Flowers in same buds; but different in colour – A comparison of John Keats and Abdul Ghani Khan


Poetry is the language of the imagination and the passions. It relates to whatever gives immediate pleasure or pain to the human mind. Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. It has been the study and delight of mankind in all ages. Fear is poetry, love is poetry, hope is poetry, hatred is poetry, are all poetry. This thesis presents a comparative study of two great romantic poets – John Keats and Abdul Ghani khan.

John Keats and Ghani Khan hold a unique position in literature due to the contribution they have made to the poetry of English and Pashto languages respectively. Both this romantic poets had no actual contact with each other. Indeed, the poets were so far away from each other – Keats lived in Georgian England and Ghani khan in Pakistan, so that any direct or indirect linkage between them is conceivable. Although they belong to two diverse cultures, their backgrounds are different and even the times they lived in were different, yet they got so many things in similar in their poetry.  Keats and Ghani khan have got certain things in common, so that anyone familiar with their poetical careers would be tempted to compare them in literary studies.

This comparative study aims to find the elements of similarity between Ghani khan and John Keats. Both this poets use different languages i.e., Ghanis use of Pashto language and Keats use of English. Both these poets have almost the same feelings but have used different languages for expression. Keats was an authoritative person and a firm believer in beauty. Like Keats too, Ghani khan, also talk about beauty in his poetry. Looking at their poetic works, it is easily seen and felt that both these poets are blessed with the “romantic” spirit in them.

Romanticism was arguably the largest artistic movement of the late 1700’s. its influence was felt across continents and through every artistic discipline into the mid nineteenth century, and many of its values and beliefs can still be seen in contemporary poetry, romantic poets cultivated individualism, reverence for the natural world, idealism, physical and emotional passion and an interest in the mystic and supernatural. Romantics set themselves in opposition to the order and rationality of classical and neo classical artistic precepts to embrace freedom and revolution in their art and politics. Poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, Lord Byron, Friedrich Schiller and John Keats propelled the Romantic Movement. Romantic ideals never specifically did out in poetry, but were largely absorbed into the precepts of many other movements. Romanticism has influenced many Asian poets and they start using romantic ideals in their poetry. Ghani khan is a south central Asian poet who uses romantic ideals in his poetry’s.

The romantic period in English literature is known as the period of poetry. The significant feature of romantic poetry is imagination and emotion. Mostly, the romantic poetry appeals to the senses than to argument and to imagination than to logic.  There is no pure moral preaching, irony or satire in the romantic poetry. The best of the English poetry over the past centuries is regarded as that having the qualities of Romanticism. Major features of the Romantic movement in English literature are emotions, love of nature and beauty, fondness of the past, metaphysical element, revolt against the classical trends and rules, expression of self etc. one of the major characteristic of the English poetry is diversion of attention towards nature. The romantic poetry is inevitably bonded with imagination and emotion. The English romantic poetry is averse to moralism, satire or irony. The romantic poets were all very close to the common man and had profound love for humanity. They held great interest in their own selves and their personalities. The romantic poetry brought about revolutionary development in matter and manner.

Pashto is the native language of the Pashtun people of south central Asia. it is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, and is also spoken as a regional language in western and north western Pakistan and among the Pashtun diaspora around the world. The Pashto romantic poetry is an important part of the modern Pashto poetry is an important part of the modern Pashto poetry. Pashto poets found poetry to be a powerful vehicle for expressing and preserving their national identity and cultural values. The influence of romanticism from English poetry into Pashto poetry could be traced in many Pashto poets the modern times, for example, Syed Rasul Rasa, Ghani khan, Ajmalkhattak, Khyber Afridi, Younaskhalil, KhatirAfridi and others. Romantic element in the works of the major Pashto poets shows the influence of English romanticism on modern Pashto poetry. Imagination and emotion find a liberal scope in the poetry of both these poets of different languages, regions, cultures and times. Both are deeply involved in nature and some see the reflection of god in nature. These poets believed in the truth of human feelings and emotions and disregarded cold, stark reason and logic. Though these poets have shades of difference in proportion with their peculiar personalities, yet all are basically romantic in their outlook and approach.

