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  • Subject area(s): English Literature
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  • Published on: 15th October 2019
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Sheel Priya Gautam


Parveen Shakir - Dasne Lage Hain Khawab

About the poet

Parveen Shakir Syed (24 November 1952 - 26 December 1994) was an eminent Urdu poet, a teacher and a civil servant of Government of Pakistan. Parveen was born on 24 November 1952 in Karachi, Pakistan. Shakir held two master's degrees, one in English Literature and one in Linguistics from University of Karachi. Later she got Masters degree in Public Administration from Oxford University. Parveen Shakir’s poetry themes are feminism, love, social stigmas. She, through her poems, explored the concepts of love, beauty and their contradictions, and heavily integrated the use of metaphors, similes and personifications.

Shakir mainly wrote two forms of poetry, one was ghazal and the other was free verse. Her ghazals mainly deal with the feminine perspective on love and romance, and associated themes such as beauty, intimacy, separation, break-ups, distances, distrust and infidelity and disloyalty. Her free verses explored social problems and taboos such as inequality, discrimination, patriotism, deceit, prostitution, the human psyche, and current affairs. Many consider her ghazals to be classic with a touch of modern sensitivity whereas her free verses were modern and up to date because they explored current social issues and taboos. She often used first person Urdu feminine pronoun in her poetry which was rarely used in poetry by other female poets.Her volumes of poetry are - Khushbu, Sad-barg, Khud-Kalaami, Inkaar, Maah-e-Tamaam and Kaf-e-Aa'ina. Her first volume was awarded Adamjee Award. She later received the Pride of Performance award in 1976 for her outstanding contribution in literature. She met her untimely death in a car accident.


“Dasne Lage Hain Khawab” is a ghazal by Parveen Shakir from her poetry volume Khud-Kalaami. This poem describes her failing relationship with her husband and the fact that her marriage ended up in a divorce. She talks to herself about the bitter experiences that she had in the relationship despite her caring for it. Her dream of a loving relationship with her husband is failing because of her husband’s indifference towards her. The failing relationship pains her and that she is unable to move on. After the divorce, however, she begins to live a new life putting the past behind her as suggested by the last few lines of the poem. It also seems that she wants to preserve the feeling of love and perhaps desires to be in a relationship again.


The poem has a sad and romantic tone to it. It begins with Shakir describing how her dream of having a loving relationship with her husband is starting to fade away and it is stinging her. It is her partner’s indifference towards her and the relationship which is causing her pain and grief. She mentions how much she cries because of her husband’s behaviour towards her. The sadness takes away her sleep but she still clings to the relationship unable to let go of it. She is unable to look at the new opportunities that may come her way in the future. She describes how she cares for her husband and the relationship without caring for herself which has only caused her more pain.  Onto the next part, the lines “tera naam ke kar tazabaub mein pad gayi” suggests that she finally initiated a divorce from her partner and that how much she is surprised how she went against her own dream. Up on hearing about the divorce her family members also break down in sadness. Towards the end of the poem she suggest how she wants to preserve the feelings of love that she had in the relationship and shows her longing of a new relationship where she can get a chance of fulfilling her dream again. She finally moves on from her past relationship and she mentions how not to bring experiences from the past relationship to a new one.

The poem relies on heavy use of comparisons and related figure of speeches. She compares the pain from her dream to the stinging of small snakes. The lines “aankh dhup ke rukh kaise kholiye” describe how Shakir is unable to move on from the relationship to a new life. Further in the poem “Khusbu kahin na jaa paye” means the desire to be loved and how she does not want to lose it.  At the end of the poem, she tells how “tasvir” and the canvas is new. The new canvas refers to the new life after her divorce and the “tasvir” could be all the new experiences that she can live or “paint” on the new canvas. She tells not to “mix old colors for the painting” which means not to bring the past experiences when moving on with life because they can affect the joy that the new life could possibly bring.


The poem is certainly well written and describes how Parveen Shakir’s relationship with her husband progresses. I really like how she used metaphors in a way that makes sense and serve to create a forceful impact on the reader’s mind. Reading the poem one can feel her sadness of losing her relationship and perhaps she felt more scared than feeling sad. The most beautiful part was the last few lines of the poem. She finally moves on and tells that the bitter experiences from the past can take away the joy from the new experiences and one should not live in the past. Perhaps she feels liberated after accepting the fact that her relationship is not working and then letting go of it. I think that this last message was at the core of her poem which she wanted to tell to the readers of the poem. I understand the message that she wanted to get across and this wisdom of her has definitely made me a better person.

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