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*
*Ahmad Ali, 1969*
*Ghalib Academy, 1969* (a group of translators)
*Sayyid Fayyaz Mahmud, 1969*
*M. Mujeeb, 1969*
*Inder Jit Lall, 1969*
*Inder Jit Lall, 1970*
*Daud Kamal, 1970*
*Sardar Jafri and Qurratulain Hyder, 1970*


Not all, but some have appeared as tulips and roses,
Much beauty must there be concealed in the earth!

We had also in memory many-hued pleasures,
But, now they have become paintings in the niche of oblivion.

Let the stream of blood flow from my eyes, for, it is the evening of separation---
I would conceive that two candles have been illuminated.

Sleep is his, mind is his and nights are his--
On whose arm thy locks have been disheveled!

Wine is life-giving--whoever happens to hold the cup,
All the lines of his hand, one would say, have become the veins of his soul.

If man be accustomed to grief--then grief is effaced--
The excess of difficulties made the difficulties light for me.

--Abdulla Anwar Beg, The Life and Odes of Ghalib (Lahore: Urdu Academy, Lohari Gate, 1940), pp. 131-32
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I also did remember once / the happy days I lived, 
But Memory's illuminated scrolls / have faced long since on 
the dusty shelves of Oblivion. 
pp. 72-73 

The 'Daughters of the Celestial Sphere' / Lay wrapped in veils of light 
By day unseen. What stirrings of  / Desire roused them at night? 
For when the sun went down the west, / They tore their veils outright, 
And in their glowing nakedness / They danced in glamour bright. 
pp. 56-57 

Who is above all lovers blessed? / Who sleeps a sweet memoried sleep? 
Who loves the night more than the day? / Whose fancy flies on silken wings? 
And who has reason to be proud? / 'Tis he o'er whom thy bosom leans, 
and leaning, lets thy tresses fall / about his arms and face. 
p. 55 

By long companionship with grief / is grief assuaged. And so I am
inured to grief and make light of / the countless hardships I have known. 
p. 73 

We who believe that God is one / will have no use for various creeds 
and must all ritual renounce. / Indeed, when all the creeds are merged 
in the knowledge of the One, / 'tis then that we can find true faith. 
p. 85 

--J. L. Kaul, Interpretations of Ghalib (Delhi: Atma Ram & Sons, 1957).
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The Spin of Life

Not all but only a few / As roses and lies [sic] do grace
This world after death, / What fair faces still lie hid in the place!

I too once knew / All the pleasures and joys of the world,
But now they all to / Remote recesses of my mind do herd!

The seven celestial sisters stood veiled all the day,
What caused 'em at night to have such bare display?

Though Yakub did Yusuf in prison never meet,
His eyes as holes in walls did him ever greet.

Enmity toward their rivals / By all without exception is got,
But Zulekha is pleased to find her friends, / At the sight of Yusuf, so lost!

On this night of grief, / Let blood flow freely from the eye;
I will take my eye-balls / For candles, through darkness to pass by!

In Heaven I'll take full revenge / Upon these sons of fairies fair,
If by grace of God, / I find 'em turn as 'Houries' there.

His the pleasures of night; / His the sleep, his the pride;
Around whose neck you sight / Your hair loose in amour, there to bide.

My visit to the garden / Like of teacher to school be,
The Nightingales on hearing my plaints, / Begin their warbling with glee!

Why do these half-closed eyes / So pierce through my heart;
Like arrows that from my ill-luck / Do take their start?

Though I tried my best / My sighs to suppress,
Like threads in darning, / Up they did ever press.

Even if I get there / What shall I have her scolds, to say?
When all my words and prayers / With her guard, I have lost on the way.

The cup of wine / Is the cup of life;
Whoever has it, / With pleasure is rife.

A believer am I, / I wish all shapes and forms be gone;
For shorn of them, all / Faiths and beliefs turn into one.

Woe ceases to be woe / If it does man oft' hound.
So many my difficulties, Lo! / They've their own solution found!

Mark ye the people of the world, / If Ghalib did ever so weep;
A deathly wilderness would / Over all these cities soon creep.

--P. L. Lakhanpal, Ghalib: the Man and his Verse (Delhi: International Books, 1960), pp. 249-51
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The swaying cypress and the fragrant rose
Are Loveliness, sprung from death's repose,
While much is hidden, some are exposed,
Death's door to Beauty is never closed.

His is the Night
of sheer Delight!
He--who has your Tangled Tresses,
For Love's Passion--Wild Caresses!

Your sparkling, splendid, lovely eyes
I've never seen them--yet they Haunt,
Demurely downcast, they never rise
Instead--your lashes spread fan-wise.

