Ghalib: Selected Poems and Letters 9780231544009

This selection of poetry and prose by Ghalib provides an accessible and wide-ranging introduction to the preeminent Urdu

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Ghalib: Selected Poems and Letters

Table of contents :
Introduction: Ghalib’s Life and Times
Part One: Ghazals
Part Two: Ghazal Verses
Part Three: Other Genres
Appendix 1. Ghalib’s Comments on His Own Verses
Appendix 2. Ghalib Concordance, with Standard Divan Numbers
Glossary of Technical Terms and Proper Names
Urdu Text

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TR A NS L AT I O NS F R O M T H E A S I AN CL AS S ICS Editorial Board Wm. Theodore de Bary, Chair Paul Anderer Donald Keene George A. Saliba Haruo Shirane Burton Watson Wei Shang


Selected Poems and Letters

Edited and translated by Frances W. Pritchett and Owen T. A. Cornwall


Columbia University Press wishes to express its appreciation for assistance given by the Pushkin Fund in the publication of this book. Columbia University Press Publishers Since 1893 New York Chichester, West Sussex Copyright © 2017 Frances W. Pritchett and Owen T. A. Cornwall All rights reserved Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Ghalib, Mirza Asadullah Khan, 1797-1869, author. | Pritchett, Frances W., 1947- editor, translator. | Cornwall, Owen T. A., editor, translator. | Ghalib, Mirza Asadullah Khan, 1797-1869. Works. Selections. | Ghalib, Mirza Asadullah Khan, 1797-1869. Works. Selections. English. Title: Ghalib : selections from his Urdu poetry and prose / edited and translated by Frances W. Pritchett and Owen T.A. Cornwall. Description: New York : Columbia University Press, 2017. | Series: Translations from the Asian classics | English translation and Urdu text. | Includes bibliographical references, appendices, glossary, and index. Identi ers: LCCN 2016028955 (print) | LCCN 2016048551 (ebook) | ISBN 9780231182065 (cloth : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780231182065 (electronic) Classi cation: LCC PK2198.G4 A2 2017 (print) | LCC PK2198.G4 (ebook) | DDC 891.4/3913—dc23 LC record available at Columbia University Press books are printed on permanent and durable acid-free paper. Printed in the United States of America


Acknowledgments vii Introduction: Ghalib’s Life and Times 1 PART ONE: GHAZALS 21 PART TWO: GHAZAL VERSES 53 PA RT TH RE E : OTH E R G E N R ES 71 1. Poems 73 Qa das (Odes) 73 An ode in praise of the Prophet (1 21) 73 An ode in praise of a sleek betel nut (1 26) 76 An ode in praise of the king (1 2) 77 Rub s (Quatrains) 81 A quatrain on childhood and old age (1 16) 81 A quatrain on “speaking the di cult” (1 21) 81 A quatrain on reworks and passion (1 ) 81


2. Letters 83 To Tafta (1 ), about the terrible losses of 1 7 83 To Mihr (1 9), about Ghalib’s appearance 84 To Mihr (1 60), about the long-ago cruel dancing girl 86 To Mihr (1 60), about being a sugar y, not a honey y 87 To Ala’i (1 61), about the poet’s life as a captive 88

3. Prose 91 Preface to a Romance (1 66) 91

Notes 95 Appendix 1. Ghalib’s Comments on His Own Verses 111 Appendix 2. Ghalib Concordance, with Standard Divan Numbers 115 Glossary of Technical Terms and Proper Names 121 Bibliography 127 Index 129 Urdu Text 133

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Ghalib loved and cherished his friends, and we want to o er a toast to ours. We owe to Shamsur Rahman Faruqi a larger debt than we can describe. We thank Aftab Ahmad, Allison Busch, Arthur Dudney, Satyanarayana Hegde, Pasha M. Khan, C. M. Naim, Sean Pue, Dalpat Rajpurohit, and Zahra Sabri for their advice, help, and moral support; we also o er a libation to the memory of Aditya Behl. We thank Sheldon Pollock for encouraging us to undertake this project. Finally, Jennifer Crewe and the sta of Columbia University Press have been a pleasure to work with, and we are greatly in their debt.

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Introduction Ghalib’s Life and Times

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Mughal empire, once in control of almost the entire Indian subcontinent, was hanging by a thread. The repeated invasions by Iranians, Afghans, and Marathas in the course of the eighteenth century had left the Mughal emperors in possession of little beyond the imperial Red Fort in Delhi and their title. In 1803, the British East India Company o cers with their Indian sepoy army captured Delhi and consolidated their hold on North India. From then on, the Mughal emperors were British pensioners. The traditional date of Ghalib’s birth is 1797, in Agra, into a family of Turkish descent and military background.1 Ghalib’s father died when the boy was only ve, and the family was supported by an uncle, Nasrullah Beg Khan. This uncle, having surrendered the Agra fort to the British in 1803, joined the East India Company army. When he died in 1806, Ghalib was entitled to a signi cant portion of his British pension, but another, better-connected relative diverted much of it. For decades Ghalib petitioned the indi erent British bureaucracy for his rightful share, even making an arduous but ultimately vain journey to the East India Company’s capital in Calcutta in 1828. His nancial circumstances were always precarious, but he nevertheless aspired to live in a style be tting a late-Mughal aristocrat. The young Ghalib was precocious, talented, and hardworking. In 1813 he moved permanently from Agra to Delhi. At nineteen he compiled his rst collection of poetry, and during his twenties he continued to compose ghazals in the highly Persianized Urdu that had begun to supplant Persian itself in the literary life of Delhi. His middle decades were devoted chie y to poems and letters in Persian. [1]

Persian was the “great tradition” on which he wanted to leave his mark. Although he felt little or no nostalgia for the political achievements of the Mughal empire, he cultivated the aesthetics of the sixteenth-century Persian poets who had migrated between the Safavid and Mughal empires in pursuit of patronage. In this respect, he might properly be considered the last great writer of the classical Indo-Persian poetic tradition, before the devastating social and cultural ruptures of 1857, when a rebellion against the British was met with ferocious reprisals. But to Ghalib’s regret, Persian was increasingly on the wane in North India during his lifetime. Late in life he composed additional ghazals in Urdu, at the behest of Bahadur Shah “Zafar” (r. 1837–1858), the last Mughal emperor, and other patrons. But he always insisted that he was really a Persian poet, for whom Urdu was only a secondary poetic language. Some evidence of his pride in his Urdu poetry can be found in his letters (and in the closing-verse of ghazal 19, though it is early), but only enough for a kind of “minority report.” Ironically, it was his Urdu poetry and letters that brought him fame, while his work in Persian has received very little attention. As part of his aristocratic self-image, Ghalib took pride in his position of honor at the East India Company’s durbar, where as a member of a prominent family he was accorded an elaborate title and a ceremonial robe of honor. His pension, even when supplemented by stipends from rich admirers of his poetry, was barely enough to support his household. He had been married at the age of thirteen to Umrao Begam, a distant relative from a richer branch of the family; they had a number of children, all of whom died in infancy or early childhood. The couple adopted two orphaned boys from his wife’s side of the family and raised them a ectionately. Relations between Ghalib and his wife were always correct, in the formal style of the time, but the two seem not to have been particularly compatible in temperament. His biographer and one-time pupil Altaf Husain “Hali” reports that Ghalib was a dutiful husband: he lived in the men’s quarters, but his wife duly looked after his food and other needs, and he never failed to go once a day to the women’s quarters “at an appointed time” to see her; he was very kind to her relatives as well.2 Throughout his life Ghalib participated in mush iras hosted at venues ranging from private houses to the royal court. Steeped in etiquette, these literary gatherings for poetry recitation also served as opportunities to socialize, smoke the hookah, chew betel nut, earn the admiration of some [2]

new patron, and train one’s pupils. For the backbone of poetic education was the master-pupil relationship, in which the pupil (sh gird) submitted poems to the master (ust d) for correction. Though Ghalib never really had such an ust d himself, he had numerous pupils, including Muslims, Hindus, a British o cer, various aristocratic nawabs, and eventually Bahadur Shah himself. Ghalib often provided his corrections to their verses through the newly recon gured East India Company post o ce, which allowed him to maintain an expansive and diverse circle of friends. Ghalib’s large body of well-preserved correspondence also re ects his historical position in the vanguard of print culture in North India. His Urdu and Persian letters, which his friends cherished, were collected and printed in his lifetime. He was centrally involved with printing the Persian poetry that was his pride and joy. But his collection (divan) of Urdu poetry also was printed under his supervision four times (1841, 1847, 1861, 1862). Along with books came other new print media. On his trip to Calcutta, Ghalib read newspapers, a medium that did not reach North India until around 1837. Newspapers were double-edged swords: they printed poetry but also dealt in scandal. In 1847, a zealous colonial administrator arrested Ghalib on charges of holding gambling sessions in his house, and the titillating news circulated rapidly in Persian newspapers, spreading as far as the distant city of Bombay. His brief, nonrigorous imprisonment loomed large in his memory as a period of solitude, su ering, and bitter social humiliation. Nothing could ever crush Ghalib’s spirits for long, however. His mischievous sense of humor often involved him in controversy, as did his unshakeable faith in his own literary and poetic gifts. In defending his complex Persian poetry, he engaged in lengthy lexicographical disputes and provocative criticism. Dismissing more than ve centuries of Persian poetry in India, he claimed, “Except for Amir Khusrau of Delhi [d.1325], there is no master of Persian among the Indians.”3 He regularly drank wine—though usually in modest amounts and diluted with rose water. A beloved anecdote tells of his response to a colonial o cer who asked him, in 1857, whether he was a Muslim: “Half a Muslim,” Ghalib replied. “I drink wine; I don’t eat pork.”4 In his Persian account of the rebellion of 1857, he wrote, “I am no more than half a Muslim, for I am free from the bonds of convention and religion, and have liberated my soul from the fear of men’s tongues. It has always been my habit at night to drink French wine, and if I did not get it, I could not sleep.”5 [3]

Ghalib’s resistance to religious rules like the prohibition of alcohol was often articulated within the Su tradition that had been prominent in Persian and Arabic poetry for over a millennium. By the nineteenth century, intoxication from wine drinking was a well-established metaphor for the rapture of divine revelation. The Su vision of “the Divine creating the world in order to know Himself as in a mirror”6 explains a great deal about the ubiquitous mirror imagery in Ghalib’s poetry. But the stylized nature of the ghazal makes it di cult to tell much about Ghalib’s personal religious life from his poetry alone. In the stagecraft of poetry, it is all too easy to take the play for the playwright. From his letters, however, we can see how Ghalib resisted doctrinaire attitudes and turned away any requests to engage in religious polemic. We also nd him abjuring atheism and proclaiming his love for the Prophet Muhammad—only to colorfully lambaste a preacher for hectoring him. His respect for Ali (the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, especially beloved by Shia Muslims) is also palpable, though it would be a mistake to draw strong conclusions about his sectarian a liations. His wide circle of friends was religiously diverse, and he deplored sectarian controversies. When mutinous sepoys of the East India Company army marched from Meerut to Delhi in 1857, killing British o cers and civilians, they proclaimed their loyalty to the elderly Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah; Delhi became the center of a rebellion that spread across much of North India. The jails were emptied, mansions were looted, the postal service was disrupted, social order was at an end. The streets were full of riotous lower-class ruffians, for whom Ghalib felt deep disdain. Stranded in his house, he endured real physical privations and intense emotional su ering. When the British nally retook the city, the terrors continued. The British executed suspected rebels en masse; many members of the royal family were hanged. After the expulsion of almost all the city’s Muslims (whom the British blamed for the revolt), only a quarter of the original population of Delhi remained. The emperor was tried as a rebel and exiled to Burma; Queen Victoria now directly ruled British India. Delhi was wracked by famine and disease. The time of the rebellion and its aftermath was the hardest period in Ghalib’s life. He lost many friends on all sides and was deprived of almost all his precarious sources of income. After 1857, he virtually ceased to compose ghazals. Finally, in 1860 his British pension and durbar honors were restored, to his immense relief.


In the last years of Ghalib’s life, his eyesight and hearing began to fail. Yet he continued to court controversy by insisting on his superior knowledge of Persian, thus involving himself in lexicographical pamphleteering, vicious name-calling, and even lawsuits. In response to a particularly nasty insult, Ghalib is reported to have smiled and said, “The idiot doesn’t even know how to abuse a man. If your man is elderly or middle-aged you abuse his daughter. . . . If he’s young, you abuse his wife . . . and if he’s only a boy, you abuse his mother. This pimp abuses the mother of a man of seventy-two. Who could be a bigger fool than that?” When a friend asked why he had not replied to an attack, Ghalib said, “If you are kicked by a donkey, do you kick it back?”7 Ghalib died in 1869. On his deathbed he was still waiting and hoping (in vain) for a gift of money from a patron that would enable him at least to clear his debts. The funeral was held outside Delhi Gate, and he was buried near the shrine of the thirteenth-century Su saint Nizam al-Din Auliya (though Ghalib’s present tomb dates only from 1955). According to Hali, there was a disagreement about whether the funeral should be held with Sunni or Shia rites. Hali ends the story by saying that it would have been a more tting tribute had they used both.8

Ghalib and His Contemporaries Hali’s biography Y dg r-i gh lib (A memorial to Ghalib, 1897) has been a tremendous resource for Ghalib scholarship, because it o ers a candid, insightful, sympathetic but not hagiographical account of the man, his life, and his poetry, from the perspective of someone who knew him well. It is the mother lode for the great traditional anecdotes, like the following one that highlights Ghalib’s well-known love for wordplay and mangoes: “The late Hakim Razi ud-Din Khan was an extremely close friend of Mirza’s [Ghalib’s]. He didn’t care for mangoes. One day he was seated in the verandah of Mirza’s house, and Mirza was there as well. A donkey driver passed through the lane with his donkey. Some mango skins were lying there; the donkey took a sni , then left them. The Hakim Sahib said, ‘Look—a mango is such that even a donkey doesn’t eat it!’ Mirza said, ‘Without a doubt, a donkey doesn’t eat it.’ ”


He showed a similarly rakish wit and wordplay when dealing with the emperor Bahadur Shah as well: “One time when the month of Ramzan had just passed, he went to the Fort. The King asked, ‘Mirza, how many days of fasting did you keep?’ He petitioned, ‘My Lord and Guide, I did not keep one.’ ”9 One nal anecdote is so revelatory of Ghalib’s temperament that it is impossible not to include it. It is told by Muhammad Husain “Azad,” in the great canon-forming literary history b-i ay t (The water of life, 1880), and later retold by Hali as well: In 1842 the English government decided to reorganize the a airs of Delhi College. Thomason Sahib, who for a number of years had been Lieutenant Governor of the Northwestern Province, was Secretary at that time. He came to Delhi to interview the teachers. And just as there was a teacher of Arabic at one hundred rupees a month, he wished for there to be such a teacher of Persian also. People told him the names of some accomplished ones. Mirza’s name too was among these. Mirza Sahib came, as he had been invited to do. Announcement was made to the Sahib. Mirza Sahib came out of his palanquin, and stayed there waiting for the Secretary Sahib to come, according to long custom, and receive him. When neither the one went in, nor the other came out, and quite some time passed, then the Secretary Sahib asked his doorkeeper about it. That man came out again and asked, “Why don’t you come in?” Mirza Sahib said, “The Sahib has not come out to receive me. How can I go in?” The doorkeeper again went and reported. The Sahib came outside and said, “When you come to the governor’s court in your capacity as a nobleman, then you will receive the customary honor. But at the present time you have come for employment. You are not entitled to this honor.” Mirza Sahib said, “I consider government service a reason for additional honor, not something in which I would lose my ancestral honor also!” The Sahib said, “I am bound by regulations.” Mirza Sahib took his leave and came away.10

We have, as even more valuable sources, a large number of Ghalib’s Urdu letters, as well as some in Persian, dating mostly from the last two decades of his life. What is surprising is that they were not only saved and assiduously collected by his friends and pupils but also compiled into a volume


and printed shortly before his death (initially, over his objections)—at a time when printing was comparatively uncommon. Most of these letters were warm, informal, and chatty, in a way unprecedented in Urdu literature. They have an immediacy and colloquial vigor that is almost irresistible. Here is how he wrote (in 1852) to encourage a close friend, the poet Tafta, to send along verses to Ghalib for correction: Listen, Sahib! You know that the late Zain ul-Abidin Khan was my son, and now both his sons, who are my grandsons, have come to stay with me, and they constantly pester me, and I put up with it. The Lord is my witness—I consider you in the place of a son to me. Thus the o spring of your temperament [i.e., your verses] have become my grandsons in spirit. When I don’t get annoyed with these physical grandsons—who don’t let me eat my food, who don’t let me sleep in the afternoon, who walk with their bare feet all over my bed; here they overturn the water, there they stir up the dust—then how will I become annoyed with these grandsons in spirit, who do none of these things? Please send them o to me quickly by post, so that I can look at them. I promise that then I’ll send them back to you quickly by post.11

Sometimes, however, Ghalib seems in his letters to be an unreliable narrator. We have included in part 3 of this volume two examples that illustrate his readiness to reshape his early biography to suit his current concerns. They are the two letters that he wrote to his friend Mihr in June 1860. Both of them seek to console Mihr for the death of a beloved mistress—but what di erent approaches they take! The rst one over ows with sympathy, the second one is in snap-out-of-it mode. The rst letter presents Ghalib as a romantic fellow su erer who similarly lost a mistress in his long-ago youth, to his lifelong and unforgettable grief. The second presents Ghalib as having learned in his youth from a wise and worldly master how to be “a sugar y, not a honey y”—how to enjoy and then move on, refusing to drown in sorrow. Which letter (if either one) is accurate? There is no way for us to tell. Nowadays most people, including some scholars, tend to take the enticing rst letter as true and ignore the cynical second one. But the actual evidence (did he really have a mistress? did she really die? was he really deeply grieved?) is so scanty and uncertain that we will probably never know the truth.


Ghalib and His Critics Controversies about Ghalib’s ghazals began during his lifetime, and they have never since come to an end. The literary historian Muhammad Husain Azad conspicuously disliked Ghalib, and in b-i ay t he criticized him severely for his convoluted Persianized style and his love of multivalence and “meaning creation” (ma n - fir n ). Azad conceded that “if some verse manages to come out without convolutions, it’s as devastating as Doomsday” but claimed that there were not more than “one or two hundred” such verses in his whole divan. Thus, according to Azad, Ghalib’s friends complained that his verses were so obscure that they were meaningless (“he himself might understand, or God might understand!”), and eventually they actually wore him down: “For this reason, toward the end of his life he absolutely renounced the path of ‘delicate thought.’ Thus if you look, the ghazals of the last period are quite clear and lucid.” Azad tells us how Ghalib’s friends teased him by arranging to have a minor poet recite a “ghazal in the style of Ghalib” with the following opening-verse: The circle of the axis of the heavens is not at the lip of the water, The ngernail of the arc of the rainbow does not resemble a plectrum. Azad is careful to add, “Ghalib was a owing river. He used to listen, and laugh.” But the point has been made: Ghalib wrote poetry in which “the words were extremely re ned and colorful, but the verse absolutely without meaning,” and everybody knew this and mocked him for it.12 Azad is not our only source for such anecdotes. Hali contributes another wryly amusing account, in which one of Ghalib’s friends asks him to explain a verse that he purports to have found in his divan: First take the essence of the rose out of the eggs of bu aloes— And other drugs are there; take those out of the eggs of bu aloes. The astonished Ghalib soon realized that his friend “was objecting to his work and was insisting that there were verses like this in his divan.” [8]

Hali notes that Ghalib was not easily intimidated and in fact incorporated into his verses a rm de ance of his critics, as in the following clear example: Neither a longing for praise, nor a care for reward— If there’s no meaning in my verses, then so be it.13 But Hali goes on to argue, just as Azad does, that in later life Ghalib duly saw the error of his ways and ceased to write such di cult poetry. Certainly Ghalib had to endure the lifelong hostility of those who genuinely preferred a simpler and more colloquial poetic style, one with an emphasis on romantic emotion rather than on more cerebral and metaphysical pleasures. In the aftermath of 1857, the loss of the old aristocratic world, with its leisured and wealthy patrons, was accompanied by a steady drumbeat of Victorian triumphalism and e orts at literary and cultural “reform.” There grew up in due course a strong new movement in favor of “natural poetry” (necharal sh ir ), further reinforcing what might be called Wordsworthian trends (poetry in “the real language of men”) in Urdu literature. Then in the earlier part of the twentieth century, the Progressive Movement insisted that poetry should emphasize workaday concerns, nationalism, and the uplift of the downtrodden. It seems as though the end of this story ought to be that Ghalib’s poetry gradually faded from view. Yet somehow just the opposite happened. People have continued to nd his poetry mesmerizing. Most of Ghalib’s critics have ended up considerably deader than Ghalib. His poetry has given rise to dozens of books of discussion and tribute, translations into many languages, paintings, lms, plays, waxwork dioramas, and countless musical renderings by singers of every kind, in a steady ow with no end in sight. Most strikingly of all, his poetry has inspired over a hundred commentaries—works that generally go through the 234 ghazals of the published divan and explain the meaning(s) of each of their 1,459 verses.14 To appreciate the magnitude of this commentarial literature, it is necessary only to note that other classical Urdu poets have, as a rule, exactly zero commentaries; even Ghalib’s great predecessor Mir Taqi “Mir” has no more than one or two. Most of these devoted commentators apparently aim to defend Ghalib against the charge of writing “meaningless” verses, by equipping each verse with precisely one meaning before moving on to the next. [9]

(Their work has its counterpart in the “helpful” insertion of English punctuation into Ghalib’s verse by almost all modern editors.) But no matter how many of Ghalib’s admirers cannot explain why they love him—nevertheless, love him they do. Even if the melding of form and content makes these tough, punchy little poems next to untranslatable, there they are, constantly tantalizing, constantly calling out to us in invitation and challenge and delight. As Ghalib put it so well in the last verse in his divan, With a special style, Ghalib has sung of subtleties, It’s a public invitation, for subtlety-knowing friends.15

