from 1971 through 1990


*Aijaz Ahmad, 1971*
*W. S. Merwin, 1971 (version 1)*
*W. S. Merwin, 1971 (version 2)*
*Adrienne Rich, 1971*
*William Stafford, 1971*
*Ralph Russell, 1972*
*Ahmed Ali, 1973*
*Annemarie Schimmel, 1979*
*S. Rahmatullah, 1980*
*Muhammad Sadiq, 1984*
*Paul Liboiron, 1989*
*K. C. Kanda, 1990*


Not all, but only a few, are revealed in the rose and the tulip;
What faces those must have been that have gone (been hidden) under the dust!

The 'daughters of the Bier' were, during the day, hidden behind a curtain (or, had hidden themselves behind the day's curtain);
What did they think (feel, occurred to them, came in their hearts) at night that they came out unconcealed (naked)?

To him comes sleep, belongs the mind (peace of mind), belong the nights
On whose arm you spread your hair.

We are the monotheists; breaking customs (traditions, set patterns) is our way of life;
Whenever the communities died, they became part of the faith.

If Ghalib continues to weep with this same prolixity, you, those who inhabit this world
Will see that these cities shall become a mass of wilderness.

--Aijaz Ahmad, ed. Ghazals of Ghalib (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 73;
his commentary: pp. 74-75
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Here and there in a rose or a tulip
a few of the faces
only a few

but think of those that the dust
keeps to itself

All day three stars
the Daughters of the Bier
hid in back of the light

how was it for them when the night came
and they stepped forth naked

Sleep comes to him
peace belongs to him
the night is his

over whose arm your hair is spread

We make new
our life is
an overthrowing

the great faith gathers to itself
even of its worshippers

--W. S. Merwin, in Aijaz Ahmad, ed., Ghazals of Ghalib (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 76
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Almost none
of the beautiful faces
come back to be glimpsed for an instant in some flower

once the dust owns them

The three Daughters of the Bier
as becomes stars
hide in the light till day has gone
then they step forth naked
but their minds are the black night

He is the lord of sleep
lord of peace
lord of night
on whose arm your hair is lying.

--W. S. Merwin, in Aijaz Ahmad, ed., Ghazals of Ghalib (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 77
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Not all, only a few, return as the rose or the tulip;
What faces there must be still veiled by the dust!

The three stars, three Daughters, stayed veiled and secret by day;
what word did the darkness speak to bring them forth in their nakedness?

Sleep is his, and peace of mind, and the nights belong to him
across whose arms you spread the veils of your hair.

We are the forerunners; breaking the pattern is our way of life.
Whenever the races blurred they entered the stream of reality.

If Ghalib must go on shedding these tears, you who inhabit the world
will see these cities blotted into the wilderness.

--Adrienne Rich, in Aijaz Ahmad, ed., Ghazals of Ghalib (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 78
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Only the survivors come forth in the rose, the tulip.
What faces have gone down under the dust!

All the star children curtained in the day--
How their hearts flooded, naked in the night!

Sleep comes, peace, quiet of rest,
for one who holds an arm under your hair.

We poets break through custom, find our way to life;
old ways die, and weave themselves into faith.

If the poet mourns this well, you dwellers in the world,
you will find your cities drifting back into the wild.

--William Stafford, in Aijaz Ahmad, ed., Ghazals of Ghalib (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 79
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Sleep is for him, pride is for him, the nights for him
Upon whose arm your tresses all dishevelled lay.
p. 119

My creed is oneness, my belief abandonment of rituals;
Let all communities dissolve and constitute a single faith.
p. 127

--Ralph Russell, ed. Ghalib: The Poet and his Age (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1972),
from 'Ghalib's Urdu Verse,' pp. 105-131.
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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 colorful / 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, The Golden Tradition: An Anthology of Urdu Poetry; selected, translated, and with an introduction by Ahmed Ali (New York: Columbia University Press, 1973), pp. 241-42
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A few, not all, are manifested / In the rose and the tulip;
What fair faces those must have been / That now in dust are shrouded.

I, too, recall those gatherings -- / Colourful and gay; but now
The remembrance is like an ornament / Adorning the niche of oblivion.

The daughters of the constellation / Lay hidden in the veil of daylight;
What has caused them / To display their nakedness at night?

Although Jacob asked not / For news of Joseph,
Yet his eyes became windows / In the walls of the prison cell.

With all rivals she is unhappy, / Except with the ladies of Egypt;
Zuleika is pleased that at the sight / Of Joseph, they were lost.

Let a stream of blood flow from the eyes, / For 'tis the night of separation;
So I shall think that there / Two candles have been lit.

(#143#) In heaven we shall take revenge / On those ones born of fairies,
If, by the grace of the Almighty, / They are turned into houris there.

His is the sleep, his the desire, / And his are all the nights,
On whose embracing arm / Thy tresses lie dishevelled.

On my visit to the garden, it seemed / As if a school was opened there;
For the nightingales, hearing my plaints / Started to warble their love songs.

Those glances, why do they pierce / Right through my heart?
Those glances, that to my ill-luck, / Have become her sharp eyelashes.

Though I try my best / To stifle the sighs in my breast,
They have become the stitches / Of my robe's torn opening.

