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Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, by H.G. Raverty, [1868], at

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Kāzim Khān was the son of Muḥammad Afzāl Khān, chief of the Khattaks—and author of several extensive and valuable prose works in the Pus’hto language—who was son of the poet Ashraf Khān; and hence Kāzim was the great-grandson of Khushḥāl Khān, already noticed. He was born some time during the five years subsequent to h. 1135 (a.d. 1722). On the death of his father, the chieftainship fell to Asad-ullah Khān, Kāzim's elder brother, who, after a fashion too common in Eastern countries, considered it the safest and most prudent course to act with great severity towards his brothers and other near male relatives. Kāzim, who was quite a youth at the time, could not brook this tyrannical treatment, and therefore separated from him, and even abandoned the jāgīr, or grant of land, then in his possession. Asad-ullah, who appears to have been rather more favourably inclined to Kāzim Khān than to his other brothers, on becoming acquainted with the fact of his distrust, sent for Kāzim, and used every endeavour to soothe his fears and set his mind at ease; and, the more effectually to bring this about, he conferred upon him an additional grant of land, and betrothed him to a daughter of one of their uncles. However, the suspicions and fears of Kāzim—who doubtless had heard of the treatment the sons and grandsons of Khushḥāl had experienced at the hands of his own father—increased, at all this extreme kindness, to a greater degree than before; and he secretly

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fled from his home. Some say that he had an antipathy to his young cousin as a wife; and that, at the time, he requested his brother not to betroth her to him, as he did not like her. This Asad-ullah would not listen to; and, according to the Afghān custom, named her as the future wife of his younger brother. Be this, however, as it may, Kāzim took to a wandering life, and spent several years in Kashmīr, where he acquired considerable learning. He subsequently lived a long time at Sirhind, in Upper India, but afterwards proceeded to the Afghān principality of Rāmpūr, in that country, where he took up his residence; and there he passed the greater part of his life.

On several occasions his brother Asad-ullah sent many of his confidential friends to endeavour to induce him to return to his native country; but without effect. On one occasion the poet had gone as far as Ḥasan Abdāl, a town some few miles east of Attak, in the Panjāb, on a pleasure excursion, with some of his particular acquaintances, at which time a number of his relatives came to see him, from the Khattak country, beyond the Indus, and only two days’ journey distant; but, notwithstanding all their entreaties, he would not return home, and went back to Rāmpūr again.

When the gift of poesy was bestowed upon him, he took the poetical surname of "Shaidā," signifying "The Devoted" or "Lovelorn;" for he had now turned devotee, and had become the disciple of the holy men of Sirhind; and, according to the mystic doctrines of the Ṣūfis, considered himself devoted to the love of the Divine. His poetry, like that of Mīrzā, is deeply tinged with the mysticisms of that sect.

The fame of Shaidā's poetry soon began to be noised abroad; and at length, Mī’ān Muḥammadī, son of Mī’ān Æabd-ullah of Sirhind, who belonged to the family of Shaidā's spiritual guide, *

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expressed a wish to be furnished with a copy, on which the poet sent him the, at present, only known copy—which now lies before me—bearing the impression of his seal. These poems were alphabetically collected into this volume in the year n. 1181 (a.d. 1767), and, indeed, it is supposed to be the only copy that was ever made; for until shown to them by me, the descendants of his elder and other brothers, who dwell in the vicinity of Peshāwar, had never seen a copy of his poems, although so celebrated among them. This unique volume, which I procured at Lahore, is most beautifully written and illuminated, and contains a number of odes inserted on the margins of the pages.

Shaidā's poetry is highly polished, but deep and difficult; and approaches nearer to that of the Persians than of any other of the Afghān poets, whose simplicity is the chief charm of their writings. The poet also introduces a greater number of Persian and Arabic words.

Shaidā's first disappointment appears to have given him a distaste for matrimony; and he died unmarried, at Rāmpūr, where he had dwelt so long. Soon after his decease, his relatives came and removed his remains, and conveyed them to the poet's native country; and they found a resting-place at Sarā’e, where the Khattak chieftains, and their families, have, for centuries past, been interred.


306:* See Introduction, page xiii.

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