Ghani khan (1914 – 1926) is widely considered as one of the best Pashto language poet of the 20th century. Ghani khan is also known as Ghani baba. He was also a respected writer and artist. He is the son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar khan. Ghani khan holds a high place in Pashto literature because of his humorous and satirical verses. He was not only a poet but also was a painter and a sculptor. His first poem was appeared in December, 1928. Ghani khan’s poetry is anti-political. His major poems are A poppy flower, Music, Prayer, Search, Hell, King, The prison dream, Reverie, Euphoria, Entreaty etc. He also wrote in English and his first book was the Pathans (1947). The singular distinction of his poetry aside from his obvious poetic genius is profound blend of knowledge about his native and foreign cultures, and the psychological, sensual and religious aspect of life. Ghani khan’s love for nature on the local habitat of the Pashtun people is visible in his works. He wrote;

“Pashtun is not merely a race but, in fact, a state of mind; there is a Pashtun lying inside every man, who at times wakes up and overpowers him”.

(Ghani khan’s poetry, 25)

John Keats (1795 – 1821) was an English romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of romantic poets along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Keats belonged to a literary movement called Romanticism. The industrial revolution and the political upheavals of the times had no appreciable influence on Keats while most of his contemporary poets enthused by the political uprisings in France. Romantic poets, because of their theories of literature and life, were drawn to lyric poetry; they even developed a new form of ode, often called the romantic meditative ode. His first published poem “on solitude” appeared in Leigh Hunts “examiner” in 1816. Keats major works are The eve of St Agnes, La belle dame sans merci, Ode on a melancholy, Ode to a nightingale, Ode to autumn, Ode on a Grecian urn, Ode to psyche, Hyperion, Lamia, Isabella, Endymion etc. The major conflicts in Keats poetry are reality, enduring art, melancholy, mortal, life, death, separation, connection, the real and the ideal. Keats has associated the subject matter of love and pain both in his life and in his poetry. In 1821, he died of tuberculosis. He lived only 25 years, yet his poetic achievement is extraordinary. In this brief period, he produced poems that rank him as one of the great English poets. He also wrote letters which literature is studied not because it pleases or instructs but because, as Longinus wrote, it lifts us out of ourselves; it moves us and brings us face to face with the aspirations, dreams, hopes and fears and joys and sorrows of our own life. And when two great poets of the stature are put together, the aesthetic pleasure is greatly increased. T.S Elliot calls Keats as “the most notable and the most important ever written by any English poets”.



Chapter 1                                   

Ghani Khan – A Crazy Lover

Ghani Khan was a great romantic Pashto poet. He holds an important position in the galaxy of the Pashto poets. His poetry is an expression of the culture, traditions, civilizations, and Pashtuns way of life. Ghani Khan’s romantic bent of mind is fully expressed through the Pashto language. Besides, Ghani khan also staunchly believed in the love of nature and beauty. By his poetic imaginative wings, flies to the world of ecstasy, he talks of the romantic lands of pleasure, and happiness in palaces, music, beloved, masti (wantonness). But he is also aware of the harsh realities of life.

Ghani khan was very much dear to his parents. His father played a notable role in the struggle for Indian independence. Influence of his father up on him gave a patriotic sense to him. Love and affection from his family influenced his poetry. Ghani khan became a victim of influenza epidemic at the age of six and his parents began prayers earnestly to Allah for the recovery of Ghani Khan. The severity of this illness was so intense that made Ghani Khan`s mother ask God to transfer the illness of her son to her in lieu of his recovery and it happened as his mother had wished. She died of this prayer which she had made for Ghani Khan’s recovery. Ghani Khan, therefore, recalls her mother`s intense love for him in his poem, Mother ( Moor).

The Pashto verses of his Poem “Mother” are translated into the English script.

“Gar chi Khauruki di phatwajudsthamoree,

Mata yaadhagashansthastargithuri,

Moreesthalasunamanana di heer,

Chi takleefkibazamanawuchapeer.”

English translation of Ghani`s above verses:

“Though you have been buried and hidden in dust,

I still remember your black beautiful eyes,

I do still remember your arms,

Around me in my pains.”

He had his own individual style. He rebelled against the traditional forms and writing of poetry. He seemed impressed by no one but followed the inner call of his own self and soul and fit his poetry in his own individualistic style. His followed his conscience rather than his intellect. He did not write poetry for the sake of criticism but rather believed in the freedom of thought and expression and always seemed working against the set traditions. Ghani Khan’s style, words, thoughts, ideas all are his own and his emotions and sensitive feelings are the result of his own personal experiences in life. Ghani khan is a great admirer of beauty and nature. He is noted for his eccentric and complex expressions and philosophical musings in his poems.

Being a Pashto poet his poetry mainly addressed his own people, traditions, culture and mankind. He vitalized the idea of love, glory, passion, kindness and faith. His poetry patronizes the reader for its bold manner and perception of reality critically described in almost all of his literary works. The romantic notions in his poetic work baffle the reader giving them an insight to the soft and slander identity of pakhtoon that lies beneath the tough exterior. He called himself a man of construction and described selfless service, love and faith as his religion.