Ghalib and the Urdu Ghazal The Urdu ghazal—Ghalib’s favorite genre, and the crown jewel of IndoMuslim poetry—consists of a number of independent two-line verses unied only by rhyming elements and meter; these verses are most often recited independently, and each must make its own poetic impact. Since each verse is only fteen or twenty words long, every word must count, and as many words as possible must count in more than one way. Thus ghazal verses need a strong support network of shared prior knowledge and stylized tropes. Newcomers to the ghazal world often ask why, if each two-line verse is so independent, the whole ghazal exists at all. Ultimately, from the poet’s point of view the ghazal provides the sort of framework that, say, a velvetlined case provides for a matched set of jewelry. The necklaces, earrings, brooches, bracelets, rings in the set may be brought out selectively and in any order, but they are guaranteed to resonate well together, and subsets of them will always enhance one another in various ways. (From the listener’s point of view, the ghazal is like a box of chocolates that are outwardly identical; only as you bite down on each one do you discover whether its heart is creamy, nutty, or full of some liqueur.) The jewel case itself is made of meter and rhyme. The meter is imported directly from Arabic and Persian and is precisely de ned and scrupulously adhered to: in most meters, every single line in the ghazal must contain [ 10 ]

precisely the same prescribed sequence of long and short syllables.16 The rhyme consists of at least one rhyming syllable (q f ya) at the end of each two-line verse, normally followed by a brief refrain (rad f). These two-line verses are technically not couplets, since they do not rhyme. The rst verse of a ghazal commonly incorporates the rhyme and refrain at the end of both lines, instead of only at the end of the second line. Such a rst verse is called an opening-verse (matla ). Under the performance conditions of a mush ira, this feature enables listeners to perceive the formal structure of the ghazal more quickly: they can at once tell how much will be rhyme and how much will be refrain. The last verse commonly includes the poet’s chosen pen name, and such a verse is called a closing-verse (maqta ). Both these features of course re ect the ghazal’s strong expectation of oral performance. A mush ira, the traditional venue for oral performance, usually consisted of a smallish group of (almost always male) patrons, connoisseurs, master poets, and apprentices. Most mush iras were based on a well-known “pattern” line announced in advance, so that everybody’s ghazals composed in this pattern were formally identical (sharing meter, rhyme, and refrain). This formal identity made them extremely comparable, and individual achievement stood out strikingly. Recitation of the rst line of a verse was followed by a longish pause full of praise and exclamatory comment from the audience, after which the rst line was repeated and then at last followed by the second line. Mush iras were thus lively and participatory. This style of oral presentation created an interval during which the audience had access to the rst line but not the second—with possibilities for creating suspense, misdirection, and surprise that became major factors, along with complex wordplay, in the development of the ghazal’s poetics. At the most basic thematic level, the ghazal is the rst-person voice of a passionate male lover who laments his lack of access to his beloved. In some verses the beloved is clearly feminine (as for example when women’s clothing or veiling is mentioned); she is then either a courtesan or an inaccessible lady in purdah. In other verses the beloved is clearly masculine (as when the beginnings of the coquettish adolescent boy’s beard are said to appear, destroying his androgynous charm; think of Plato’s Symposium). In most verses, the gender of the beloved is not revealed. This undecideability is due partly to the brevity of the verses and to the emphasis on the lover’s own perspective and feelings. The beloved is in any case always [ 11 ]

treated as grammatically masculine, perhaps because only masculine pronouns are considered to be appropriate for God—since in the ghazal world, the ultimate beloved is God. In the present volume, we generally refer to the beloved with feminine pronouns. This practice is mostly for clarity: since the lover is always masculine, having a feminine beloved as the default makes it easier to show, in translation, who did what to whom. Even if the beloved is human, he or she is a kind of divinely powerful and inaccessible being, one whose beauty is fatal. The lover knows from the beginning that he is doomed. This genre thus has at its heart a mood of desperate, mystical, romantic love-as-death, pain-as-pleasure. The beloved is irresistibly beautiful and always somehow unavailable. The lover’s passion is always transgressive, unstoppable, doomed; the lover would have it no other way and pities those unable to share this transcendent experience. The ghazal universe is thus pervaded by imagery drawn from the most uncontrollable human experiences: intoxication, sex, madness, death. Life in the ghazal world is always on the edge—scenes are set in the desert, the winehouse, the garden, the road, the prison cell, the sca old. These stylized settings of the ghazal world, and their supporting cast of characters (the Rival, the Messenger, the Doorkeeper, the Adviser, the Ascetic), are all precisely calibrated to accompany this passion play. In the ghazal world there is no marriage, no family life, no work, no raising of children—nothing at all to domesticate the wildness of the lover’s mad quest. Some modern readers have worried over the depiction of the beloved as a beautiful boy; the possible implications of pedophilia distress them. But if the beloved can be envisioned as a beautiful boy or a courtesan, he can also be God, and plainly the ghazal lives in a world of its own and thus is the very reverse of autobiographical. For if the beloved is a denizen of that ghazal world, so too is the lover, who can speak as a caged bird, a hunted animal, a naked madman, a drunkard, or himself after his own death.17 The point is the transgressiveness, the liminality, the rush to break out of this awed, doomed, super cial worldly life into a larger, truer universe of passion; thus the ghazal often lends itself to Su interpretations. The Moth ying into the candle ame is one of the ghazal’s emblematic images; the burning, melting, self-consuming candle itself is another; and the blossoming rose whose “smile” is also her death warrant is a third. In the ghazal world the conversion of pain into joy, and joy back into pain, is fundamental—just as [ 12 ]

the beloved is an “idol” and the lover an “idolater,” but their bond may also represent the deepest, truest religious feeling. The thematic world of the ghazal is learned by the aspiring poet through the memorization and recitation of literally thousands of verses. Over time, the ghazal world is extended through the ongoing development of layers of metaphor; attractive new metaphorical conceits are picked up by other poets and thus become established. If the beloved is fatally beautiful, she can be imagined as a hunter, with the hapless lover as her prey. If she is a hunter, her glances might be deadly weapons. In that case her eyelashes may be arrows; then naturally they must be shot from the bow of her eyebrow. This trope is so well established that Ghalib makes an enjoyably ambiguous verse simply by inviting us to rethink it: Is that coquettish glance shot from the eyebrow? It’s de nitely an arrow, but it has a di erent bow.18 In this shared thematic world, even everyday items have all, and only, the qualities that are poetically required of them. The liver, for example, makes blood. Mirrors can be either metal or glass, depending on whether the poet wishes to polish or break them. Examples of such poetically de ned images can be found in the glossary. All ghazal poets thus work in the same stylized (but not at all xed) world and have access to the same tool kit. Their tools include the word ky , which means so much more than “what”; the word ek, which means so much more than simply “one”; the grammatical fact that if you say A is B, you are also saying B is A. When Ghalib practiced the extravagant “meaning creation” for which he was so (in)famous, he used these and many more such tools to make fteen or twenty words do almost impossible amounts of work. Let us consider one more simple but powerful device from that tool kit, one that has the great advantage of being translatable: Ardor complains, even in the heart, about narrowness of space. In a pearl was absorbed the restlessness of the sea.19 We know that these two lines must be intimately related, for in classical poetics a verse that lacked a tight “connection” (rabt) would be a failure by de nition. But how are we to connect them? Perhaps the rst line is the [ 13 ]

real subject of the verse and describes a situation of the heart’s struggle and inability, while the second line illustrates and con rms it (a heart vainly trying to contain ardor is like a pearl vainly trying to contain the restlessness of the sea). Or perhaps the rst line describes the heart’s impossible, unsustainable situation, and the second line emphasizes it with a metaphorical example of something seemingly impossible but nevertheless achievable (a heart cannot succeed in containing ardor, even though a pearl may successfully contain the restlessness of the sea). Or perhaps the two lines represent two di erent situations that are to be compared in their own right. The rst line may describe the struggle of the heart to contain ardor, while the second describes the struggle of the pearl to contain the restlessness of the sea. Perhaps we are invited to re ect on the similarity of these two ultimately vain struggles. Or perhaps we are invited to re ect on the contrast between the two: the rst task is in vain, while the second may be thought of as successful. Or nally (though there is no nality here), perhaps the real subject of the verse is the inner life of the pearl, with its struggle to contain in its “heart” the “ardor” of the restlessness of the sea; in this case the rst line is a metaphorical depiction of the situation described in the second line. And we cannot just smile at the idea of the pearl as having an inner life, for in the ghazal world a pearl is the outcome of a terrifying, risky journey by a single drop of water: In the net of every wave is a circle of a hundred crocodile mouths, Let’s see what happens to the drop on the way to becoming a pearl.20 In Islamic (and also Indic) folk tradition, a pearl is formed from a drop of rain that falls into the sea and must survive long enough to reach the seabed and be ingested by an oyster. Such an ardent, passionate drop, successful in its mystical quest, can well be imagined to have, as a pearl, an inner life that somehow embodies the restlessness of the sea. All these e ects are achieved by the device of juxtaposing two grammatically separate and thematically di erent lines, so as to invite or require the reader to tease out the many ways in which they could be connected. How extraordinary, then, that this common, readily usable, frequently used structural device has no name (we call it A, B structure) and has received almost no critical attention until very recently. Nor is there any term for [ 14 ]

the “ky e ect,” although it is pervasive throughout the classical ghazal, or any signi cant discussion of it either. The elaborate Persian and Urdu poetic handbooks are full of inventories of various kinds of similes and rhetorical terms, and elaborate rules for rhyme and meter, none of which shed much light on the actual tools of “meaning creation,” the characteristic style of Ghalib (and, somewhat di erently, of his predecessor Mir). The hundredodd commentaries on Ghalib’s poetry are xated on the process of generating at least (and usually at most) a single reading for each verse; they ignore such structural complexities. But it is more fruitful to ask how these micropoems do such compelling work. The verse just presented about the heart and the sea was ambiguous (readers have to decide how the two lines t together) but not hard to translate. Most of the time, however, Ghalib gives a hard time to translators as well. Consider the multiple internal ambiguities of a verse like the following, which consists of four items and no verbs at all (and, as usual, no punctuation): Thousands of airs and graces, a single averted gaze; Thousands of coquetries, a single t of anger.21 Here we have to decide how to t together items within a line. There are exasperatingly many interpretive possibilities, and no way de nitively to resolve them; there is not even a verb to help us put it all together. Does the beloved o er thousands of irtations for every episode of rejection? Is the beloved’s rejection equal to thousands of her irtations? Is the beloved’s rejection more desirable than thousands of irtations with other women? And, very crucially, is the tone of the verse rueful, admiring, meditative, bitter? In cases like this, all too many translators feel entitled—or required—to help the reader out by adding a verb or two of their own choosing, or creating coherence in some other way. Our translation of this particular line is virtually word for word literal and thus as radically ambiguous as the Urdu (except that Ghalib used a word with a general meaning of “an immense number” and a speci c meaning of “hundreds of thousands”). Ghalib provides the building blocks and inveigles us into framing the verse ourselves— and then reframing it anew every time we read or recite it. This kind of deliberately cryptic expression is one of his favorite ways of making a tiny poem (in this case, a poem twelve words long) feel much, much larger. [ 15 ]

And this is by no means the end of his wiles, and of the translator’s woes. Sometimes the unresolvability is even more conspicuously aunted, as in this famous verse with its idiomatic, exclamatory rst line: Oh, for a desolation that is a desolation! Having seen the desert, I remembered my house.22 Naturally, the mad lover seeks out desolate places. In Urdu, the idiomatic rst line is even more open to expressing either joy or longing. But is the lover praising both his house and the desert for their desolateness, or condemning them both for their lack of desolateness, or praising one at the expense of the other? The verse invites (and requires) readers to decide such very basic questions for themselves. Our translation preserves this carefully framed do-it-yourself quality. And then, consider just one more very characteristic example of Ghalibian complexity: How narrow is the world of us oppressed ones, In which a single ant’s egg is the sky.23 It might seem to be a bit less cryptic and thus more satisfying. In fact, however, the verse is fearfully and wonderfully ambiguous. Through his clever use of the interrogative or exclamatory word ky , Ghalib has framed the rst line in such a way that all three of the following readings are equally possible. He has then created a second line to match the rst in multivalence, because in Urdu grammar if you say A is B, you are also saying B is A. Moreover, the ant’s egg is described as ek (one), a word that itself has a number of meanings: (1a) how narrow is the world of us oppressed ones! (1b) is the world of us oppressed ones narrow? (1c) what—as if the world of us oppressed ones is narrow! (2a) in which a single/particular/excellent/unique ant’s egg is the sky (2b) in which the sky is a single/particular/excellent/unique ant’s egg It is easy to see that such a verse is a small “meaning machine,” one that whirls around in a cloud of possibilities that can never be resolved. But as [ 16 ]

the mind enters it, the whirling cloud becomes immensely fascinating and readily generates a number of striking interpretations. Here is a tiny poem that feels almost in nite. To pull out any one of these hovering possibilities and call it “the meaning” amounts to a travesty of the original verse. Yet that is what translators of Ghalib often have to do; in cases like this, their frustration is greater than that of the reader. This is not to say that we have had no successes. Sometimes (if all too rarely) the words just ow. Here is a verse that approaches what has been called, in classical poetics, unattainable simplicity (sahl-i mumtani ): Ghalib, I’ve given up wine, but even now sometimes I drink on cloudy days and moonlit nights.24 Not only is this translation accurate, and not only is it at least somewhat enjoyable even in English, but the humor comes through as well, for if we add together the number of “cloudy days” and “moonlit nights” in North India, it seems that a good part of the year is in fact available for drinking.

Note on the Text and Translation Since Ghalib’s poetry is so close to being untranslatable, for this volume we wanted to cherry-pick the most (relatively) translatable ghazals; and, of course, we also wanted to choose ones of the highest literary quality. Out of the 234 ghazals in the published divan, we eventually selected thirty ghazals that best met these criteria. We supplemented this group rst of all by choosing a good number of individual verses from other ghazals (using the same criteria). Then we added samples of his work in other genres, the most important of which was his letters. But we kept the amount of material relatively small so that the ghazals and ghazal verses would retain the central role that they have always had in people’s understanding and appreciation of Ghalib. Some reviewers have urged us to include ghazals from the large group of early ones that Ghalib never published. We did consider the possibility, but nally we restricted ourselves to eight or so representative unpublished verses that Ghalib removed before publishing those ghazals.25 Since our selection inevitably omits the bulk of the 234 ghazals, we did not go out of [ 17 ]

our way to include whole ghazals that were not part of the poet’s self-chosen body of available work. Moreover, it is broadly true that the unpublished verses are more di cult than the published ones, and they have not had the bene t of a century and a half of commentary and explication. So they would have been more di cult to choose and to translate, and they would have required appreciably more annotation. We were also urged to include more poems in more genres, and more letters. This kind of discussion can (and does) go on endlessly, since all Ghalib lovers have favorites and strongly protest their omission. All we can reply is that many of our own favorites have been omitted too. As we have noted, Ghalib’s ghazal verses in Urdu not only feel more cryptic, elusive, and ambiguous than our translations, but also include layers of wordplay that we can rarely capture at all. To enrich the reader’s experience, we have provided substantial notes. But more fundamentally here is what we promise: rst, that our translations are line for line accurate in corresponding to Ghalib’s lines; and second, that our translations seek to reproduce the structure of the originals as exactly as possible. Sometimes we have been unable to capture all the certain complexities, but we do not insert our own explanations, poetic language, or imagery into the translation. We emphasize these points because most translations of Ghalib are really independent English transcreations that bear little resemblance to the originals. We have chosen the other horn of the dilemma. Since this book is meant for general readers as well as scholars, we have tried to strike a balance between simplicity and scholarly exactitude. Proper names have been translated without diacritics, except for the few names with a word-medial 'ayn or hamza; these retain an apostrophe (Ala’i, Ka’ba, Qur’an). Words found in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary have been treated as English words (divan, durbar, purdah). Urdu words are shown in italics, with appropriate full diacritics; most of these occur in the glossary In this volume, we begin with a number of whole ghazals (part 1) and then provide selected individual verses from many other ghazals (part 2). Because these individual verses are poems in their own right, such independent presentation does them no violence; independent memorization and recitation is in fact how they generally live and move within their culture. Beyond the ghazal we move on, in part 3, to some poems in two other genres: rub s (quatrains) and qa das (odes). These are included to round out the picture of his corpus; while Ghalib performed at a high level in such [ 18 ]

other genres, he never achieved in them the reputation that he did in the ghazal. Among the quatrains—“four-liners,” in Urdu as in English—by far the most famous is the one on “speaking the di cult,” with its remarkable wordplay. Among the many formal odes in praise of religious gures and patrons, the lighthearted one addressed to a “sleek betel nut” is also a standout. Finally, we turn from poetry to prose. We o er a few examples of Ghalib’s famous and well-loved letters. And as an additional pleasure we provide one thing that’s not a letter: we conclude the book with a rare example of Urdu prose that Ghalib composed very consciously for publication. (He composed almost all his public prose in Persian.) This very complex, di cult, and enjoyable preface has been translated by Pasha M. Khan and reviewed by him in association with both of us. We are grateful to him for making this translation available for the present volume. The numbering system we use for reference is that of modern standard divan;26 our textual authority is the scholarly divan edition of Imtiyaz Ali Khan “Arshi”27 (though we omit the English punctuation marks that he has unfortunately imposed). The concordance correlates the numbers in this volume with both standard divan numbers (as derived especially from Hamid) and the dates of composition. For dating, we rely on the work of Kalidas Gupta “Raza,”28 who himself made much use of Arshi’s scholarship. Dating is of considerable interest because of the claims made by Azad and Hali (and many later followers) that although in his youth Ghalib wrote extremely, often culpably, “di cult” poetry, in his later years he rejected complexity in favor of simplicity. Knowing the dates of the verses (to the degree that they can be ascertained) is the bedrock for any consideration of his early as opposed to his late style. Such diachronic comparisons are even more piquant because there are almost no “middle-period” Urdu ghazals; in the 1830s and 1840s, Ghalib devoted himself seriously to Persian. Not until the 1850s, when he was under pressure from the wishes of his patrons at the Red Fort and elsewhere, did he return to composing many Urdu ghazals and letters. After the terrible ordeals of 1857, Ghalib composed almost no more ghazals at all. In this volume, the glossary identi es individual gures who appear in the ghazal world (Khizr, Majnun), stock characters (the Adviser, the Cupbearer), places (Tur, Zamzam), and other such references. The glossary also contains explanations of technical terms (divan, refrain) and words with particular cultural overtones (collyrium, liver). Other entries are ones [ 19 ]

for which sets of examples may be of interest to readers: some general literary techniques (the inexpressibility trope, insh iya speech); some structural devices (i fat, “parallelism”); some words with importantly multivalent or idiomatic meanings (ky , ek) or with special thematic interest (mirror, veil). Endnotes provide further information about possible readings and indicate that discussion of a given verse can be found in appendix 1. These comments are responses to letters from correspondents about some of the particular verses they found perplexing and are therefore not full-scale commentarial expositions, but they are virtually all we have of the poet’s interactions with his contemporary audience, so every example is precious.

[ 20 ]

PART ONE Ghazals

1 The drawing itself protests—against whose mischievously composed lines? Every gure in the picture wears a plainti ’s paper robe.1 Digging down through tough layers of loneliness—don’t even ask. To get from night to dawn is to carve a channel through stone.2 The wild rush of ardor—you ought to see it. The sword’s breath is drawn out of its breast.3 No matter how awareness spreads its net, My realm of words hides the imagined bird.4 Ghalib, even in bondage I’m so a ame with restlessness, Every link of my chain is a re-singed hair.5

2 Except for Qais, no one entered the eld of action— Perhaps the desert had narrowed like a jealous eye.1

[ 23 ]

: Distractedness xed a black spot in the heart. Clearly, the burnt-out scar was mostly smoke.2 In a dream, my mind did business with you— When my eyes opened, there was neither pro t nor loss. I still take lessons in the school of grief of the heart. But only that “went” went, and “was” was.3 The shroud covered the shame of my nakedness. Otherwise, in every attire I was a disgrace to life.4 Without an axe Kohkan couldn’t die, Asad— He was dizzy from a hangover of customs and rules.5 Either the world is a spellbound city of the silent, Or I’m a stranger in the land of speech and hearing.6 However much the revolving sky was cruel, I was destroyed by the glance of an azure eye.7 Although she may have asked about my heart, Who has a mind to take on debts to speech?

3 You say you won’t give back my heart, if you nd it lying around. Where is my heart—is it really lost? I’ve found you out! Through passion I found the taste of life— I found a cure for pain, I found a pain without cure. It’s an ally of the enemy—there’s no trusting the heart. My sighs were ine ective, my laments were all in vain.1

[ 24 ]

: Simplicity and artfulness, self-lessness and awareness. In her show of indi erence, she tried to test my courage.2 The bud began to bloom again; today I saw my heart Turned to blood—and found it lost.3 I don’t know the state of my heart—except this much: Many times I looked for it; many times you found it. The Adviser’s bitter counsel sprinkled salt on my wounds. Let someone ask him, “How did you enjoy it?”4 Where is the second step of longing, oh Lord? We found the desert of possibilities to be a single footprint.5 Hoping for treasures in the dust—a childish business. I found despair to be smiling, with the two worlds as its lips.6 As the liver turns to blood, it o ers a road to the rose— I found that the murderer’s sword had opened my heart.7

4 The Garden of Rizvan that the Ascetic praises so much, For us self-less ones, it’s a single bouquet in the niche of forgetfulness.1 How to describe the piercing power of her eyelashes? All my blood drops are strung into coral prayer beads.2 Not even the murderer’s grandeur silenced my laments— The straw that I took in my teeth became a reed ute.3 I will show you a spectacle, if the times give me leisure— Every heart wound is the seed from which grows a tree of lights.4

[ 25 ]

: Your glory made of the mirror chamber What a sunray would make of a world of dew.5 My construction includes one particular aspect of ruin. The essence of the lightning that burns the harvest is the hot blood of the farmer.6 Weeds have sprung up all over my house—just look at the desolation. The Doorkeeper now earns his living selling straw.7 Hidden in silence, turned to blood, are thousands of longings, I am the burnt-out, tongueless lamp of a poor man’s grave.8 There still remains a single ray of the image of the thought of the beloved, The bleak heart is, so to speak, the empty cell of Joseph’s prison.9 Tonight you sleep somewhere by the Other’s side—why else Would you come into my dream with hidden smiles? No telling how many will have had their blood turned to water— It’s a Doomsday, when your eyelashes are wet with tears. In our gaze is the path of the road of oblivion, Ghalib, For this is the binding string of the scattered pages of the world.10

5 Although it’s hard enough for every task to be easy, Not even humans can manage to be humane.1 Weeping wants the ruin of my house, Desertness drips from the doors and walls.2 Cheers for the madness of ardor—at every moment I have to go that way, and I alone have to be surprised. [ 26 ]

: Glory makes such a claim on vision— Even the polish lines on the mirror want to be eyelashes.3 The festiveness at the slaughter ground of the passionate— don’t ask. The Eid among sights is the sword becoming naked.4 I took down into the dust the wound of the longing for joy. You remain—and I will be a hundred-colored garden. The morsels of the heart relish the slash of longing, The wounded liver plunges into the salt dish.5 After my murder, she swore o cruelty— Alas—the repentance of that quick repenter!6 Alas for the cutting out of that bit of cloth, Ghalib, In whose fate it is to be a lover’s collar.7

6 Union with her—it was just not in my fate. A longer life would only have meant more waiting. If I lived on your promise—you know, I knew it was false. For wouldn’t I have died of joy, if I had believed it? From your delicacy I knew that your vow was loosely bound— You never could have broken it, if it had been rm. Let someone ask my heart about your languid archery. How could I have felt this frisson, with an arrow right through my liver?1 What kind of friendship is this, when friends have become Advisers? If only someone would help me, if only someone would sympathize.2 [ 27 ]

: From rock veins would have dripped unstoppable blood, If what you think is “grief ” had been a spark.3 Although grief is deadly, how to escape, when one has a heart? If there weren’t the grief of passion, there’d be the grief of the day-to-day. To whom can I describe it—the night of grief is a torment. Why would I have minded dying, if it had happened just once?4 Since after death I was disgraced, why didn’t I drown in the sea? There would never have been a funeral, there would nowhere have been a tomb.5 Who can see Him? For that oneness is unique. With even a whi of twoness, then somewhere—an encounter.6 These lofty Su stic questions! This style of yours, Ghalib! We would have thought you a saint, if you weren’t a wine drinker.