Even if I go there, what reply / Shall I give to her scolding?
Whatever words of blessing I recall / Were spent on the door-keeper.

(#144#) The cup of wine enlarges the soul / Of him to whose hand
It passes; all the lines, / One could say, are like jugular veins.

We believe in the Unity of God, / And our religion all ritual does eschew;
When creed and dogma cease to exist / They become part of true faith.

The man habituated to pain / For him pain disappears;
So many have been my troubles / That now they are easy to bear.

O men of the world, if Ghalib / Continues to weep in this way,
You will see that these towns / Are turned into wilderness.

--Yusuf Husain, trans., Urdu Ghazals of Ghalib (New Delhi: Ghalib Institute, 1977), pp. 142-44
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Sleep is his, sweet intoxication is his, the nights are his,
On whose arm your tresses lie, dishevelled....

--Annemarie Schimmel, A Dance of Sparks: Imagery of Fire in Ghalib's Poetry (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1979), p. 17
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Behold the tulip and the rose -- / A few fair faces thus revealed!
But hidden in the dust who knows -- / What other beauties lie concealed?

'Tis eve, and I alone do sit; / So do the streams of blood let flow
From out my eyes, two candles lit -- / Lo! both of them with flames aglow!

A happy heart, a cheerful mind / And beauteous nights for him alone
Are here -- for one who hopes to find / Her tresses on his shoulders thrown.

My wailings in the garden had / Taught nightingales my tunes, behold!
They sing my Ghazals sweet and sad / And do my manuscript unfold!

To wipe out forms is faith with us, / For we believe in unity;
When creeds become anonymous, / They do achieve their entity!

A pain is not a pain at all / Could onlyone get used to it
What though misfortunes me befall, / I feel them not the slightest bit!

If still the tears of GHALIB fall / The people of this world shall see --
Deserted and beyond recall -- / All shelter, shrine and sanctuary!

--S. Rahmatullah, Hundred Gems from Ghalib (Lahore: National Book Foundation, 1980) pp. 87-95
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Sorrow ceases to be felt when one gets used to it;
So numerous have been my trials that I can now meet them with equanimity.
p. 256

I, too, knew how to arrange colourful festive assemblies,
But they have become now the decoration of the shelf of forgetfulness.
p. 258

He alone enjoys a good sleep, mental composure and joyous nights,
Whose arm carries over it thy dishevelled locks.
p. 264

Muhammad Sadiq, A History of Urdu Literature (2nd ed.; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1984)
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It was not in my luck to unite with the friend,
Had I lived longer, I would still be waiting.

I life on your promise, But know this: I knew it to be false,
If I believed it, would I not have died of happiness?

I knew from your delicacy that your promise was tied only lightly.
Had it been drawn tightly it could not have been untied (broken).

Should someone ask my heart about your half-drawn arrow:
How could there be an ache, had it passed through the heart?

What kind of friendship is this that my friends have become advisors:
I needed someone to heal my wounds, someone to ease my grief.

From the veins of stone, the flow of blood would be unending,
If its inner spark were what is known as grief.

Although grief is deadly, with the heart there's no escape;
If not the grief of love, then the sorrows of the world.

How can I describe it, the night of brief is a calamity.
I would not have minded dying had it been only once.

By dying I was disgraced, why didn't I drown in the river?
There would have been neither funeral procession nor grave.

Who can see Him? the One is unique.
With even the fragrance of two, there would be an encounter.

These intricacies of Sufism, your eloquence, O Ghalib!
We would have thought you to be a saint, if you weren't such a drunk.

--Paul Adrien Liboiron, The Transformation of Plot in the Couplet of the Urdu Ghazal: An Examination of Narrative
(Vancouver: University of British Columbia, unpublished M.A. thesis), p. 9; [on this site]
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Some have emerged as tulips and roses, whither are the rest?
What beauteous forms lie concealed beneath the shroud of dust!

I too revelled in colourful sessions in days of yore,
But now they only emblazon oblivion's dim alcove.

The starry Pleiades in the sky lay hid during the day,
What came upon them at night, why stripped they lay?

Displeased with all her rivals, but with the Egyptian dames,
Who fell for her moon-like lover, Zuleikha is pleased amain.

Let blood stream down my eyes on this parting night,
I'll think that a pair of lamps have suddenly come alight.

In paradise we'll take revenge on these fairy dames,
If they change to houris, by the grace of God.

Enviable his sleep, his pride, enviable his nights,
On whose shoulder recline your dishevelled locks.

I stepped into the garden, and a choir burst forth,
My wails, methinks, set the nightingales atrill.

Even if I visit him, how to answer his reproach?
All the blessings that I knew were lavished on the guard.

Life-giving is wine, the hand that holds the cup,
Finds all its lines to the line of life converged.

Believers in one God, rituals we renounce,
Creeds, when dissolved, merge into one Faith.

When one is used to sorrow, sorrow loses its sting,
So many hardships have I borne, I find them hard no more.

If Ghalib keeps wailing thus, O my fellow men!
You'll find these habitats rendered desolate.

--K. C. Kanda, Masterpieces of Urdu Ghazal From the 17th to the 20th Century
(New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Private Limited, 1990), pp. 135, 137
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