Do Not Ask of Me, My Love By Faiz Ahmad Faiz
About The Poet
Faiz Ahmed Faiz was a very fine poet who combined in his poetry depth of feeling, warmth of thought, vitality of imagination and revolutionary idealism. But this progressivist‘s zeal is inevitably punctuated by a strong element of hope and optimism. And so what we miss in his poetry is a sense of the tragic. But in the last phase, he comes closer to it in some of his poems which are “Heart Attack”, “Let Me Think” and “In this Abode of Non-Being”. In these poems, the ecstasy of love is a thing of the past and a bewildering sense of reality encompasses him. Awareness of old age and of impending death characterise these three poems. Here the poet expresses his feelings quietly. These poems also exhibit deeper self-knowledge and the poet does not offer any solutions to complicated existential problems.
Vain: useless, waste
Illusion: imaginary (an idea or belief that is false)
Brutal: cruel, harsh
Smeared: spread over
Faiz Ahmad Faiz a famous Urdu poet from Pakistan writes about the love of a man which was thought to be lasting forever. But, very soon there is a transformation and realizes that there are much more pleasures and sorrows in the world than love. The refrain ‘Do not ask of me, my love that love I once had for you’ tells us about his awareness of other realities of life.
In the first stanza the poet recollects the earlier time of a man and his love. Life was assumed to be bright, young and blooming. The sorrows of his lover was painful than any other pain. There was a time when he considered that her beauty added on to the beauty of spring and gave it an everlasting youth. He used to conclude that her eyes mattered more and everything else was a waste. In her presence, he would assume that the whole world was his. But soon he realizes it was merely an illusion. The love that he thought was all-powerful and consuming was just one more of the many pains and pleasures in the world.
The next stanza speaks about the harsh realities of life. He begins to see the realities that summoned him and pleads with his love not to ask for the same love he had for her. He realizes the sufferings of humanity. He understands his mistake in seeing his beloved’s pain as that greatest. The more he drifts away from his lover, the better he is capable of understanding the meaning of true love.
Love can be woven in silk, satin and brocade but brutality of the curses that mankind has suffered for centuries questions this attire of love. The poet points out instances of war and bloodshed, the human trafficking the diseases and dreadful habits of human beings that has infested the world, with the wounds festering. When there is injustice and starvation poverty and deprivation, the poet feels he is not capable of involving himself into his past love. The poet concludes that he is helpless even though the lover is still beautiful, there are other sorrows and pleasures in the world more than love He comes to the resolution of being more considerate towards others problems and sufferings.
The poet seems to be very faithful to his love. He expresses his fidelity to his love although he demands his beloved not to ask for the same love which he expressed before. He assures her that he still finds her very beautiful.
Nevertheless, he can no longer be in the cocoon of romantic love. He has seen the various kinds of sufferings in the world. As a result it has made him realize his duty towards the society and the country.
There are certain images in the poem which talk reflect the miseries and sufferings of people. He witnesses bodies bathed in blood and dust covered bodies of the soldiers. People are also affected with epidemic diseases. There are other disturbing images like pus oozing out their festering sores. The anguishes of slaves who are ill-treated sold in the market like animals. Actually he shows concern to the world’s problems unconditionally. He has enjoyed the beauty and the love of his beloved, but he has also realized the joy of serving the society and country. He finds that joy greater than his private love. He realizes the responsibility of serving the society greater than pleasing his beloved. Hence, he repeatedly asks her not to ask him to love her in the same manner.
Questions and Answers
1. When does the speaker realize what he thought about love was not true?
The speaker realized what he thought about love was not true when he came to know that there were other sorrows in the world than love and other pleasures.
2. That’s the way I imagined it to be’ suggests
A) That the speaker’s concept of love is naïve
3. For there are other sorrows in the world than love’, here sorrows refers to miseries
B) Caused by poverty and deprivation.
4. You are beautiful still, My love’ Here the speaker is expressing his
A) Fidelity to his love.
1. What does the line ‘those dark and brutal curses of countless centuries” suggest?
Ans. The speaker realises the harsh realities of the world after he comes out from his cocooned romantic love. There are problems in the world that he has to be addressed in the poem. The line ‘ those dark and brutal curses of countless centuries’, probably means the sufferings caused by stark poverty which seems to be brutal curse on the helpless poor people. Factually miseries and sufferings have been a troubling man since an untold number of centuries. These might have been caused by war, diseases or slavery. So he kindly asks his beloved not to ask him for the love he had for her.
2. What harsh realities of life have drawn the speaker’s attention much more than the beauty of his beloved?
Ans. The speaker experiences the harsh realities of the world when he is thought of the outer world. He realizes many sufferings caused in the world by war. There are certain images in the poem which support it. He witnesses bodies bathed in blood and dust-covered bodies of the soldiers. People are also affected by epidemic diseases. There are other disturbing images like pus oozing out their festering sores. The anguishes of slaves who are ill-treated are sold in the market like animals. These are the harsh realities that have drawn the writer’s attention away from the beauty of his beloved. Hence the poet says that he must also turn his eyes to these sufferings and realities as well.
3. What transformation in the perception of love do you see in the poem?
Ans. The general theme of the poem is the transformation in the perception of the poet’s love. The poet loved his beloved conditionally. On one hand, he was immersed in the beauty of his beloved. On the other, he thought her sorrow was much more than any other pain. As long as his beloved was with him, he felt the whole world was his. Moreover, he considered his beloved’s eyes were everything whereas all else seemed pointless and useless in the world.
But at later stage in the poem, the poet moves out of romantic love to enter the world of love where he can extend his love to mankind. He sees sufferings caused by war and conflicts, bodies of soldiers covered with blood and dust. And then he witnesses bodies afflicted with epidemic disease. These made him realize that the pain of separation from his beloved was not the only sorrow, but there are many more in the world and felt it unconditionally.