Ghani wrote on a variety of subjects. He couched his thoughts in a style that is very much characteristic of him. He uses nature to express his feelings. His imagery, in comparison to the Romantics, may be simple but has a charm all its own. It is vivid and expressive of the meaning and feelings. His nature imagery is in very simple manner so that the common man can easily interpret it. Ghani khan’s poetry discarded the notion of pakhtoons as a violent nation with brutal values. He portrays their side that talks about peace, love, freedom and loyalty. His poetry is based on the philosophy of romanticism that conveys the message of mysticism, love and passion that is a revolt against the orthodox mindset that misconceived the pakhtoons. His poetry gave the pakhtoons a new identity with patriotism.

The major distinction and uniqueness of his poetry lies in the insightful blend of knowledge about the native and foreign cultures, the identification of the real spirit of pakhtoon culture and the sensual and enlightened aspects of religion and faith. His poetic collection is available in Urdu and English language that provides the opportunity to non-pakhtoon readers to get to know with the unique, appreciable work of one of the greatest minds that poetic circles ever had. When his works are translated to English people from all over the world came to know about his poetry and understand the depth of his poems.

Ghani khan never compartmentalized his creativity but his spirit moved freely through different disciplines of expression trying to find the meaning of life. He was against the thought barriers that had held his people in check for long and thought the lessons of free thought and creativity. Through his poetry he was trying to find a new meaning to the life of pakhtoons.

Ghanis poetry is a reflection of his times. To the pakhtoons, he is the crazy philosopher, who loved them as a people but he was apart from them in so many ways. He was soft, gentle, cultured, loving, sensitive, creative and imaginative who expressed himself in away that has touched the hearts of so many. He wrote nationalistic poems to urge pakhtoons and especially the youth to wake up from ignorance, gain education and bring about betterment of their nation.

Using his poetry as a medium, Ghani incited the pakhtoons to rise out of their apathis, break the chains of slavers and develop socially, economically and normally according to the code of pakhtoonwali in a free culture and society. He says “I want to see my people educated and enlightened a people with a vision and a strong sense of justice who can carve out a future for themselves in harmony with nature”.

His patriotic passion is reflected in the following lines;

“o mother,with what face will you wait for me,

ifim not turn to pieces by enemy guns?

either i turned

this wretched kind of mine into a

garden of mine,

or I ravage the lanes and homes of pakhtoons”

Ghanikhani is a big and impressive figure in the modern Romantic Pashto poetry. Through his works, he appears to be a humanist, a romantic, a nationalist and a realist, all at the same time – qualities which seemingly contradict each other. He is a true romantic as he advocates that beauty in thought, deed and action is essential for civilization, but this is not to suggest that Ghanis work was derived from western thinkers. Indeed Ghani is at his best when he is critiquing the social contract theory. Ghani is also opposed to the mindset of the radical cleric, which he views as an attempt to exercise social control in the name of religion.

Ghani Khan’s poetry has the philosophical depth and profundity which are similar to the Keatsian thoughts. These have been discussed, debated and argued by the modern poets and critics. His poetry has given new vistas and aspects to the Pashto poetry and because of such depth, live expression, musicality of thought, courage, reality, spontaneity and high flight of imagination, he was considered a world class philosopher, poet and thinker. Ghani Khan, like any matured, original philosophical genius, romantic, rebel and revolutionary figure, has the potential to be classed in the ranks of the literary giants of the world of literature.





Chapter 2

                                  Keats – An Eternal Lover of Beauty

“The excellence of every art is its intensity, capable of making all disagreables evaporate from their being in close relationship with beauty and truth”

-John Keats

John Keats devoted his short life to perfection of poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend. He is the archetype of the romantic writer.  Keats was an English poet whose rich poetry was full of romantic spirit. He suffered from family tragedies. He lost both his parents when he was a young lad of eight years. Tuberculosis killed his mother and brother and he himself died of it at the age of just twenty-five, when he was receiving great recognition for his work. He breathed for the sensation and transcended imagination in his poetry. From his early sonnets to his incomplete poem, Hyperion his poetry like La Belle Dame Sans Merci and Isabella had impressed many poets, group of artists, including the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the symbolists, writers and critics and it had influenced giants of literature. John Keats is essentially a poet of love, beauty, nature and life. Imagination was a chief characteristic of Keats’ poetry. He roamed in the realm of imagination by his poetic wings and they helped him to be a poet of senses, warmth, expression of sensitive emotions and humanistic feelings. These features kept him away from self-centeredness and selfishness.