7 Again I remembered wet eyes, The heart and liver thirsted to lament. Doomsday hadn’t yet drawn a breath— Again I remembered the time you left. Simplicities of longing—that is, Again I remembered that marvel of sight. An excuse of fatigue, oh longing of the heart. I used to lament—I remembered the liver.1 Life would have passed somehow, in any case— Why did I remember your street? [ 28 ]

: Alas, where is that courage for complaint? Vexed with the heart, I remembered the liver. Again thought goes to your street— Perhaps it remembered the lost heart. Oh, for a desolation that is a desolation! Having seen the desert, I remembered my house.2 What a ght there will be with Rizvan, If in Paradise I remember your house. In boyhood, Asad, against Majnun I’d picked up a stone, but I kept my head.3

8 The joy of the drop is oblivion in the river; Pain that passes all bounds becomes a cure. My fate with you, like a combination lock, Was written: at the moment we clicked, to part. In the roughness of the cure, the heart was nished o — Before it could be opened, the knot was rubbed away. Now we’re deprived even of cruelty—oh God! To become such an enemy of true lovers. From weakness, weeping changed into cold sighs. Now I believe it—water can turn to air. To erase from my heart the thought of your hennaed ngers Was to rip out from the esh, the ngernail.

[ 29 ]

: To me, the pouring down of the spring clouds is To weep to death in the grief of separation. If the rose scent doesn’t long for your street, Why does it make itself dust in the path of the breeze? The glory of the rose bestows a taste for spectacle, Ghalib— The eye should, no matter what, be open. To see the wonder of the longing for polish, Look how, in the rainy season, a green lm forms on the mirror.1

9 Again the time has come for the wave of wine to take ight, Flowing by, may it give us wings, the wave of wine. Don’t ask why the garden dwellers are so drunk. In the shadow of the grapevine, the air is a wave of wine. Whoever is drowned in wine has a happy fortune, Even passing over the head, it’s a Huma’s wing, the wave of wine. This rainy season is that kind of time— The bounty of the air makes the wave of life, a wave of wine. From the typhoon of joy, a whirlpool rises up— Waves of rose, waves of sunset, waves of breeze, waves of wine.1 When the spirit of the garden thirsts for airs and graces, It’s calmed with the water of life, by the wave of wine. It runs so much in the grapevine veins, turning to blood, With its long color feather it takes ight, the wave of wine.

[ 30 ]

: Through the rose wave, the pathway of thought is a lamp-show, So radiant in the mind is the wave of wine. In the veil of intoxication, it’s absorbed in the ow of thought— It has such a mind for ourishing, the wave of wine. The rowdies of the mood of spring are at their wildest, From the wave of verdure to the wave of wine. It explains the commotion of life—bravo, rose season! It guides the drop to the river—well done, wave of wine! Seeing the glory of the rose, my senses leave me, Asad, Again it’s time for the wave of wine to take ight.

10 To hell with these doors and walls before my eyes! An ardent gaze nds wings and feathers in doors and walls. Brimming tears made the house such a blur That my walls and doors became doors and walls. There’s no shade. Since they heard that she’s arriving, They’ve gone ahead to greet her, the doors and walls. What an abundance of the wine of your glory. In your street they’re all drunk, the doors and walls. If you deal in waiting, then come to me— They’re a warehouse full of gazing, my doors and walls. Whenever I thought of shedding oods of tears, They fell at my feet, my desperate doors and walls.

[ 31 ]

: When she came and lived next door, then in the shadow, My doors and walls adored her doors and walls. It stings my eyes—a bustling house, without you. I always weep, when I see doors and walls. Don’t ask about the self-lessness of the joy when the ood comes. For they dance, fallen end to end, the doors and walls. Don’t tell anyone, Ghalib. For there’s no one nowadays Fit for love secrets, except the doors and walls.

11 Although each of her gestures has some other meaning, When she shows a ection, then we suspect something else.1 Oh Lord, she doesn’t fathom my words—nor will she. Give her a di erent heart, if you don’t give me a di erent tongue. Is that coquettish glance shot from the eyebrow? It’s de nitely an arrow, but it has a di erent bow. If you’re in the city, then what do I care? When I get up, I’ll go and bring back from the bazaar another heart and life.2 Although we’ve grown adept at breaking idols, While we live, in the road there’s still one heavy stone more.3 The blood of the liver is turbulent; I would have wept to my heart’s content, If I had had a number of blood-shedding eyes more.4 I’m dying for that voice, even if my head should y o — Only let her keep telling the Executioner, “Yes—more!”

[ 32 ]

: People are mistaken about the world-warming sun— Every day I show a single hidden ery wound more.5 If I hadn’t given my heart to you, I would have taken a few more breaths in peace, If I hadn’t died, I would have sighed and lamented a few days more. When they don’t nd a path, lament-streams rise: When my temperament halts, then it ows all the more. In the world there are other very good poets too; They say that Ghalib’s style is something more.

12 I am neither the ower of music, nor the string of an instrument. I am the sound of my own breaking. You, and adornment of twisting curls. I, and long, faraway apprehensions. A show of dignity—a deceit of simpleheartedness.1 I, and secrets that burn in my breast. I am captured by love of the Hunter. Otherwise, I still have strength to y.2 May the day come, when from that tyrant I would endure coquetry, instead of the longing for coquetry. In my heart there’s no drop of blood, With which the eyelashes haven’t played rose games.3 Oh your sidelong glances—utterly arousing. Oh your cruelty—entirely overthrowing.

[ 33 ]

: You’ve shown yourself in glory—congratulations. An outpouring from the prostrations of the forehead of humility. If you had asked about me, it wouldn’t have done any harm, I’m poor, and you’re a Protector of the Poor. Asadullah Khan is done for. Alas—how rakishly he charmed the ladies.

13 For the free, grief is no more than a single breath. With lightning we light the candle in the house of mourning.1 He disorders gatherings, the cardplayer of thought— We are the card shu ing of the marvelous tricks of an idol house.2 Despite a whole world of commotion, nothing emerges. We are a lamp-display in the bedchamber of the heart of the Moth. It’s from weakness, not satisfaction, this abandonment of the search. I am a burden on the resting-place of manly resolve. Thousands of longings serve life sentences in it, Asad, I consider my blood- lled breast to be a prison cell. From practice in being beside myself in the garden of thought, I know how to interpret the weedy dreams of strange greenery.3 The wild disorder of the twists and turns of existence—don’t even ask. We are, like a madman’s hair, a disgrace to vitality.4 [ 34 ]


14 Flame is like her temper in its heat— I’m damned if I wouldn’t nd comfort in hell re. How long have I been in this wretched world? What can I say, If I count the nights of separation too? So that, in waiting, I’d never get to sleep, She came in a dream—and promised to come again. When the Messenger comes back, I’ll have the next letter ready; I already know what she’ll write in her reply. When did the wineglass ever come round to me, in her gathering? May the Cupbearer not have put something in the wine!1 One who denies all faithfulness can hardly be deceived. Why do I suspect a friend, concerning an enemy?2 That I would be restless in union, from fear of a Rival! Into what convolutions has illusion thrown you? I, and the bliss of union—it’s the hand of the Lord! In agitation, I even forgot to o er up my life. Her brow is furrowed, inside the veil— There’s a crease now, on the surface of the veil.3 Thousands of airs and graces, a single averted gaze; Thousands of coquetries, a single t of anger.4 It wouldn’t nd a grass blade’s worth of space in her heart, The lament that could slash a scar across the sun. It wouldn’t help at all to achieve my goal, The spell that could move a ship in a mirage. [ 35 ]

: Ghalib, I’ve given up wine, but even now sometimes I drink on cloudy days and moonlit nights.5

15 Don’t stint on wine today, for the sake of tomorrow— This is bad faith toward Ali, the Cupbearer of Kausar.1 Why are we debased today, when till yesterday You forbade The insolence of an Angel, toward our dignity?2 Why does life begin to leave the body, at the moment of hearing, If that Voice is contained in lute and rebeck?3 The steed of life is in motion—let’s see where he’ll stop. There’s neither a hand on the reins, nor a foot in the stirrup. It’s the measure of how far I am from my own reality, The way I’m agitated by the illusion of the Other. The root of witnessing, and the witnesser, and the witnessed, is one; I am amazed—then how to account for witnessing each other?4 The ocean is composed of the show of forms— Here, how to think about drop and wave and bubble? Shame is one form of coquetry, even before oneself— How unveiled they are, who are like this within the veil. She’s not yet nished adorning her beauty— There’s always a mirror before her, within the veil. It’s the most hidden of the hidden, what we take to be sight. We’re still in a dream, having dreamed of waking up.

[ 36 ]

: Ghalib, from a friend’s companion comes a whi of the friend. I’m devoting myself to God, in serving Ali Bu Turab.5

16 Am I not always lying at your door? Dust be upon my life—I am not a stone!1 Why wouldn’t my heart be oppressed by constant circling? I’m a man, I am not a wineglass and agon.2 Oh Lord, why does time erase me? On the tablet of the world, I am not a repeated letter. Let me be given punishment, not torture. After all, I’m a sinner—I am not an in del. Why do you not consider me valuable? I am not ruby, emerald, gold, and pearl. Why do you keep your feet away from my eyes? In rank, I am not less than the sun and moon.3 Why do you forbid me to kiss your feet? Am I not even equal to the sky? Ghalib, you have a pension now, give blessings to the King. The days are gone when you used to say, “I am not a servant.”

17 Hardly all!—some emerged in tulip and rose. In the dust, what hidden faces will there be?1

[ 37 ]

: We too remembered colorful party arrangements, But now they adorn the niche of forgetfulness. By day, the Daughters of the Bier hid in the heavens behind their veils. At night, what came into their heads, that they became naked?2 Although Jacob had no news about Joseph in prison, Still his eyes became the crevice-work in the wall of the cell.3 People may be unhappy with their Rivals—but with the women of Egypt Zulaikha is happy, for they’re entranced by the Moon of Canaan.4 Let my eyes stream with blood, in this night of separation— I’ll tell myself that two candles have been lit. We’ll take revenge on these Pari-born ones in Paradise— If, through the power of God, they become houris there. Sleep is his, composure is his, the nights are his, On whose shoulder your curls lie disheveled.5 I had just come into the garden—a school opened, so to speak: The Nightingales heard my laments and began singing ghazals. Why do those glances, oh Lord, pierce through my heart— Even though, from lowered eyes, they don’t meet my gaze? Although I suppressed them, more welled up, one after another— My steady sighs came like stitches for the rip in my collar.6 Even if I go there, how would I answer her abuse? All the blessings I knew, I used up on the Doorkeeper. Wine is life-enhancing—when one has a glass in hand, All the lines of the palm become, so to speak, the jugular vein.

[ 38 ]

: We are monotheists; our sect is the renunciation of customs. When the communities were erased, they became parts of the faith. When a person gets used to grief, then grief is erased. So many di culties fell upon me that they became easy. If Ghalib keeps on weeping like this, then, oh people of the world, Look at these towns—all a desolation.

18 It’s a heart, after all, not stone or brick—why wouldn’t it ll up with grief? I will weep a thousand times—why would anyone torment me? Not a temple, not a mosque, not a doorway, not a threshold, I’m sitting here by the highway—why would the Other make me move? Since that heart-kindling beauty, like the noonday sun, Would itself be sight-melting, why would she hide her face in a veil? The glance-dagger, deadly; the coquetry-arrow, unerring. Even your own re ection—how could it come before you? The prison of life and the bonds of grief—in essence, both are one. Before death, how could a person be freed from grief? Beauty, and also beauty of thought—the lecher’s honor was saved. She has con dence in herself; why would she test another?1 There, that pride in airs and graces; here, this modesty and dignity. How would we meet in the road? Why would she invite me to her gathering?

[ 39 ]

: All right, she has no fear of the Lord! Oh come on, of course she’s faithless! Anyone who values faith and heart—why would he enter her street?2 Without worn-out Ghalib, what chances are closed o ? Why would you weep and sob? Why would you lament?

19 Don’t show from afar a tight little bud like this. I’m asking about a kiss—tell me with your mouth, “Like this!”1 Why even ask how a heart is stolen—when without words, Her every gesture radiates charm, “Like this!” At night, drunk on wine, bringing the Rival along— Oh Lord, may she come here!—but oh Lord, not like this! “How did the night go with the Other?” When I said this, you should have seen Her sit stylishly before me, and look at me— “Like this!” In the gathering, face-to-face with her, why not sit silently? In her silence too is the same intention— “Like this.” I said, “The gathering of coquetry ought to be free of Others!” Hearing this, the cruel joker threw me out— “Like this?” When the beloved said to me, “How do your senses leave you?” Seeing my self-lessness, the wind began to blow— “Like this.”2 How could I have remembered how to act in the beloved’s street? The amazement of the footprint held out a mirror— “Like this.”3 If you think that in union is the decline of ardor, The wave in the sea’s embrace ails its hands and feet— “Like this.” [ 40 ]

: If anyone would say, “How could Rekhta be the envy of Persian?” Just once, recite to him the words of Ghalib— “Like this!”

20 Now go and live somewhere, where there would be no one, To share your poetry, no one; to speak your language, no one. You should make a lone house, without walls and doors, For a neighbor, no one; for a doorkeeper, no one. If you fall ill, there will be no nurse, And if you die, then to mourn you, no one.

21 No hope comes to ful llment, No face comes into view. One day of death has been decreed— Why doesn’t sleep come, all night? I used to laugh at the state of my heart, Now I don’t laugh at anything. I know the merit of obedience and asceticism, But my temperament just doesn’t incline that way. There’s something or other, that makes me silent— Otherwise, don’t I know how to speak? Why shouldn’t I scream? For she remembers me— If she doesn’t hear my voice.1

[ 41 ]

: If you don’t see the burning wound in my heart, Oh physician, can’t you even smell it? I am in a place where even to me No news comes about myself. I’m dying with longing to die— Death comes, but does not come. How will you have the nerve to go to the Ka’ba, Ghalib? Perhaps you have no sense of shame!

22 In my darkness-chamber, the night of grief is overpowering. The only proof of the dawn is that the candle’s been put out.1 Neither the good news of union, nor the sight of beauty— For some time now, the ear and eye have had a truce. Wine has unveiled her self-adorning beauty. Oh ardor, now you’re allowed to take leave of your senses. To see the pearl glow on her beautiful neck— At what a height is the star of the pearl seller!2 Sight, wine; enthusiasm, Cupbearer; gaze, drinker— The party in the mind is a winehouse without the noise. Oh, you newcomers to the spread of the heart’s desires, Be warned, if you long for the ute and the agon.3 Look at me, if you have an eye for instruction, Heed my words, if your ear can hear advice.

[ 42 ]

: The Cupbearer in his glory is a foe of faith and awareness. The musician with his tune waylays your dignity and senses. On the one hand, you saw at night that every corner of the carpet Is a gardener’s rose- lled skirt, and a ower seller’s bouquet. The Cupbearer’s swaying walk, and the lute’s compelling voice, One is a heaven to the eye, the other a paradise to the ear. On the other hand, if you come at dawn, then in the gathering There’s neither that joy and warmth, nor the tumult and ebullience. Burned and scarred by the breakup of the night’s gathering A single candle has remained, and that too, snu ed out. These themes come into my mind from the unseen— Ghalib, the scratching of my pen is the voice of an Angel.4

23 The full moon’s beauty is good, but My sun-bright moon is better.1 She gives no kiss, and her eye is always on my heart. She thinks that the goods she can get for free are better. Another can be brought from the bazaar, if it breaks— Compared to the cup of Jamshed, my clay cup is better. If the giver o ers freely, the pleasure is increased; The beggar who’s not inclined to ask is good.2 When I see her, the glow that appears on my face— She thinks that the invalid is better.

[ 43 ]

: Let’s see what favor lovers nd from idols. One Brahmin has said that this year is good.3 The axe caused Farhad to speak with Shirin. Of whatever kind, in anyone, accomplishment is good.4 If a drop would reach the ocean, then it would become the ocean. That task is good, of which the outcome is good. May the Great Creator keep Khizr Sultan ourishing! In the King’s garden, this fresh new plant is good.5 Oh, we know the truth about Paradise, but To keep the heart happy, Ghalib, this idea is good.

24 She’s a nitpicker, the heart’s grief can’t be told to her— How can a thing get done, when a thing can’t be done?1 I do call her—but oh, attraction of the heart! May she somehow feel that she can’t stand not to come. She takes it for a game—may she not quit, or forget about it! If only somehow she couldn’t stand not to torment me. The Other wanders around with your letter in such a way that If anyone should ask “What’s this?”—then it couldn’t be concealed. Damn her delicacy! Even if she’s kind, so what? If she fell into my hands, not a hand could be laid upon her. Who can say whose glorious appearance this is? She’s lowered the veil that if raised, wouldn’t be raised.

[ 44 ]

: Shouldn’t I wait for death—since it can’t stand not to come? Should I desire you—when if you don’t come, you can’t be called?2 A burden has fallen from my head that even if lifted, wouldn’t be lifted. A task has confronted me that even if done, wouldn’t be done. There’s no power over passion—it’s that re, Ghalib, That if lit, wouldn’t burn; and if extinguished, wouldn’t go out.

25 The world is a child’s game, before me. Night and day is a spectacle, before me.1 The throne of Solomon is a plaything, in my view. The miracle of the Messiah is nothing much, before me. The aspect of the world is only a name, to my mind. The existence of things is only an illusion, before me. The desert hides itself in the dust, when I’m around. The river rubs its forehead in the dirt, before me. Don’t ask how I’m doing, behind you— Look at how you look, before me. You’re right—I’m self-regarding and self-adorning. Why not? An idol with a mirror-forehead sits before me. Then look at my rose-scattering style of speech! Let them rst place a agon of wine before me. The suspicion of hatred is gone, I’ve passed beyond jealousy— How would I say “Don’t mention her name before me”?

[ 45 ]

: Faith pulls me back, as in delity draws me forward, The Ka’ba is behind me; the church, before me. I’m a lover, but tricking beloveds is my game— Laila says bad things about Majnun, before me. I’m happy—but people don’t die like this, in union. My longing from the nights of separation has come before me. A whole sea of blood is rippling—if only this were all! Wait and see what now will come before me. Although my hand won’t move, there’s still life in my eyes. For now, leave the wineglass and agon before me. He and I share our work, our wine, our secrets— Why do you insult Ghalib? And that too, here before me!

26 As we wept, we became even more shameless in passion; We were washed so much that—well, we became pure.1 The wineglasses were sold to pay for the wine. These were my only two accounts—and now they’re both cleared. Although you became notorious everywhere for your wandering, Finally you became shrewd about human nature.2 Who says the Nightingale’s lament is ine ective? Within the rose’s veil, thousands of livers were torn. The being and nonbeing of the ardent—why even ask? They became the straw and twigs of their own re.

[ 46 ]

: We went to complain to her of her negligence. She gave us a single glance—and we became dust.3 Yesterday she lifted up Asad’s bier in such a way That even his enemies, seeing it, were grieved.4

27 Without creating the mouth of a wound, How can anyone open a path to speech with you? The world is entirely the dust of Majnun’s madness— How long would anyone think of Laila’s curls?1 Melancholy doesn’t create the joy of love, But it might become pain, and make a place in the heart. Don’t blame me, my friend, for weeping. After all, let someone, sometime, open the knot of the heart.2 When ripping apart the liver opened no path to her attention, How would it help for anyone to disgrace his collar?3 With fragments of the liver, every thorn vein is a rose branch— How long would anyone garden in the desert?4 The failure of vision is sight-burning lightning. You’re not one whom anyone could stare at. Every stone and brick is the shell of a pearl of destruction— There’s no loss, if one does business in madness.5 A lifetime didn’t su ce for any endurance-testing vows— Where’s the leisure for someone to long for you?

[ 47 ]

: The wildness of the inventive temperament gives rise to despair. This is not the kind of pain that anyone would not create.6 The unemployment of madness is busy beating its brow— When the hands break, then what can anyone do? The radiant beauty of the candle of poetry is far o , Asad. First one should create a melted heart. How is it madness, to write about self-lessness? Let someone make “existence” a word that means the imagined bird.7 For the expanse of tears, the scope of the age is narrow— Where is the desert to which one could invite this sea?

28 All the thousands of desires—and each of them, to die for! Many of my longings emerged—but still, few emerged.1 Why would my murderer fear? As if it would stay on her hands!— The blood that, lifelong, every moment, dripped from wet eyes. We’ve always heard about Adam’s leaving Paradise, but We were very disgraced, when we left your street.2 The illusion of your tallness will be exposed, cruel one, If the twists of your high-twisted curls should come untwisted. Perhaps someone wants a letter written to her, and me to write it! At dawn, I tucked a pen behind my ear and left the house. In this age, I was put in charge of wine drinking. Again the time has come for the cup of Jamshed to emerge.

[ 48 ]

: The one we thought would understand our su ering Turned out to be worse wounded by the sword of tyranny. In love, there’s no di erence between life and death. We live by seeing that in del for whom we’re dying. The winehouse door, Ghalib—and the Preacher?! But I know this much: last night he was going in, when I came out.

29 The dew on the tulip is not without charm, The wound in a pitiless heart is a shameful show.1 The heart turned to blood in the strain of the longing for sight; The mirror held by a drunken idol is henna.2 Flame couldn’t have done what the longing for ame did— How my heart has burned, at the coldness of the heart! There is such mischief in your image that with a hundred ardors The mirror, like a rose, opens to embrace you. The turtledove, a handful of dust; and the Nightingale, a cage of color. Oh lament, what is the mark of a burnt-out liver?3 Your temperament chilled the wildness of the heart. A beloved, and no zest—it’s a novel disaster. Compulsion—and a claim of captivity by love! A pledge of faithfulness is a hand placed under a stone.4 The state of past martyrs became known: The sword of tyranny is a picture-showing mirror.5

[ 49 ]

: Oh ray of the world-warming sun—over this way, too! A strange time has fallen upon us like a shadow. Let there be justice too for the yearning for uncommitted sins, Oh Lord, if there’s punishment for these committed sins. Don’t be disheartened at the aloofness of creatures, Ghalib. If you have no one else, then, my dear, there’s the Lord.6

30 It’s been a long time since I’ve hosted my beloved, Making the gathering a lamp-show with e ervescent wine.1 Again I collect every last bit of the liver; It’s been a while since I held a feast for the eyelashes.2 Again circumspection has begun to su ocate me. It’s been years since I’ve torn open my collar. Again my breath is hot with spark-scattering laments, It’s been a long time since I took a stroll to the lamp-show. Again passion has come to comfort the wounds of the heart, Bearing a hundred thousand salt dishes. Again I’m lling the pen of the eyelashes with my heart’s blood, Preparing to make a oral border on my garment hem.3 Again heart and eye have become Rivals, Having equipped themselves for sight and thought. Again the heart circumambulates the street of disgrace, Leaving desolate the idol temple of pride.4

[ 50 ]

: Again ardor is in search of a buyer, O ering the wares of mind and heart and life. Again my mind dwells on every rose and tulip, Having equipped the gaze with a hundred gardens. Again I want to open a letter from her, Having made my life an o ering to the charm of the address. Again desire wants someone at the edge of the roof, Who has loosed her black curls to fall around her face. Again longing wants to face o with someone Who has sharpened her eyelash daggers with collyrium. Again the gaze is seeking a new spring of coquetry, Making the face a garden through the radiance of wine. Again it’s in my mind to lie fallen at someone’s door, Bowing under the burden of obligation to the Doorkeeper. Again I seek that same leisure, so that night and day, I would sit for hours, envisioning the beloved. Ghalib, don’t torment me—for again, with a turmoil of tears, I sit here, well equipped for a typhoon.

[ 51 ]


Ghazal Verses

31 How can the heat of the anxious mind be conveyed? Just a passing thought of wildness—and the desert burned.

32 Ardor, in every guise, rejected dignity and propriety— Qais, even in the veil of a picture, turned out to be naked.1

33 This corpse without a shroud is that of the wretched Asad. May God have mercy on him—he was a strangely free man.

34 Wholly pledged to passion, and still attached to life— I worship lightning, and lament the harvest lost.

[ 55 ]


35 I might not understand her words, I might not discover her meaning, But still, is it a small thing that this Pari-like one opened up to me?

