Oblivion by Mufti Jamil Ahmad: Summary and Analysis

Read our complete notes below on the poem Oblivion by Mufti Jamil Ahmad. Our notes cover Oblivion summary, themes, and analysis.

Oblivion: The Poem

Waterless deserts of human life

Hardly offer anything,

To the travelers of the tribe,

Chained in the early ring

Soul lies buried in conscience

Body is fool’s ornament

Man behind a fatal fence

Around which he never went.

Sizeless fears, silent tombs

Of foolish desires, born

In death, of fruitless wombs

Of flowers, gathered every morn.

Should I feel the lifeless pulse

Of love’s pretensions?

When your hair only curls

To malinger tensions.

Spring has no deathless sway

Only, Autumn’s child-play

Table-talk around hotel tray

All’s over, as you pay.

Meanings have no meanings,

When dreams ends in life

Ending some cherished learnings

Of unconscious strife.

“No”, neither you, nor I,

Ever knew who were we

Hills echo the Shakespearean cry

“What fools these mortals be.”

Oblivion Poem Introduction:

The poem oblivion is written by Mufti Jamil Ahmad. This poem directs the outward and inward gaze of every reader to the mirage which human wishes have built in this world. The mirage has neither real existence nor any significance, yet, every human being is in the trap of this mirage. Humans are living in ‘fool`s paradise’ not looking towards the real aim of the life in this world and the life afterwards. He is didactic in this poem and states that humans have become materialistic and they lack spirituality.  Mufti Jamil Ahmad mourns over the miserable condition of Human Beings as they are leading towards a world of meaninglessness where they will have no meanings in life; they will be robots.

Oblivion Summary:

In stanza 1 (line 1-4), Mufti Jamil Ahmad talks about the undestined life- the life which has no ultimate goal to achieve. He reprimands such lives which have no meanings. He compares such life to waterless deserts because waterless desert is inhumane as it has no benefit for the travelers. Everyone knows that waterless deserts offer nothing to survive and survival becomes impossible in such deserts, i.e., Sahara Desert, this desert is almost impossible to cross. Such is the scenario of life which offers no struggle for any goal. The mood of poet is harsh in the stanza and scorns the modern man for such life.

In the second stanza (line 5-8), the poet literally snubs human beings as they have forgotten the real meanings of life. The real aim and meaning which lies in soul and conscience is nowhere to be ponder. He says that the modern man is so much engrossed in the outer appearance that he never tries to go deep to unearth the hidden meanings of life and humanity. Jamil Ahmad call the outlook a ‘Fool`s ornament’ because modern man has a very impressive outlook but he is un aware of his real self. This is just because the modernity and technological advancements have made the modern man a ‘hollow man’ and a shallow man. This modern man lacks affection, true feelings and emotions rather he had built is composure around ego and egoist values.

In the third stanza (line 9-12), the poet talks about all the wishes for which the modern man craves. He compares these wishes to mourning flowers which loses their charms and fragrance by the dusk time as the funeral is over. The poet thinks that the ‘size less fears’ are just because of these unthreaded wishes which are unrealistic. These wishes create the dilemmas for human beings. Modern man fabricates wishes and desires of ill nature and reality, then they try to find fast ways for the accomplishments of these desires which in turn lose their satisfaction of soul and mind. But Jamil Ahmad is of the opinion that the modern man has turned deaf ears of the pricks of conscience because he is bothered about his status.

In the fourth stanza (line 13-16), the poet talks about the shallowness and hollowness of human beings, he asks the question whether the pulse of the heart which is only pretension and not love is to be called love. He says that human have got such hollow that even what they call love is now fused in the clothes of material values. The real love and affections have lost their place in the world. He compares these feelings of unreal love to the curls of hair, the more they get entangled, the more they become a problem for an individual. For Jamil Ahmad the love of modern man has become curly hairs which bring no happiness rather they become a source of tension and misery.

In the fifth stanza (line 17-20),  the poet tells that happiness and misery are interfused into one another that human beings have lost taste of both of them. The spring which is the metaphor for happiness and joy is never coming without the touch of sorrow. This is because of the human efforts of advancement in wrong directions. He wants to convey that humans have lost the real sources of happiness in the meaningless abyss of wishes.  He compares the happiness to a table talk. Friends gather in a hotel, they gossip around different things but as they pay the bill, every bit of their happiness is gone with winds because they get aggravated at the expenses they incurred. So the modern man has no natural and real source of happiness because he has lost it and now when he looks for the joy and mirth, he gets nothing.