He loved Shakespeare and tried to adopt the best of English literary tradition. Aileen Ward rightly noted,

“Keats’s special originality was his sense of dedication to the tradition of 9English poetry and his attempt to recover it for the use of poetry in his time. Keats earned his place in the tradition of English poetry by his courage to accept failure and move beyond it, his patience in learning his craft from those who could teach him.”

(An evaluation of his poetry, 28)

At the same time he could derive much from his talents and exhibit originality and thus endow the recurring themes of poetry with a light that radiates only from his sound that will find an echo in the hearts of young and old for all the times to come.

Keats felt that the deepest meaning of life lay in the apprehension of material beauty, although his mature poems reveal his fascination with a world of death and decay. Keats was a prophet and staunch believer in beauty. He was also aware of the harsh realities of the world.  The worship of beauty is the clue to everything in Keats; and, as he came to feel that an experience into which no sadness enters belongs to an inferior order of beauty, so he found the most soul-searching sorrow in the very temple of delight.

The mysterious and musical closing lines of his, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all,

Ye know on earth and all ye need not to know”

The above lines are some of the most discussed, debated and argued over lines in the English poetry. Ode on a Grecian urn is one of the best poems of John Keats. Understanding some lines this poem are a challenge to any reader. Some of the difficulty arises because there is no definitive text for this poem. No manuscript in Keats handwriting survives. Although the poem was included in a volume of poems published in 1820, Keats may have been too ill to correct typesetting errors. Also, there exist two other versions of the poem which have some claim to authority. The differences among these versions are significant and affect meaning. Keats lovely, intelligent and deeply sympathetic nature befriended him easily to other authors and cultural figures like Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt, Wordsworth and Shelley. His close friend John Hamilton Reynolds remembers him as having, “the greatest power of poetry in him, of any one since Shakespeare.” Despite growing and increasing recognition of his talent, his first volumes of poems andEndymion, he was held in scathing derision, much of this collection was directed to his poor origins.

What makes Keats a romantic is his intention to attempt to run away from the hazards of life by creating a new world in his imagination, which he hopes will protect him from the pitfalls of life. He builds a dream world in his poems, like the other romantics in order to break away from the actuality. He seeks for an escape from the hard conditions of life in a realm of beauty and romance. Keats is also inspired by antiquity because he seeks for an escape into the past too. In Ode to nightingale, the song of the bird transfers him into the world of imagination and he forgets his personal sorrows in the happy world of the nightingale.

The ode is a complex poetic form, and Keats is generally regarded as one of the masters of the form. At the same time he develops a poetic language appropriate both to the form of the ode and the nature of his themes. Keats language renders experience precisely; it captures the rhythm and movement of thoughts and feelings. Most of the odes are born of some sudden inspiration. The union of joy and pain is the fundamental fact of human experience that Keats has observed and accepted as true in his odes. The odes structure conforms to the gnostic pattern of a fall from innocence into the dividedness of experience and subsequent return to a higher innocence as self-knowledge or self-recollection.

Keats was also formulating the thinking behind his most famous doctrine, negative capability, which is the idea that humans are capable of transcending intellectual or social constraints and far exceeds, creatively or intellectually, what human nature is thought to allow. Keats saw a world more chaotic, more creative than what others he felt would permit. In ‘Ode to nightingale’ and ‘Ode on a Grecian urn’, Keats tries to free himself from the world of change by identifying with the nightingale, representing nature, or the urn, representing art. These odes, as well as ‘The ode to psyche’ and the ‘Ode to melancholy’ present the poet as dreamer, the question in these odes, as well as in La belle dame sans merci and The eve of stagnes how Keats characterizes the dream or vision.

Keats often associated love and pain both in his life and in his poetry. He wrote about a young woman whom he found to be very attractive in his Isabella. Love and death are intertwined in Isabella, The eve of stagnesandLa belle dame sans merci. The fatal woman who is destructive to love, like Cleopatra appears in La belle dame sans merci and Lamia. Most of the Keats works do not focus on religion, ethics, morals or politics. He mostly just writes about sensations and experiencing the richness of life. Keats focuses on how experiencing beauty gives meaning and value to life.

Keats imagery ranges among all our physical sensations, sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, temperature, weight, pressure, hunger, thirst, sexuality and movement. Keats repeatedly combines different senses in one image, that is, he attributes the traits of one sense to another, a practice called synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is a use of imagery and language choices which describe sensory impressions in terms of other senses. His synaesthetic imagery performs two major functions in his poems; it is a part of the sensual effect and the combining of senses normally experienced as separate suggests an underlying unity of dissimilar happenings, the oneness of all forms of life. Richard H Foggle calls these images the product of his “unrivaled ability to absorb, sympathize with and humanize natural objects”.