36 She told me to stay by the door; and having said it, how she went back! In the time it took for my rolled-up bedding to unfurl.2

37 Who prevents Laila from going around in the wilderness? The house of Majnun the desert wanderer was without a door.3

38 Asad, we are such a madly running headless-footless beggar That the deer, with his eyelashes, scratches our back.4

39 Ardor complains, even in the heart, about narrowness of space. In a pearl was absorbed the restlessness of the sea.5

40 When I look at the sky, I remember her, Asad— In cruelty, that one has a commanding style.

[ 56 ]


41 Even if we didn’t weep, our house would be desolate— If the sea were not the sea, it would be the desert.

42 When there was nothing, then God existed; if nothing existed, then God would exist. Existence itself drowned me; if I were not I, then what would I be?

43 The polish of the mirror is still no more than a single line, I’ve been tearing at it ever since I learned what a collar was.6

44 We’re seized unjustly, on the Angels’ charges! Was any man of ours there when they wrote?7

45 You’re not the only master of Rekhta, Ghalib— They say that in a previous age there was some Mir as well.8

46 Prosperity, from the beginning, is according to courage. In the eyes is the drop that did not become a pearl.9

[ 57 ]


47 The river of sinfulness ran out of water and dried up; As yet not even my garment hem had been wetted.

48 No pro t from love has been seen, except the defeat of longing. Heart is pressed upon heart—a pair of vexed lips, so to speak.

49 We could have made a viewing place on one height more— If only our house were on the far side of the heavens.10

50 It’s enough of a token—your not giving me a ring, And showing me, as you leave, your empty nger.

51 Since the down has appeared on his cheek, he’s no longer a hot commodity— Perhaps it was the smoke of a burnt-out candle.

52 Madness is, for the people of madness, an embrace of departure— Ripping has been separated from the collar, since I’ve been gone.

[ 58 ]


53 Who can stand up to the man-killing wine of passion? The Cupbearer keeps on calling out, since I’ve been gone.11

54 We ourself are sold, along with the wares of poetry, But only after assaying the buyer’s mettle.

55 Tie on a sacred thread, tear up the hundred-beaded prayer beads— The traveler goes along where he sees that the road is smooth.12

56 It should have fallen on us, the divine lightning—not on Mount Tur! They give out wine, after seeing the drinker’s capacity.

57 I have been oblivion-taught in self-lessness since the time When Majnun used to write “L-A” on the schoolhouse wall.13

58 For lost pleasures, what claim can we have against the heavens? Do we think of stolen property as the highway robber’s debt?

[ 59 ]


59 Don’t ask about the breadth of the winehouse of madness, Ghalib, Where this bowl of the heavenly sphere is a single dustbin.

60 For the sun at evening, the thread of a ray is a roadway; With the new moon, the heavenly sphere opens an embrace of departure.

61 With a ray of the sun, the dew is taught to know oblivion; I too exist until there’s a single glance of kindness.

62 If you’re sure your prayer will be granted, don’t ask— That is, apart from a heart without desire, don’t ask.14

63 Ghalib, I long to embrace her, The thought of whom is the rose on the dress of the rose.

64 It’s beyond the limit of the senses, what we worship— People of insight call the Qibla a “Qibla pointer.”15

[ 60 ]


65 The glory of life comes from house-wrecking passion: The gathering has no candle, if there’s no lightning in the harvest.

66 We drank wine on borrowed money, but we always thought that, indeed, Our cheerfulness in adversity would bear fruit, one day.16

67 Tyranny is dear to us, we are dear to the tyrant— She’s not unkind, if she’s not kind.

68 There’s no harm in madness! So what if the house is wrecked? In exchange for a hundred yards of ground, isn’t the desert worth more?

69 I nd he does some justice to my poetry, Although the Angel Gabriel doesn’t speak my language.

70 They say people live on hope. We have no hope even of living.

[ 61 ]


71 Having put on the guise of a mendicant, Ghalib, I gaze at the spectacle of the generous people.

72 I go a little way with each and every fast walker; I don’t recognize, right now, any guide.

73 Our drop too is in truth an ocean, but We don’t want to repeat the shallowness of Mansur.

74 It’s not less in desolation—but it hasn’t got the scope. In the desert I nd such pleasure that I hardly recall my home.

75 To the insightful, the storm of events is a school; The waves’ bu eting is not less than a teacher’s slap.

76 Having given us both worlds, He thought we’d be happy; Here, we were embarrassed—how could we ask again?

[ 62 ]


77 All the parts of creation move toward decline— The sun in the sky is a lamp in the wind’s path, here.

78 Besides Eid, wine is available on other days too. The beggar in the street of the winehouse is not disappointed.17

79 If to meet you isn’t easy, then it’s simple; The di culty is this: that it’s also not di cult.18

80 So that in obedience, no a ection for wine and honey would remain, Let someone take Paradise, and set it up in Hell.19

81 Fidelity, if it holds rm, is the root of faith. If the Brahmin dies in the idol temple, then bury him in the Ka’ba.

82 If I hadn’t been looted by day, would I have slept so well at night? No more worry about theft—I bless the highway robber.

[ 63 ]


83 When the winehouse has been left behind, what do we care where now? It may be a mosque, it may be a school, it may be some Su lodge.

84 In the shelter of the mosque, there ought to be a winehouse; Near the eyebrow there ought to be, oh Supplier of Needs, an eye.20

85 The head ought to be at the foot of the wine cask, at the time of selflessness. The face ought to be toward the prayer niche, at the time of prayer.

86 How would the thought of death comfort an a icted heart? In my net of longing, that too is a single, inferior prey.

87 How narrow is the world of us oppressed ones, In which a single ant’s egg is the sky.21

88 Oh, sure, you didn’t give the Other a kiss! Just keep quiet. We have a tongue in our mouth, too.

[ 64 ]


89 Every dwelling is honored through its dweller, Asad. Since Majnun has died, the wilderness mourns.

90 Don’t fall for the trick of existence, Asad— The whole world is a single link in the net of thought.22

91 The eyes of beautiful ones, even in silence, speak. What’s called collyrium is the smoke of their voice’s ame.

92 Look at the scope of Majnun’s blood-scattering eye! A desertful of rose-glory is a doormat.23

93 It passes only unpro tably, even a lifetime like Khizr’s— His Lordship too will say tomorrow, “What did we get done?”

94 To move through life is to travel the road of restlessness— For measuring such a year, lightning is the sun.24

[ 65 ]


95 In the workshop of existence, the tulip bears a wound. The lightning that strikes its comfort is the hot blood of the farmer.25

96 From bud to bloom, the chance for con dence—none! Despite its composure, the rose has uneasy dreams.26

97 Weeds are sprouting from doors and walls, Ghalib— We are in the desert, and at home spring has come.

98 I have no complaint against you, but, my friend, Give him my greetings, if you meet the Messenger.27

99 To you too we would show what Majnun did If we nd leisure from the struggle of secret grief.

100 It’s not necessary that we would follow Khizr. We thought there was just some elder traveling with us.

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101 If I do live for a few more days, Inwardly I’ve resolved on—something di erent.28

102 It’s not our style to sit around at leisure— When that door wasn’t open, we stopped by the Ka’ba.

103 They give Paradise in exchange for life in this world. The intoxication is not in proportion to the hangover.29

104 Think of it as an enchanted world with a treasury of meaning— Every word, Ghalib, that would come into my verse.

105 Last night I drank wine by Zamzam; and at dawn, I washed the stains from my pilgrimage robe.30

106 The world remains populated through a lack of people of courage. To the extent that the agon and glass are lled, the winehouse is empty.31

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107 Opposite me is my opposite: She stopped, when she saw my owingness.32

108 The rose has opened an embrace, by way of taking leave. Oh Nightingale, go, for the days of spring have gone.

109 Separation is union, in the world of dignity and restraint, It takes a mischievous beloved—and a mad lover.33

110 Aloofness is the veil of friendship— You ought to stop hiding your face from us!34

111 In stature and curls is the test of Qais and Kohkan. Where we are, there’s the test of gallows and rope.

112 There’s no gripping power in the coils of prayer beads and sacred thread: In faithfulness is the test of Shaikh and Brahmin.

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113 Since the boat has reached the shore, Ghalib, Will you complain to the Lord of the captain’s cruelty?35

114 Who is there who’s not in need? Who can ful ll anyone’s need?

115 What did Khizr do to Alexander? Now whom would anyone trust as a guide?

116 No doubt grief is abundant in the world, but is there any shortage of wine? I’m a slave of the Cupbearer of Kausar—what grief do I have?36

117 A lament, the wealth of a whole world; and the world, a handful of dust— The sky looks like a gray turtledove’s egg, to me.37

118 From the turmoil of madness, we see nothing, Asad— A desert, in our eyes, is a handful of dust.38

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119 Why assume that everyone would get the same kind of answer? Come on, let’s us too take a stroll around Mount Tur.

120 No arrow in the quiver, no hunter lying in wait— In a corner of the cage, I’m very much at ease.

121 Leave me right here at Zamzam, what do I want with circumambulation? My pilgrimage robe is very much stained with wine.39

122 Would there be anybody who doesn’t know Ghalib? He’s a good poet, but he has a very bad reputation.

123 We’re alive, since people know us, oh Khizr, Not you, who became a thief for eternal life.

124 With a special style, Ghalib has sung of subtleties, It’s a public invitation, for subtlety-knowing friends.40

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PART THREE Other Genres



Qa das (Odes) 125 An ode in praise of the Prophet (1821). The universe, apart from the radiance of the oneness of the Beloved, is nothing. Where would we be, if Beauty were not self-regarding? The dejections of the spectacle—there’s neither instruction, nor relish! The forlornnesses of longing—there’s neither world, nor faith! The song of the depth and height of existence and nonexistence is absurd, The mirror of the di erence between madness and dignity is a tri e. All images of meaning are a hangover from the presentation of appearances, All speech about Truth is the wineglass of the taste for praise. The boast of intelligence, false; and the gain from worship—none! It’s the dregs of a whole cup of heedlessness, whether world or faith.

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: Like a theme of faithfulness the breeze shows the hand of submission, With the aspect of a footprint, the dust shows the dispersal of dignity. Passion is the disorder of the bookbinding string of the pages of the senses, Union is verdigris on the mirror face of the beauty of certainty. Kohkan, hungry, is a laborer on the pleasure-house of his rival, The Pillarless Mountain is a mirror of the heavy sleep of Shirin. Who has seen a re- inging breath from the people of faithfulness? Who has experienced an e ect from the lament of sorrowful hearts? Dispirited weakness has broken, on the face of the earth, That prostration-showing mirror that’s called a “forehead.”1 Despair is a re ection of aloofness that mirrors the spring, Illusion is a mirror of the creation of the image of certainty. The mind of the two worlds turned to blood from the tumult of longing, The gathering of despair, on the far side of manifestation and concealment, is colorful. The devastation of all hope, and the anxiety of terror— The turmoil of Hell is the autumn of the garden of lofty Paradise. The breeze of a story of sickness is the breath of Jesus, A bone fragment from an ant is the jewel of Solomon’s ring. It’s the hangover wave of a single intoxication, whether Islam or in delity, It’s the crookedness of a single letter on a line, whether conjecture or certainty.

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Prayer niche and idol’s eyebrow—a single dreaming road of ardor. Ka’ba and idol temple—a single camel seat of stonelike sleep. The pleasure of the Eid slaughterhouse of rivals—none! Let the mirror turn to blood, so that the children’s robes would be colorful! I hear the chanting of the people of the world, but I have neither an inclination for praise, nor a mind for reproach. How the nonsense babblers carry on—I take refuge in God! Entirely devoid of the etiquette of dignity and propriety. Write, “I take refuge in God,” oh nonsense-writing pen! Petition, “Ya Ali,” oh evil-doing temperament! Manifestation of the Lord’s grace, life and soul of the Seal of the Prophets, Prayer niche of the Prophet’s family, Ka’ba of the creation of belief. His name is so lofty, his rank is so high, that the sky’s back Would remain forever bowed before the pride of the earth. The grace of creation is involved with him alone—the way that, always, The breath of the spring breeze is perfumed with rose scent. His glory is so in delity-burning that it would cause to fade Like the color of the lover, the radiance of the idol temple of China. Who can praise you beyond what is your due? The ame of a candle—but the candle has been bound by laws. Asadullah “Asad” is merchandise in the market of sinfulness, Such that except for you, he’ll nd no buyer.2

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: It’s insolent of me to presume to ask for things, Although I have such con dence in your capacity for grace. Give to my prayer such a rank of ready acceptance That Assent would say a hundred times to every word, “Amen!” With grief for Husain, may my breast be so over owing That my eyes would remain colored with the blood of the liver. May I feel such love for Husain’s horse Duldul that, in the heat of ardor, However far he would go, from him the step and from me the forehead. The heart bound by love, the breast full of Oneness, The gaze seeking God’s glory, and the breath choosing truth. Accorded to enemies: the e ect of the ame and smoke of Hell. Provided for friends: the rose and hyacinth of lofty Paradise.

126 An ode in praise of a sleek betel nut (1826). This sleek betel nut that’s on the palm of the Sahib’s hand— The way it adorns the hand—call it ne!1 The pen has its nger to its teeth: how to write of it? Speech has its head in its collar: how to speak of it? Write of it as the seal on the letter of revered and dear ones, Speak of it as the amulet on the arm of self-adorning beautiful ones. Write of it as the cosmetic-stained ngertip of beautiful ones, Speak of it as the scar on the side of the liver of mad lovers. Write of it as resembling the signet ring on the hand of Solomon, Speak of it as the equal of the nipple of a Pari. [ 76 ]

Let it be connected to the burnt-out fortune star of Qais, Speak of it as the musky beauty spot on the charming face of Laila. Suppose it to be the black stone of the wall of the Ka’ba, Speak of it as the scent gland of the musk deer of the desert of Khutan. If in form you suppose it to be the o in “opium,”2 In color, speak of it as the newly sprung greenery of the Messiah.3 If in a prayer cell you declare it to be the seal of prayer, In a winehouse, speak of it as the plug in the cask of wine. Why would you write of it as the lock on the door of the treasury of love? Why would you speak of it as the point of the drawing-compass of longing? Why would it be imagined as an unobtainable pearl? Why would you speak of it as the pupil of the eye of the imagined bird? Why would you write of it as the button of the robe of Laila? Why would you speak of it as the footprint of the camel of Salma? Suppose the noble gentleman’s hand to be a heart, And call this glossy betel nut the black spot in the heart.4

127 An ode in praise of the king (1852). Indeed, new moon, let’s hear his name, The one to whom you are bowing in salute. For two days you’ve come into view at daybreak, With the same style and the same shape. [ 77 ]

: After all, where did you vanish to, for two days? “This servant is helpless—it’s the circling of the days! How could I have escaped?—for the sky Had spread a net made of stars.” Welcome, oh special delight of the special ones! Bravo, oh common joy of the commoners! As an excuse for not coming for three days, You’ve come bringing the news of Eid. You mustn’t forget to tell about it, When you leave in the morning, and come at night. I’m not the only one, for everyone knows Your beginning, and your ending. Why do you hide from me the secret of your heart? Surely you don’t consider me indiscreet? I know that today in the world There’s only one hopeful place for people to go. I grant that you have a slave ring in your ear, But is not Ghalib his slave? Do I know better, or do you know better? Then I said by way of inquiry, So what, oh moon, if to the shining sun you’re Near every day on his perpetual road? What degree of acquaintance do you have with him, Except during the approach of Eid, in the month of fasting?

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I know that thanks to his grace, you Again want to become the full moon. Without the moon, without the moonlight, who am I? You’ll hardly dole me out a reward! My own a air is a separate one, What need do I have to deal with anyone else? I long for a specially gracious gift, If you hope for a general mercy. He who will bestow on you the royal glory of radiance, Will he not give me rose-colored wine? Since fourteen heavenly stages Your swiftness of foot has already traversed,1 They would be recipients of your radiance, Street and palace and courtyard and landscape and roof. Look—in my hand, brimful, In your own shape, a crystal cup. Then I moved on, along the path of the ghazal, You, in your own style, were champing at the bit. Bravo to the hairsplittingness of your arrow—2 Praise to the temperedness of your sword— Your arrow, an arrow with no target left, Your sword, a sword sheathed in an enemy. How it makes thunder hold its breath— How it shows the inferiority of lightning—

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: The trumpeting of your heavy-bodied elephant, The gait of your swift-reined steed. In the art of shape making, your mace, If it wouldn’t have complete mastery, Then from its repeated striking of heads and bodies, How would the duplication of letters be manifest? When, in the eternity before time, it was written down On the pages of nights and days, And in those pages, by the pen of fate, In brief, orders were included, It wrote down beautiful ones as lover-slayers, It wrote down lovers as what their worst enemies wished. About the sky it was said that it would be called A swift-revolving blue-colored dome. The imperative order was written, to write down The beauty spot as a seed, and the curls as a net. Fire and water and wind and dust took The style of burning and wetness and wildness and rest. The shining sun’s name, King of the Day, The radiant moon’s title, Viceroy of the Evening. To the grandeur of your kingship too It gave the established aspect of a decree. The writer of the order, according to his order, Gave to this decree perpetual dominion—

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From all eternity, there is a primordial proclamation, To all eternity, let there be an outcome ful lled!

Rub s (Quatrains) 128 A quatrain on childhood and old age (1816). After the end of the Eid festival of childhood The days of youth kept o ering us the wine of ecstasy— Until we arrived at the outskirts of the clime of nonexistence. Oh passed-away lifetime—one footstep to welcome the future!1

129 A quatrain on “speaking the di cult” (1821). My speech is di cult to such an extent, oh heart,1 Listening to it, accomplished speakers Enjoin me to speak what is easy— I speak the di cult; and if I don’t speak, it’s di cult.2

130 A quatrain on reworks and passion (1833). The way reworks are a pursuit of children, The burning of the liver too has an ecstasy just like that. The inventor of passion was a Doomsday disaster— In passing, what a game he devised for boys!

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131 To Tafta (1858), about the terrible losses of 1857.1 Please excuse me, Ghalib, for this bitter voicedness, Today the pain in my heart is more than usual. Noble sir! First I should instruct you that you are to present my salaams in the service of my old friend Mir Mukarram Husain Sahib and tell him that up to the present I’m still alive, and beyond this even I don’t know what shape I’m in. To Mirza Hatim Ali Beg Sahib “Mihr” convey my salaams, and recite to him this [Persian] verse [of mine]: Islam requires one to cultivate faith in the unseen— Oh you who are hidden from my sight, love for you is my faith. I’d already sent a reply to your previous letter, when two days or three days later another letter arrived. Listen, Sahib! Whoever would have a taste for some particular activity, and without further ado he would spend his life in it—this is what’s called “luxury.” Your remarkable attention to poetry and verse is proof of your noble nature and ne temperament. And, brother, the fame of this poetrycirculating of yours enhances my reputation too. My situation in this art is that I’ve now forgotten both the path of poetry composition and even the [ 83 ]

: verses I had previously composed. But indeed, from my Hindi [i.e., Urdu] poetry one and a half verses—that is, one closing-verse and one line—have come to mind. Thus from time to time, when my heart begins to sink, then ve or ten times I recite this closing-verse: When our life passed in this way, Ghalib, Will even we remember that we used to have a God? Then when I feel extremely anxious and full of annoyance, I recite this line and fall silent: Oh sudden death, what are you waiting for?! Let no one think that I’m dying of grief over my own dismal and ruined state. The sorrow that I feel, I can’t at all express; but I can give a hint of it. From among those of the English community who were murdered at the hands of those disgraced [“black-faced”] black ones, one was my patron, and one was my well-wisher, and one my friend, and one my supporter, and one my pupil. Among the Hindustanis, some dear ones, some friends, some pupils, some beloveds. Thus every one of them was mingled with the dust. How harsh is the mourning for one dear one! He who would be a mourner for so many dear ones—how could his life not be di cult? Alas! So many friends died that now when I die, there won’t even be anyone left to mourn for me. [As the Qur’an says,] “Verily we are from God, and verily to Him we shall return.”

132 To Mihr (1859), about Ghalib’s appearance.2 It’s a condition of Islam to practice faith in the unseen, Oh you who are hidden from the gaze, your kindness [mihr] is my faith.3 The auspicious description [of your appearance] brightened my sight. Whatever Mirza Yusuf Ali Khan “Aziz” said to you, do you know what its origin was? Sometime in a gathering of friends I must have said, “I want to see [ 84 ]

Mirza Hatim Ali; I hear that he’s a stylish [tara -d r] man.” And my friend, I had heard of your stylishness from Mughal Jan. At the time when she was in the service of Navab Hamid Ali Khan, and she and I had an informal friendship, I often used to spend hours in Mughal’s company. She has also shown me your verses in her praise. In any case, when I learned of your tall stature I didn’t feel envious. The reason was that my stature too is conspicuous for tallness. I wasn’t envious of your wheat-colored complexion. Because when I was alive, my complexion was fair, and people of insight always praised it. Now, if ever I recall that complexion of mine, something like a snake crawls on my breast. Indeed, if I felt envy, and I “drank the blood of the liver,” then it was because your face is nely clean-shaven. I recalled such pleasure—what can I say about what passed through me? In the [Persian] words of Shaikh Ali “Hazin,” As much as was in my hands, I tore my collar, I didn’t respect the honor of my ne wool robe. When in my beard and mustache white hairs appeared, then on the third day “ants’ eggs” began to be visible on my cheeks. In addition to this, it happened that two of my front teeth broke o . Having no choice, I gave up miss [a gum-darkening cosmetic], and my beard as well. But please remember that in this uncouth city there is a common uniform. Mullahs, blind Qur’an reciters, peddlers, hookah-mouthpiece makers, washermen, waterbearers, innkeepers, weavers, greengrocers—beards on their faces, hair on their heads. The day that this fakir grew a beard, that same day he had his head shaved. [Arabic:] “There’s no power except in God Most High”—what nonsense I’m talking! Sahib! This servant sent Dastanbu to the honorable George Frederick Edmonstone Sahib Bahadur, Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Provinces, as an o ering. And his reply, in Persian, came by post on the tenth of March, with praise and admiration and the expression of pleasure. Then I sent him a Persian ode in congratulations for his lieutenant governorship. Upon receiving it, he sent a Persian letter praising the poem and expressing his appreciation, by way of the post, on the fourteenth. Then I sent a Persian ode of praise and congratulation in the service of Janab Robert Montgomery Sahib, Lieutenant Governor Bahadur of the Punjab, through the good o ces of the commissioner sahib of Delhi. Yesterday a letter with his seal arrived [ 85 ]

: through the good o ces of the [commissioner sahib] bahadur of Delhi. With regard to the pension there is as yet no order. Grounds for hope keep accumulating. [Persian:] “What comes late, comes right.” I don’t eat bread anyway. I have half a ser [a pound] of meat in the day, and a p o -bhar [a glass or two] of wine at night. At everything I utter, you say, “What are you?!” You yourself tell me—what is this style of speech?! If we are a true fakir, and the seeker of this ghazal [Mihr] has a perfected taste, then this ghazal will have arrived before this letter. There remains the salaam, and that we ourself will send.

