Firaq Gorakhpuri: The Urdu Poet Who Outmatched Nehru in English
(This story was first published on 28 August 2016 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives on the birth anniversary of Firaq Gorakhpuri.)
A celebrated Urdu poet and critic, Firaq Gorakhpuri was the foremost advocate of Gorakhpur. He was selected for the Provincial Civil Service and the Indian Civil Service, but he resigned to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement. Later, he joined Allahabad University as a lecturer in English literature. Here are a few lines from his work.
Firaq Gorakhpuri was born in 1896 in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh as Raghupati Sahay.
Very few people know that he was also a master of English. He is reported to have said once, “Only two and a half men know English in India. First comes Firaq, the other is Dr S Radhakrishnan (the second President of India) and (Jawaharlal) Nehru being the half.”
He wrote his magnum opus Gul-e-Naghma, which earned him the highest literary award, the Jnanpith Award. Mash’aal and Rooh-e-Kaayenaat are two of his famous poetry collections.
He has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu (1960), Padma Bhushan (1968), the Jnanpith Award (First Jnanpith Award for Urdu literature in 1969) besides other awards.