from 1991 through 2010


*Khwaja Tariq Mahmood, 1995*
*David Matthews, 1995*
*Prema Johari 1996*
*Riaz Ahmad, 1996*
*Robert Bly and Sunil Dutta, 1999*
*Ralph Russell, 2000*
*T. P. Issar, 2000*
*Agha Shahid Ali, 2002*
*Sarfaraz K. Niazi, 2002*
*O. P. Kejariwal, 2002*
*Ralph Russell, 2003*
*Sarvat Rahman, 2003*
*K. C. Kanda, 2004*
*Roashan Chufla, 2004*
*Gulzar, 2005*
*Kunwar Rajinder Singh Rana, 2005*
*Praveaen Rao, 2006*
*U. C. Mahajan, 2006*
*Andrew McCord, 2008*
*Sarfaraz K. Niazi, 2009*
*M. A. R. Habib, 2010*
*Khalid Hameed Shaida, 2010*


Not all, but few, fine faces that went into entombment
Resurfaced as hyacinth and roses to whole world's amazement

The Great Bear constellation so well hidden in day time
At night even if strangely so bare in the firmament

Though he did not visit Yousaf in his prison's quadrangle
Yaqub turned his eyes into windows of confinement

Though vengeful as a rule against her rivals' amorous glances
For Moon of Kanaan, Egyptian Venus lauded the ladies' enchantment

In revenge against the elfin folks' unconcern on earth
We would in heaven cause the houris plenty of harassment

What answer could I muster for my friends' fulmination?
I had heaped upon the doorman my courtly compliment

Univerian are we in spirit, utilitarian we are in practice
When societies disintegrate they combine and then ferment

Suffering turns to nothing if we've gotten used to suffering
All troubles and exertions get converted into easement

If for long is Ghalib suppressed by his environs
Remember they decline thus resulting in dismemberment

Khwaja Tariq Mahmood, Ghalib: Rhymed Translations of Selected Ghazals (Lahore: Author, 1995), p. 2
Note: Somewhat revised versions of these verses appear in the translator's Selections from Diwan-E-Ghalib (New Delhi: Star Publications, 2002), pp. 5, 7.
[back to index]


Where are the snows of yesteryear?

The tulip and the rose reveal the faces of a few;
How many lie beneath the dust--those beauties that I knew?

The parties of my youthful past that I would once recall
Are memories upon the shelf from which all substance flew.

By day the Daughters of the Bier would hide behind their veil;
At night they grace the heavens, all their comeliness in view.

Though Jacob had no news of Joseph in his prison cell,
His ardent gazes pierced the wall and let his vision through.

My rivals taunt me, but Zulaikha blessed her Egyptian maids
When they became enchanted by the moon of Canaan too.

Let streams of blood flow from my eyes the nights when we must part.
I'll think they are two candles shedding tears of blood for you.

But if those beauties who torment me, by the grace of God,
Become the houris of Paradise, I'll make sure I have my due.

To him come sleep and self-respect, to him belong the nights--
The one on whom you spread your locks, the one who rests with you.

I stepped into the garden--it became a boisterous school!
The birds heard my sweet verse and then began their songs anew.

My God! Why do those glances pierce my heart from downcast eyes?
See! From her very coyness all misfortune can accrue.

I try to stifle all the sighs that well up in my breast;
They stitch the collar that I tore at as my madness grew.

To counter all her insults I once went up to her door.
The watchman stopped me; He was blessed by every prayer I knew.

The heart has joy from wine; the palm that holds the cup is blessed.
For all its lines become the vital veins which life renew.

I hold my trust in God alone; all trappings I have left;
When ritual is cast off the single faith is seen as true.

Men have their share of problems; they become a way of life.
For me so used to suffering no suffering is new.

If Ghalib goes on weeping, then oh people of this world!
These settlements will crumble, their existence pass from view.

--David Matthews, An Anthology of Urdu Verse in English (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 29, 31
[back to index]


Ye that once lived, and now lost are whose traces, / Laid in the dust forever to rest.
Is it some of these lost faces / Are in the poppy and rose manifest?

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

O brilliant constallation of stars seven, / Seven daughters of the sky / That all day veiled lie,
What sudden emotion in your heart, sweet, uncertain / Prompts you all
When night doth fall / To rent the curtain?