When one becomes habituated
To a Life of Eternal Sorrow,
Such are things situated
That one peacefully awaits each tomorrow!

--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. xiii, lxxvi, lxxvii, lxxxvii
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The Spin of Life

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

--R. K. Kuldip, Mirza Ghalib (Calcutta: Intertrade Publications, 1967), pp. 95-98
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Do not speak of all, but quite a few manifested themselves in flowers and roses,
What beauties there must have been which were laid down in graves.

We also once knew how to decorate picturesquely the assembly halls of friends,
But these have become now the embellishment of the shelf of forgetfulness.

Generally everyone hates one's rival, but with the women of Egypt
Zulaikha is pleased that they too fell in love with Yusuf, the Moon of Canaan.

Enviable is his sleep, great his luck and happy his nights
On whose arms your tresses fell and got spread.

We are Unitarians, to discard rituals is our duty.
When different faiths disappear, they then constitute the basic Religion.

When one gets used to sufferings, one suffers no more;
I encountered so many difficulties in life that they became easy to deal with.

--Malik Ram, Mirza Ghalib (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1968), pp. 65, 73, 76, 80
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Where are they all? Some raise their heads
As tulips and the rose.
What faces must have decked the earth
That under it repose?

I too remember colourful
And riotous company,
But now they rest as mosaics
In the niche of memory.

Though Jacob did not see his son
Joseph in the jail,
His eyes were fixed like casement doors
In the wall of the prison cell.

Then let these eyes shed tears of blood:
Alas, it is the night
Of separation; I shall think
Two candles have been lit.

When man knows pain, then pain itself
Disappears. So great
Have been my sufferings that grief
Is easy to endure.

And yet if Ghalib mourns and weeps
Thus, these towns you see,
O men, will soon be ruined and lost
In dark oblivion.

To him alone belong the nights,
Sleep and happiness,
On whose arms your waving hair
Has spread in wantonness.

Life-giving is the cup, whoever
Takes it in his hand:
The lines of the palm begin to throb
With life's pulsating blood.

--Ahmed Ali, Ghalib: Selected Poems (Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, 1969), pp. 49-50
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Of the multitude gliding into the grave / Not many sprouted as tulip or rose;
But the loveliness of those visages / That were laid for eternal rest, who knows?
--Inderjit Lall, p. 27

It's the bursting beauty of those hidden in the earth
That to the tulip and the damask rose give birth.
--S. A. Ali, p. 27

Once life's pageant I too knew, / Of beauty rare, of glorious hue.
Now like the pictures on a painted alcove: lifeless, still, / Its dead images, the alcoves of my memory fill.
--Prema Johari, p. 30

I have seen the days of joy, / I have been a glorious reveller.
Mine has been a life of glory, / I have lived a life of pleasure.
O the days that are gone by, / They are gone beyond recovery.
I too was a fervent lover, / I too quaffed the sparkling liquor.
I have sat in choicest company, / Now alas those times are past.
They have now become the paintings / Of the arches of oblivion.
O I've seen the days of pleasure. / I have been a glorious reveller.
--Mian Mohd Rafique Khawar, p. 31

Beauteous and colourful reveries / For long they glowed fresh--of their kind;
Ah, to mere picture-images they're reduced now / In the remote recesses of my mind.
--Inderjit Lall, p. 31

His the joyous night, / His the slumber, his the composure or conceit;
On whose arms are dishevelled / Your tresses. What a treat!
--Inderjit Lall, p. 29

His are peace and rest of nights, / His all the pride.
His are love's delights, / By whose adoring side,
You sit; on whose arm your lovely hair scatters. / That is all that matters.
--Prema Johari, p. 30

The bowl of Bacchus / Saturates the ecstasy of life;
And the hand-marks that hold the bowl / Turn into veins, full of life.
--Inderjit Lall, p. 28

In the oneness of God, we believe; / We reject custom, tenet and creed;
For when they all are effaced, / A true faith springs forth indeed.
--Inderjit Lall, p. 30

By long companionship with grief / is grief assuaged. And so I am
inured to grief and make light of / the countless hardships I have known.
--J. L. Kaul, p. 28

When man to sorrow grows inured, / All sorrow seems to cease;
So many troubles have I had / That trouble's turned to ease.
--H. C. Saraswat, p. 28

Were man to suffer pangs of pain, / Again and still again,
Even grief would lose its sting. / Of sorrows I've had so full share,
That now they are almost easy to bear.
--Prema Johari, p. 29

When man to melancholy grows disciplined / All afflictions seem to be on the wane;
So numerous have been my trials with them / That those have ceased to give me any pain.
--Inderjit Lall, p. 29

Ghalib Institute, Whispers of the Angel; Selections from Fourteen English Translations of Ghalib (New Delhi: Ghalib Academy, 1969)
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Not all, but only some have come up as the tulip and the rose! What beautiful faces must have been laid in the dust, never to come up again!