133 To Mihr (1860), about the long-ago cruel dancing girl.4 Janab Mirza Sahib! Your saddening letter arrived. I read it. I got Yusuf Ali Khan “Aziz” to read it. He told me about the relationship between the deceased lady and you. That is, her devotion and your love for her. I was severely grieved, and felt complete sorrow. Listen, my friend, among poets Firdausi, and among fakirs Hasan Basri, and among lovers Majnun—these three men, in their three arts, are the heads and chiefs. The excellence of a poet is that he should become Firdausi. The limit for a fakir is that he should rival Hasan Basri. The sign of a lover is that he should have a destiny like that of Majnun. Laila died in his presence. Your beloved died in your presence—or rather, you have gone beyond him, because Laila died in her own house, and your beloved died in your house. My friend, we Mughal types are devastating—the one whom we’re dying for, we end up killing. I too am a Mughal type. In the course of my life I too have killed a very cruel dancing girl [ omn ]. May the Lord have mercy on them both, and on you and me as well, who have su ered the wound of a friend’s death. This happened forty or forty-two years ago. Fortunately I’ve abandoned that path; I’ve become a mere stranger to that [lover’s] art. But even now sometimes I remember those coquetries. As long as I live, I won’t forget her death. I know what must be passing through your [ 86 ]

heart. Be patient, and now leave behind the turmoil of worldly passion. A [Persian] verse: Sa’di, if you would be a lover in a youthful spirit, The love of Muhammad and his family is enough. [A small Persian rhyming phrase:] In God we trust, all else is lust.

134 To Mihr (1860), about being a sugar y, not a honey y.5 Mirza Sahib! I don’t like all this. I’m sixty- ve years old. For fty years I’ve strolled around in the world of color and scent. In my early youth, an accomplished master gave me this advice: “I don’t seek asceticism and abstinence. I don’t forbid immorality and licentiousness. Drink, eat, take your pleasure; but remember this: become a sugar y, not a honey y.” So my practice has been according to this advice. He who will not die himself is the one who should grieve at the death of another. What’s this tear shedding, whence this elegy reciting? Give thanks for freedom! Don’t grieve. And if you’re really so happy in your captivity, then so what if there’s no “Chunna Jan”— there’s always a “Munna Jan”! [In rhymed prose:] When I form a picture of Paradise, and re ect that if I am granted mercy, and am given a palace in Paradise and a houri—life in perpetuity, and with this very same excellent woman—then this picture terri es me, and my heart is in my mouth. Alas—that houri will grow tiresome! Why shouldn’t I feel anxious? That same emerald palace, and that same branch of the Tuba tree; and—may the evil eye be far from us!—that same one houri! Brother, come to your senses, and attach your heart somewhere else. A [Persian] verse: Take a new woman each returning spring, For last year’s almanac’s a useless thing. I saw your “six-liner” poem with the incorporation of the verses of Mirza Mazhar. The thought is entirely pleasing; the expression, on the whole, is not pleasing. I handed over the letter you sent me, together with these [ 87 ]

: verses, to Mirza Yusuf Ali Khan “Aziz.” . . . [The rest of the letter is concerned with sending greetings and remarks to various people.]

135 To Ala’i (1861), about the poet’s life as a captive.6 Life of Ghalib! I remember that I’ve heard from your renowned uncle that a copy of the Dictionary of Exemplars is there. If it had been there, then why would you not have sent it? Well [following in Persian], “What we think we need, most of it we don’t need.” You are the new fruit of that plant that has grown up before my eyes; and I have kept enjoying that plant’s breeze, and sitting in its shade—how would you not be dear to me? There remains the question of meeting in person; for that there are two approaches: you would come to Delhi, or I would go to Loharu. You are under compulsion, I am excused. I myself say, beware! Don’t listen to my excuse until you understand who I am and what the situation is: Listen: the worlds are two—one world of spirits and one world of water and earth. The ruler of both these worlds is one, and he himself says [Qur’an 40:16], “Who shall rule on this [Judgment] day?” and then himself gives the answer, “Allah, the One, the Almighty!” Although the general rule is that criminals from the world of water and earth are punished in the world of spirits, it has also happened that they’ve punished sinners in the world of spirits by sending them to the world of water and earth. Thus I, on the eighth of Rajab, AH 1212 [December 27, 1897, his birth date], was sent here for my trial. For thirteen years I remained in custody. On the seventh of Rajab, AH 1225 [August 18, 1810, his wedding day], an order of life imprisonment was issued. They fastened a shackle to my foot, and designated Delhi as my prison, and placed me in that prison. They assigned me as hard labor the composition of poetry and prose. After some years, I ran away from the prison, and for three years wandered in the eastern regions. In the end they captured me in Calcutta, brought me back, and sat me down again in that same prison. When they saw that this prisoner was an escape risk, they added two handcu s more [i.e., his adopted sons]. [ 88 ]

With my foot wounded by the shackle, with hands chafed by handcu s, the hard labor became even more di cult, my strength entirely failed. I am shameless—last year I left my foot shackle in the corner of the cell and, with both handcu s, ed away. Through Meerut and Moradabad I arrived at Rampur. I had stayed there a few days short of two months when again I was captured and brought back. Now I’ve promised that I won’t run away again. And how would I run away? I no longer even have the strength to run away. Now let’s see when the order for release would be issued. There’s a small possibility that in this very month, Zi’l-hijja, AH 1277 [December 1861], I might be freed. In any case, after release a man goes nowhere else except to his own home. I too, after liberation, will go straight to the world of the spirits; [in Persian:] Happy the day when I would leave this prison, When from this desolate valley, would go to my own city. In singing, seven verses of a ghazal are usually enough. I send two Persian ghazals and two Urdu ghazals, relying on my memory, as an o ering to Bha’i Sahib.

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Preface to a Romance (1866) The following preface by Ghalib, translated and introduced here by Pasha M. Khan, is a rare example of his Urdu prose that was meant for publication. It introduces the ad iq-i anz r (1866) by Khwaja Badruddin Khan Aman (d. 1879) is described by Ghalib as his nephew—more speci cally, his brother’s son (bhat j ). However, he was not a blood relation of Ghalib’s but rather the son of a horse groom formerly employed by Ghalib’s father on a salary of ve rupees a month. The book that Ghalib introduced is Aman’s Urdu translation of Mir Taqi Khayal’s Bost n-i Khay l (Garden of imagination, or Khaya’s garden), an eighteenth-century Persian romance written to rival the famous romance of Amir Hamza. Like many such romances, the Bost n-i Khay l is populated by marvelous characters and represents a world in which sorcery is not uncommon. Ghalib draws a comparison between it and the archetypal Persian high romance, the Sh hn ma, or Book of Kings—this is the work to which he alludes by way of his mention of the great Sh hn ma hero Rustam, son of Zal, who is aided by his avian foster parent the simurgh in his battle against his enemy Isfandyar. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi points out the uncertain value of public praise coming from Ghalib when its object is a relative or friend. There can be little doubt, however, that Ghalib was a great fan of a variety of romances. He had read some version of the Bost n-i Khay l previously but expressed particular fondness for the story of Amir Hamza. His hints that the Bost n-i Khay l is the better of the two romances should perhaps be seen in light [ 91 ]

: of Khayal’s account of his composing the work to refute a storyteller who claimed that the tale of Hamza could not be rivaled. Ghalib’s comparison reinforces the legitimacy of Khayal’s challenge to this claim, which is in a sense the raison d’ tre of Khayal’s romance. For more on Ghalib’s value judgments on romances, see Pasha M. Khan, “Marvellous Histories: Reading the Sh hn mah in India,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 49, no. 4 (2012): 529–33. God be glori ed! What matchless beauty has Speech, that comely beloved! To witness him is to increase the eye’s light. To imagine him is to set ablaze a gathering of thoughts. In the eyes of those who deal in spiritual meaning, his literal aspect is the mirror of the cheek of beauty. With regard to his meaning, reshaped by the device called qalb [“anagram,” also “heart”], he is an anagram for speech [kal m]—that is, he is perfection [kam l]. If the Real had created the rationally speaking soul in the form of a human being, what could we say in that case—how would it be? Even without wine, we would grow drunk with the sight of this heart-enchanting plaything, and if they were to see this sense-stealing body, the people of spiritual meaning would become form-worshippers all at once, in a single pen stroke. He has a separate style in poetry; he has another way in prose. He has a separate melody in Persian, he has a di erent harmony in Urdu. You may see in biographies and histories what happened hundreds of years before you. You may listen, in stories and romances, to what no one has ever seen or heard. Though the wakeful brains of intellectual men will incline by temperament toward histories, nevertheless in their hearts they will admit to the tastefulness and delightfulness of romances and tales. And aren’t impossible things narrated in histories? You are unjust, it isn’t so! Sam has his son thrown upon a mountain, the simurgh comes and carries the boy o to its nest, rears him and turns him into a warrior, teaches him the ways of warring and wounding. Then, when he despairs of Rustam’s ght with Isfandyar, Zal calls out that name without a named, and the simurgh comes directly, like a homing pigeon, upon hearing the sound of the whistle, and with a daub of its droppings, or some other medicine, it heals Rustam’s wound; and, giving him a double-shafted arrow, it takes its leave. Rustam slays a raging elephant (at the age of ten), and when he grows into a young man—evil eye, avaunt!—he slaughters the White Demon and buries him in the ground. [ 92 ]

Pharaoh’s claim to godhood is famous, and it is related similarly of Shaddad and Nimrod in the histories. If the people of ne temperament decide that this strong-handed young man, Hamza the Demon Killer, is like Rustam and insist that that one is Zumurrud Shah, the erring one, the one who claims godhood like Nimrod, let us say that they have made a mare’s nest— but they’ve made it well. They’ve drawn from those historical accounts, but they’ve drawn from them well. What results is not all sermons and preaching, but a collection of friendly tri es. It’s not a biography or report but a false tale. Romance crafting is among the verbal arts. In truth, it’s a good art for amusing the heart. Look at Amar’s tricks, look at Hamza’s exploits on the battle eld! The compiler of these narrations [about Hamza] is some Iranian wordsmith, but that Mir Taqi of Muhammad Shah’s time, who was the boon companion of Mu’tamanauddaula Is’haq Khan, has lifted up the Garden of Iram and set it down in India, so to speak. He has shown us a unique spectacle in the Garden of Imagination. Among these romances there is a volume called the Mu izzn ma. Bravo for its courtly assemblies, its battles, sorcery, tilisms [enchanted worlds created by magical arts]. and the heat of the tumult of its beauty and love! If he were to hear of its tilism conquests, Amir Hamza would be in such a state that he would go hunting for his own Lordship of the Auspicious Conjunction and would nd neither hide nor hair of it. If he were to see the quality of Abulhasan’s tricks, Amar would be so astonished that his cumin-seed eyes would pop wide open. As it happens, my brother’s son of twofold felicity, Khwaja Badruddin Khan, alias Khwaja Aman, is a youth of sweet expression, quick-witted, and in the attainment of perfection in every art, a hard striver and an undergoer of hardship. When he turned his attention to the sitar, he played it so well that he had Miyan Tansen dancing at his ngertips. When his temperament inclined toward painting pictures, he created such a picture that when they saw it, Mani and Bihzad were astonished. This child of fortune decided to make an Urdu translation of the Persian prose Mu izzn ma. He brought from Persian into Urdu Muizzuddin Firoz-Bakht’s country conquests, Abulhasan Jauhar’s displays of magic, the wonders and astonishments of Hakim Qustas, the colorful coquetries of Queen Naubahar, Jamshed the Self-Worshipper’s feats of strength, the shameless deeds of Topsy-Turvy Zar the Inauspicious, the ghts of the Muslims and the misbelievers, the goodness of the Muslims and the evilness of the misbelievers. Consider it thus: within the dominion [ 93 ]

: wherein runs the royal writ of Urdu, he has made a heart-gladdening palace, or an altogether soul-increasing interior garden. He has abandoned oridity, all in such a way that you might say that he has given a garnish of writing to speech. After he had nished writing, he communicated his longing that the skyoppressed Ghalib should write a preface. Though I pleaded helplessness and begged to be excused, the unjust one would not hear a word and would not accept any excuse at all. Now what was the cure for his insistence? How far would this relentlessness go? He was after all my nephew—and a dear nephew at that—and so I was helpless, and there was nothing left to do but to scribble something. Following such a preface, I saw no way of proceeding except to go straight to the world of spirits and procure a verse from Nizami. So I am writing out this verse, bright as Sirius, by way of a conclusion—I’m fed up, now I will take a breath! Thank goodness this epistle arrived at its destination— That too before my life could arrive at its termination! Grace comes from God, and He is the Best of Companions.

[ 94 ]


Introduction 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

Research may eventually show that he was born a few years earlier. Hali 1897:96. All translations not otherwise attributed are our own. Russell and Islam 1969:47. Hali 1897:39. Russell and Islam 1969:156. Chittick 1975:4. Russell and Islam 1969:361–64. Hali 1897:100. Ibid., 66, 70. See 487–88 in the original 1880 edition; see also Pritchett and Faruqi 2001:397; Hali 1897:28–29. Khaliq Anjum 1984, 1:244–45. In fact Zain ul-Abidin Khan “Arif ” was Ghalib’s wife’s nephew. Pritchett and Faruqi 2001:103–4, 381, 405–6. Hali 1897:112. The wonderful “eggs of bu aloes” translation is taken from Russell and Islam 1969:40. Ghalib’s verse is (175, 6) in the standard divan numbering system. For an inventory of this commentarial literature, see Ansarullah 1972. Ghazal 124 in the divan. For details of Urdu prosody, see Pybus 1924. See for an example (5, 8). (11, 3). (39). This verse is not contained in this translation. It can be found with the standard divan number (78, 2). (14, 10). (7, 8). (87). [ 95 ]

24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

(14, 13). Ghalib did not choose to include all his verses in his published divan; these unpublished verses are almost entirely very early (ca.1816 to ca.1821). Hamid 1969. Arshi 1982. Raza 1988.

Part One: Ghazals 1 1.





A poet’s divan, or book of poetry, is expected to begin with a amd, a verse in praise of God. Instead, this verse with its faux-naïf question suggests a legal complaint against divine carelessness and indi erence. The word for lines of writing (ta r r) can also mean “setting at liberty, manumission”—a sense that ironically comes into play, since the gures in a picture may look free but in fact are powerless. The verse is full of wordplay involving terms for writing and drawing: naqsh (drawing, portrait), ta r r (writing); k gha (of paper), paikar (face, form, gure), ta v r (picture, image). For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1; he explains what he means by “paper robes.” The “tough layers” stands in for sakht-j n h —literally, “tough-lifednesses” (which sounds just as strange in Urdu as it does in English). The sense is of something shamelessly resilient and primitively unkillable. Farhad carved through black (nightlike) stone to bring milk (white like the light of dawn) for his beloved Shirin’s bath. The task was never completed but ended in his death. Is this ardor the sword’s own innate violence, or the beloved’s murderousness (which she has transmitted to the sword), or the lover’s death wish (which he has projected onto the sword)? The multivalence of dam is perfectly exploited: it means “breath” (the sword is panting with eagerness, perhaps almost dying of it) and “the edge of a sword” (which is in any case the “outside” part of the blade). The imagined bird, the Anqa, is by de nition uncapturable (by the bird trapper of awareness, with the net of hearing). Idiomatically, to call something an Anqa is also to suggest that it is nothing at all. The second line could also be translated as “the Anqa is the object of its own world of speech.” Mad lovers, like the speaker, are chained up; but here the lover’s passion melts his chains.

2 1.

Qais (or Majnun) ran o into the wide emptiness of the desert, a natural eld (literally, “face”) of action for mad lovers. The desert was perhaps possessive, “narrowing” itself like a jealous eye and refusing to admit anyone else. The versatile magar, here translated as “perhaps,” can also mean “but,” which would create another reading: “No one else came, but still the desert was jealous.” [ 96 ]

: 2. 3. 4. 5.



This enigmatic verse raises questions of Su stic terminology. In the ghazal world, smoke can be the result of ery sighs—and it either a xes, or enhances, or erases this suvaid , the “black spot” that is the essence of desire. The lover’s lessons are in Persian—and he learns only a few very melancholy past-tense verb forms. In a striking example of multivalence, the word nang, here translated as “disgrace,” can also mean “honor.” Kohkan (“Mountain Digger,” an epithet of Farhad’s) killed himself with an axe; the verse suggests that if he had been less conventional, he wouldn’t even have needed one. “Asad” was a pen name that Ghalib used in some of his earlier ghazals. This and the following verses are among those omitted by Ghalib from his published divan. A “city of the silent” is a cemetery. The complex possibilities of the i fat mean that ghar b-i could be translated as “stranger in,” “stranger to,” or “stranger from.” The description of the sky evokes its (eyelike) spherical shape. Is the azure eye that of the sky, or that of some still more potent power? Or does it suggest that the speaker was destroyed not by cruelty but by beauty?

3 1. 2.



5. 6.

To avoid blaming the beloved “enemy,” the lover blames his own heart for his failure to obtain access to her. The beloved (beauty) is testing the courage of the speaker (the lover) through a show of heedlessness and obliviousness. Is she “artfully” testing his “simplicity” and “awarely” testing his rapturous “self-lessness” (that is, self-transcendence)? Or is she “artful” through her show of “simplicity” (or “simple” through her naive faith in her “artfulness”), while he is “aware” despite his “self-lessness”? Or do all four qualities belong to him (since the rst and third are innately his, while the second and fourth show his discovery of her trickery in “testing” him)? Or does the rst line simply marvel at those contrasting qualities, without necessarily assigning them to anyone in particular? And so on, unresolvably. Is the lover’s heart metaphorically a bud (renewed every spring, doomed to a quick blossoming and death)? Or is the bud metaphorically the lover’s lost heart, which he imagines he has (brie y) recovered? Since to cause something to “turn to blood” (kh n karn ) means either “to murder” or “to squander” it, the interpretive possibilities of the second line become still more rami ed. In the perverse world of the ghazal, where nothing is more pleasurable than pain, it is quite possible that the lover is asking not sarcastically or resentfully but gratefully, whether the Adviser enjoyed the salt-in-wound experience as much as he himself did (“Was it good for you too?”). This verse about a single step or print of the foot (p ) ends with two adjacent occurrences of “foot” (p p y ). This and the following verses are among those omitted by Ghalib from his published divan. The second line presents the baroque, powerfully ominous [ 97 ]



image of a semipersoni ed “despair” that smiles through two lips that are (like) the two worlds. Despair is vast and cosmically powerful, the very opposite of poor hope with its childish dust castles. For the liver to turn to blood is, idiomatically, to su er and torment oneself. More literally, the process creates a river or channel of brilliant redness—and thus evokes, or invites inside, or permits the lover to reach out to the brilliantly red rose, perpetual emblem of the (human or divine) beloved. The i fat construction in “o ers a road to the rose” conveys, as it does in English, the possibility of tra c in either or both directions. “Heart opening” (dil-kush ) commonly means “heart expanding” or “delightful.” We tend to read it that way; there’s a sudden enjoyable shock in realizing how literally a sword wound can be “heart opening” and how many mystical, Su stic associations the idea carries in its train.

4 1.


3. 4. 5.

6. 7.


A niche in the wall is normally used to display cherished possessions; here, the “niche of forgetfulness” suggests total indi erence, for indeed we who are self-less, mystically beside ourselves, can’t be bothered with such trivia as the Garden of Rizvan. It is merely a “single” (one among many) “bouquet” (compared with the vast elds over which we wander). The grammar of the rst line makes it possible that what is tossed aside so disdainfully is not the real Garden of Rizvan but only the Ascetic’s idea of it. The lover’s drops of blood are pierced by the beloved’s eyelashes so that they resemble (red) coral “beads” with “strings” through them, like prayer beads with which to worship her. Here d na means both “bead” and “seed”; coral was imagined as a mineral that could undergo plantlike growth. The lover’s laments are so potent and uncontrollable that even the straw that he takes in his teeth (to show utter submission) becomes a reed, from which reed utes are made. A “tree of lights” is a form of fancy lamp-show—of oil lamps, of course, so that their ames can evoke the mortally burning wounds in the lover’s heart. A “mirror chamber” was a windowless inner room with walls covered with small glittery and mirrored tiles, so that a torch could create a sudden dazzle. The beloved’s glory might actually melt the mirrors, the way a ray of sun vaporizes dew. Just as in English, “my construction” can refer either to construction done by me or to the construction of my own self. The little word “one” (ek) can have a wide range of meanings, including “single,” “particular,” “unique,” “excellent.” The lover’s house is such a ruin that weeds have taken root and grown up in it. The Doorkeeper now makes his living cutting and selling the tall weeds and grass as fodder. Who is the visitor to whom the lover is paradoxically showing o his allegedly unvisited house? This is a verse chie y of wordplay. A burnt-out lamp is, literally, a “dead” lamp, and since its oil is gone, it no longer has a “tongue” of ame with which to express its longings. Lamps are often lit on graves, and the grave of a poor man (or a “stranger”) would be likely to receive little attention. [ 98 ]

: 9.


Joseph’s father, Jacob, so loved him that somehow his tear-blinded eyes were able to see into Joseph’s Egyptian prison cell. That lingering “ray” is at a double remove, since it is not a ray of light or of the beloved’s own radiance; it is only a mental ray, of the “image,” of the “thought,” of the beloved. The second line relies on bookmaking terminology: the binding string is used to sew together the set of folded signatures that make up the book. The word paresh n means, literally, “scattered, dispersed,” but metaphorically it commonly means “distracted, anxious,” which also works well here. The rst line o ers up long, thin, binding string–like things: both a “path” and a “road” to oblivion. The brilliance of Ghalib shows with “in our gaze,” since after hearing the second line we suddenly realize that the gaze too traces out a long, straight trajectory that could be another stringlike presence. Does the verse suggest that only the human gaze makes meaning out of the dispersed, inchoate world? Or does it suggest that only a gaze xed on oblivion can create any unity or coherence in one’s life?

5 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

The use of baskih means that the rst line might also begin, “It’s quite sufciently di cult.” To be a “man” ( dm ) is to be a mere descendant of Adam; to be a human (ins n) suggests urbanity, empathy, and ethical behavior. Literally, what “drips” from the doors and walls is “to be a desert” (bay b n hon ), which is just as strikingly paradoxical an image in Urdu as it is in English. The tiny lines left on a metal mirror when it’s polished resemble eyelashes; the radiant appearance of the beloved causes the mirror to aspire to be an eye. The scimitar has the crescent shape of the new moon that signals the festive start of Eid and is equally delightful to the “people of longing” who have been awaiting the death stroke that will bring them mystical union with the divine. In Urdu one “eats” (kh n ) a wound, so that the imagery of food is extended, and with it the delights of masochism. The second line is exclamatory—but in what mood, what tone of voice? In the rst line the word qismat turns out to refer to the “cutting out” of fabric to make a garment, though the reader realizes this only after encountering the same word in its more common sense of “destiny” in the second line. The collar of the mad lover’s kurta is fated to be constantly ripped open.

6 1. 2.

In the ghazal world the liver makes fresh blood, so an arrow shot through the liver (as opposed to the heart) would nish o the victim at once. Is the lover complaining about the extra pain of a slow death, or delighting in it? The symmetry of Urdu grammar means that the latter half of the rst line can also be read as “that the Adviser has become a friend.” The lover’s friends, alarmed at his condition, have begun to lecture him just the way the Adviser does; or, the Adviser himself has struck up a “friendship” with the lover. Either way, the lover no longer has any support. [ 99 ]

: 3. 4. 5. 6.