It is the night of parting / Let blood tears flow...
I will think, with day's departing, / I've set two candle flames aglow.

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...
This is all that matters.

Eyes, that my lacking fate has turned into a keen-edged wword
To pierce and rent my heart... Why O Lord?
Should still sink into my soul, / Possessing all.

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

If Ghalib still will sorrow thus, / He cannot long remain with us...
Good friends, good fellow creatures, hearken ye,
How poorer far, deserted and denied, this world will be.

--Prema Johari, Renderings from Ghalib (New Delhi: Ghalib Institute, 1996), pp. 41, 43
[back to index]


The Rose, with its redolent patels [sic]
The Water lily with its robe of virgin white
These have surely come to us in transmigration
Of but a few of those
Endowed with sublime beauty and grace.
Some embrace death to sprout again
But most, forever in dust remain.

There was a time
When I could recall vividly
A hundred jovialities of our tryst.
But now, my friend,
With the thickening mist of time,
All has obscured slowly
Into faded patterns
Around the niches
Hollowed out of the walls of my memory.

The Seven Sisters of the skies
Cloistered in the veil of daylight
Come to their own at nightfall,
Revealing their virgin glory
In the crystal firmament
Naked, radiant, sensuous.

--Riaz Ahmad, Ghalib: Interpretations (Rawalpindi: Ferozsons Pvt. Ltd., 1996), pp. 61-62
[back to index]


Where Are the Other Faces?

Only a few faces show up as roses; where are the rest?
This dust must be concealing so many poets and saints.

The Seven Pleiades hid behind a veil all day.
At night they changed their minds, and became naked.

During the night of separation red tears flow from my eyes.
I will imagine my eyes as two burning candles.

We'll seek revenge in heaven from these hard-hearted beauties.
Of course that presupposes that their destination is heaven.

That man on whose arm your hair is spread out
Owns three things: sleep, a quiet mind, and night.

When I visited the Garden, it was as if I started a school
Even the birds gave poetry readings after hearing me cry.

O God, why do these glances of hers keep invading my heart?
What luck do I have? When I look, I see her lids.

All the good words I could remember I gave to the doorman.
How can I change her painful jibes now into blessings?

Whenever a man's hand closes around a cup of wine,
That energy-enhancer, he believes the lines in his palm are life's rivers.

I believe in one God only, and my religion is breaking rules:
When all sects go to pieces, they'll become part of the true religion.

When a human being becomes used to sorrow, then sorrow disappears;
Obstacle after obstacle fell on me, and the road was easy.

If Ghalib keeps pouring out the salt of his tears,
Dear people, I say the whole world will become a ruin.

--Robert Bly and Sunil Dutta, The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib (Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1999), pp. 47-48
[back to index]


Where are they all? Some bloom again as tulips or as roses
There in the dust how many forms forever lie concealed!

I too remembered gatherings rich in all kinds of beauty
Now they are only forms and patterns on oblivion's shelf

Sleep is for him, and pride for him, and nights for him
Upon whose arm your tresses all dishevelled lay

I went into the garden, and it seemed a school assembled
The nightingales heard my laments, then sang their songs of love

Our creed is 'God is one', our cry, 'Abandon rituals!'
So that communities dissolve to constitute one faith

When one becomes inured to sorrow, sorrow vanishes
Such hardships have befallen me that life is easy now

--Ralph Russell, The Famous Ghalib (New Delhi: Roli Books, 2000), pp. 51-54
[back to index]


Not all, though some, have sprung again / in shapes of beauteous blooms.
Unseen are myriad glories which / will stay for ever entombed.

O revellers, pause! For you should know / we, too, have had this fun.
But the carefree laughter did not last: / it lies in a crevice of the past.

On this evening of parting from you / let the eyes spurt blood in my pain.
At least they will thus light up the dusk / --like two candles aflame.

I'll deal with them, if a quirk of fate / sends them as houries there:
these belles who, with their vile disdain, / have dealt me torment here.

While in the garden, suddenly I / broke into my soulful song;
It was like you were in a school / --when the bulbuls took up the chant.

Ever since Thy Oneness I perceived, / rituals and creeds I do not need.
All things that divide, now form my faith: / ever since I saw Thine Oneness's face!

