Book Review

Book Review: Nocturnal Hours by Ruqayya Shaheed

Title: Nocturnal Hours

Author: Ruqayya Shaheed

Genre:  Poetry

First Publication: 2019

Language: English


Book Summary: Nocturnal Hours

Nocturnal Hours is a heart-wrenching collection of poems chronicling a journey of sorrows from adolescence to adulthood. Deeply personal, it addresses author Ruqayya Shaheed’s lack of self-belief, inability to combat dejection, failed relationships and heartaches in life. But the panacea for the grief and suffering is found in embracing the crimson wounds.


Book Review: Nocturnal Hours

Nocturnal Hours is a collection of poems celebrating womanhood by Ruqayya Shaheed. The book has well-constructed layout, consisting different sections with a variety of poetic voices speaking about different times/events in a woman’s life.

There are three section in the book, Each ‘section’ includes an introduction by her, and then a smattering of poems covering  various topic. They are: Home, Dreams, Fear, Ignorance, Falling in Love; Self-deception, Ache, Courage, Work, Heart break, Karma, Liberation and many things of this world. It was a very good collection of poems. All were pleasing. This book is ‘A Woman’s Journey Through Poems‘ but that does not mean a man could not enjoy it, although it is geared towards women.

The apparitions that linger and hover,
In the nocturnal hours of the solemn night,
Don’t petrify her.
It’s the mortal beings with their
Deceiving eyes,
Fraudster minds,
And flattering words,
That frighten her the most.

Particularly appealing was the well-constructed lay-out, consisting of sections each containing a variety of poetic voices speaking about different times/events in a woman’s life (love, marriage, death, grief and so on). So turbulent, so powerful and heartfelt the poetry collection is that you can really see and feel author’s emotional turmoil.

In that fleeting inexorable moment,
She metamorphosed
Into a wingless butterfly,
That only took flight
In her banal dreams
So as to wander
In the nocturnal hours,
And narrate the sordid tales
Of the misfortunes destined upon her.
She was undeniably so desirable.
So profoundly flawed.
That every glimpse upon her
Contained volumes of awe,
Blended with enormous pity.

I really enjoyed this collection. Author Ruqayya has a lot to say about her thoughts and feelings as they spread and evolved across the pages of this wonderful collection of poems. The range of the poems is incredible, and her style has a wonderful feeling of openness, actively avoiding too heavy of a ‘high’ or ‘academic’ tone, and attempting to seriously acknowledge and speak to a very grounded and real every day world. This world is sometimes unjust, violent, dangerous, or adverse, but in equal measures full of love, sublimity, hope, and possibility. It is a thought provoking, emotion stirring, and encouraging read. Overall, an enchanting collection, and one I would highly recommend.

I can’t share all of my favorite poems from this wonderful collection, but here is one called ‘Values’ from the second section.

No right you hold over free will.
For you know the fear we can instill.

The reins of your life you control not.
Remember your teachings and what you were taught.

We will determine who you’ll love,
For God has sent us from above.

With others dare not to exchange furtive glances.
Don’t take the risk, nor the chances.

One day you’ll learn the immensity of our affection.
And in yourself, you’ll discover a tincture of our reflection.
Budge not. Move not. Breath not. Live not.
You’ll proceed upon our consent.

Feel free to despise us, adore us, denigrate us or extol us.
But try not to scour our deep-rooted values.
They were, are and will always be with us.

Buy Now: Nocturnal Hours by Ruqayya Shaheed

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