An Anthology of Translations of {20}

from the early days through 1970


*Abdulla Anwar Beg, 1940*
*J. L. Kaul, 1957*
*P. L. Lakhanpal, 1960*
*Sufia Sadullah, 1965*
*R. K. Kuldip, 1967*
*Malik Ram, 1968*
*H. C. Saraswat, 1969*
*Sayyid Fayyaz Mahmud, 1969*
*Inder Jit Lall, 1969*
*Daud Kamal, 1970*
*Sardar Jafri and Qurratulain Hyder, 1970*


It was not our destiny to enjoy our meeting with the Friend;
If we had lived more, we would have waited for the same!

If we lived on thy promise, know that we had known it false--
For, should we not have died of joy, if we could believe?

Although grief is soul-breaking, but how is the heart to escape?
If there were no grief of love, there would have been worldly grief.

To whom should I say what the night of grief is? It is a trial--
Dying was nothing bad to me, if it were but once!

We have been humiliated by, being dead—why
were we not drowned in a river?
There would have been neither a funeral
procession, nor a grave!

--Abdulla Anwar Beg, The Life and Odes of Ghalib (Lahore: Urdu Academy, Lohari Gate, 1940), pp. 100-01
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Believe me not if I tell thee / I live on hope thou gavest me,
From sheer joy I should have died, / Had I believed thy word to me.
p. 47

I admit that, throwing circumspsection to the winds,
I made a sorry mess of life, / and am to blame for my distress.
But what of friends who do not help / but always chide and offer me advice? --
I should have saved myself / by doing this or leaving that undone;
and what I might have been.
p. 32

'Tis true grief eats away the heart; / but better so.
For man's heart never rests in peace;
and were it not lovelorn and sad,
some other mundane cares would its serenity disturb.
p. 47

Wouldst thou know why God cannot be seen?
He alone is and nought exists but He.
Since there's none other, how can He be seen?
p. 81

--J. L. Kaul, Interpretations of Ghalib (Delhi: Atma Ram & Sons, 1957)
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To Bed My Love...

To bed my love was not my happy lot!
Had I lived more, for that would have yearned my heart.

Lived I by your promise? Nay I knew it was false,
For had I believed it, hadn't joy had me in a hearse?

From your delicacy, I knew / Your word would its character take;
Were you but strong of will, / You could that never break.

Ask of my heart about the dart / From your eye, pulled at half the measure;
Had it pierced through it all, / How could I know such pricking joy and pleasure?

Each one of my friends to turn a counsel! / What sort of friends they be?
Would that someone were to tend my wounds, / Some share the griefs within me.

Were a stone to have / Some of the woes of my heart,
And unending stream of blood / Would from it soon start!

Though pain and sorrow cut through life, / 'Tis but heart's lot,
But for woes and griefs of love, / Troubles of life would it spot.

Whom shall I tell, / What's an eve full of love's grief?
Love unreturned, but death in life, / Not the mortal death, so brief!

Neither a funeral bier to take, / Nor a tomb my grave to crown,
Such disgrace in death! / Oh! Why didn't I in a river drown?

He is Unique, / None can Him ever see;
None his rival, / None can ever be.

Such mystic thoughts, Ghalib! / Such style and word!
Would take ye for a prophet, / If thou not a drunkard wert!

--P. L. Lakhanpal, Ghalib: The Man and his Verse (Delhi: International Books, 1960), pp. 241-242
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A glimpse of you, you Dearest One!
To me, my Fate, Denied
Fulfilment! Though I sought was None,
But Death--my tragic life, Defied!

Your pledge of Love, I could not trust
Had it been worthy of belief
I'd long be dead and turned to dust
--Out of sheer Happiness and Relief!

A Censorious and Mentorial friend
Isn't worth the name, he cannot mend;
The Broken cords of a Broken heart
Kind friends alone can Comprehend.

If only death would set me free
From torments of all infamy,
No funeral and no tomb for me
But--a grave in river's obscurity!

This Fabulous Wisdom,
This Sublimity of your Soul,
You have the Virtues of a Saint
If--Wine you could control!