Keats is one of the greatest lovers and admirers of nature. In his poetry, we come across exquisitely beautiful descriptions of the wonder sights and senses of nature. He looks with child-like delight at the objects of nature and his whole being is thrilled by what he sees and hears. Everything in nature for him is full of wonder and mystery – the rising sun, the moving cloud, the growing bud and the swimming fish. Keats love for nature is purely sensuous and he loves the beautiful sights and scenes of nature for their own sake, while other romantics see in nature a deep meaning-ethical, moral or spiritual. Keats description of nature is very beautiful and he paints the pictures with words. He describes things with beautiful images and it seems as if he touches them, hears them and even smells them. He personifies the object of nature. Another quality of Keats, as a poet of nature is that he often presents the objects of nature as living being with a life of their own. His observation of nature is often characterized by minuteness and vividness. Keats eye observes every little detail, and presents it with a mature touch. For Keats, nature remains a perennial source of poetry and joy.

Keats is the most gnostic of the romantic poets in regard to living its most basic principles of knowledge and redemption. Keats is clearly gnostic in his soul-making insights as an instance of his predisposition toward knowledge as the realization of the self through direct experience and intuition. The experience of gnostic principles of redemption involving mythic descent and ascent is at the heart of the reappearance of the creation of myth genre in romanticism. For Keats, beauty as synonymous with truth displaces a transcendent absolute as an immanent principle of unity and knowledge. Gnostic knowledge or gnosis differs from rational cognition in being a paradoxical knowledge of the unknowable one. Keats exemplifies the ambiguity of the gnostic temperament in terms of the paradox of knowing and being.

Harold bloom and Lionel Trilling summarize Keats world view succinctly;

“beyond the uncompromising sense that we are completely physical in a world, and the allied realization that we are compelled to imagine more than we can know or understood, there is a third quality in Keats more clearly present than in any other poet since Shakespeare. This is the gift of tragic acceptance, which persuades us that Keats was the least solipstic of poets, the one most able to grasp the individuality and reality of solves totally distinct from his own, and of an outward world that would survive his perception of it.”

(An evaluation of his poetry, 31)

Shelley did much to decrease the intensity of this crushing attack on his works by paying tribute to him (Keats) in his elegiac poem, “Adonais” noting that those canker worms caused the genius of Keats to be blighted in the bud. Despite of the crushing attacks on his maiden works and personal loses and sufferings, he said, “I think I shall be among the English poets after my death”




Chapter 3

Flowers in same buds; but different in colour -A comparison of

John Keats and Abdul Ghani Khan

Literature is studied not because it pleases or instructs but because, as Longinus wrote, it lifts us out of ourselves; it moves us and brings us face to face with the aspirations, dreams, hopes and fears and joys and sorrows of our own life. And when two great poets of the stature are put together, the aesthetic pleasure is greatly increased.

Poets do share the elements of universality in their poetry which transcend the limits of time and space. Poets are born geniuses that live forever and get secure place in the hearts of people because the message they give is universal, timeless and spaceless. They represent all that is inner and they express all those feelings of hearts which appeal to the soul. The universality in the poetry of both Abdul Khan and John Keats has made them immortal and for all times to be read and to be impressed by.

Despite the fact that both belong to different time periods, different back grounds, different cultures and they have even different languages altogether and they are even of different ages, Ghani lived to see the ripe days of his life while Keats did not even see the beautiful days of his youth fully and the cruel death cut him up in the very bud and prime of life. Ghani had at least the opportunity to visit the birth place of Keats but on the other hand, Keats might not have even heard of Ghani`s people and homeland. John Keats belongs to the Romantic Movement and he is influenced it. Ghani khan does not belong to the Romantic Movement. But his poetry has romantic elements in it. Amidst his adoration for love, beauty, life, and poetry, he is also known to be a Crazy Philosopher. Ghanikhan’s poetry is an expression of the culture, traditions and life styles of Pashto people. The world portrays pakhtoons as a violent nation. His purpose of writing poetry was to discard the notion that pakhtoons are people with brutal values. The purpose of Keats was to create poetry in a world devoid of mythic grandeur, poetry that sought its wonder in the desires and sufferings of the human heart.

Despite having so many differences in their cultures, languages, backgrounds, ideologies and even huge difference in age, there are still many points of similarity between the poetry of Abdul Ghani Khan and John Keats, besides they were also alike in many ways.

