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Seene Mein Jalan, Marks of Woe

July 8, 2010

Funny how two artists, separated by decades and continents, sometimes communicate the same emotion, though through different completely different media and to completely different audiences (at least by intent).

I am referring to this beautiful poem by William Blake (best known to most people as the writer of the superb The Tyger – thanks to the poem being a favourite of school poetry textbook compilers). The poem in question is called London and it goes like this:

I  wander thro' each  charter'd street,
 Near where the charter'd  Thames  does flow,
 And mark in every face I meet
 Marks of weakness, marks of woe. 

 In every cry of every man,
 In every Infant's cry of fear,
 In every voice, in every ban,
 The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

 How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
 Every black'ning Church appals;
 And the hapless Soldier's sigh
 Runs in blood down Palace walls.

 But most thro' midnight streets I hear
 How the youthful Harlot's curse
 Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
 And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

I don’t really want to critically evaluate this poem (however, there’s a reasonably good “explication” – as they’ve called it – available online). I usually am too lazy to think by myself about the inner meaning of these things – I just end up liking stuff that moves me in some manner – if there is a deep meaning somewhere, so much the better!

In any case, from the title of the post, people familiar with Jaydev’s classic from Muzaffar Ali’s Gaman would have guessed what I’m referring to, after having read the poem above. For people not familiar with the song, here it is:

I have been captivated by the song since the first time I heard it and when I read London, the first thing I thought of was this song. The emotions conveyed in their first stanzas are so similar! Of course, the text veers later, but I believe both, Blake, and the lyricist Shahryar had similar thoughts in their minds when their pens first touched paper. By sheer magic, the feelings were translated into music by Jaydev through singer Suresh Wadkar without losing any of the emotions.


Speaking of Blake’s Tyger, here’s a brilliant short animation capturing the very essence of the poem, by Brazillian Guilherme Marcondes.

You can download the video in the HQ at the Tyger webpage, here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2011 6:20 am

    Interesting coincidence! Thanks for providing that explication link.

    I think Gaman and Umrao Jaan are the only two movies for which Muzaffar Ali wrote lyrics – I wish he wrote more often like his contemporaries (?) Kaifi, Sahir and Majrooh.

    “Gali ke mod pe, soona sa koi darwaza,
    Tarasti aankhon se, rasta kisi ka dekhega,
    Nigaah door talak ja ke laut aayegi.”

    Beautiful words!

    This song about a man pondering about a city he’s trapped in, also reminds me of another classic from that era: “Ek akela is sehar mein, raat mein aur dopehar mein…”

  2. October 3, 2011 12:47 am

    blake’s poem is quite similar to shahryaar’s. thanks for pointing this out!

  3. B.W. permalink*
    November 7, 2011 8:20 pm

    @ Vishal: Thank you for the detailed comment, and the couplet you shared. Those are truly beautiful words! I have somehow never heard of this song.. I am of course familiar with “Ek Akela Iss Shahar Mein..” which is another gorgeous song..

    @Kaif: Thanks for writing in!

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