not make him a rebel just as W.B. Yeats is not a rebel in spite of all his commitment to the Irish cause. Ali’s own choice of poems from the collections of Faiz in a chronological order expresses the innate sensibility of Faiz which is not that of a rebel but of a liberator. Far from being a rebel, Faiz was more of an explorer, a romantic, with an acute sensuous and metaphoric apprehension. He has accepted, in particular, the impact of Hafiz, Sauda and Iqbal and evolved a way different from what Ali considered to be the way of a rebel. He imparted a new meaning to the concept of the Orient and his poetry is alive with a tone and tenor which is at once soft yet brave.
While attempting to translate the ghazals of Faiz, Ali acknowledged the impossibility of doing it but did not consider it as an excuse to spare the effort. An attempt at translating the Urdu ghazal into English, or any other European language for that matter, is an attempt at initiating the curious reader into an alien zone of strange mysteries and rare delights. The ghazal, in fact, does not merely reflect the varied facets of a culture; it has its own culture as well which is decidedly rich. It has, moreover, no model either in English or any of the European languages and it is, therefore, difficult for the translator to help the reader comprehend this form and its delicate nuances. Ali did not adhere to the couplet form and the rhyme scheme but took each couplet as a unit and enlarged it into a stanza consisting of several lines. As Ali’s translations are not for the purist, as he tells us in his ‘Preface’, his method of translating the ghazal may not be acceptable easily. But more important than this is whether Ali has succeeded in communicating the idea, the mood, and the rhythm so very special to ghazal or not. Even though Ali did not succeed here; he chose to reconcile by finding a mode of re-incarnating the ghazal in a new form. Ali turned each couplet into a stanza, and however well the stanzas might read, they do not create any impression of the source text for any of its qualities.
Considering all the three translations, one may conclude that the works of Lazrd and Ali closely complement each other and offer many points of comparison and contrast. Both approach Faiz in their individual ways as poets, both re-compose the experience of the original poem and its aesthetic design, yet they create different impacts. Lazard, in order to compensate for her ignorance of the Urdu language, pays greater attention to the meaning and architectonics of the poem, while Ali who can see the poem as an image, hear it as music, and identify with the essential experience, approaches it with obvious advantages. In spite of following their own methodologies, both of them act like natural translators, and both offer inspired translations. Considering some of the common poems they have chosen to translate, one may notice their personal choice of phrases, their interpretations, additions, deletions, oddities, and also their remarkable finesse in translating Faiz. The three works by Kiernan, Lazard and Ali are capable enough to take Faiz beyond the confines of the Indian subcontinent and seek space for him in a language and culture so far characterized by unilateral play of power. This culture of the so-called centre, which reiterated the personal as universal, is now finding its ways to apprehend the new realities of life in this postcolonial world. It is in this context that poets and writers like Faiz may help the erstwhile centre to re-define the human condition in a broader context.
3. An Argument Concerning Impact and Response
The problematic of impact and response relates directly with the question of power that a culture embodies in its three major constituents—the people, their history, and their language. It is the language, and in turn, the literature written in a language, that qualifies a people and their culture for all their worth. As such, power resides in words that join together to create a text, and the text, subsequently, exercises that power on the readers who read that text. The stronger of the cultures overpower the weaker and condition their responses till new centers of power emerge to discover a new language and to create a new text. As such, the creation of the new text is as much a reconfiguration of a new culture, as it is of history.
The new postcolonial condition has projected questions that relate with cultural identity which, in turn, concern the construction of the new text and the new readership. It also puts forward the question of new canonical formations and of extending the boundaries of the text by incorporating the lesser known languages and their literatures, and filling them with new power of difference. As the hegemony of given languages and literatures have been largely questioned, more than one language from more than one site have come together to constitute a confederacy of cultures and cultural productions. Remarkably enough, this richly unambiguous confederacy works through translations from a variety of languages into English, a language which stays in place but not as the carrier of the earlier unilateral power but as one of new multilateral power structures of cultures, peoples, histories, and languages.
It is this phenomenon that makes the case of a poet like Faiz relevant to us as he richly qualifies to reach out to a larger audience and be a part of their consciousness through the English language. The translations of Faiz discussed above posit him with a new power that is different from the one he had in the Urdu language. While the Urdu reader could internalize him as a part of his primary response to the poet, the English reader would do so but only consciously and with concerted effort. This difference would lie in acclimatizing and interiorizing a condition of being different from the one the English reader hails from. Although demanding in its nature, this mode of internalization would impart certain richness to this reader’s intellectual make-up.
With the translations like those discussed above, Faiz may now be in a position to communicate his socio-political aspirations with a curious complex of readership representing a different culture, history, and language. The power that Faiz, and others like him, may exercise would re-work the problematic of impact and response in a fresh perspective. It is the text of power that has the capacity to create an impact and invoke responses. It could be a poet like Faiz, in this context, who could create that impact on the English readership and cause response that might contribute towards the making of a new text, the new reader, and the new canon.