In Urdu as in English, rocks have “veins”; thus they can bleed. When one strikes a person, blood comes out, and when one strikes a rock, a spark appears; thus sparks are the rock’s “blood.” The nal clause can be read to suggest either that dying never happened at all (death was longed for but never appeared) or that dying happened over and over (the night of grief was a kind of endless death). Against strong Muslim traditions, the dead lover wishes he had died at sea, so that his funeral procession and tomb would not recall his disgraceful behavior. The wordplay moves from “oneness” through “unique” through “twoness” to the idiomatic word for an “encounter,” which is, literally, “two-four-ness” (do-ch r hon ). In this case, unusually, it is clear that the beloved is God.

7 1.



Is the excuse being made by the longing of the heart to the lover, or to the longing of the heart by the lover? Does the speaker remember the liver with longing and regret because he can’t lament anymore now that it’s gone? Or does he start to lament and then remember about the (loss of the) liver and o er an “excuse” instead? The rst line is idiomatic and exclamatory (insh iya). It may be a compliment to the desert (it is almost as desolate as my house), or an insult to the desert (it is not nearly as desolate as my house). Or it may be a compliment to the house (it is at least as desolate as the desert). The rst line may also be read as a question (Is there any desolation that really is a desolation?); in this case it is an insult to the desert (it is no more desolate than my house) and perhaps to the house as well (it’s not nearly desolate enough to suit me). In the ghazal world, village boys taunt madmen—including mad lovers like Majnun—and throw stones at them. At the last moment the future lover realizes the similar risk to his own head in later life. To “keep one’s head” is, literally, to “remember one’s head” (sar y d n ), to come to one’s senses.

8 1.

In humid weather metal mirrors acquire a lm of verdigris, which must be polished away. The polishing process is imagined as painful to the mirror and thus proves its devotion to clarity of sight.

9 1.

The word for “whirlpool” is, literally, “four-wave,” a kind of multivalence that is directly invoked by the four waves named in the second line.

11 1.

This ghazal plays on its refrain word aur, which can mean either “additional” (more of the same) or “di erent” (something else). [ 100 ]

: 2. 3. 4. 5.

There will be plenty of such goods on sale cheap in the bazaar, because the beloved will have wrecked the hearts and lives of many other lovers as well. But of course, the prostrate lover may never manage to get up at all. Only on a second reading do we realize that “as long as we live” is precisely informative—that the emphasis falls on “we,” since we ourselves are the nal heavy stone. Here the ghazal’s opposition between the blood-expending heart and the blood-creating liver is hyperbolically invoked. Perhaps there is no such thing as the “world-warming sun” at all, and my daily revelation of a fresh wound is all the heat and light there is in the world.

12 1. 2. 3.

Is the deceit done through, or to, simpleheartedness? Does the lover’s show of dignity (try to) fool others, or himself? Does he really, or is the bird’s claim one of desperation? There’s a (romantic?) game called “the rose game” (gul-b z ) that involves playing catch with owers; in Persian a gul-b z is a connoisseur of roses. Whose eyelashes—the beloved’s deadly-weapon ones, or the lover’s own blood-dripping ones—have been playing with such roses?

13 1. 2. 3. 4.

Lightning is often a cause of grief (it burns up the harvest). Thus it may here be both the cause of grief and the cure for it, if we take the lightning- ash candle as marking the end of the darkness of mourning. Does the personi ed, fatally disruptive “cardplayer of thought” live in our own minds, or—even more ominously—somewhere outside us? This and the following verse are among those omitted by Ghalib from his published divan. The multivalent word nang can mean both “disgrace” and “honor.”

14 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. Usually the “friend” is the “beloved,” while the “enemy” would be a rival in love. Here, the rule might be reversed. How extremely angry she must be to wrinkle her brow so deeply that it actually visibly wrinkles her veil. And how extremely attentive (or paranoid) the lover must be to have noticed it. For discussion of this verse, see the introduction. Between them, these two possibilities cover a very high percentage of Indian weather.

[ 101 ]


15 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

That is, we should fear neither a lack of inventory tomorrow nor excessive punishment after death; the “Cupbearer of Kausar,” Hazrat Ali, will pour out wine generously in this world and the next. The Angel called Iblis, in Qur’an 2:30–34, refused to bow down to the newly created Adam and was punished by expulsion from Paradise. A mischievous faux-naïf contribution to the arguments in Ghalib’s day about the legitimacy of using music as a means to spiritual insight. Another mischievous faux-naïf question but addressed to a common kind of Su stic discourse involving Arabic grammatical forms and metaphysical questions. The rst line’s b (scent) is echoed in the second line’s b (part of “Bu Turab,” an epithet for Ali).

16 1.

2. 3.

For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. The rst line could also be read as a statement, “I am not always lying at your door.” Is the speaker complaining of ill-treatment (since he is not made of stone), or wishing he could be a stone (so that he could lie at the beloved’s door forever)? “Dust be upon” is an idiomatic malediction and also wordplay with “stone.” In this ghazal the refrain “I am not” can be fairly well preserved in translation The “circling” is that of the days and nights, or of the cycles of fortune. By contrast, the wineglass and agon nd it natural to “make the rounds” among the drinkers. Touching one’s face to the feet of a superior is a classic gesture of submissiveness.

17 1.

2. 3.


For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. In the second line, “faces” ( raten) can also mean, more abstractly, “aspects” or “prospects.” And is the “hiddenness” temporary and contingent (like that of owers that may someday grow again), or irrevocable and essential? Thanks to the ky e ect, the second line can also be read in a number of other ways, including, “Will there be faces?” and “What faces will there be?” “The Daughters of the Bier” is the constellation Ursa Major. Jacob is said to have wept so much for Joseph that he went blind; by ghazal convention, this means that his eyes became entirely white. Thus they resembled the look of the bright sky through the ventilation holes near the ceiling of Joseph’s dark prison cell. The story is that when Zulaikha’s friends sneered at her love for her slave boy Joseph (known as the “Moon of Canaan” for his beauty), she invited them over, served oranges, and gave out knives to cut them with. Then she called Joseph in, and the dazzled women, staring at him, delighted Zulaikha by beginning to cut their own ngers without realizing it. [ 102 ]

: 5.


The word paresh n (disheveled, disarranged) more commonly in Urdu means, metaphorically, “anxious, agitated,” which perfectly captures the desperate jealousy of the lover as he imagines how the Rival has everything that he himself does not. The mad lover rips open his collar, and here he imagines his sighs, repeatedly welling up and then being suppressed, as having the (parodic?) e ect of sewing.

18 1. 2.

For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. The colloquial interjections and rakish tone of this verse make it sound swaggering as the rash lover responds to the Adviser’s prudential warnings.

19 1.

2. 3.

The “like this” (kih y n) of the refrain makes the mouth pucker when it is said. It can be either a direct quotation (from the lover or the beloved) or a general adverbial phrase. In most of the verses of the ghazal the same exibility has been created. The sound of y n could almost be the moan of the wind blowing. Is the wind helping the lover out, or is it itself a sign of Su stic transcendence? The footprint is an image of amazement because it lies at in the dust, unmoving, and has the shape of an open mouth.

21 1.

I lament and scream so constantly, and she is so indi erent, that she notices the silence only if I stop—which is enough to make me scream.

22 1. 2. 3. 4.

For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. The beautiful ones are tall, so the choice pearl (star) in their collar is high up; also, the fortune (star) of the pearl seller is thus at its zenith. This verse is the beginning of a very famous verse set that includes verses 6–12. The “unseen” can be a divine or mystical realm, or else simply an unknown space or a reference to the future. The second line can be read either piously (my verses come directly from the Angels) or else cynically (my verses are the only “angel voices” that exist).

23 1.

The refrain of this ghazal, “is good” (sometimes comparativized into “is better”), has been more or less preserved. [ 103 ]

: 2. 3. 4.


The verse carefully does not tell us whose pleasure is increased, or for whom (the giver or the receiver) such a beggar is “good.” Beloveds are conventionally “idols,” so it is piquant that a Brahmin astrologer might be taken as an authority on their behavior. The axe enabled the skillful stone carver Farhad to kill himself when he was (falsely) told of his beloved Shirin’s death. Thus the second line’s virtuous truism is ironized before we even hear it. Or is it? Did Farhad not in fact “speak with” Shirin better through his death than through his life? This verse celebrates the birth of a son to Ghalib’s royal patron. The boy was named Khizr Sultan, and the wordplay of “ ourishing”—literally, “green headed”—further evokes the legendary gure of Khizr.

24 1.


The idiomatic intransitive b t bann means not only “for something to get done” but also “for conversation to take place” and “for excuses to be made.” The second half of the line uses the transitive form b t ban n , for an e ect of colloquial complexity. Similarly paradoxical idiomatic forms are used in other verses of this ghazal as well. For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1.

25 1.

In this ghazal it has been possible to preserve the refrain mire ge, which means “before me” in a literal sense and also something like “in my view.” The rst four verses also display a marked parallelism and a cumulative e ect of increasing tongue-in-cheek pretentiousness.

26 1. 2. 3. 4.

The refrain word here, “became,” has been preserved in all the verses. If he had been shrewd earlier, would he still have wandered? Did he wander on purpose to become shrewd? Did the notoriety contribute to the shrewdness? But perhaps that was what the lover wanted anyway. Did she pick it up so tenderly that the enemies were envious, or so disdainfully that they feared for their own fate?

27 1.


“From end to end” is, literally, “from head to head,” making for ne wordplay with Majnun’s mad head and Laila’s headful of curls. Is the speaker expressing annoyance at Majnun’s mad obsession with Laila’s curls, or is he suggesting that no one will think of them because they are invisible in a dust cloud? Does the weeping open the knot, or does the speaker weep because nothing will open the knot?

[ 104 ]

: 3.

4. 5. 6. 7.

The “disgrace” (rusv karn ) has a sense of public humiliation, giving it a secondary meaning of “to open, reveal” that resonates elegantly with the “opening up” of both the liver and the road in the rst line. Anybody else would start by tearing his collar, and only later consider tearing up his liver. Who but a mad lover would begin with the liver, then stop and re ect before moving on to “disgrace” his collar? The rst line seems to show that with the fertilizer provided by the liver fragments, the desert gardening was a success. So, does the question in the second line express annoyance, boredom, or genuine inquiry? In the ghazal world, stones and bricks are thrown at madmen by jeering boys. The commercial wordplay is enhanced by the secondary meaning of saud : it can be not only “business” but also “madness.” The latter clause in the second line is framed for maximum ambiguity; other possible readings include “that no one would create” and “that—may no one create it!” This and the following verse are among those omitted by Ghalib from his published divan.

28 1.


The second line plays on the protean verb nikaln , which can be used to mean “to emerge” (1) from nonexistence into existence, (2) from silence into speech, (3) from hope into ful llment, (4) from obscurity into clarity, (5) from a dwelling, for departure. The comic energy of the verse comes from the dismissal of Adam’s tired old minor humiliation, which is of interest only as a contrast to our own much fresher and more vivid disgrace.

29 1.


3. 4. 5.

The dark mark in the heart of the tulip is considered to be a “wound” or “scar.” The second line may thus be either praising the tulip (for the dew tears of pity that it sheds) or else reproaching it (for its mere show of fake “tears”). Since the verse has two independently meaningful lines, it is also possible that two di erent hearts are being described. This is a di cult and multivalent verse. One possible reading is that hearts are mirrors, so the lover’s heart-mirror, pulverized by longing, is like the decorative henna that the beloved, intoxicated with her own beauty, applies to her hand. For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. Does the verse suggest that real passion is a form of duress (like a hand trapped under a stone), or that claims of love are mere verbiage (so that the only way to be sure of a lover’s faithfulness is to pinion his hand)? Just before the lover’s head is cut o , as the shining sword blade approaches him he sees re ected in it images that show him the fate of former martyrs

[ 105 ]



to love. Does he really see “pictures” of them, or does his own re ected image simply replicate their fate? When one is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, the Lord may be better than nothing.

30 1. 2. 3. 4.

The refrain of this ghazal is “having done,” which contributes to its nostalgic tone, a tone that resonates with the presence of “again” in almost every verse. The beloved’s eyelashes presumably enjoy piercing the liver fragments as if they were kebabs. The lover’s head will be lowered as he weeps his tears of blood, so that the droplets will form patterns on the hem of his long robe. Circumambulation is a way of showing (Muslim or Hindu) religious devotion.

Part Two: Ghazal Verses 1. 2. 3. 4.

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. “She went back” either into her house or on her word—so fast that the only thing equally rapid was my unrolling my bedding by her door. If Majnun’s house has no door, does that mean that Laila cannot enter it, or that she cannot be stopped from entering it? Both halves of the impossible juxtaposition in the rst line are supported in the second line: we dash around so swiftly that we outrun even the deer (so that its eyelashes brush our back as it follows us), and yet we are as helpless as Majnun in the desert, so that the wild animals care for us. For discussion of this verse, see the introduction. For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. A “man of ours” would be an agent or advocate, whose presence would be necessary for a legitimate legal transaction. The compliment to Mir is thoroughly backhanded: the famous poet is reduced to a mere legend of long ago, and even his existence is rendered uncertain. In fact, the two poets’ life spans overlapped by thirteen years. In Indic and Islamic folk tradition, pearls are born from special drops of rain that navigate a series of hazards before reaching the seabed and being sucked in by an oyster. In Urdu script, udhar (in that direction) and idhar (in this direction) are indistinguishable: is the speaker outside the heavens looking in, or inside looking out? For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. The (smooth) sacred thread is a mark of the Brahmin, and the (bumpy) prayer beads are characteristic of a pious Muslim. The letters l m and alif are part of the earliest writing lessons; l is also a form of negation that appears at the beginning of the Muslim profession of faith (“There is no God but God”). [ 106 ]

: 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35.

The second line can be read as either “Don’t ask for anything except a heart without desire” or “Don’t ask for anything unless you have a heart without desire.” The Qibla is of course already a “Mecca pointer” since it shows the direction of prayer. To call it a “Mecca-pointer pointer” seems to move the object of worship one step further beyond our reach. The rst line leads us to expect something apologetic; then, most enjoyably, the second line turns the verse into a boast. With beautiful wordplay, “cheerfulness in adversity” is f qa-mast —literally, “fasting intoxication.” Why is he not disappointed? Is it because he gets gifts of wine year-round, not just on Eid (though Eid gifts should certainly not include wine)? For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. The word l g (a ection, attachment) can also mean “enmity, animosity”; the theological possibilities are thus multiplied into unresolvable ambiguity. The phrase “Supplier of Needs” could also be read not as addressing God but as describing the eye. The arched gateway and prayer niche (qiblah) of the mosque suggest the shape of an eyebrow. For discussion of this verse, see the introduction. The net is the kind used by hunters to trap wild animals. A single one of the round interstices in its mesh would contain the whole round world. Thanks to the symmetry of Urdu grammar, the second line could also be read, “A doormat is a desertful of rose-glory.” But of course, to measure the glory of roses in “desertfuls” means there really may not be much of it at all. The last phrase could also be read as “the sun is lightning,” with the implication that the pain of life seems never to end; this second reading can take advantage of the fact that “year” (s l) also means “pain.” For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. The unstated subject in the rst line might also be “we,” in which case the verb would suggest “give up.” What in the rst line is the “intoxication,” and what the “hangover”? The rst line describes a very impious and sinful action; does the second line describe another such (treating Zamzam as merely a source of wash water), or is it an (absurdly inadequate) attempt at better behavior? The “people of courage” would perhaps consume or expend the resources of the world in the process of moving beyond it. But that second line keeps teasing the imagination with further metaphorical possibilities. For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. It is equally possible to read “union is separation.” If you ostentatiously ignore us (with wordplay from “veil”), people will think you are hiding a secret fondness. So why not show your face openly (in friendship, or in disdain)? The second line can also be read as “How you will complain . . . !” or else as “As if you will complain . . . !” The wordplay of “Lord” (khud ) and “captain” (n -khud ) is also conspicuous. [ 107 ]

: 36. 37. 38. 39.


In Islamic tradition, Ali is called the Cupbearer of Kausar. The turtledove is dusty gray in color, and its song is melancholy. The second line can also be read, “A handful of dust in our eyes is a desert.” “Circumambulation,” walking respectfully around the Ka’ba, is a required part of a pilgrimage to Mecca. The speaker may mean that he has sinned by drinking wine, so that he will earn no religious merit; or else that he has already had enough wine, so there is no point in seeking anything further. This is the last verse of the last ghazal in the published divan.

Poems 125 1. 2.

This and the following seven verses are among those omitted by Ghalib from his published divan. This and the following six verses constitute a verse set.

126 1. 2. 3. 4.

For Ghalib’s comments, see appendix 1. The actual reference is to the letter q f in tiry q (opium), which looks like the letter o with a tail. The down on the cheeks of a boy just reaching puberty was often compared to greenery. The “black spot” (suvaid ) is the essence of desire.

127 1. 2.

This and the following three verses constitute a verse set. This and the last fourteen verses constitute a verse set praising the martial prowess and royal authority of the poet’s king and patron, Bahadur Shah (r. 1837–1857).

128 1.

It is proper for a host to come forward to welcome and escort an arriving guest; the “lifetime” has entertained the speaker properly before, but now by retreating and passing away it shows neglect. The word istiqb l means both “welcome” and “the future.”

129 1.

In Urdu and Persian “to speak” can mean “to compose poetry.”

[ 108 ]


The last line is in Persian. By a slight rearrangement of the spacing, o gar na could be converted into “otherwise” (vagarna), which would yield the reading “I speak the di cult; otherwise I speak the di cult.”

Letters 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Dated ca. June or July 1858 and addressed to his pupil and friend Hargopal Tafta. Dated April 4, 1859, and addressed to his friend Hatim Ali Mihr. The rst verse is the same Persian verse of Ghalib’s that he cited in the 1858 letter to Tafta; here, the wordplay on Mihr’s name, meaning “kindness,” adds to its suitability. Dated 1860 and addressed to the same Hatim Ali Mihr. A second letter of 1860 to Hatim Ali Mihr. Dated 1861 and addressed to his friend Ala al-Din Khan Ala’i.

[ 109 ]


Ghalib’s Comments on His Own Verses

(1, 1) with its “paper robes”: in a letter (1865), Ghalib wrote, “In Iran there is the custom that the seeker of justice, putting on paper garments, goes before the ruler—as in the case of lighting a torch in the day, or carrying a blood-soaked cloth on a bamboo pole [to protest an injustice]. Thus the poet re ects: of whose mischievousness of writing is the image a plainti ?—since the aspect of a picture is that its garment is of paper. That is to say, although our existence may be like that of pictures, merely notional, it is a cause of grief and sorrow and su ering” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:837). (14, 5) and its use of implication: in a letter (1854), “That is to say, ‘Now that the rounds of the cup have come to me, I’m fearful.’ This whole sentence is implied. . . . Anyone who looks at my Persian divan will realize that I leave sentence upon sentence implied. But [as Ha z says], ‘Every utterance has a [suitable] time and every point has a [suitable] place.’ This di erence is indeed intuitively perceptible, not expressible in words” (Khaliq Anjum 1984, 1:262–63). (16) and its fresh style: in a letter (1866), “When the King of Delhi retained me as a servant, and gave me a title, and assigned me the duty of writing chronograms for the Sultans of the House of Timur, then I wrote [this] ghazal in a fresh style” (Khaliq Anjum 1987, 3:1226–27). (17) inspires a grandiloquent boast: in a letter (1852), “Brother! For the Lord’s sake, do this ghazal justice! If this is Rekhta, then what did Mir and Mirza [Sauda] compose? And if that was Rekhta, then what is this? The circumstances of it are that one gentleman among the princes of the House of Timur brought this rhyme scheme and meter from Lucknow, and His Majesty [Bahadur Shah Zafar] himself composed a ghazal in it and commanded me also [to compose one]. Thus I carried out the order and wrote a ghazal” (Khaliq Anjum 1987, 3:1113–15). (18, 6) and the beloved’s thought processes: in a letter (1864), “Maulvi Sahib, what a subtle meaning it has—do it justice! Beauty of body and ‘beauty of thought’— both qualities are combined in the beloved. That is, her face is good and her thought is correct; she never misses the mark. And accordingly she thinks about herself that ‘anyone I strike never recovers, and the arrow of my sidelong glance does not miss.’ Thus when she has such trust in herself, why would she test the Rival? And ‘beauty of thought’ has saved the Rival’s honor. Otherwise, for her part the beloved [ 111 ]

1 had been led into error. The Rival was not a true lover, he was a lustful man. If it had come to the point of a test, then the truth would have been revealed” (Khaliq Anjum 1993, 4:1514). (22, 1) and “darkness upon darkness”: in a letter (1866?), “That is, darkness upon darkness; the darkness, dense; the dawn, unborn—as if it had never been created at all. Indeed, there is one proof of the existence of the morning—that is, an extinguished candle, through this path: that a candle and a lamp are always extinguished at dawn. The pleasure of this theme is that the thing that has been established as the proof of the dawn is itself one among the causes of darkness. Thus it is worth seeing—the house in which a symbol of dawn is a strengthener of darkness, how dark that house will be!” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:843). (24, 7) on waiting for death or the beloved: in a letter (1853), “Brother, I am greatly surprised at you, that you felt a hesitation about the meaning of this verse. Two questions have come into it that he has asked of the beloved by way of reproach and insinuation. Should I not wait for death? Why should I not? I will indeed wait for it, for it can’t not come. For this is one of the things to the honor of death, that one day it will indeed come. The wait will not be in vain. Should I desire you? What a ne idea! Why should I desire you, when if you don’t come, you can’t be called? That is, if you would come of your own will, then you’d come, and if you wouldn’t come, then what power would anyone have to call you? As if this helpless one says to the beloved, now I’ve left you and have become a lover of death. It has the virtue that without being called, it doesn’t refrain from coming. Why would I desire you, when if you don’t come, then I can’t call you? . . . You didn’t pay attention, otherwise the mood of this reproach and insinuation would of itself have become apparent to you” (Khaliq Anjum 1987, 3:1117). (29, 5) Hali on Ghalib’s view of his methods: “A number of principles of expression were Mirza Sahib’s own, which before him had been seen neither in Urdu nor in Persian. For example, in his present Urdu divan there is one verse [here Hali quotes (29, 5)]. I myself asked Mirza [Ghalib] the meaning of this. He said, ‘In place of “oh” [ay], read “except for”; the meaning will come to your understanding by itself.’ The meaning of the verse is that the turtledove, which is not more than a palmful of dust, and the Nightingale, which is not more than a cage of elements—the proof of their being liver burnt, that is, lovers, is only from their warbling and speaking. Here, the meaning in which Mirza has used the word ‘oh’ [ay] is obviously his own invention. One person, having heard this meaning, said, ‘If in place of “oh” he had put “except for,” or if he had composed the second line like this, “Oh lament, except for you, what is the sign of love,” then the meaning would have become clear.’ This person’s utterance is absolutely correct, but since Mirza avoided common principles as much as possible and didn’t want to move on the broad thoroughfare, rather than wanting every verse to be widely understandable he preferred that inventiveness and un-heard-of-ness be found in his style of thought and his style of expression” (Hali 1897:113–14). (32) on the nakedness of Majnun: in a letter (1865), “ ‘Rival’ has the meaning of ‘opponent.’ That is to say, ardor is the enemy of proper possession. The proof is that Qais, who in life wandered around naked, remained naked even within the veil of a picture. The pleasure of it is that Majnun is always pictured with his body naked, wherever he is pictured” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:837). [ 112 ]

