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Ode to Death (Daud Kamal)

June 12, 2014derpynerd Leave a comment

Daud Kamal (1935–1987) was a Pakistani poet and
academic, from Peshawar city. Daud Kamal was born on
January 4, 1935 in Abbottabad. His earliest inspiration
came from Burn Hall, Cambridge School in Srinagar,
Kashmir where he studied for seven years. He was a
Professor of English Literature at University of Peshawar.
He wrote some poems in English. His poems were
recorded for the Library of Congress in the United States.
He also did translations of the classic Urdu poet Ghalib in
English. He received three gold medals for his poetry
from the Triton College and his poems were recorded for
the Library of Congress, Washington DC. USA.‘Remote
Beginnings’ and ‘A Selection of Verse’ are his
anthologies. He also did translations of the classic Urdu
Poet Ghalib in English. Kamal’s poetry is interwoven
with local and religious imagery; of kingfishers and
monasteries, of Hindu temples Silhouetted by the glamour
and mystique of the Arabian Nights. Yet his poetry over-
arches into the present where the Arabian Nights have
twisted endings that reflect the violent contemporary.His
writing style is deeply influenced by the Imagists.
“Poetry for him was Yeats and Pound” recalls his
daughter Fatima. However, he was a voracious reader of
poetry, “I have never seen one enjoy reading others’
poems as much as he did,” shared his daughter.
In his later life, he was deeply moved by Latin American
authors. A man of heightened sensitivities, he was not
unaware of what was happening around him. His poetry
has a unique sense of history and the need of an artist. The
need to connect to the culture of the past – images of
monasteries, miniature paintings, bullock carts and
antiques are recurrent themes. As Carlo Coppola, in his
writings, pointed out, Daud’s poetry is like a “primordial
scripture of a people betrayed not only by kings and
priests but by weather, geography, history, foreigners, and
most treacherously by each other”
A mere biographical sketch would clearly be unjust to a
man of his brilliance and the pride he brought to the
country. Daud Kamal won three gold medals and two
certificates of recognition in the international poetry
competition in the US, the Faiz award in 1987, and a
posthumous Pride of Performance award in 1990.
Daud Kamal passed away on December 5, 1987. He is
buried in the cemetery of the same university where he
taught. At the time of his death, he remained
unrecognized locally, as archived documents from his
colleagues show “the crowning irony was a week later, a
list of luminaries who had passed away that year was
published and Daud was not amongst them.” As he wrote
in An Ode to Death
But let bygones be bygones
Who was the deceiver and who the deceived?
Was I on the floating Island
And were you on the shore?
Which one of us moved away?