In the sixth stanza (line 21-24), the poet talks about the run of competition. He tells that in order to stay in the competition which is baseless, the humans have sacrificed their ultimate dreams which could shape their lives in the true sense. Jamil Ahmad is didactic is this stanza that life is of real worth when it is pursues a dream that is full of passion and destination. He says that life loses its charm and meaning when the dreams are sacrificed for unworthy things. He also argues that the end of dream is the end of learning because pursuing a dream encounters human beings with new phases of knowledge and learning but when dream ends, it stops the struggle and the quest of learning is winded up.

In the last stanza (line 25-28), the poet sums up the whole discussion of the poem. He wants the readers to realize their self. He says that nobody among us knows who we were. He gives the message that human beings have forgotten the real self, the real purpose of soul and conscience. He thinks that the mortal beings have forgotten their real identity and have fallen prey to the artificiality of this modern and artificial world. In support of his opinion he uses illusion from Shakespearean play “Midnight Summer`s Dream” in which he mocks at the human beings “What fools these mortals be.” Mufti Jamil is of the opinion that human beings should go deep into their own identity for ransacking the real purpose of life and to break the shackles of this false modernity.

Oblivion Themes:

Absurdity:

One of the major themes of this poem is absurdity. The poet Mufti Jamil Ahmad mourns over the absurdity of this life of modern man. He asserts that modern man has no destination because he has nowhere to travel and nothing to achieve. The modern man, for Jamil Ahmad, stands for pessimistic figure moving dark into the dark abyss.

Materialism vs Spirituality:

Mufti Jamil Ahmad, in this poem brings materialism and spirituality face to face in an encounter. For him, spirituality is something very superior and this is what he shows in the very last stanza of the poem. But, regretfully, he depicts that modern man strives for materialistic value. Modern man has sidelined the spiritual value which can make him realize his inner true self. Modern man in the wake of materialistic approach has forgotten the basic words of spirituality ‘to know thyself.’

Hopelessness:

The poet in this poem gives a hopeless situation of the man of modern era. He argues that this man stands hopeless because he stands at the brink of destruction. The modern man is in the pursuit of hollow wishes which are taking him away and away from the pure world of humanity to a world governed by lust and greed. Mufti Jamil Ahmad states the in order to overcome this abyss, modern man has stand into the face of modernity and have to try to recognize and illuminate the true sparks of enlightenment.

Oblivion Poem Analysis:

  1. The poem is written in free verse.
  2. The rhyming scheme for this poem is abab throughout the seven stanzas.
  3. The title of the poem is of worth significance because it is the title that sets the tone of the whole poem. The title ‘Oblivion’ means the state being unaware. Mufti Jamil Ahmad wants to indicate it very clearly to the readers that we all moving very rapidly away from our center. The center could mean God, religion, Spirituality, religious scripture or anything that could drag the humans back to the world of piousness.
  4. The basic premises of the poem is fabricated around the false material modernity of modern man which is leading him into the state of meaninglessness. This meaninglessness has turned the world into a chaos and now no definite path way is there for the modern man to follow. The coming generations will be gifted with one obvious thing, i.e., uncertainty.
  5. The poet wants to inculcate into the minds of the reader that the way the world seems is nothing but a trap for destruction. The modern man who has come down to this time in the quest of modernity by demolishing the spiritual values of religions and the words of God is now confused. This situation is very much brightly depicted by one of the Urdu poets in his poem as;

Is Soch May Par Jata Hon Bister Se Nikal Kar,

Jana Hay Kahan Aaj Mujhe Ghar Se Nikal Kar,

  Bhagwan Se Ulfat Hay Khuda Se BhI Muhabbat,

Masjid May Chala Jata Hon Mandir Se Nikal Kar.

 He further emphasis that the whole dilemma is just because of the unrealistic wishes and moves of human beings in quest of material things.

Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi Kay Har Khwahish Pay Dam Nikley

Boht Nikley Mere Arman Magar Phir Bhi Kam Nikley,

This is what Mufti Jamil Ahmad wants to tell that we, human beings, wake up in the lap of wishes and desires and surrounded by the ill ways to accomplish our goals perishing the values being humane.

To sum up the whole discussion of this poem, we need to understand the basic threads of our life and to tie them very closely to each other because one loose thread could lead us to dark world which is doomed for ever.