The core and crux of their poetry is basically one, they were highly romantics and staunch believers in beauty. Quite surprisingly, both of these romantic poets were not appreciated in their lives for their poetry. Keats was severely criticized for his poem, “Endymion” by the reviewers. Even Keats admitted the faults he had in his poem but he was still not spared. His fame started to grow when Shelley treated him in glowing terms in his elegiac poem, “Adonais”.

Similar was the case with Ghani Khan whose genius, talent, potential as a poet and philosopher was not recognized and he remained unappreciated during his life. There were very few persons around him who had sympathy and love for his works and were also able enough to comprehend him and understand his poetry and to see in him a philosopher of high rank.

WhenGhani khan died, a host of his fans thronged to his residence and still keep coming to record their feelings about this great Pashto romantic poet, but they were nowhere when he was alive. There were certain groups which thought him to be a threat to their interests but when he died, they took a sigh of relief and then canonized him to the maximum as Ghani Khan himself says about such things in the following verses:

“I got closer to my beloved only by leaving,

I understood only as I heard them not.”

Both poets had interests in many things but turned more seriously to poetry for which they were made and they were gifted profusely. Keats was apprenticed for medicine but he never practiced medicine. Ghani Khan also had command on Persian, Arabic, English and Pashto. He had also done chemical engineering but took up poetry only. The expertise in different things was not suitable for their nature but they found poetry to be the only medium for their soul solace and satisfaction.

The concept of beauty and nature in the poetry of Abdul Ghani Khan and John Keats is similar. Both these great romantic poets of Pashto and English were great admirers of nature and beauty. They loved nature and they had genuine interest in it to express their inner most and deepest feelings. They found nature to be a source to recognize and see God. Their godly feelings arose because of their naturalistic description in their poetry. Keats’ Odes specially brim with the nature and its beauty descriptions but in his “Ode to autumn” he reached the height of his poetic genius and his poetic expression finds the best description of nature and beauty and is fully well explored. As Leonard Unger finds, the words are descriptive in their phonetic qualities and rhythmical arrangement. The Ode opens with the vivid description of autumn;

“How to load and bless with fruit

the vines that round the thatch-eves run,

To bend with apples, the moss`d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core,

To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells

with a sweet kernel to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has over brimm`d the clammy cells”

(Ode to Autumn)

The description of the nature imagery becomes stronger towards the end of the poem as the ode continues,

“Or by cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

(Ode to Autumn)

The poem is suggestive of the transitory and short-lived things. Similarly thoughts about the description of nature and beauty imagery in “The Hymn to Pan” in Endymion are presented. As Keats says about the fruition in this beautiful imagery laden lines:

“Broad leaved fig trees even now for doom,

Their ripened fruitage; yellow girted bees,

Their golden honey combs, our village leas,

Their fairest blossom`d beans and poppied corn,

The chuckling linnet, its five young unborn,

To sing for thee; low creeping strawberries,

Their freckled wings; yea the fresh budding year,

All its completions”

(Endymion 1.252-260)

In Keatsian vision, everything, be it winter or summer, moves in consummate harmony, nothing is isolate, everything everywhere is moving in an orderly fashion. The emergence of one is dependent upon the fall of another – i.e., melancholy ensues delight. Ghani Khan, also like Keats, has the similar feelings of joy and sadness in the cycle of Seasons in the poem of spring (Sparlay). In this poem, we feel him shouting with joy at the defeat of death by new life.

“O my beloved, come , see darkness has changed into light,

A new spring has created a new world of flowers,

The earth was utterly barren and dry,

The happiness and playfulness had departed from earth,

Leaves were yet to sprout, it seemed

as if they were overshadowed by death,

Life was bereft of sound music,

The spring brought back and filled with laughter,

O my beloved, come, see the darkness has changed into light.”

Keats once again very vividly and graphically expresses his feelings about beauty in his famous “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” as he ends the Ode with these significant lines:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all,

Ye know on earth, and all Ye all need to know.”

Feelings like these are also given in Ghani Khan`s poetry when he writes the following verses:

“Beauty is beauty which is both God and Jaanan,

In this mortal world, this is immortal thing,

A single short look at a rose answers

Your many questions that are not to be

Found in the books of logic.”


Similar things are meant by Keats when he says in the “Hyperion”:

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever:

Its loveliness increases; it will never,

Pass into nothingness.”

Some critics hold Ghani’s concept of beauty as eternal and Keatsian concept of beauty is considered as transient which they have also called “a phase Beauty” but the Keatsian impermanence of beauty has got its own importance and an eternal joy as these lines of Keats express his impermanent nature of beauty beautifully.

