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TRANSLATIONS OF {7}

These translations have not been chosen for merit, or according to any other criterion. They are just a representative sample. In fact, they're all I could find on my bookshelves, and I plan to add more as they come to hand. The verse numbers I have added myself, and they are "absolute" numbers, so that you can tell which verse out of the original fifteen is being translated. Where a slash (/) appears, it shows that two short lines have been displayed horizontally instead of vertically. All words in square brackets are mine.


*Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam, 1968*; *their full discussion*
*D. J. Matthews and C. Shackle, 1972*
*Ahmed Ali, 1973*
*Rajinder Singh Verma, 1989*
*David Matthews, 1995*
*K. C. Kanda, 1997*

 

RALPH RUSSELL AND KHURSHIDUL ISLAM, 1968; *their full discussion*

1) All my plans have been overturned, and no medicine has had any effect. You see? This sickness of the heart [love] has killed me in the end [as I told you it would].

2) I passed the days of my youth in weeping, and in old age I closed my eyes. That is, I passed many nights in wakefulness, and when morning came I rested.

3) I do not question her life-giving power. It is just the excellence of my fortune that the first message that she sent me was my sentence of death.

4) We act under constraint, and you slander us when you say we have free will. It is your will that is done, and we are blamed without cause.

5) All the rakes and profligates of the whole world bow down before you. The proud, the perverse, the awkward, the independent--all have acknowledged you their leader.

6) If even in my distracted state I have been guilty of any want of respect [in daring to approach her], then it was little enough. For mile after mile as I made my way towards her, I fell down to worship her at every step.

7) What do we care for the Ka'ba, and the direction in which we should turn to pray, and the holy places and the robes of Pilgrimage? We who live in her land have said farewell to all these things.

8) If the shaikh stands naked in the mosque today it is because he spent the night drinking in the tavern, and in his drunkenness gave his cloan and gown and shirt and hat away.

9) If only she would lift the veil from her face now. What will it profit me if when my eyes are closed [in death] she unveils herself for all to see?

10) What can we do with the black and white of this world? If anything, then only this, that we can see the [black] night out with constant weeping, and bear the toil of the [white] day until evening comes.

11) At morning in the garden she walked out to take the air. Her cheek made the rose her slave, and her graceful stature made the cypress her thrall.

12) I held her silver-white wrists in my hands, but she swore [that she would come to me later], and I let them go. How raw and inexperienced I was to trust her word!

13) Every moment I beseeched her, and this has brought all my efforts to nothing. Her proud indifference increased fourfold with every time I importuned her.

14) Such a timid, fleet gazelle does not easily lose her fear of man. Those who have tamed you have performed a wonder, as though by magic power.

15) Why do you ask at this late hour what Mir's religion is? He has drawn the caste mark on his forehead and has sat down in the temple. He abandoned Islam long ago.
 

--Russell and Islam, Three Mughal Poets (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968). From "Appendix: A Complete Ghazal of Mir." Pp. 274-277.
*back to index*

D. J. MATTHEWS and C. SHACKLE, 1972

1) All my plans have been overturned. No medicine has had any effect. Do you see? This sickness of the heart has finally killed me.

2) I passed the time of my youth in weeping; and in old age I closed my eyes. In other words, I spent many nights awake and when morning came I rested.

3) There is no doubt about her life-giving power. It is just my good fortune that the first message she sent me was my death-sentence.

4) It is unjust that you should accuse us, who are under constraint, of going our own way. Youdo whatever you wish and give us a bad reputation for nothing.

5) All the rakes and depraved men of the world prostrate themselves before you. Profligates, perverts, scoundrels, wasters, all have acknowledged you as their leader.

6) Any lack of respect I may have shown, even in my state of distraction, was little enough. I travelled miles in her direction, and prostrated myself at every step.

7) The Shaikh, who is naked in the mosque, was in the wine-tavern last night. In his drunkenness he pledged his coat, his patched cloak, his shirt, and his hat.

8) Whose is the Kaaba? Which way should we turn to pray? Which is the Holy Shring (Mecca)? What are the garments of pilgrimage? The people who live in her street have said farewell to all those things from here.

9) If only she would lift the veil from her face now. For what will I gain if she shows her face to everyone when my eyes are closed (in death)?

10) All we could do in the black and white of this world was to weep all night till morning came or pass the day somehow till evening.

11) In the morning, it happened that she deigned to come out and take the air. She bought the rose with her face and with her stature made the cypress her slave.

12) I took her silvery wrists in my hands and then let them go. I was a fool to l isten to her promises and oaths. Ah, how inexperienced I was!

13) All my efforts have been wasted by my imploring her at every moment. However much I pleaded with her, her proud indifference increased fourfold.

14) It is not so easy for such a timid gazelle to lose its fear. Those people who tamed you used magic, performed a miracle.

15) Why do you ask about Mir's religion now? He has drawn the caste-mark on his forehead and sat down in the temple. He forsook Islam a long time ago.
 

-- D. J. Matthews and C. Shackle, An Anthology of Classical Urdu Love Lyrics: Text and Translations (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), pp. 62, 64.
*back to index*

AHMED ALI, 1973

1) My heart's afflictions and its pain / Could not be cured, I tried in vain;
Useless were all remedies, / And futile were the potions that I drained.

