Karachi Poem by M Athar Tahir: Summary and Analysis

Read below our complete notes on the poem, “Karachi”, written by M Athar Tahir. Our notes cover Karachi poem summary, themes, and analysis.

Karachi Poem by M Athar Tahir

Every few years one comes to this sea-edge

city, sprouting beyond comprehension,

as reluctantly as a northerner .

Thick waters like fear fringe the coastline

where a dredge spews out rock and sand in a shivering tongue of gray.

Past the slipping strip of land, the light-house

When this was a fishing village, past the

Boats heavy with haul and a broad-bottomed

vessel transporting spices, one pilots

beyond these shallows to what beckon-blue

With depth —– the more driven.

Karachi Poem Introduction:

The poem Karachi is all about the city Karachi which is the business hub of Pakistan. The poem is a picture of the past and present of Karachi city. The poet mourns over the current scenario of Karachi city. He reminiscences the past of Karachi when people were in gay mood and life was full of hustle and bustle. He reminds the readers about the sea and light house of the Karachi which people often visited for fishing and all, but now nothing is left. He pains over the current scenario when the water is contaminated as well as the people have also lost the warmth of relationships.

Karachi Poem Summary:

In the first stanza (line 1-5), the poet celebrates the glory of Karachi coastline and says that every year people come to enjoy this coastline but reluctantly. He, in the very start, gives a comparison of Karachi in past and present. He is of the view that people in the past would come to Karachi for amusement, very frequently. They would come and enjoy the beauty of the water and would take great memories of the water of this city. But now, he says that people come as northerner and they are reluctant to visit the city. In the next few lines, he gives the reason of people turning their backs to Karachi. He says that now the water that hits that coastline is not friendly to people because it is now impure and the people of this city, shrouded by the circumstances, have also become very impure. He thinks that this impure water has gone to the very rocks means roots of this city and it has made the people hypocrites and insincere not only towards each other but towards the guests as well. He is of the opinion that the people of Karachi are tinged by fear and they live under the threats of fear which has made the life extremely miserable and difficult. The poet indirectly points to the terrorist activities in the city which have made Karachi-a living hell.

In the second stanza (line 6-11), the poet cries over the situation and says, gone are the days when there was light house where people would gather to enjoy the fun of life. He reminiscence Karachi when it was a fishing village; people would come to enjoy the fishing of different species of fish and would enjoy to remain in the water for long hours. But, then some heavy boats which had large empty bottoms passed these shores. They saw the riches of this land; they found resources there and the wealth amassed by the people of this land. Those men who possessed the large boats with huge empty vessels came here and transported all the spices and resources of this land making it a poor wretched land. They did all this for one pilot and that pilot demanded more so the men in forces drove this land resultantly, leaving nothing for the people of this land. The poet is of the view that those people saw more than what the natives had seen and recognized the treasure. The treasure was then transported with an ease because these natives had already been tranquillized.

Karachi Poem Themes:

Recognizing the faults:

The major theme of this poem is that the author tries to make us recognize our faults due to which Karachi has come to the brink of destruction. He is of the view that the outsider has come to loot and exploit us because of our own faults and weaknesses. Had we not given them any loop holes they would have not plundered our cities. The author is deeply grieved over the disastrous situation of Karachi. He wants to awaken the natives by giving them a very realistic picture of the city.

Pessimism:

Pessimism is a major perspective of this poem. The tone of the author is pessimistic and he gives a pessimistic note because people are going into a region of meaninglessness. People have been badly hit by the narratives of the whites and for this reason they are ready to sacrifice because they think their own personal benefit is more significant than that of the motherland.

Karachi Poem Analysis:

  • The poem is a sort of narrative in making against the colonial and imperial power. The poet wants to tell the readers that their city has been ruined by the colonizers who had come in the shape of missionaries in order to civilize the uncivilized. But the actual aim was not to civilize but to exploit, loot and plunder. And this all was done by dominating the natives.
  • The first stanza is in fact a reality based depiction of their narrative in process. British colonial power had always worked through narrative to colonize a state. The narrative which they developed in the first half of seventeenth century, after industrial revolution, for the expansion of the market was “white man`s burden.” This slogan was a disguise through which they came and looted the states.
  • The benefit of this slogan was that they would gain the sympathies of the natives by making the natives believe that their future would be bright. And they would operate this slogan like a poison. In the very first stanza of this poem, the poet is talking about this narrative, because of this narrative the natives have turned against one another in order to gain more and more benefit and to make the master happy. The grey tongue is the symbol used for the hatred in the hearts of people. He points out that this poisonous narrative has been operated in such a way that the waters have become contaminated which has out taken all the humanely feelings from them.
  • The second stanza tells the story of how the colonizers have come to colonized and subjugated the native land. He says that they have come through see in boats. He then hits their false slogan for civilization. He says that they had come to take spices. They came with boats having empty and huge vessels and afterwards they transported all the spices through these vessels.
  • The poet, in fact, is trying to develop a narrative of post-coloniality in people. He is making them aware of the circumstances and the narratives that are still in operation in disguise. He wants them to understand and recognize the wolf in sheep disguise. The poet wants to reestablish the city of Karachi in its full swing.