“She dwells with Beauty— Beauty that must die;

And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips”

(Bidding adieu, St III)

But it does not at all mean that Keats does not believe in Eternal Beauty, his overall poetic works and specially his Odes are expressively explicit in the concept of Eternal beauty. Keats, very much like Ghani, has the belief in reaching to the divinity by losing himself in the beauty around him.It is natural for a man to attain a point of liberty and happiness by virtue of his patience and fortitude and Keats very correctly points out to the freedom from self-hood and other worldly pursuits which push him to such a high point of happiness that love can attain.

The concept of an otherworld or escapism is another hallmark of the poetry of john keats and ghani khan. Elements of escapism are found in keatsode to a nightingale;

“O for a draught of vintage, that hath been

Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth,

Tasting of flora and the country green,

Dance, and provincial song, and sun-burnt mirth”

In the above lines the poet wants to escape from the pain of a joy-pain reality, the poet begins to move into a world of imagination or fantasy. Poet calls for wine. His purpose is clearly not to get drunk. He tries to associates wine with some quality or state which he is seeking. “Sunburnt mirth” is an excellent example of synaethesia in Keats imagery, since flora, the green countryside, etc. are being experienced by Keats through drinking wine in his imagination. ‘Sunburnt mirth’ describes the sight of sunburnt faces at the same time as we hear the same people laughing. His awareness of the real world pulls him back from the imagined world of drink-joy. In ode to a nightingale, Keats wants to create a world of pure joy. Similar thoughts of escapism are found in the poetry of Ghani khan. Ghani too dreams a world of pure joy. He says;

“I am on my way to my destination and

am determined to reach there,

Whatever befalls me on the way

whether light or darkness but I like light

And darkness does frighten me.”

(going and keep going)

Ghanis concept of beauty has a special connotation. It means janaan. Janaan for Ghani is a limitless idea of beauty and light, music, colour and light. The main aim of Ghani`s life is movement to his Janaan, his beloved who seems to be his end point and in his another poem(Jalaal, Grandeur)this feeling of meeting and finding him is hinted at;

“When you are there my janaan (Beloved),

your playfulness and happiness is my light,

Your love turns my tears into laughter,

All my ecstasy is due to your love and beauty,

Your glory and grandeur are reflected in my weak eyes”

Some critics blame Ghani and Keats to be devoid of earthly love. But they are wrong as both the poets are very much aware of this love and through this love they want to reach the ultimate end and highest levels of spiritual love. Ghani is noted saying about this kind of love in the following lines;

“It is not easy to see the vision of God

but presence of spring and my beloved

face are the sufficient proofs of God’s existence.”

Both the poets have the imprint of women in their poetry but Ghani`s approach seems to be more mature than Keats as he lived to see the ripe days of life. But in his youth he was like any young person impressed by every beautiful face he saw, as the following verses indicate:

“The thorns and Nargis (Tulip or Narcissus) branches exist side by side,

Under the pretext of education, many roaming beauties are seen.”

( DaLandanMashuqai, London Beloved or beloved from London)

But, in one of his poems, like any other traditional poet, he is found singing in praise of his beloved and wanting to meet her as soon as possible.

“Your isolation made my life very miserable,

And how this miserable isolation would be,

I love to be disgraced in your love,

Without you honor means nothing now,

Your one single lovely look,

Your short sweet wordings,

Can change my life into heaven”


Ghani’s concept of love got deeper when he married Roshan. In his love for her, he wanted to find solace. This strong feeling of love is seen in these lines as he had just read a letter from her in jail.

“I made a new life and world for you from two handfuls of dirt,

I got so much engrossed in your love,

from that deep love I made a new beloved for you,

With this deep feeling of love, I entered the valley of madness,

I found you, my beloved, (my gem) the best than all the other gems,

This extreme madness in your love is the proof of my love, faith and belief,

As my soul got enlightened, then it made the two eyes shine.”

(Da Faridun da Moor Khatha, a letter from Faridun`s Mother)

Having such strong belief in love, still he considers the concept of women very realistically. In contrast Keats had little belief so far as women and love were concerned. In “Endymion” he is not happy much with love. His concept of physical love realization could not fit into his spiritual idealization of love. But it does not mean that his concept of love altogether too rigid that finds no place in his poetry but rather it is so deep for Fanny that made him compose unique poetry for the world. His intense feeling of love he expresses in letter to Fanny in these words:

“I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks,

your loveliness and the hour of my death,

O, that I could take possession of them both in the same moment”.