So many were the arrows shot at me, / they no longer hurt or sting.
So many were the hardships I withstood; / they now don't mean a thing.

--T. P. Issar, Ghalib: Cullings from the Divan, rendered in English (Bangalore: Author, 2000), pp.131-134.
[back to index]


Not All, Only a Few Return (after Ghalib)

Just a few return from dust, disguised as roses.
What hopes the earth forever covers, what faces?

I too could recall moonlit roofs, those nights of wine--
But Time has shelved them now in Memory's dimmed places.

She has left forever, let blood flow from my eyes
till my eyes are lamps lit for love's darkest places.

All is his--Sleep, Peace, Night--when on his arm your hair
shines to make him the god whom nothing effaces.

With wine, the palm's lines, believe me, rush to Life's stream--
Look, here's my hand, and here the red glass it raises.

See me! Beaten by sorrow, man is numbed to pain.
Grief has become the pain only pain erases.

World, should Ghalib keep weeping you will see a flood
drown your terraced cities, your marble palaces.

--Agha Shahid Ali, in The Nation, 28 Jan. 2002, p.31. (with thanks to Michael Beard for supplying this one)
reprinted unchanged in Agha Shahid Ali, Call Me Ishmael Tonight: a Book of Ghazals (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2003), p. 52.
[back to index]


Not all, only a few have become evident as tulips and roses;
What images may lie in the dirt that remain hidden from us?

We too had remembered the colorful embellishments of her assembly,
But now they have become the decorative carvings of the cupola of amnesia.

Hiding behind the veil of daylight were the daughters of the dead in the sky.
In the night, what came to their mind that they bared themselves?

Though Jacob did not inquire about Joseph in the prison
But his eyes turned into casement windows of the prison walls.

Unhappy with all rivals except the women of Egypt;
Zulekha is happy that they were stunned looking at Joseph.

Let the river of blood flow from the eyes for 'tis the night of separation;
So I shall think that two candles have been lit.

We will take revenge from these fairies in Paradise,
If by the grace of God, they turn into houris there.

The sleep is his, the happiness is hiss, and the nights belong to him,
On whose shoulders did your tresses spread wantonly.

As I entered the garden, it appeared as if a school had opened, wherein
The nightingales began reciting love sonnets hearing my laments.

Those glances, O! Lord, why do they keep piercing through my heart,
That were blocked by her eyelashes, through my bad luck?

Though I tried stifling them in my chest, they kept coming one after the other.
My sighs turned out to be the stitches for the slit of my collar.

Even if I got in there, how would I respond to her abuses?
Whatever felicitations I had memorized were used on the doorkeeper.

Wine is life giving; into whose hand the goblet comes,
All the lines of the palm seem to become the jugular vein.

We are monotheists and our belief is to shatter the traditions;
When the creed and dogma are decimated, they become part of faith.

When man becomes used to sorrow, the pain of sorrow is alleviated.
So many hardships have fallen on me that they have become easier to endure.

If this is how Ghalib keeps weeping, then O!Dwellers of the world,
You would see that these settlements would turn into ruins.

--Sarfaraz Khan Niazi, Love Sonnets of Ghalib (Lahore: Ferozsons, 2002), pp. 411-18
[back to index]


How I recall / Those days / Of colour / And of pleasure.
But now alas / All that I see / Are flowers and designs / Adorning the shelves / Of the dusty past.

His the sleep / And his the peace / His the night / And his the dreams
On whose arms / My love / Rest thy tresses / Wild and free.

He is one / Above all ritual / Above all dogma / Above all custom
And only where / These paths cease / Does true faith begin.

--O. P. Kejariwal, Ghalib in Translation (New Delhi: UBSPD, 2002), pp. 107-109
[back to index]


Where are they all? Some bloom again as tulips or as roses
There in the dust how many forms forever lie concealed!

I too remembered gatherings rich in all kinds of beauty
Now they are only forms and patterns on oblivion's shelf

Sleep is for him, and pride for him, and nights for him
Upon whose arm your tresses all dishevelled lay

I went into the garden, and it seemed a school assembled
The nightingales heard my laments, then sang their songs of love

How ill my fate! her lowered eyes show only eyelashes
Why then, O God, is it that they can pierce right through my heart?

