Daud Kamal: Martyrs Never Die


Most ecofeminists are pro-choice due in part to the ‘subordination, exploitation, and degradation of the natural world, the ecosystem impacts on individual health,’ etc.(Amadi, 2020). Whereas most anti-choice ecofeminists negate identification as being ‘pacifist, vegetarian, or anti-capitalist,’ for example (NCR, 2009).


“In  1974,  the  French  feminist Françoise  d’Eaubonne  coined  this  word.  Ecofeminism  takes  into account   the   primary   feminist principles   of   uniformity   and   equality   concerning   genders.   The philosophy has its particular emphasis on the treatment given to women and nature by male-centered society.  
Ecofeminists  investigate  the  outcomes  of  gender  categorization  to  determine  the  practices through  which unjust  control  over  nature  and  women  takes  place.  Ecofeminism  encounters  the current male-centered society and supports the inextricable link between nature and  women as they cannot be separated (Smith, via PJSEL, 2020).”

“Daud Kamal’s poetry is full of treachery, women’s representation, nature’s degradation at the hands of patriarchy, etc.~ “the relationship between ecofeminism and Pakistani women is very strong as it defines cultural norms where both are degraded and devalued due to their social status. Future studies can be conducted in terms of comparative analysis of Indian and Pakistani cultures with relation to ecofeminism. (Drucker, via PJSEL, 2020).”

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“Daud Kamal Style and Themes” – Saleem GPC Gojra (2020) with notes from Fakhira Mubeen)

Daud Kamal is one of Pakistan’s most accomplished poets. His work conveys a sense of loss and spiritual displacement in the face of violence and cultural erasure. Kamal’s first book, Reverberations (1970), consists of translations of the classical Urdu poet, Ghalib. His original poems in English appeared in Recognitions (1979), A Remote Beginning (1985), and in such posthumous volumes as Rivermist (1992), Before The Carnations Wither (1995), and A Selection of Verse (1997). Kamal’s translations of the Urdu poets Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmed Nadeem Qasimi, Munir Niazi, and Ahmed Faraz appeared in Four contemporary poets (1992).

Kamal has a completely different style of writing poetry. He writes beautifully in fragments. The main themes of his poems are rural and rustic. He plays with the idea of brutal injustice of kings on common men. His deep observation of small things reflects through his poems in a vast manner. Kamal is also said to be a mystic poet because images of the Sufi world can also be seen in many of his poems. In his poetry, we can see graceful images of nature as well. He talks innocently of great Himalayas, starry sky, sparkling waters, and trees. As a poet, he has a deep connection with his soul as well as the soul of the universe (which is nature). Kamal’s sensitivity toward the changing world around him deeply affects his poetry.


His writing style is deeply influenced by the Imagists. He also follows the style of W. B. Yeats and Ezra Pound. In his later life, he was deeply moved by Latin American authors. A man of heightened sensitivities, he was not unaware of what was happening around him. His poetry has a unique sense of history and reflects the needs of an artist.
The need to connect to the culture of the past can also be felt in his poetry. The images of monasteries, miniature paintings, bullock carts, and antiques are recurrent themes.
Kamal talks of poor men and their hardships in a simple manner. In his poem An Ancient Indian Coin he writes about the tyranny of lords upon poor men. He says:

“But a piece of gold
does not take one very far.”

What he means to say is that money is nothing to be proud of if you cannot help the needy and poor. After all, it won’t stay forever. Money cannot buy moral values.

In his poem Floods Kamal talks about the cruelty of natural disasters and weather. He says that nature can be a tyrant at some times:

“How can one forgive

the treachery

of blind rivers.”

Here he uses social themes in his poem, describing the situation of poor rural people after the floods. His verse discusses openly about the problems we face in rural areas:

“Their hut was

forty years old.

they had

three wooden boxes of dowry

and a sackful of expensive rice.”

A Narrow Valley also describes the theme of flash-floods. He taunts the cruelty of nature as well as the cruelty of men. He says in hard times like these only prayers do not work, one must take precautionary measures to avoid the hardships of floods.

He says beautifully:


do not work

at times

such as these.”

Kamal not only expounds upon the tyranny of nature and kings, but also the religious priests and the resulting class differences. In his poem An Ancient Indian Coin he says:

“Men create their own gods

and a earned Brahmin is exempt

from all taxation.”

The Brahmins are considered to be the people of high class. This is why they are free to do whatever they like. It shows the hypocrisy of society. Kamal criticizes this system.

Kamal also touches the sensitive matter of war. Beirut recounts the bloody scenes of war in Lebanon and about the betrayal of men towards their fellow men. This poem reflects his floundering faith in humanity:

“Many died

dreaming of water

many burnt alive.

Shadows everywhere

the city has become

its own monument.”

The best part of this poem is the last four lines because they provide a ray of hope. He says:

“This mourning

must not cease.

Mother, dry your tears.

Your sons will return.”