His poetry sometimes also is brim with the romantic feelings and the following lines from The eve of St. Agnes clearly reflect his romantic love;

“Beyond a mortal man impassion`d far,

At these voluptuous accents, he arose,

Ethereal, flush`d and like a throbbing star,

Seen mid the sapphire heaven’s deep repose,

Into her dream he melted as the rose

Blended its odour with violet,

Solution sweet, meantime the frost wind blows,

Like love’s alarum patterning the sharp sleet,

Against the window-panes, St. Agnes moon hath set.”

Both these great poets share their feelings for wine and its intoxicating effects upon them in their poetry. As Ghani says about this in the following verses:

“When I get intoxicated, my soul leaves my body,

Like a caged bird leaves its confinement,

My soul is then lifted like a flower

raising its head in the graveyard,

I leave my physical body,

And by the help of my imagination

I sour to the seventh sky to roamabout,

I come here in search of life source and the place of light.”


Looking at Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale, almost similar feelings are sought as the following Keatsian verses indicate,

“O for a beaker full of the warm South,

Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,

With beaded bubbles, winking at the brim,

And purple-stained mouth,

That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the forest dim.”

Keats and Ghani Khan seem to share several similar thoughts in their poetry. Their love for Beauty and Nature, and their concern for the Eternal and Political turmoil’s are also manifested in their poetry. Escapism is the hallmark of these great poets and, on the wings of their imagination, they seek shelter in the imaginary world from the harsh realities of life, but it does not mean that they do not look at the world realistically. Despite the fact that they lived in two different centuries and that they dwelled in different countries with different cultures, they got so many things similar in their poetry.





In this attempt to account for the differences and similarities between the two poets, it had been referred in the previous chapters to their respective family backgrounds, life experiences, socio historical contexts and literary traditions as major categories which functioned to shape their poetic developments. It is true that in terms of historical periodicity or the transmission of ideas, the two poets have no common link to warrant a fruitful influence. However, by investigating the intricacies of their poetic work in a comparative manner and especially, in close relation to their  social and political milieu, we have come to see that the two poets resemble each other to a surprising degree in their thematic concerns and sometimes even in the ways they present these concerns.

Keats and Ghani Khan hold a unique position in literature due to the contribution they have made to the poetry of Pashto and English languages respectively.Ghani and Keats are similar to a great extent with few exceptions. Both the poets give expression to feelings and emotions, which can be appealing to everyone of any age or time or place. They used their imagination in order to vent their emotions and feelings, but at the same time they did not escape from their environment. They were very much aware of their surroundings. They understood human nature and working of the human heart. Ghani khan and John Keats wanted to see the world permeated by love that they considered to be an integral part of beauty. Beauty, love and truth were their guiding force and goal. Through it, they hoped to achieve closer to the eternal. Their feelings have a universality that has a general appeal irrespective of age and culture.


Ghani Khan, like Keats, was also a great lover of beauty. His beauty concept transcends the limitations of time and enriches the essence of civilization and culture. Keats did not have, like Ghani Khan, the experience of life – the reasons being his ill health and youth. Ghanikhans poetry is anti-political. In both poets, love goes quite musically, the elements of musicality in the expression of love in the poetry of both poets is very strong. Despite having the various aspects of similarity between the poetry of these two poets, there are also points of differences. Keats’ style is sensuous while Ghani’s style is more simple and straight forward. They both believed in the natural expression of poetry. Both of these great romantic poets from East and West are great sources of inspiration for the lovers of literature.

Ghani khan and John Keats reflect their reaction their current social problems by protesting the established order and mostly create substitute for reality in order to avoid the effect of time and mortal limitations. In addition to this, these Romantic poets try to reflect an ideal world, which they cannot achieve to have in their material realm. Therefore they depict this ideal in a transcendental level. While idealizing human beings the artists demonstrate a human paradox which indicates the thirst to live forever. At the end it displays a picture that the human beings are transient however, immortality can be achieved through creating a work of art and being remembered forever.




Abrams, MH. A glossary of literary terms. New Delhi. Macmillan. 1978.

Chandra, Swarup. Companion to English literature. Delhi. Kumud publications. 2012.

Daiches, David. A critical history of English literature. London. Secker and Warburg. 1968.

Khan, Taimur.Ghanikhans poetry. The frontier post publications. 1995.

Murfin, Ross. The Bedford glossary of critical and literary terms. New york. Palgrave Macmillan. 2009.

Nandwani, Aditya. An evaluation of his poetry. New delhi. Anmol publications. 2009.

Roe, Nicholas. Keats and history.Cambridge university press. 1996.






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