Originally published in Delos 3,3-4 (Winter 1991), pp. 15-20.


Ghazals by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

translated by Frances W. Pritchett


Freely in Hidden Fire

Freely in hidden fire
my heart burned
Eloquent with silent flames my heart

In my heart
no desire to see her
no memory of her
Fire gutted the house,
whatever was in it

Now I've gone beyond
even Nonbeing:
I sighed--a gush  of fire--
the wings of the imagined bird

slash of the mind
how to convey its power?
One passing thought of madness
and a desert

I have no heart, or I'd show you
a carnival of scars
/16/ Too bad, such brilliant fireworks
but the operator

Ghalib I am
and my longing is
cold ash sadness.
My heart saw the warmth of the worldly
and burned.


It's Time Again

/17/ It's time again--the wave of wine
spreads its wings
giving the wine-duck
heart and hands to swim!

Why are all in the garden
by the grape vine
the air is a wave of wine.

A man drowning in wine
has a high fate
The wave of wine takes him under
a royal wing.

In this rainy season--why not?
By the grace of the flowing air
the surge of life
becomes a wave of wine.

Out of the storm of joy
Four, flung from the vortex:
rose-wave, sunset-wave
wave of wind, wave of wine.

As the green-growing soul
thirsts to flower
the wave of wine is solace:
a taste of the Water of Life.

/18/ Running as blood in the vine's red veins
Rising on the great wing
of color
the wave of wine soars.

Waves of roses
light the road of thought--
so potent in imagining
is the wave of wine.

Disguised as drunkenness,
Absorbed, a wave of wine
studies the brain, sustains
the mind.

I see the blaze of the roses
my senses fly, Asad
It's time again--the wave of wine
spreads its wings.


If You've Given Your Heart Away

/19/ If you've given your heart away
why sing a dirge about it?
If you don't even have a heart in your breast
why should you have a tongue
in your mouth?

She'll act as she always does--
I should behave with style.
Why should I lower myself to ask
why she looks down on me?

Why be faithful? Love-- what love?
All i need is a stone to smash my head against--
You with the heart of stone,
why should I use your gate?

When you visit me in my cage,
don't be afraid to tell me
all the news of the garden.
I've already heard that lightning
struck a nest last night.
Why should the nest be mine?

Your cruelty would be enough
to ruin anyone!
With a friend like you,
who needs the sky
for an enemy?

/20/ If this is testing--
what do you call torment?
Now that you're his--
why do you call it a test
for me?

You ask why it should be a disgrace
to see him. Oh, you're right
you're absolutely right!
Say it again, indeed:
why should it be?


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