The depiction of cultural value as a technique of poetry is an important characteristic of prominent poets of South Asia. Poets like Taufiq Rafat, Daud Kamal, Maki Kureshi, and Kamla Das have efficiently molded their cultural values into the aesthetic style of poetry, and their depiction of culture doesn’t seem to divorce the flow of the poems.South Asian poetry was initially inspired by Western literature, but later it evolved from slavish imitation to the more original mode. The prominent poets of South Asia, I believe, have endeavored and succeeded in forging a distinctive niche in south Asian literature.
South Asian writers chose to write in English but writing in a foreign language compelled them to bring and adopt the legacy that comes with the language into their work. Most of the poetic forms, styles, and techniques are borrowed from English literature. The depiction of culture can also be seen in Western literature. As poetry is never written in a vacuum, factors like tradition, culture, religion, national identity, geographical location, weather’s effects on life, and personal frame of reference, experience do, to some extent, linger in a poets mind during his act of writing poetry.
Cleanth Brook in the preface of his book Understanding Poetry describes the contexts that contribute to creating a poem, one point that he posit is: “Poems come out of a historical moment, and since they are written in the language, the form is tied to a whole cultural context”. However, instead of only imitating these Western learnings and Western culture, south Asian poets took a courageous step in depicting their native culture in a language that is not their native one. Formally, there were poets that adhered to Western learnings, and were comfortable only in borrowing ancient myth and Western poetry’s subjects into their poems, but later, the South Asian poetry witnessed a few poets that stepped aside from this mimetic path and brought their own vivid and exotic cultural values in the aesthetic style of poetry.
Before moving on to the evaluation of particular aspect of South Asian poetry, I would like to bring into my discussion the definition of culture, E.B Taylor describes culture as “A complex whole includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, customs, and all other capabilities acquired by a man as a member of society”. Like all other regions of the world, South Asia also has its distinctive culture, it has a very complex, rich, and exotic culture. Religion, traditional folk tales, dresses, festivals, geographical characteristics art, sports and particular proverbs and idioms all come under the term “cultural values”. The prominent religion of South Asia is Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. One more cultural value of South Asian, I would like to add is the male dominant society. South Asian poets such as Taufiq Rafat (1927-1998), and Kamla Das (1934-2009) managed to bring their cultural values in poetry, but neither the purpose, not the style was mere didactic, moralizing, and exposure of culture.
The cultural depiction in the aesthetic style made their poetry more beautiful, the term “aesthetic” can be particular stance poets have taken about literature i.e. writing for pleasure rather than to teach or moralize. It may most probably refer to any decorative sort of diction, the usicality of poem, and sensuous imagery.
South Asian poets have forged a distinctive niche to a great extent, in South Asian literature. They have set forth the new ground for upcoming writes. Both have intimacy with their roots, origin, tradition, culture and religious beliefs, and all these values have accommodated most of their poetry. They have given a platform to their cultural values in their poetry; but it is noteworthy, that these two writers -in depicting culture- have not failed to construct the aesthetic style of their poems. These poets with their immense contribution to poetry, have given South Asian poetry its unique and original identity.
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