How, even if I reached her, could I answer her revilings?
All my fair words were spent in gaining access to her house

Wine gives such life to man that on the hand that takes the goblet
Every line seems like a vein through which the life-blood runs

Our creed is 'God is one', our cry, 'Abandon rituals!'
So that communities dissolve to constitute one faith

When one becomes inured to sorrow, sorrow vanishes
Such hardships have befallen me that life is easy now.

-- Ralph Russell, The Oxford India Ghalib: Life, Letters and Ghazals (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 360-361. Also printed in The Seeing Eye: Selections from the Urdu and Persian Ghazals of Ghalib (Islamabad: Alhamra, 2003), pp. 158-162.
[back to index]


Not all, of course, a few appear, in the tulip and the rose,
How many beauteous shapes must this dusty earth enclose!

I, too, used to remember those gay colourful gatherings,
But they, now, as in paintings, in oblivion's niche repose.

The seven sisters in the sky, were hidden by the veil of day,
What moved them thus, their nudity, at night to expose?

Though Jacob did not enquire after Joseph in prison,
Of the walls of that prison cell, his eyes became windows.

All are jealous of their rivals, but of Egypt's women,
Zuleikha was content; for they, too, loved Cana'an's rose.

Let streams of blood flow from my eyes, it's separation's night,
Two lighted candles in my darkness I shall then suppose.

On these delicate fairies, we'll surely take revenge,
If in Houris of Paradise, God makes them to transpose.

He sleeps truly, he wakes, the scented nights are his,
In whose arms your scattered locks their perfume disclose.

I went into the garden, 'twas a school I opened, you'd say,
The nightingale, hearing my plaints, learned ghazals to compose.

God, why do theose glances pierce my heart through and through,
When in the short shrift of my fate, they as eyelashes pose?

I tried to repress them, but they rose, each after each,
For the rents of my torn collar, my sighs were stitches that close.

Were I to go there, what response would I have for her abuse?
All the prayers I knew, to her porter I've had to propose.

Wine increases life; for him, whose hand holds the cup,
Become life veins, all the lines, which his palm shows.

We believe in the One God, to shun customs is our faith,
When sects and nations disappear, they all in the One repose.

Through our many sufferings, we get inured to pain,
With my growing difficulties my courage to meet them rose.

O people of the world beware! If GHALIB wails like this,
You'll see, all your dwelling-houses, a ruin compose.

-- Sarvat Rahman, Diwan-e-Ghalib: Complete Translation Into English (New Delhi: Ghalib Institute, 2003), pp. 279-281
[back to index]


Some have turned to roses and tulips, where are the rest?
What beauteous shapes lie concealed beneath the shroud of dust!

I too revelled in colourful sessions in days of yore,
But now they only serve to deck oblivion's gloomy chest.

The starry sisters, during the day, are hid behind the veil,
What comes upon their minds at night, why do they get undressed?

Impatient of all her rivals, Zuleikha likes Egyptian dames,
Who fell for her moon of love, so deep were they impressed.

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

We'll avenge ourselves in heaven on these fairy dames,
If, by the grace of God, they turn to houries blest.

Enviable, indeed, his sleep, his self-pride, his nights,
On whose arms recline your locks, dishevelled, dispersed.

As I stepped into the grove, a choir began to sing,
Lyrical grew the nightingales, by my wails impressed.

Even if I call on him, how to answer his rebuke,
All were lavished on the guard, the blessings that I had rehearsed.

Life-refreshing, indeed, is wine, he who holds the cup,
Finds the lines of his hand into the line of life converge.

We believe in one God, rituals we renounce,
Creeds and systems, when dissolved, as Faith supreme emerge.

When one is used to sorrow, sorrow sheds its sting,
So many troubles have I borne, they leave me unperturbed.

If Ghalib keeps wailing thus, O my fellowmen,
You'll find these habitats become a wilderness.

-- K. C. Kanda, Mirza Ghalib: Selected Lyrics and Letters (Elgin, IL: New Dawn Press, 2004), pp. 137, 139
[back to index]


Buried under the dust are some / Into flowers have they blossomed
Out of the beauties forever gone / As tulips, roses they have come.

Ah! The assemblies of our memories / So colorful and so full of delight
Gone now out of the memories' land / Stuck in the niche of oblivion's shelf.