We too knew various ways of holding revels, but they have long been forgotten now, (lit. they have become decorations in the niche of forgetfulness).

Let a stream of blood flow out of my eyes, because it is the night of parting. I shall think that two candles have been lit (with the sheen of this stream of blood).

Sleep belongs to him, pride is his share, the nights are his, on whose shoulders and arms your long tresses were spread (during sleep).

My visit to the garden worked a miracle. A school sprang up there and the nightingales began to sing verses. (The effect of Ghalib's poetry on the poets of the age.)

Why O God! are those glances passing right through my heart; glances which, because of my bad luck, have become the eyelashes of the beloved.

We are Unitarians! Our creed is to renounce all ritual! When creeds disappear, they become part of one's faith (credo)!

If one is accustomed to grief, grief itself disappears! So many misfortunes have befallen me that life has become easy for me!

If you go on weeping in that manner, O Ghalib! You will see these habitations will all become desolate.

--Sayyid Fayyaz Mahmud, Ghalib: A Critical Introduction (Lahore: University of the Punjab, 1969), p. 260; some commentary on 261
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Though some may reappear as flowers, how sad to contemplate
The lovely faces that have vanished in the dust!

My mind too was once full of memories / Of friendly gatherings, wine and gaiety,
But they are all now delicate traceries / Adorning the dark corridors of time.

--M. Mujeeb, Ghalib (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1969), p. 60
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Rose and Dust

Of the multitude gliding into the grave / Not many sprouted as tulip and rose;
But the loveliness of those visages / That were laid for eternal rest, who knows!

Beauteous and colourful revelries / Fresh, for long they glowed of their kind;
Ah, to mere picture-images they're reduced now, / In the remote recesses of my mind.

His the joyous night, / His the slumber, composure or conceit;
On whose arms are dishevelled / Your tresses, what a treat!

The bowl of Bacchus / Saturates the ecstasy of life;
And the hand-marks that hold the bowl / Turn into veins--full of life.

--Inder Jit Lall, A Short Biography of Mirza Ghalib (Delhi: Saluja Prakashan, 1969), p. 42.
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Rose and Dust

Of the multitude sliding into the dust below / Only a few could sprout as poppy and rose;
But the loveliness of those faces / That were laid in eternal rest, who knows!

Beauteous and colourful the revelries / Fresh, for long they glowed of their kind;
But to mere memory-images they're reduced now / In the dark recesses of my mind.

His the night of joy, / His the slumber, composure or conceit;
His the arms on whom dishevelled rest / Your tresses, O what treat!

My steps into the garden / Were in a way like my steps to school;
When I sounded my plaintive note / The nightingales responded loud and long
And set sugared strain to their choral song.

A bowl of Bacchus in hand / Infuses the ecstasy of waves,
Lines of hand that grasp the bowl / Turn into veins--with life overflowing.

In the oneness of God, we believe / We renounce custom, ritual and creed;
For when they all are effaced / A true faith springs forth indeed.

When men to melancholy are grown used / All afflictions seem to be on the wane,
So numerous have been my trials with them / That they have ceased to give me any pain.

Note, ye comers to this world / If I did so bewail;
A noxious waste and wile / Over all habitations would prevail.

--Inder Jit Lall, Candle's Smoke (Delhi: Saluja Prakashan, 1970), pp. 45-47, 62
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Perhaps in the silken lustre of the lotus
And the seductive fragrance of the rose
Are reincarnated a few of the Beautiful Ones
Who once bewitched the world.
But where, where indeed, have gone
All the rest?
Have they all been swallowed
By the python of Time?

There was a time when I too
Took pride in my memories:
The raptures of forgotten love
And its faded pictures.
But now all that is consigned
To the cobwebbed corridors
Of my mind.

The radiant daughters of the night,
Invisible and cloistered during the day,
Are transformed into stars: naked, bright,
Voluptuous votaries of delight.

A million times more fortunate than I
Is he upon whose shoulders
Cascade your unravelled silken tresses;
Sound is his sleep and lucid his mind,
Serene are his dreams
And blessed his nights.

Accustomed to grief,
I have become immune to grief;
Sunk in sorrow,
I have become oblivious of sorrow.

--Daud Kamal, Ghalib: Reverberations (Karachi: Author, 1970).
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Where are they now?
(tho' some reappear as tulip and rose),
What faces hide beneath the dust!

Let streams of blood flow from mine eyes, this lonely night,
I'll think they are tapers of amber light.

--Sardar Jafri and Qurratulain Hyder, Ghalib And His Poetry (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1970), p. 82.
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