Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Songs of Innocence - Lata Mangeshkar and Noor Jehan

William Blake, an English poet (1757 - 1827) wrote "Songs of Innocence", a collection of poems written from a child's perspective on innocent and spontaneous delight on encountering a lamb or a chimney sweeper, etc. In this first blog, I will pair the Introduction to the Songs of Innocence with two delightful songs from the two supreme and unparalleled singers of the Indian sub-continent: Lata Mangeshkar and Noor Jehan.

Songs of Innocence (William Blake)


Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:

'Pipe a song about a Lamb!'
So I piped with merry cheer.
'Piper, pipe that song again.'
So I piped: he wept to hear.

'Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!'
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.

'Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.'
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed:

And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.


Two delightful songs

Seated from left: Lata Mangeshkar, Noor Jehan, Suraiyya and

Dilip Kumar is seen talking to Noor Jehan (Bombay 1982).

I begin with Lata Mangeshkar's evergreen song from Barsaat: hawa mein udtha jaye mera lal dupatta malmal ka, ho ji, ho ji. This movie starred Raj Kapoor and Nargis and was directed by Raj Kapoor. It was released in 1949 and marked the debut of the music composers Shankar-Jaikishen. Ramesh Shastri wrote the lyrics. The audio link below is followed by a video link.


An equally impressive lilting song was sung by Noor Jehan in 1953 after she migrated to Pakistan in the movie Dupatta (her second film in Pakistan) - main ban patang ud jaungi. Noor Jehan starred in this movie and the amazing music was by Feroze Nizami. The lyrics were by Arsh Lucknawi. First, a clear audio clip is presented and then a video link is given.

Both songs are ever delightful to hear, a testimony to the beautiful lyrics, music composition, melodic interludes, and, the supreme voices, Lata and Noor Jehan. I will pair more such songs with possibly poems in subsequent blogs.