Seven daughters of constellation / Lay hidden behind day's sun light
What has been, pray, their heart's intent / To bare themselves during the night.

While in prison Yousaf's care / Though Yaqub did not take
Holes in prison walls, as Yaqub's eyes / Were wide open and wide awake.

Of all the lovers of the world / Only Yousaf did she choose
The Egyptian ladies saw Zuleikha / In ecstasy harming herself too.

Let streams of blood continue to flow / From my eyes at the time of parting
It will seem like spurts of light / From my eyes in extreme delight.

When in heaven we shall avenge / The treatment here met us by them
If these beauties by their right / Come there to serve in the paradise.

I dedicate to him that all I have / My thoughts, the sleep and my nights
Spread by thee on whose arms / Thy sprawling golden tresses that lie.

As I went to the garden rose / The nightingales in the learning pose
Hearing thus all my woes / They started singing as in rote.

Thy piercing eyes, oh my love / Are now going through my heart
As my ill luck would have it now / Thy lashes seem to break the dart.

Irrepressible are my wails / Rising and falling like the seams
Of my collar tearing apart / And bursting into constant sobs.

When I tried to go to meet her / Expecting greetings of abuses and curses
All my blessings reserved to woo her / On her gate keeper they were all spent.

For one who holds the cup in hand / Life rending is the drink indeed
All the fate lines of the palm / Now indicate a fair streak.

We believe in oneness of the God / To abolish rituals is our lot
With the progress of our purpose / We meet the elements of our Lord.

Accustomed when to the life of sorrows / The sorrowfulness then withers away
The slogs in life that I have suffered / Have made my life now easy for stay.

Oh Citizens of the world may know / Constant crying by Ghalib will one day
Shall reduce its habitations that there are / Into a wilderness of no score.

-- Roashan Chufla, Mirza Ghalib in English Verse (Mumbai: Classic Printers, 2004), pp. 111-114
[back to index]



Not everything, a few were displayed in that red flower
The earth hid some marvellous faces in her bowels.

Accustomed to sorrow if a man becomes, then sorrow too loses its sting
Difficulties fell so many upon me that it became easy to grapple with.

And if this be the way of the world, then O you men of the world
You would then witness the ruin of this civilization.

-- Gulzar, Mirza Ghalib: A Biographical Scenario (New Delhi: Rupa and Co., 2005), p. 65
[back to index]


A few not all, appeared in the roses and the daffodils
Those must even [sic] beauties now shrouded in dust.

In the wheel of day light lay hidden the constellation
The darkness of night has caused them [sic] display their nudity.

Although about Joseph, Jacob could not enquire about
Yet his eyes became windows in walls of prison cell.

With all rivals she is jealous, except with the ladies of Egypt
Zuleika is pleased, they were lost beholding Joseph.

-- Kunwar Rajinder Singh Rana, Divan-e-Ghalib: Urdu-Hindi to English selected gazals (New Delhi: Anmol publications, 2005), p. 4
[back to index]


have they all burst forth as roses and tulips then?
what faces in the dust are in hiding from thy ken?

remember I did, the gay fandangles of her soirees
now they bedeck the recesses of fugue in my den

all seven remained modest through the day, hidden by a veil
what came upon them, they unveiled in the night sky, brazen

Jacob though you didn’t inquire after Joseph confined
wall crevices in his cell were the eyes watching thy son

peeved we all are with our rivals in love, with the women of Egypt but
delighted was Zuleikha, as ‘they too got lost in moon-like my Canaan’!

let my tears flow as blood from mine eyes, ‘tis the night of separation
I shall envisage that as two melting candles, this night they illumine

with these fairy begottens, In Heaven shall we get even,
by Nature’s justice materialize there as houris they when

his sleep, his mind ecstatic, oh the nights are his
dishevelled lies your hair on his shoulder (sigh!) when

I had but just strolled in and lo the garden was as a school
the nightingales turned bards just by hearing my lamen(t)

those glances, O lord, why do they keep boring through my heart?
when my waning fortune has shut them, your eyelids do they open?

just as I stop them, on my chest so sequentially they rise and fall
the collar I tear compulsively, these sighs by stitching they fasten

perchance if I go there, when she berates me what do I say?
all my repertoire of praises will be used up on sly doormen!

