|Biographical detail : ||Urdu poet standing apart.
In the history of Urdu poets it has been commented: “Ghalib was futuristic, Momin was inclined to the past. And in contrast of the two, Zauq looked to the present only.”
Zauq’s main forte was the qaseeda, which he wrote not only in keeping with royal relish but also with great devotion and excellent command over the language. His distinguishing characteristic had earned him the title of ‘Khaqini-i-Hind’ from Akbar Shah II and ‘Malik-ush-Shoera’ (the poet laureate) from Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Zauq was frequently called upon to write qasidas and excelled in the art, no doubt inspired by his genuine admiration for Sauda. In style and virtuosity his lyric poetry closely follows the fashion set by Lucknow and through displaying little genuine inspiration it is unrivalled in terms of formal excellence.
The striking features about his ghazals are the appropriate use of diction, especially native idioms, colloquial language and riyat-i-lafzi (fondling of words). His natural flair for using idioms in couplets lends beauty to the genre of ghazals. The dexterous use of impeccably reasoned philosophy in a limited metre (husne-e-taaleel) and antonyms at the same time (sun’att-i-tazadare) are two salient features of his ghazals.
Zauq’s most significant contribution to Urdu poetry is his skill in making it widely understood by the use of variety of words. He also broadened the boundaries of Urdu by applying simple Hindi words. His humility, simplicity of thought, diversity of themes and expertise is using various metaphors are his true assets.
Zauq was born Shaikh Muhammad Ibrahim and was the son of an ordinary soldier and had had no literary background to fall back on. He started writing poetry under the tutelage of Hafiz Ghulam Rasool Shauq – hence the pseudonym, Zauq, rhymes with the takhal’lus of Shauq.
Zauq lived adequately in the shadow of the Red Fort, and enjoyed the prestige given to him by his connection with the royal family.