To put the above argument in a perspective, let it be asserted that since the modern English reader is no longer the one confined to the purist literary heritage in the English language, he could be a willing participant towards discovering new structures of power. As he may caste aside his long preserved insularity, he may enrich himself by reading across a variety of literary texts from diverse non-western languages, made available in English translation. As he may negotiate with new literary cultures and cultural codes, he may acquire fresh apprehensions of time, place, form, and meaning. This also goes to make a significant point that a postcolonial text does not exist unilaterally today, nor is this text self-regulatory, or even self-determining. As the world around keeps negotiating with new socio-political matrix, a text can longer be autonomous, and claim a canon in isolation. Even otherwise, texts hark back and forth in time and space as they connect with other texts in a larger process of enriching a tradition. It is in this process of striking new familiarities that an author from one language finds a space with the readers in another language, as Faiz may do with remarkable dividends to himself and to his readers.
It takes me to posit, finally, that the issue of approaching and internalizing a text from a different socio-cultural and linguistic domain has acquired greater proportions in our times than it did in the past. With the obliteration of boundaries and the issues of postcolonial identities and histories assuming greater proportions, a modern literary text, like that of Faiz, may assume greater power of relevance and appeal than the earlier hegemonic texts representing colonialist power structures. This new text may now connect multilaterally with languages and cultures at a broader level. This text may acquire its place in a larger canonical formation defying distinctions among supposedly outlandish languages and cultures. What accounts for this great shift in the domains of writing and reception in our age is the emergence of a cultural condition that effaces rigid structures of literary form and value and creates, instead, a respectable space for catholic tendencies, resulting in larger assimilation of alternative modes of perception and expression of reality.
 Some of these include V. G. Kiernan, Poems by Faiz (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971; Daud Kamal, Selected Poems of Faiz (Karachi: Pakistan Publishing House, 1984); Faiz A. Faiz: The Living World (Tunis: Lotus Books, 1987); Mouin and Alex la Guma, A Black Rainbow Over My Homeland, a commemorative volume on Faiz Ahmed Faiz, (New Delhi: Afro-Asian Writers’ Association, n.d.); Naomi Lazard, The True Subject (Princeton University Press, 1989); Agha Shahid Ali, The Rebel’s Silhouette (Deli: OUP, 1992), Shiv K. Kumar, Selected Poems (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1995); Sarwat Rahman, Hundred Poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz (New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, Hind Pocket Books, 2002, 2009); Salima Hashmi and Shoaib Hashmi, A Song for This Day: Fifty Two Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Karachi: Sang-e Meel Publications, 2009)
 See “Foreword,’ Poems by Faiz (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971. Kiernan writes, ‘This volume is an expansion of a set of verse translations from Faiz which were begun in a forest rest-house on the banks of Woolar Lake in Kashmir in the summer of 1945, continued at intervals over the next dozen years, and published in 1958 in Delhi (later reprinted at Lahore). These translations have now been revised throughout, and also brought into line with the latest editions of the originals…, p. 9
 See ‘Foreword, Poems by Faiz, p. 9.
 See ‘Translating Faiz,’ The True Subject, p. xi-xviii. Lazard speaks at length about the questions that engaged her attention and how she engaged herself with the poetry of Faiz and its translation in the English language. She writes, ‘From the beginning this work of translation has been a process of discovery for me. I have learned what my own language can do and cannot do. I have also learned that I have infinite patience for translation, the same patience I have for my own poems. I have learned that it doesn’t matter how long it takes, how many transformations a poem must be brought through, until the English version works in the same way that a I have written myself works. It must be faithful to the meaning Faiz has given it. It must move in its own spirit, with the same feeling and tone. It must have the ame music, the ame direction,, and, above all, it must mean the same thing in English that it means in Urdu’. p. xii.
 Lazard acknowledges the significance of Faiz as one of ‘the few great poets whose stance and influence have altered the consciousness of the world’. Ibid., p. xi.
 ‘The Rebel’s Silhouettee: Translating Faiz Ahmed Faiz,’ paper presented at the workshop onn ‘Language, Culture and Translation’, India International Centre, New Delhi, 31 October-1 November, 1992, p. 3.
 Ali wrote, ‘My particular problem was how to ‘pretend’ that I was not burdened by a dual loyalty, to ignore that I was negotiating the demands of two cultures, both of which I felt in my bones that I was responding to the sounds of two languages simultaneously… I finally attacked the poem with no theoretical inhibition, letting each dictate its own agenda,. I could always hear the music of the original, and that has been fruitful….’ Ibid., p. 8-9.
 See “These Matters of Desire” The Sunday Times of India Review, New Delhi, 22 March, 1992. Ali speaks at length how he began to internalize Faiz with Begum Akhter’s magical voice and how his two loyalties to Urdu and English lent themselves to each other. He also tells why and how he chose to translate Faiz in English. He ends on an important note saying ‘For me translating faiz has led to its own—caressing—backlash, in which, somehow, my meaning as translator lies’.
 See ‘About the Title,’ The Rebel’s Silhouette.
 After writing ghazals in the form of stanzas rather than couplets, Ali came to compose his ghazals in couplet form in the subsequent phase of his career. This is so well exemplified by his anthology The Ravishing Disunities: True Ghazals in English where he has put together a large number of ghazals written in English by diverse hands and all of them follow the strict metrical pattern of ghazal writing.