Ah, this wine is life-giving, behold the hand that cups the glass,
observe! it is as if all lines in your palm, rubicund, are thy veins!

we are monotheists, our praxis to give up customs
when creeds get dissolved, in Faith they unify then

a man must internalise pain for the pain to die
so many hardships befall me that they lessen

profusely if Ghalib continues to cry, beware then O World!
behold your populous settlements, for they will lie barren

-- Praveaen Rao, 2006 [unpublished; provided for this site by the translator]
[back to index]


Not all but only a few beautiful faces bloom into roses and tulips after death
Alas! how many of them are soon forgotten after they merge into desert.

We faintly remember the days of romantic delight when Beauty and Chivalry had gathered.
Alas! The cruel Time has devoured all and those pleasures have now vanished.

I wonder why do these seven Beauties remain hidden from the prying eyes of on lookers during the day.
What transpires among them when they appear in all their naked beauty at night in the sky.

True, Yaqub did not go to the prison where Yussuf was incarcerated.
Like the hole in the wall his blind eyes in imagination him visited.

The beautiful damsels of Egypt reviled at Zuleikha out of sheer jealousy..
But she had had her sweet revenge when all those beauties simply gazed and gazed at Yussuf’s beauty.

Let the torrent of tears of blood flow unabated during the separation’s dark night.
I shall think two candles have lighted up to dispel the darkness of night.

We will have our revenge upon these callous damsels in paradise.
If by God's grace, they are transformed into fairies in paradise.

He is the master of sleep night mind and heart.
On whose arms fall your tresses distraught?

When I went to the garden to utter my sweet lamentations of love
Nightingale on hearing me started singing Ghazal – the sweet song of beauty and love.

O, God! Why those eyes are penetrating deep through my heart
Is it not my misfortune, they have become her eye-lash's fatal dart.

Despite my efforts they rose in quick succession, unabated from my heart
These sighs were like the mad lover’s garments’ seams that had burst.

When I go there what my response will be to her abuses,
Whatever prayers I remember to mollify the gate keeper were exhausted.

One who holds the goblet to quaff off wine – for him it is invigorating.
It appears as if the lines of hand have become the veins – vital for life sustaining.

Our religion is to renounce all rituals. We believe in the universality of faith
When barriers of false creed disappear they become the quintessence of faith.

Grief loses its sting when man gets habituated to surfeit of it
Excess of sorrows and onslaughts of fate soon lose their severity when one becomes accustomed to it.

O, the callous people of the world! If Ghalib continues shedding torrents of tears like this; take note
Nothing will survive and you will soon find all these habitations gone desolate.

-- U. C. Mahajan, 2006 [unpublished; provided for this site by the translator]
[back to index]


Some, but not all, are become incarnate in tulip and rose.
Think how many beauties are become lost in the dust.

I remembered, too, bright adornments of the feast,
But they are become souvenirs on a niche of forgetting.

The seven sisters of the Pleiades, modest as the day is long,
Are moved by what stirrings as they become naked at evening?

Even as Jacob had no news of Joseph imprisoned,
His eyes are become empty as the chinks in the jail’s wall.

Everyone is displeased with rivals, but, when Egypt’s women
Startle at sight of the Moon of Canaan, Zuleikha becomes pleased.

On nights of separation, let streams of blood flow:
I will imagine my eyes are become candles, dripping red wax.

From these angels’ children we will take revenge in future,
Should justice prevail and they become virgins in heaven.

Rest is his, a proud mind is his, the nights are his—
Over whose shoulders your hair becomes disordered.

I hardly reached the flower bed and it became an atelier;
Hearing my laments, the blackbirds are become ghazal singers.

Lord, why do those eyes fly completely by my heart?
My paltry lot is that glances are become eyelids in demurral.

I arrest them and yet they well up in my breast:
Sighs so sharp they are become needles stitching my collar.

If I go there what answer will I have for the insults?
Pleading with the doorman I am become bereft of entreaties.

For one to whose hand the crystal comes, wine is life-affirming.
The very lines of his palm are become throbbing red veins.

We profess unity, our cult is rejection of custom and rite.
Sect becomes component to faith when all sects become begone.

A man becomes inured to sorrow and sorrow is erased.
Such trouble visits me that all troubles are become easy.

Citizens, if Ghalib keeps up so with such lamenting
You could see these settlements as they become deserted.