2) My youth I spent in grief and tears, / And in old age I closed my eyes,
As though I had kept awake all night / And when the morning came I could not rise.

4) We, the helpless, are accused / Of independence, alas, the shame!
You act as it pleases you / And yet we are the ones who get the blame.

10) All that we are allowed to say / In the affairs of the universe
Is to pass our days in grief, and spend / Our nights in anguish weeping silent tears.

15) Why do you ask the faith of Mir? / He sits in the temple, it is said,
A caste-mark on his brow, having lost, / None knows when, the faith of Mohammed.

12) I held her silvery hands in mine / Then suddenly I let them go,
For I had put my faith in her / False promises before too long ago.

14) It was no easy task to rid / That scared and terrified gazelle
Of wild desiapr; and those who tamed / Her had indeed performed a miracle.

--Ahmed Ali, The Golden Tradition: An Anthology of Urdu Poetry (New York: Columbia University Press, 1973), pp. 140-141.
*back to index*

RAJINDER SINGH VERMA, 1989

1) Plans all failed and drugs / Were of no avail
Did you note how me / Love-sickness did kill.

2) Youth I spent in tears / In old age shut eyes
Kept a vigil at night / At sunup took rest.

4) Wrongly we, the helpless ones / Have been accused with free will
Providence does what it likes / And the blame is thrust on us.

7) Going to Kaaba and Mecca / Donning sacred cloth? No, No
Dwellers of her lane salaamed / All these from this distant place.

10) If we have a say in this / Scheme of things, 'tis only that
Weep away the night till dawn / Manage to wear out the day.

15) O what do you ask about / Creed of 'Mir'? well, he has put
Mark on his brow, sat in fane [sic] / Gave up Islam long ago.
 

-- Rajinder Singh Verma, Pick of Mir (New Delhi: Enkay Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1989), pp. 2-3.
*back to index*

DAVID MATTHEWS, 1995

1) My plans are overturned at every stage / No medicine can cure my ailing heart.
This sickness takes its toll, my death draws near. / At last, you see, my world is torn apart.

2) My youth was passed in tears, I wept so long; / My hair grew white and then I closed my eyes
Once I would spend the whole dark night awake / But now I slumber 'neath the morning skies.

3) No doubt she pas the power to give life. / Why should I blame the edict of the sky?
For the message she first sent to me / Was she had judged and I was meant to die.

4) You say that I am free; that is unjust. / For I am forced to hear your accusation.
You have your way and do just as you wish. / Your wilfulness has ruined my reputation.

5) Rakes, depraved incumbents of this world / In submission bow their heads to you;
Profligates and wasters, scoundrels all / Have made you leader of their motley crew.

7) Whose is the Ka'ba? Where the Holy Shrine? / In which direction should we turn to pray?
Those who came like slaves into your street / Forgot their faith and lost the righteous way.

8) Today the Shaikh prays naked in the mosque; / Last night the tavern echoed to his cries.
In drunkenness he pledged his shirt and coat / And gave them to the beauty of your eyes.

11) One morning she came out to take the air / And stepped so proudly ere the dawn arose.
Such elegance! The cypress was ashamed. / Her face bought out the beauty of the rose.

12) I took her silvery wrists into my hands / And then released them, for I never thought
The promise she made me on that day, / The oaths she took would all result in nought.

14) The deer that runs so freely in the wild / Will never lose its fear of humankind.
But those who tamed you practised magic spells; / Their sorcery entranced my fickle hind.

15) You ask of my religion and my faith? / I sit in Hindu temples, lost but calm.
My forehead daubed displays the mark of caste. / It's long ago that I forsook Islam.
 

--David Matthews, An Anthology of Urdu Verse in English (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 75, 77.
*back to index*

K. C. KANDA 1997

1) All my plans have gone amiss, all remedies have failed,
Lo, this ache of heart, at last, has cut short my tale.

2) Crying and sighing I spent my youth, as age arrived I shut my eyes,
Having kept awake at night, I slumbered fast at break of day.

4) Why are we, the helpless mortals, accused of having sovereign wills,
Why are we unjustly blamed, when only your will prevails?

5) The whole lot of rakes and revellers at your threshhold bow,
Crooked or clever, sharp or sly, all before you pray.

6) Even in my manic state, never did I misbehave,
Though I gave him chase for miles, I went prostrate all the way.

7) Why talk of Mecca, Medina, who cares for the holy cloak?
Denizens of the street of love shy away from pilgrimage.

8) The sheikh, now naked in the mosque, was at night in the pub,
Where his cowl, cloak and shirt, he pawned away in a drunken state.

10) In the black and white of life, this is our only role,
To crawl, somehow, from day to night, with tears turn the night to day.

12) Having clasped her silver arms, oh, I let them go,
Why did I accept her word, my trust, alas, was betrayed!

13) Subduing a deer run berserk is a superhuman task,
Miraculous was indeed their skill, who controlled your frenzic [sic] rage.

15) Why ask of Mir's creed, he has since renounced Islam,
His brow supports a sacred mark, a temple is his hermitage.
 

--K. C. Kanda, Mir Taqi Mir: Selected Poetry (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1997), pp. 47, 49.
*back to index*


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