’ (43) on metal versus glass mirrors: in a letter (1868), “First it ought to be understood that ‘mirror’ is an expression for a metal mirror; otherwise, where are the polish lines in glass mirrors, and who polishes them? When you polish anything made of metal, undoubtedly rst a single line will appear; they call that the ‘alif of polishing.’ When you are aware of this introduction, now understand that thought [in the second line]. That is, from the beginning of the age of awareness there is the practice of madness. Up to the present, perfection in the art has not been attained. The whole mirror has not become clear. Thus if there’s that same single line of polishing—well, there it is. The form of tearing is [a vertical line] like that of an alif, and tearing the collar is one of the e ects of madness” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:797). (53) on the nuances of the Cupbearer’s call: “The apparent meaning of this verse is that since I have died, the Cupbearer of the man-killing wine of passion—that is, the beloved—many times gives the call—that is, summons people to the wine of passion. The meaning is that after me, no buyer of the wine of passion remained; thus he had to give the call again and again. But after further re ection, as Mirza himself used to say, an extremely subtle meaning appears in it, and that is, that the rst line is the words of this very Cupbearer’s call; and he is reciting that line repeatedly. One time he recites it in a tone of invitation. . . . Then when in response to his call no one comes, he recites it again in a tone of despair—who can withstand the man-killing wine of passion! That is, no one. In this, tone and style are very e ective. The tone of calling someone is one thing, and the way of saying it very softly, in despair, is another. When you repeat the line in question in this way, at once the meanings will enter deeply into your mind” (Hali 1897:130–31). (79) and its paradoxes: in a letter (1864), “That is to say, if to get to you is not easy, then this task is easy for me. Well, to get to you is not easy: so be it. Neither will we be able to get to you, nor will anyone else be able to get to you. The di culty then is that that same getting to you is not di cult either. Whomever you want, you can meet with. We had thought separation to be a simple thing, but we can’t make jealousy an easy burden to endure” (Khaliq Anjum 1993, 4:1514). (95) on the pain of the tulip: in a letter (1866?), “A ‘wound-bearer,’ like the expression anjum anjuman [“with stars for company,” referring to a solitary person], is that individual whose property and equipment is a wound. The existence of the tulip is founded on its display of a wound [in its dark center]; otherwise, other owers too are red in color. After that, please understand that for owers or trees or grain, whatever is sown, the farmer is forced to do the labor of plowing, planting, watering. And in the exertion, the blood becomes warm. The poet’s point is that that existence is merely grief and toil. That blood of the cultivator’s that has been warmed through tilling and work—that itself is the lightning of the harvest of the tulip’s comfort. The fruit of existence is a wound, and a wound is the opposite of comfort and an aspect of grief ” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:845). (96) on the troubled sleep of the rose: in a letter (1866?), “When the bud emerges, it looks like a pinecone. And as long as the ower remains, the ‘provision of contentment’ is ‘known.’ Here, ‘known’ [ma l m] means ‘nonexistent’ [ma d m]. And the ‘provision of contentment’ means ‘the property of rest.’ . . . The sleep or dream of the rose, the personality of the rose, is with regard to its silence and its prostration in fatigue. Its uneasiness [paresh n ] is obvious: that is, its blooming—that same [ 113 ]

1 dishevelment of the petals of the ower. The bud seems composed. Despite this composure, the rose is destined to a disturbed sleep and dream” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:845). (98) on the frailty of the Messenger: in a letter (1864), “This theme requires some introduction. That is, the poet needed a Messenger. But he feared that the Messenger might fall in love with the beloved. One friend of this lover’s brought a person, and told the lover, ‘This man is steadfast and highly trustworthy; I vouch for him, that he won’t play such a trick.’ Well, a letter was sent through his hand. As fate would have it, the lover’s suspicion proved true. The Messenger, seeing the addressee, became distracted and crazed with love. What letter, what answer?! He went mad, tore his clothing, set out for the wilderness. Now the lover, after this event has happened, says to his friend, ‘God knows the hidden; what does anyone know about what’s inside anyone else? Oh my friend, there’s nothing to be said against you. But if you see the Messenger anywhere, then give him my greetings: “Well, sir, after making such a number of claims of not becoming a lover, you became one; and indeed, what was the result?” ’ ” (Khaliq Anjum 1993, 4:1514). (101) on “something di erent”: in a letter (1864), “There’s no di culty in this. The words are the meaning. Why should the poet tell his purpose and what he will do? Mysteriously he says, I will do something. God knows whether he will become a fakir and make his abode in the city or on the outskirts of the city; or leave the country and go o to another country” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 4:739). (107) on oppositions: in a letter (1866), “Who wouldn’t know opposition and contradiction? Light and darkness, joy and grief, comfort and misery, and existence and nonexistence. The word muq bil in this line means ‘returning-place, refuge, source, goal,’ like ar f [rival, enemy], in which the meaning of ‘friend’ is also comprised. The interpretation of the verse is that we and the friend, through temperament and habit, are opposites of each other. She, seeing the owingness of my temperament, stopped” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:844). (126) explaining his “betel nut” qa da: in a letter (1858), “I have one verse-set in this meter that I had composed in Calcutta [in 1826]. The occasion for it was that in a gathering, Maulvi Karam Husain, a friend of mine, placed on the palm of his hand a betel nut of very good quality, without any ber, and asked me, ‘Please compose something on this, with similes about it.’ Even as I sat there, I composed a verse-set of nine or ten verses and gave it to him, and in return I took that betel nut from him” (Khaliq Anjum 1985, 2:714–15).

[ 114 ]


Ghalib Concordance, with Standard Divan Numbers

This concordance links the numbers used in this book to both standard divan numbers and dates of composition. 1: {1} (1816) 2: {3} (1821) 3: {4} (1821) 4: {10} (after 1826) 5: {17} (1821) 6: {20} (after 1847) 7: {35} (1821) 8: {48} (1821) 9: {49} (1821) 10: {58} (1821) 11: {62} (1852) 12: {71} (1921) 13: {81} (1816) 14: {97} (1847) 15: {98} (1847) 16: {110} (1850) 17: {111} (1852) 18: {115} (1853) 19: {116} (after 1816) 20: {127} (1833)

[ 115 ]

2 21: {161} (after 1847) 22: {169} (after 1826) 23: {174} (after 1847) 24: {191} (1852) 25: {208} (1853) 26: {210} (after 1816) 27: {214} (1821) 28: {219} (1853) 29: {230} (1816) 30: {233} (after 1816) 31: {5, 4} (1816) 32: {6, 1} (1821) 33: {7, 7} (after 1825) 34: {12, 1} (1816) 35: {14, 4} (1852) 36: {14, 7} (1852) 37: {18, 3} (1821) 38: {23, 1} (1816) 39: {27, 1} (1821) 40: {27, 8} (1821) 41: {31, 1} (after 1847) 42: {32, 1} (after 1847) 43: {34, 2} (1821) 44: {36, 10} (after 1847) 45: {36, 11} (after 1847) 46: {38, 3} (1821) 47: {38, 6} (1821) 48: {39, 3} (1816) 49: {43, 3} (1848) 50: {50, 2} (1816) 51: {53, 1} (1816) 52: {57, 6} (1821) 53: {57, 7} (1821) 54: {60, 7} (1833) [ 116 ]

, 55: {60, 8} (1833) 56: {60, 11} (1833} 57: {61, 3} (1821) 58: {64, 3} (1816) 59: {68, 5} (1821) 60: {74, 1} (1816) 61: {78, 5} (1821) 62: {79, 1} (1816) 63: {80, 9} (after 1821) 64: {86, 5} (1847) 65: {87,5} (after 1826) 66: {90, 3} (1821) 67: {91, 3} (1847) 68: {91, 9} (1847) 69: {91, 11} (1847) 70: {95, 6} (1826) 71: {96, 6} (1816) 72: {99, 6} (1849) 73: {100, 4} (after 1826) 74: {101, 3} (after 1826) 75: {101, 4} (after 1826) 76: {102, 1} (1852) 77: {105, 2} (1816) 78: {107, 5} (1855) 79: {112, 3} (1826) 80: {118, 2} (1855) 81: {120, 8} (1853) 82: {120, 10} (1853) 83: {124, 5} (after 1847) 84: {131, 1} (1821) 85: {131, 8} (1821) 86: {132, 3} (1821) 87: {138, 1} (after 1816) 88: {138, 5} (after 1816) [ 117 ]

2 89: {140, 6} (1821) 90: {141, 7} (1821) 91: {147, 1} (1816) 92: {147, 3} (1816) 93: {151, 4} (after 1847) 94: {152, 1} (1821) 95: {155, 1} (1816) 96: {155, 2} (1816) 97: {156, 1} (1816) 98: {159, 4} (after 1847) 99: {159, 5} (after 1847) 100: {159, 6} (after 1847) 101: {160, 1} (after 1847) 102: {163, 7} (1851) 103: {170, 2} (1821) 104: {173, 11} (1833) 105: {180, 4} (1853) 106: {182, 2} (1821) 107: {183, 5} (after 1826) 108: {187, 2} (1816) 109: {188, 1} (1816) 110: {189, 5} (1816) 111: {204, 2} (1852) 112: {204, 7} (1852) 113: {209, 11} (1853) 114: {215, 8} (after 1847) 115: {215, 9} (after 1847) 116: {216, 1} (1858–1865) 117: {217, 4} (1816) 118: {221, 3} (1816) 119: {231, 7} (1851) 120: {232, 3} (1852)

[ 118 ]

, 121: {232, 6} (1852) 122: {232, 9} (1852) 123: {234, 3} (1847) 124: {234, 14} (1847) 125: Qa da (1821) dahr juz jalva-yi yakt -yi ma sh q nah 126: Qa da (1826) hai jo ib ke kaf-i dast pah yih chikn all 127: Qa da (1852) qa da-yi mad -i shah: h m h-i nau sune ham us k n m 128: Rub (1816) ba d az itm m-i bazm-i d-i atf l 129: Rub (1821) mushkil hai za-bas kal m mer ay dil 130: Rub (1833) tish-b z hai jaise shughl-i atf l 131: Letter (1858) to Tafta 132: Letter (1859) to Mihr 133: Letter (1860) to Mihr 134: Letter (1860) to Mihr 135: Letter (1861) to Ala’i

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Glossary of Technical Terms and Proper Names

, : The structure of a ghazal verse in which the two lines are independent not only grammatically but also semantically, so that it is left to the reader to decide how they are to be connected. ( dam): Adam, the rst man. (N i ): In the ghazal world, the stock gure of the man of worldly prudence and e ciency. He is always scolding and cajoling the lover, vainly urging him to change his self-destructive ways. (Sikandar): Alexander the Great. See also Khizr. ( Al ): Ha rat (“His Excellency,” a title of respect) Ali was the cousin and son-inlaw of the Prophet. (Farishta, Sarosh): A divine messenger, of whom Gabriel is the most famous. (Asad): A pen name (based on his given name, Asadullah, “Lion of God” in Arabic) that Ghalib used in some of his earlier ghazals. (Z hid): In the ghazal world, the stock gure of the religious renunciant who prides himself on his virtue. (baskih): This Persian-derived construction means “although,” but it can also be short for az bas kih, meaning “to such an extent.” (suvaid ): The “little black spot” on the heart is the essence of desire: some Su traditions advocate polishing this dot o from the mirrorlike heart, while other traditions approve of its presence as a sign of commendable passion for the divine Beloved. (Brahmin): In the ghazal world, a Hindu priest; he is distinguished by his sacred thread and thereby made comparable to outwardly religious Islamic gures. (Ch n): “China” tends to include parts of Central Asia. (maqta ): A special ghazal verse that incorporated the poet’s pen name and usually formed the last verse, thus becoming a way of “signing” an orally performed poem. (gareb n): The word “collar” is misleading, since the reference is to the deeply slit neck opening of a kurta. The mad lover is prone to grasp the two sides of it and simply rip the kurta down the front—perhaps because he feels su ocated, perhaps in grief, perhaps just because he’s mad. [ 121 ]

(surma): A dark powder that is put around the eyes for beauty, health of the eyes, and protection from the sun. (S q ): The beautiful youth who pours out the wine; he is often identied with the beloved. (d v n): A volume of a poet’s work; it may or may not contain the whole of his oeuvre. (qiy mat): The terrible day when God will summon the dead to rise from the grave and be judged. (Darb n, P sb n): Usually he guards the beloved’s door, but sometimes the lover has his own Doorkeeper as well. ( d): d al-Fitr is a joyous celebration at the end of Ramadan, a special month of daytime fasting; its onset is signaled by the sight of the crescent moon. (ek): This protean word can mean “one, single, sole, alone, only, a, an; the same, identical; only one; a certain one; single of its kind, unique, singular, preeminent, excellent” (Platts 1884:113). If it is deployed in a su ciently ambiguous context, it can create signi cant complexities in a verse. (Jall d): Since the beloved is both fatally cruel and disdainful, she often employs a sword-wielding Executioner to dispose of her lovers. (Farh d, Kohkan): In Persian story tradition, a humble stonecutter who fell in love with the princess Shirin. He was mockingly told that if he could carve a channel through the Black Mountain by a certain time, to bring milk for her bath, she could be his. When his passionate love enabled him almost to complete this superhuman task, he was sent false word of Shirin’s death. At once he plunged his axe into his own forehead and fell to the ground dead. (taj hul-i rif na): The attitude of someone who is showing a deliberate, sophisticated pretense of innocent ignorance. (Firdaus ): A very famous tenth- and eleventh-century Persian poet, author of the Sh hn ma (Book of kings). (All h, aqq): In a minority of verses, the beloved seems clearly to be God. See also Lord. ( asan-i Ba r ): A famous eighth-century Muslim preacher. (dozakh): The place of punishment for the wicked. (Hind ): A language name that Ghalib uses interchangeably with Urdu and Rekhta. ( r): A celestial damsel who will be available to the pious (male) believer in Paradise. (Hum ): In Persian story tradition, anyone over whom this bird’s shadow passes will become a king. ( aiy d): The beloved as she ruthlessly pursues her lover, the helpless prey. ( usain): Son of Ali. : Idiomatic expressions that are often used in ways that make both the idiomatic sense of an expression and its (often-fossilized) literal meaning relevant to the verse. ( Anq ): In later Arabic and Persian story tradition, a legendary bird with the distinguishing trait that whenever you look for it, it is not there. (fard): A single verse presented by itself. [ 122 ]

: This rhetorical device, even more common in ghazal verses than in English poetry, suggests that something is beyond all words, so one should not even bother asking what it is like. ’ (insh iya): A term for nonassertive utterances such as questions, exclamations, hypotheses; they are often more open-ended, and thus more poetically useful, than “informative” (khabariya) speech. (i fat): A Persian-derived grammatical construction most commonly translatable as “of.” And like “of,” it can have a wide range of meanings: possession (a book of mine), description (a book of mathematics), identity (the book of the heart), or some other association (it’s the book of the year!). (Ya q b): The father of Joseph. (Jamshed): A legendary Persian king who owned a magic cup: the king could look into it and see everything that was happening in the world. ( s ): A prophet of Islam. See also Messiah. (Y suf): The Islamic counterpart of the biblical Joseph was one of the Prophets; his story is told at length in the Qur’an, Sura 12. ’ (Ka ba): The primary pilgrimage center for Muslims, located in Mecca. (Kau ar): A refreshing pool in Paradise. (Khi r): In Islamic folk tradition, a prophetlike gure associated with greenness, fertility, life, and right guidance. He is said to have guided Alexander on his quest for the Water of Life, but the result was that only Khizr drank it, so he alone will live till Judgment Day. KHUTAN (Khutan): A region that corresponds roughly to Mongolia. (sh h): Bahadur Shah (r. 1837–1857), the last Mughal emperor and Ghalib’s patron. (Kohkan): “Mountain Digger,” an epithet for Farhad. (ky ): This versatile interrogative can be used to signal a positive exclamation (“What a wonderful thing!”), or a negative one (“What—as if it’s a wonderful thing!”); or else it can introduce a yes-or-no question (“Is it a wonderful thing?”). Since classical ghazals were never punctuated, in many verses all three possibilities are available, and none can be ruled out. (Lail ): The beloved of Majnun. (chir gh ): A fancy display of oil lamps; their ame evokes the mortally burning wounds in the lover’s heart. (jigar): A poetic presence in the ghazal world. In ghazal physiology, the liver is the organ that makes and supplies fresh blood, even as the wounded heart hemorrhages it and the tearful eyes shed it in rivers. Thus the liver is an emblem of fortitude and endurance. (Rabb, Khud ): Less exclusively religious names for God. (magar): A versatile clause connector that can mean either “but” or “perhaps.” (Majn n): In ghazal tradition, Qais was the archetypal, mystically “Mad” [majn n] lover of Laila, who returned his devotion. When she was forcibly married to another, he ran o to the desert, where he was cared for by wild animals who were drawn by his songs about Laila. (Man r): A ninth-century mystic, also known as Hallaj, who was executed in Baghdad for publicly identifying himself with God. [ 123 ]

(Q id, N ma-bar): The bearer of letters between the lover and the beloved. (Mas ): The “anointed one,” referring to Jesus, a prophet of Islam. (M r): The only earlier (1723–1810) Urdu ghazal poet widely considered to be a peer of Ghalib’s. ( na): Ghalib’s single favorite multivalent image. His mirrors can be made from either metal or glass, as suits the verse. ( na-kh na): A windowless inner room with walls covered with small glittery and mirrored tiles, so that a torch could create a sudden dazzle. (miss ): A cosmetic paste that was rubbed on the gums to darken them. (kaif yat): The emotional e ect created by a verse; for some verses, it is their chief charm. (Parv na): The Moth ies into the candle ame and thus nds a glorious death, as a true lover should. (mush ira): The mush ira was the original performance venue for Urdu ghazals. The poet would recite the rst line of his verse, then pause while people murmured approval and often asked him to repeat the line; only after as much suspense as possible would he nally recite both lines together. (Bulbul): The Nightingale’s desperate love for the rose is doomed by the advent of autumn. (qa da): A poem usually in praise of a religious gure, ruler, or patron. (matla ): A special verse that usually introduced a ghazal. By including the rhyme and refrain (if any) at the end of both lines instead of only the second line, it enabled the listener to quickly discern the rhyming elements. (Ghair): One of the lover’s rivals in the competition for the beloved’s favor; usually the Other is represented as false or lecherous. See also Rival. (khuld, jannat, bihisht, rdaus): The Islamic heaven, envisioned as a series of lush gardens. : A structural device that often operates between the two lines of a verse. (Par ): A fairy, a beautiful creature made from re. (F rs ): The language from which the Urdu ghazal tradition took its primary impetus and to which it continued to look for literary validation. (V iz): In the ghazal world, a sanctimonious sermonizer. (Ras l, Nab ): The Prophet Muhammad. (Qais): The real name of Majnun. (rad f): The word(s) repeated identically at the end of every ghazal verse; such a refrain is not compulsory, but it is usual. (Rekhta): An older name for Urdu. (q f ya): The rhyming syllable(s) that appear at the end of each ghazal verse, right before the refrain (if there is one). (Raq b): The true lover su ers from the presence of rivals in love, who are usually shown as false, lustful, or super cial. See also Other. (Ri v n): The keeper of a special garden in Paradise. ’ (Sa d ): A famous thirteenth-century Persian poet. (Salm ): A famous beloved in Arabic story tradition. [ 124 ]

(be-khwud ): “Self-lessness” has its odd hyphen in order to replace the normal English meaning (unsel shness) with a more literal sense of a transcendent state in which one is mystically absorbed, entranced, or almost literally “without a self.” (Shaikh): A stock character in the ghazal world representing an ostentatiously pious Muslim. (Sh r n): The beloved of Farhad. (Sulaim n): In the ghazal world, a virtuous king who was the recipient of special powers from God. : The poetically useful fact of Urdu grammar that if A is B, then it can equally well be said that B is A. (T r): Mount Sinai, where Moses had an almost direct encounter with God (Qur’an 7:143; 28:29–30). (parda): An example of a common and multivalent image—does it conceal a woman, or the Divine? (shi r): The two-line distich that is the basic compositional unit of the ghazal; as a rule, each verse is a small, independent poem in its own right. The ghazal verse does not normally rhyme, but its second line ends with the rhyme and the refrain (if any). (qita a): A group of verses within a ghazal that are specially marked by the poet to be read as a set. The poet marks the beginning of such a set but does not mark its end. : The use in a single verse of several words from the same semantic domain. (Zamzam): A sacred well in the precincts of the Ka’ba. (Zulaikh ): The “Potiphar’s wife” gure in the Qur’an, who tries in vain to seduce Joseph.

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Selected Editions and Translations Ahmad, Aijaz, ed. 1971. Ghazals of Ghalib. New York: Columbia University Press. Contains versions by W. S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, William Sta ord, David Ray, Thomas Fitzsimmons, Mark Strand, and William Hunt. Arshi, Imtiyaz Ali Khan, ed. 1982. D v n-i Gh lib Urd nuskha-yi Arsh . 2nd ed. Delhi: Anjuman Taraqqi-e Urdu (Hind). The canonical modern scholarly edition, including both published and unpublished poetry. Original edition 1958. Hamid, Ali Khan, ed. 1969. D v n-e Gh lib. Lahore: Punjab University Press. Khaliq Anjum. 1984–1993. Gh lib ke khut t. 4 vols. New Delhi: Ghalib Institute. The best modern edition of Ghalib’s Urdu letters. Mihr, Ghulam Rasul. 1969. Khut t-i Gh lib. 2 vols. Lahore: Punjab University. An edition of Ghalib’s Urdu letters. Naim, C. M. 1970. Twenty-Five Verses by Ghalib. Calcutta: Redbird Books, Writers Workshop. Translations and commentary. ——. 1972. Ghalib’s Lighter Verse. Calcutta: Redbird Books, Writers Workshop. Translations and commentary. Niazi, Sarfaraz K. 2002. Love Sonnets of Ghalib. Lahore: Ferozsons. A full translation and commentary. Rahbar, Daud. 1987. Urdu Letters of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Albany: SUNY Press. Most of the selected letters are literary ones, well annotated. Rahman, Sarvat. 2003. Diwan-e-Ghalib: Complete Translation into English, Including All the Ghazals, Qasidas, Masnavis, Qitas and Quatrains of the Published Diwan and a Selection from the Unpublished Diwan. New Delhi: Ghalib Institute. Raza, Kalidas Gupta. 1988. D v n-i Gh lib k mil nuskha-yi Gupt Ra t r kh tart b se. Bombay: Sakar. This authoritative work is a valuable supplement to Arshi and is arranged in a way that makes it easier to use. Russell, Ralph. 2003. The Seeing Eye: Selections from the Urdu and Persian Ghazals of Ghalib, Translated and Explained. Islamabad: Alhamra.

