Classical Urdu Poetry

Persian poetry was for many centuries one of the major arts to be cultivated across the eastern Islamic world. The patronage of the great Mughal emperors encouraged a further development of Persian poetry in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century India by both immigrant and native-born poets. While their works were formally cast in the long established traditional poetic genres, some novelty of expression came from their development of the new baroque manner called the "Indian style" (sabk-e hindi).

The eighteenth-century switch from Persian to Urdu as the preferred language of courtly poetry in northern India had been linguistically foreshadowed by the preclassical Urdu poetry produced in the southern Muslim kingdoms of the Deccan. But the living tradition of classical Urdu poetry is identified with the period when the empire had collapsed under the twin pressures of external invasions and internal struggles into several successor states, notably the court of the Navvab-Vazirs of Avadh in Lucknow and that of the politically shadowy later Mughals in Delhi, both of which were maintained as puppet kingdoms by the British until the mid-nineteenth century.