-- Andrew McCord, unpublished translation, 2008
[back to index]


Hiding in the Dirt

By no means all, only a few became manifest in tulip and rose.
What faces will there be, that became hidden in the dust!

We too remembered the colorful embellishments of the assembly,
But now they have become curios in the niche of forgetfulness.

Hiding behind the veil of daylight were the Daughters of the Bier in the day,
In the night what came to their mind that they became naked?

Though Jacob did not get news of Joseph in the prison;
Still his eyes became the vent-ports in the walls of the prison cell.

All may be unhappy with rivals but with the women of Egypt,
Zulaikha is happy that they became absorbed in Joseph.

Let a stream of blood flow from the eyes for it is the night of separation.
I will consider that two candles have become lit.

We will take revenge on these fairy-born ones in Paradise,
If through the power of justice, they become Houris there.

Sleep is his, pride is his, the nights are his,
On whose shoulder, your curls became disheveled!

Just as I entered the garden, as if a school opened;
The nightingales became ghazal-reciter hearing my laments.

Those glances, O Lord, why do they keep going through the heart,
Which, because of my misfortune, became eyelashes?

Though I held them back, they kept rising in the breast one after another,
My sighs became the stitching-up for the slit of my collar.

Even if I would go there, what answer would I give for her insults?
All blessings I remembered were expended on the doorkeeper.

Life-giving is wine, into whosoever's hand the goblet came,
All the lines of the hand, as if, became life-veins.

We are a monotheist, our practice is renunciation of customs,
When the doctrines were erased, they became parts of the faith.

When a person becomes used to grief, the grief is erased.
So many hardships fell upon me, that they became easy.

If that's how Ghalib kept weeping, then, O dwellers of the world,
You will see how these settlements would become desolate.

-- Sarfaraz K. Niazi, Wine of Passion: The Urdu Ghazals of Ghalib (Lahore: Ferozsons, 2009), p. 112
[back to index]



Some, not all, came back as tulip and rose,
What faces must lie beneath dust, who knows.

What colorful gatherings I would recall,
Now pictures in oblivion's niche, they repose.

Let my eyes shed blood, this night of parting.
As two lighted candles I shall imagine those.

On these beauteous women shall fall my revenge
In Paradise, they'll be houris, forever close.

To him belong sleep, peace, the fullest nights
On whose arms, disheveled, your hair flows.

Wine rejoices the heart. To whom the cup came,
His hand's lines like the vein of life arose.

I profess one God, I abandon old rites,
When all sects die away, one faith follows.

When man is used to sorrow, sorrow fails,
Many hardships have made easy hardship's blows.

Should Ghalib still weep, you will find, O World,
These dwellings drowned in ruin, where nothing grows.

-- M. A. R. Habib, Annual of Urdu Studies 25 (2010): p. 282.
[back to index]


As beautiful flowers come out they must
The lovely women that lie in the dust

Oh, how I remember the fun we've had
Now it's all gone and it's so sad

The beauties in the day are out of sight
But like the stars they're naked at night

Though Jacob from Joseph did not hear
He cried and cried; was his pain so severe

And Potiphar's wife was not so glad
When she saw that girls about Joseph were mad

When blood, in her absence, my eyes shed
They change my cheeks from pale to red

I'll take my revenge in heaven, I swear
If these beauties become the houris there

And I also think it's not very fair
On my rival's arm when she spreads her hair

My moaning and groaning when to the park I bring
The birds, when they hear me, start to sing

Her long eyelashes are like the darts
They strike, they jab, they go through the hearts

My fiery sighs when I try to suppress
My chest explodes and it becomes a mess

I can take her abuse but how I hate
When her awful doorman I've to adulate

But when a drink she offers, I come alive
The wine to me does a lot to revive

For the rites of religion I do not care
Though belief and faith, I think, are fair

When it's too painful, it seems quite breezy
And when it's too hard, it becomes rather easy

But, GHALIB, if she lets me cry and cry
The world might drown, and it might die

-- Khalid Hameed Shaida, Ghalib The Indian Beloved: Urdu Odes (Charleston, SC: Author), pp. 78-79
[back to index]



 -- {111} translation index -- {111} index -- ghazal index -- sitemap -- Ghalib index --