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Other Sources Ansarullah, Muhammad. 1972. Gh lib bibliyogr f . Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University. Baqir, Agha Muhammad. 2000. Bay n-i Gh lib: Shar -i d v n-i Gh lib. Delhi: Kitabi Dunya. Original edition Lahore: Shaikh Barakat Ali and Sons, 1939. A commentary that is an anthology of other commentaries. Chand, Gyan. 1971. Tafs r-i Gh lib. Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture, and Language. The only available commentary on the unpublished verses. Chittick, William. 1975. “Ibn Arabi’s Summary of the Bezels of Wisdom,” Sophia Perennis XX, no. XX (season year): XXX–XXX. Faruqi, Khwaja Ahmad. 1970. Dastanbuy: A Diary of the Indian Revolt of 1 7. Bombay: Asia Publishing House. Ghalib’s o cial account of his experiences. Faruqi, Shamsur Rahman. 1989. Tafh m-i Gh lib. New Delhi: Ghalib Institute. O ers interpretation of selected verses only but is invaluable. Hali, Altaf Husain. 1897. Y dg r-i Gh lib. Kanpur: Nami Press. Mahmud, Sayyid Fayyaz. 1969. Ghalib: A Critical Introduction. Lahore: Punjab University. A general overview. Mihr, Ghulam Rasul. 1967. Nav -yi sarosh, mukammal d v n-i Gh lib ma shar . Lahore: Shaikh Ghulam Ali and Sons. A well-known modern commentary. Nazm Tabataba’i, Ali Haidar Lakhnavi. [1900]. Shar -i d v n-i Urd -i Gh lib. Hyderabad: Matba Mu d ul-Islam. The most in uential commentary. Platts, John T. 1884. A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi, and English. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The best dictionary for the student of Ghalib. Prigarina, Natalia. 2000. Mirza Ghalib: A Creative Biography. Karachi: Oxford University Press. Good background on his nancial problems. Pritchett, Frances W. A Desertful of Roses: The Urdu Ghazals of Mirza Asadullah Khan “Ghalib.” An online project, Pritchett, Frances, and Shumsurrahman Faruqi, trans. 2001. b-e ay t: Shaping the Canon of Urdu Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The original Urdu anthology of poetry was rst published in 1880. Pybus, G. D. 1924. Urdu Prosody and Rhetoric. Lahore: Rama Krishna and Sons. Russell, Ralph. 1972. Ghalib: The Poet and His Age. 1972. Cambridge: Allen and Unwin. Russell, Ralph, and Khurshidul Islam. 1969. Ghalib, 1797–1 69: Volume 1, Life and Letters. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. (There is no second volume.) By far the best overview of the poet’s life. Schimmel, Annemarie. 1979. A Dance of Sparks: Imagery of Fire in Ghalib’s Poetry. New Delhi: Ghalib Academy. Steingass, F. A. 1892. Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary. London: Routledge. The best way for the student to keep track of Ghalib’s Persianisms. Zamin Kanturi, Sayyid Muhammad. 2012. Shar -i d v n-i Gh lib. Edited by Ashraf Ra . Delhi: Educational Publishing House. Original edition 1934 (MS completed but not published). The only commentary that integrates both published and unpublished verses.

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Entries appear in English alphabetical order and are di erentiated according to part by boldface numerals. A, B (verse structure): 1 (3, 4) (3, 9) (8, 1) (14, 10) (23, 8) (28, 6) (29, 1) (29, 2); 2 (39) (85) (103) Adam: 1 (28, 3) Adviser: 1 (3, 7) (6, 5) [(18, 8)] Alexander: 2 (115) Ali: 1 [(15, 1)] [(15, 11)]; 2 [(116)]; 3 (125) Angel: 1 (15, 2) (22, 13); 2 (44) (69) Asad: 1 (2, 6) (7, 10) (9, 12) (13, 5) (26, 7) (27, 12); 2 (33) (89) (90) (118); 3 (125) Ascetic: 1 (4, 1) baskih: 1 (1, 5) (5, 1) (9, 7) (11, 1) (17, 11) beloved, as divine: 1 (6, 10) (15, 2); 2 (76); as a youth: 2 (51) black spot: 1 (2, 2); 3 (126, 13) Brahmin: 1 (23, 6); 2 [(55)] (81) (112) China: 3 (125) closing-verse: 3 (131) collar: 1 (5, 9) (17, 11) (27, 5) (30, 3); 2 (43) (52) collyrium: 1 (39, 13); 2 (91) Cupbearer: 1 (14, 5) (15, 1) (22, 5) (22, 8) (22, 10); 2 (53) (116) dead lover speaks: 1 (5, 8) (6, 1) (6, 9) (11, 9); 2 (52) divan: 1 (1, 1); 2 (124) Doomsday: 1 (4, 11) (7, 2); 3 (130) Doorkeeper: 1 (4, 7) (17, 12) (20, 1) (30, 15) Eid: 1 (5, 5); 2 (78); 3 (125, 17) (127, 6) (127, 14) (128) ek: 1 (4, 6) (4, 9) (25, 2) (25, 12); 2 (59) (61) Executioner: 1 (11, 7) Farhad: 1 [(1, 2)] (2, 6) (23, 7); 2 (111); 3 (125, 8) faux-naïf: 1 (1, 1) (15, 3) (15, 6) (17, 3) Firdausi: 3 (133) [ 129 ]

Ghalib: 1 (1, 1) (14, 5) (16, 1) (17, 1) (18, 6) (22, 1) (24, 7) (29, 5); 2 (32) (43) (53) (79) (94) (95) (98) (101) (107) God: 1 [(6, 10)] (8, 4) [(15, 11)] (17, 7); 3 (125, 11) (125, 12); see also Lord Hasan of Basra: 3 (133) Hell: 1 [(14, 1)]; 2 (80); 3 (125:d) (125, 32) Hindi: 3 (131) houri: 1 (17, 7); 3 (134) Huma: 1 (9, 3) humor, some examples: 1 (11, 4) (14, 5) (17, 3) (19, 3) (19, 6) (28, 3) Hunter: 1 (12, 4) Husain: 3 (125, 29) (125, 30) idioms: 1 (1, 5) (7, 10) (13, 6) (15, 7) (17, 1) (24, 1) (28, 9) imagined bird: 1 (1, 4) (27, 13); 3 (126, 11) individual verse: 2 (38) (60) (97) inexpressibility trope: 1 (1, 2) (4, 2) (5, 5) (6, 8) (9, 2) (10, 9) (13, 7) (26, 5); 2 (59) insh iya, a few examples: 1 (5, 8) (7, 8) (8, 4) Islam: 3 (125:f) (131) i fat, a few examples: 1 (2, 7) (3, 10) (13, 3) (13, 4) (13, 6) Jacob: 1 (4, 9) (17, 4) Jamshed: 1 (23, 3) (28, 6) Jesus: 3 (125:e); see also Messiah Joseph: 1 (4, 9) (17, 4) [(17, 5)] Ka’ba: 1 (21, 10) (25, 9); 2 (81) (102) [(121)]; 3 (125:g) (125, 13) (126, 7) Kausar: 1 (15, 1); 2 (116) Khizr: 1 (23, 9); 2 (93) (100) (115) (123) Khutan: 3 (126, 7) King: 1 (16, 8) (23, 9); 3 (127) ky , a few examples: 1 (15, 4) (17, 1); 2 (42) (58) (87) (113) Laila: 1 (25, 10) (27, 2); 2 (37); 3 (126, 6) (126, 12) (133) lamp-show: 1 (4, 4) (9, 8) (13, 3) (30, 1) (30, 4) liver: 1 (3, 10) (5, 7) (6, 4) (7, 1) (7, 4) (7, 6) (11, 6) (26, 4) (27, 5) (27, 6) (29, 5) (30, 2); 3 (125, 29) (126, 4) (130) (132) Lord: 1 (3, 8) (11, 2) (14, 8) (16, 3) (17, 10) (18, 8) (19, 3) (29, 10) (29, 11); 2 (113); 3 (125, 13) magar, a few examples: 1 (2, 1) (2, 9) (7, 7) (11, 3) (21, 10) Majnun: 1 (2, 1) (7, 10) (25, 10) (27, 2); 2 (32) (37) (57) (89) (92) (99) (111); 3 (126, 6) (133) Mansur: 2 (73) Messenger: 1 (14, 4); 2 (98) Messiah: 1 (25, 2); 3 (126, 8); see also Jesus Mir: 2 (45) mirror: 1 (4, 5) (5, 4) (8, 10) (15, 9) (18, 4) (19, 8) (25, 6) (29, 2) (29, 4) (29, 8); 2 (43); 3 (125, 7) (125:a) mirror chamber: 1 (4, 5) miss : 3 (132) mood: 1 (3, 6) (29, 9); 2 (89) (108) [ 130 ]

Moth: 1 (13, 3) multivalence, a few examples: 1 (1, 3) (2, 5) (4, 2) (9, 5) (10, 6) (11, 10) (13, 7) (22, 1) (22, 3) (22, 12); 2 (42) (49) (80) Nightingale: 1 (17, 9) (26, 4) (29, 5); 2 (108) ode: 3 (125) (126) (132) Other: 1 (4, 10) (15, 5) (18, 2) [(18, 6)] (19, 4) (19, 6) (24, 4); 2 (88) Paradise: 1 (7, 9) (17, 7) (23, 10) (28, 3); 2 (80) (103); 3 (125:d) (125, 32) (134) parallelism, a few examples: 1 (11, 10) (12, 2) (12, 7) (14, 10) (24, 8); 2 (85) Pari: 1 (17, 7); 2 (35); 3 (126, 5) Persian: 1 [(2, 4)] (19, 10); 3 (125:c) (129) personi cation, a few examples: 1 (1, 3) (3, 9) (7, 4) (13, 2) poetry, references in verses: 1 (11, 11) (27, 12); 2 (54) (69) (104) (122) (124) Preacher: 1 (28, 9) Prophet: 3 (125, 13) refrain: 1 (11, 1) (16, 1) (19, 1) (23, 1) (25, 1) (26, 1) (30, 1) Rekhta: 1 (19, 10); 2 (45) rhyme: 1 (17, 2) (17, 3) Rival: 1 (14, 7) (17, 5) [(17, 8)] (19, 3) (30, 7); see also Other Rizvan: 1 (4, 1) (7, 9) Sa’di: 3 (133) Salma: 3 (126, 12) self-lessness: 1 (3, 4) (4, 1) (10, 9) (13, 6) (19, 7) [(21, 8)] [(22, 3)] [(26, 5)] (27, 13); 2 (57) (85) Shaikh: 3 (112) Shirin: 1 (23, 7); 3 (125, 8) Solomon: 1 (25, 2); 3 (125:e) sound e ects, a few examples: 1 (3, 3) (3, 8) (10, 7) (15, 3); 2 (120) Su stic, a few examples: 1 (2, 2) (3, 10) (6, 11) (13, 4) (13, 6) (15, 3) (15, 5) (15, 6) (15, 10) (19, 7); 2 (83) (106) symmetry: 1 (1, 5) (6, 5) (29, 7); 2 (87) (92) (94) (109) (118); 3 (125:e) Tur: 2 (56) (119) two worlds: 1 (3, 9); 3 (135) unpublished verses: 1 (2, 7) (2, 8) (2, 9) (3, 8) (3, 9) (3, 10) (13, 6) (13, 7); 3 (125, 10–17) veil: 1 (9, 9) (14, 9) (15, 8) (15, 9) (18, 3) (22, 3) (24, 6); 2 (110) verse-set: 1 (8, 9) (9, 4) (14, 11) (22, 6); 3 (125, 27) (126, intro.) (127, 20) (127, 43) (127, 45) (127, 47) (127, 49) wordplay, a few examples: 1 (1, 1) (2, 9) (3, 1) (3, 5) (4, 8) (6, 3) (6, 10) (10, 5) (15, 11) (27, 8) (29, 3); 2 (48) (66) (96) (98) (113) Zamzam: 2 (105) (121) Zulaikha: 1 (17, 5)

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TR A N S L AT I O NS F R O M T H E A S I A N CL AS S ICS Major Plays of Chikamatsu, tr. Donald Keene 1961 Four Major Plays of Chikamatsu, tr. Donald Keene. Paperback ed. only. 1961; rev. ed. 1997 Records of the Grand Historian of China, translated from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch’ien, tr. Burton Watson, 2 vols. 1961 Instructions for Practical Living and Other Neo-Confucian Writings by Wang Yang-ming, tr. Wing-tsit Chan 1963 Hsün Tzu: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson, paperback ed. only. 1963; rev. ed. 1996 Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson, paperback ed. only. 1964; rev. ed. 1996 The Mah bh rata, tr. Chakravarthi V. Narasimhan. Also in paperback ed. 1965; rev. ed. 1997 The Many sh , Nippon Gakujutsu Shink kai edition 1965 Su Tung-p’o: Selections from a Sung Dynasty Poet, tr. Burton Watson. Also in paperback ed. 1965 Bhartrihari: Poems, tr. Barbara Stoler Miller. Also in paperback ed. 1967 Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu, tr. Burton Watson. Also in separate paperback eds. 1967 The Awakening of Faith, Attributed to A vaghosha, tr. Yoshito S. Hakeda. Also in paperback ed. 1967 Re ections on Things at Hand: The Neo-Confucian Anthology, comp. Chu Hsi and Lü Tsuch’ien, tr. Wing-tsit Chan 1967 The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, tr. Philip B. Yampolsky. Also in paperback ed. 1967 Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenk , tr. Donald Keene. Also in paperback ed. 1967 The Pillow Book of Sei Sh nagon, tr. Ivan Morris, 2 vols. 1967 Two Plays of Ancient India: The Little Clay Cart and the Minister’s Seal, tr. J. A. B. van Buitenen 1968 The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, tr. Burton Watson 1968 The Romance of the Western Chamber (Hsi Hsiang chi), tr. S. I. Hsiung. Also in paperback ed. 1968 The Many sh , Nippon Gakujutsu Shink kai edition. Paperback ed. only. 1969 Records of the Historian: Chapters from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch’ien, tr. Burton Watson. Paperback ed. only. 1969 Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the T’ang Poet Han-shan, tr. Burton Watson. Also in paperback ed. 1970 Twenty Plays of the N Theatre, ed. Donald Keene. Also in paperback ed. 1970 Ch shingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers, tr. Donald Keene. Also in paperback ed. 1971; rev. ed. 1997 The Zen Master Hakuin: Selected Writings, tr. Philip B. Yampolsky 1971 Chinese Rhyme-Prose: Poems in the Fu Form from the Han and Six Dynasties Periods, tr. Burton Watson. Also in paperback ed. 1971 K kai: Major Works, tr. Yoshito S. Hakeda. Also in paperback ed. 1972 The Old Man Who Does as He Pleases: Selections from the Poetry and Prose of Lu Yu, tr. Burton Watson 1973 The Lion’s Roar of Queen r m l , tr. Alex and Hideko Wayman 1974 Courtier and Commoner in Ancient China: Selections from the History of the Former Han by Pan Ku, tr. Burton Watson. Also in paperback ed. 1974 Japanese Literature in Chinese, vol. 1: Poetry and Prose in Chinese by Japanese Writers of the Early Period, tr. Burton Watson 1975

Japanese Literature in Chinese, vol. 2: Poetry and Prose in Chinese by Japanese Writers of the Later Period, tr. Burton Watson 1976 Love Song of the Dark Lord: Jayadeva’s G tagovinda, tr. Barbara Stoler Miller. Also in paperback ed. Cloth ed. includes critical text of the Sanskrit. 1977; rev. ed. 1997 Ry kan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, tr. Burton Watson 1977 Calming the Mind and Discerning the Real: From the Lam rim chen mo of Tso -kha-pa, tr. Alex Wayman 1978 The Hermit and the Love-Thief: Sanskrit Poems of Bhartrihari and Bilha a, tr. Barbara Stoler Miller 1978 The Lute: Kao Ming’s P’i-p’a chi, tr. Jean Mulligan. Also in paperback ed. 1980 A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinn Sh t ki of Kitabatake Chikafusa, tr. H. Paul Varley 1980 Among the Flowers: The Hua-chien chi, tr. Lois Fusek 1982 Grass Hill: Poems and Prose by the Japanese Monk Gensei, tr. Burton Watson 1983 Doctors, Diviners, and Magicians of Ancient China: Biographies of Fang-shih, tr. Kenneth J. DeWoskin. Also in paperback ed. 1983 Theater of Memory: The Plays of K lid sa, ed. Barbara Stoler Miller. Also in paperback ed. 1984 The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century, ed. and tr. Burton Watson. Also in paperback ed. 1984 Poems of Love and War: From the Eight Anthologies and the Ten Long Poems of Classical Tamil, tr. A. K. Ramanujan. Also in paperback ed. 1985 The Bhagavad Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War, tr. Barbara Stoler Miller 1986 The Columbia Book of Later Chinese Poetry, ed. and tr. Jonathan Chaves. Also in paperback ed. 1986 The Tso Chuan: Selections from China’s Oldest Narrative History, tr. Burton Watson 1989 Waiting for the Wind: Thirty-six Poets of Japan’s Late Medieval Age, tr. Steven Carter 1989 Selected Writings of Nichiren, ed. Philip B. Yampolsky 1990 Saigy , Poems of a Mountain Home, tr. Burton Watson 1990 The Book of Lieh Tzu: A Classic of the Tao, tr. A. C. Graham. Morningside ed. 1990 The Tale of an Anklet: An Epic of South India—The Cilappatik ram of I a k A ika , tr. R. Parthasarathy 1993 Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince, tr. with introduction by Wm. Theodore de Bary 1993 Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees: A Masterpiece of the Eighteenth-Century Japanese Puppet Theater, tr., annotated, and with introduction by Stanleigh H. Jones Jr. 1993 The Lotus Sutra, tr. Burton Watson. Also in paperback ed. 1993 The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi, tr. Richard John Lynn 1994 Beyond Spring: Tz’u Poems of the Sung Dynasty, tr. Julie Landau 1994 The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. Victor H. Mair 1994 Scenes for Mandarins: The Elite Theater of the Ming, tr. Cyril Birch 1995 Letters of Nichiren, ed. Philip B. Yampolsky; tr. Burton Watson et al. 1996 Unforgotten Dreams: Poems by the Zen Monk Sh tetsu, tr. Steven D. Carter 1997 The Vimalakirti Sutra, tr. Burton Watson 1997 Japanese and Chinese Poems to Sing: The Wakan r ei sh , tr. J. Thomas Rimer and Jonathan Chaves 1997 Breeze Through Bamboo: Kanshi of Ema Saik , tr. Hiroaki Sato 1998 A Tower for the Summer Heat, by Li Yu, tr. Patrick Hanan 1998

Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays, by Karen Brazell 1998 The Original Analects: Sayings of Confucius and His Successors (0479–0249), by E. Bruce Brooks and A. Taeko Brooks 1998 The Classic of the Way and Virtue: A New Translation of the Tao-te ching of Laozi as Interpreted by Wang Bi, tr. Richard John Lynn 1999 The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom: An Anthology of Poems from Classical Tamil, The Pu an u, ed. and tr. George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz 1999 Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism, by Harold D. Roth 1999 Po Chü-i: Selected Poems, tr. Burton Watson 2000 Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching: A Translation of the Startling New Documents Found at Guodian, by Robert G. Henricks 2000 The Shorter Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. Victor H. Mair 2000 Mistress and Maid (Jiaohongji), by Meng Chengshun, tr. Cyril Birch 2001 Chikamatsu: Five Late Plays, tr. and ed. C. Andrew Gerstle 2001 The Essential Lotus: Selections from the Lotus Sutra, tr. Burton Watson 2002 Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600–1900, ed. Haruo Shirane 2002; abridged 2008 The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Korean Poetry, ed. Peter H. Lee 2002 The Sound of the Kiss, or The Story That Must Never Be Told: Pingali Suranna’s Kalapurnodayamu, tr. Vecheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman 2003 The Selected Poems of Du Fu, tr. Burton Watson 2003 Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women, tr. Makoto Ueda 2003 Just Living: Poems and Prose by the Japanese Monk Tonna, ed. and tr. Steven D. Carter 2003 Han Feizi: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson 2003 Mozi: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson 2003 Xunzi: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson 2003 Zhuangzi: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson 2003 The Awakening of Faith, Attributed to A vaghosha, tr. Yoshito S. Hakeda, introduction by Ryuichi Abe 2005 The Tales of the Heike, tr. Burton Watson, ed. Haruo Shirane 2006 Tales of Moonlight and Rain, by Ueda Akinari, tr. with introduction by Anthony H. Chambers 2007 Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600, ed. Haruo Shirane 2007 The Philosophy of Qi, by Kaibara Ekken, tr. Mary Evelyn Tucker 2007 The Analects of Confucius, tr. Burton Watson 2007 The Art of War: Sun Zi’s Military Methods, tr. Victor Mair 2007 One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, tr. Peter McMillan 2008 Zeami: Performance Notes, tr. Tom Hare 2008 Zongmi on Chan, tr. Je rey Lyle Broughton 2009 Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma, rev. ed., tr. Leon Hurvitz, preface and introduction by Stephen R. Teiser 2009 Mencius, tr. Irene Bloom, ed. with an introduction by Philip J. Ivanhoe 2009 Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China, Charles Egan 2010 The Mozi: A Complete Translation, tr. Ian Johnston 2010 The Huainanzi: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Government in Early Han China, by Liu An, tr. and ed. John S. Major, Sarah A. Queen, Andrew Seth Meyer, and Harold D. Roth, with Michael Puett and Judson Murray 2010

The Demon at Agi Bridge and Other Japanese Tales, tr. Burton Watson, ed. with introduction by Haruo Shirane 2011 Haiku Before Haiku: From the Renga Masters to Bash , tr. with introduction by Steven D. Carter 2011 The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature, ed. Victor H. Mair and Mark Bender 2011 Tamil Love Poetry: The Five Hundred Short Poems of the Ai ku un u, tr. and ed. Martha Ann Selby 2011 The Teachings of Master Wuzhu: Zen and Religion of No-Religion, by Wendi L. Adamek 2011 The Essential Huainanzi, by Liu An, tr. and ed. John S. Major, Sarah A. Queen, Andrew Seth Meyer, and Harold D. Roth 2012 The Dao of the Military: Liu An’s Art of War, tr. Andrew Seth Meyer 2012 Unearthing the Changes: Recently Discovered Manuscripts of the Yi Jing (I Ching) and Related Texts, Edward L. Shaughnessy 2013 Record of Miraculous Events in Japan: The Nihon ry iki, tr. Burton Watson 2013 The Complete Works of Zhuangzi, tr. Burton Watson 2013 Lust, Commerce, and Corruption: An Account of What I Have Seen and Heard, by an Edo Samurai, tr. and ed. Mark Teeuwen and Kate Wildman Nakai with Miyazaki Fumiko, Anne Walthall, and John Breen 2014 Exemplary Women of Early China: The Lienü zhuan of Liu Xiang, tr. Anne Behnke Kinney 2014 The Columbia Anthology of Yuan Drama, ed. C. T. Hsia, Wai-yee Li, and George Kao 2014 The Resurrected Skeleton: From Zhuangzi to Lu Xun, by Wilt L. Idema 2014 The Sarashina Diary: A Woman’s Life in Eleventh-Century Japan, by Sugawara no Takasue no Musume, tr. with introduction by Sonja Arntzen and It Moriyuki 2014 The Kojiki: An Account of Ancient Matters, by no Yasumaro, tr. Gustav Heldt 2014 The Orphan of Zhao and Other Yuan Plays: The Earliest Known Versions, tr. and introduced by Stephen H. West and Wilt L. Idema 2014 Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn, attributed to Dong Zhongshu, ed. and tr. Sarah A. Queen and John S. Major 2016 A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden): Selected Writings, by Li Zhi, ed. and tr. Rivi Handler-Spitz, Pauline Lee, and Haun Saussy 2016 The Shenzi Fragments: A Philosophical Analysis and Translation, Eirik Lang Harris 2016 A Record of Daily Knowledge and Poems and Essays: Selections, by Gu Yanwu, tr. and ed. Ian Johnston 2017 The Book of Lord Shang: Apologetics of State Power in Early China, by Shang Yang, ed. and tr. Yuri Pines Lust, Commerce, and Corruption: An Account of What I Have Seen and Heard, by an Edo Samurai, abridged edition, tr. and ed. Mark Teeuwen and Kate Wildman Nakai with Miyazaki Fumiko, Anne Walthall, and John Breen 2017 The Songs of Chu: An Ancient Anthology of Works by Qu Yuan and Others, ed. and trans. Gopal Sukhu 2017