--Sufia Sadullah, Hundred Verses of Mirza Ghalib, ed. by Suraiya Nazar (Beaconsfield, England: Darwen Finlayson Ltd., 1965; second edition pub. by A. M. Sadullah, Karachi, 1975), pp. xi, xlvii, lxv, lxvi, lxxxvi
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Mystic Thoughts

[This translation turns out to be exactly that of P. L. Lakhanpal above.]

--R. K. Kuldip, Mirza Ghalib (Calcutta: Intertrade Publications, 1967), pp. 85-87
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It wasn't destined that I be united with my love.
Had I lived longer, I would have been waiting still!

If I'm alive today despite your promise of meeting me, it is because I knew it wasn't true.
Had I trusted you, I would have died of the sheer joy of it.

My friends have turned into preceptors, O what a friendship!
I wish someone had sympathised with me and helped me achieve my objective!

Do not underestimate the sufferings of this life.
Were it a spark, it would have bled a stone to death.

No doubt sufferings shorten life but wso long as one possesses a heart there is no escape;
If there were not the sufferings of love, there would have been those of how to pass this life!

Who could sight Him? He is one and matchless.
Had there been even a semblance of duality, we would have encountered Him somewhere.

How explicitly you explain the philosophy of mysticism, O Ghalib!
We would have taken you for a saint, if you were not given to drink.

--Malik Ram, Mirza Ghalib (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1968), pp. 64, 69, 78, 85-86
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Although love's pangs may fatal be, / There can for man be no way out;
Without love too this heart would grieve / For want of things to grieve about.
--H. C. Saraswat, p. 9

Ghalib Institute, Whispers of the Angel; Selections from Fourteen English Translations of Ghalib (New Delhi: Ghalib Institute, 1969)
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It was not fated that the beloved and I should ever meet! Even if we had lived ever so long, our longing would not have abated.

If I lived on the promise of meeting you, rest assured, it was because I did not believe in it. Because if I had believed you, I should have died for joy!

I conclude from your delicate comeliness, that the truth [sic] you plighted with me was delicate too.
If it had been a firm bond, you could not have had the strength to break it.

Let them ask of me (of my heart), the (devastating) effect of the arrows of your half-glances (or the half-drawn arrows of your glances)! How could I have suffered this burning sensation, if they had passed right through my heart?

What sort of a friendship, do you call this that my friends have turned mentors? If only they had become my sympathisers or my healers!

The veins of the rocks (of thie earth) would have dripped blood endlessly, if the spark hidden in them had only been the sorrow which is my lot.

Even if sorrow saps away your life, what can you do to escape it, as you have a (feeling) heart! If it had not been sorrow for lost (unattainable) loves, it would have been anxiety for your means of living.

Whom should I tell that the night of sorrow (when I torture myself with longing) is a terrible thing? I would not have minded dying, if I had to die once only!

If I had to become notorious after death, (when people would talk of me disparagingly that I could not endure the anguish of thwarted love), why did I not die by drowning? No bier need then have been carried and no grave should have been dug for me anywhere.

Who can see Him? He is the One and Only! If there had been even a shadow of duality we could have met Him somewhere.

These mystical themes! and this telling style of yours o Ghalib! We should have taken you for a saint if you had not been a wine-bibbler [sic].

--Sayyid Fayyaz Mahmud, Ghalib: A Critical Introduction (Lahore: University of the Punjab, 1969, pp. 227-28; with some commentary, p. 229
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These mystic themes, / This sublime style of your rhyme;
You possess the virtues of a Cherub, / If the wont of wine you could curb.

--Inder Jit Lall, A Short Biography of Mirza Ghalib (Delhi: Saluja Prakashan, 1969), p. 44.
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Upon the shifting sand of your promises
I build my castle of dreams -
A mirage in the desert.
Had I believed,
Had I taken for reality
What was but an illusion,
I would surely have expired
Of an excess of joy.

--Daud Kamal, Ghalib: Reverberations (Karachi: Author, 1970), no page numbers
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I know constant grief is fatal, but the heart cannot help;
Were there no sorrowing for love
I would still weep for the world.

--Sardar Jafri and Qurratulain Hyder, Ghalib And His Poetry (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1970), p. 80.
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