some ghazal experiments
in English
by Janab Peter Hook Sahib

-- ONE -- TWO -- THREE -- FOUR -- FIVE -- SIX -- SEVEN -- EIGHT -- NINE -- TEN -- ELEVEN --

one (1997)

The dark of night is gone without a trace
dissolving into dawn without a trace

When did those flashing glances disappear
(like dewdrops from a lawn) without a trace?

Columbus locked his eyes on sea and sky
and crossed horizons drawn without a trace.

We stride along or stumble on our way
then vanish, prince or pawn, without a trace.

‘Undying love’?  Keep silent lest your song
be swallowed in a yawn without a trace.

Alone, we’ll linger on a while until
we’re quietly withdrawn without a trace.

two (1997)

Do ears delude, do eyes deceive or not?
Does He decide if we believe or not?

Why wait an age to see if just perhaps
We’ll win an instant of reprieve or not?

Your time is up!  Just see the clock!  No time
To wonder if it’s time to leave or not.

To make her point she poked me in the ribs
And asked, ‘Did Adam need an Eve or not?’

Alone, we’ve given all (we had to give!)
It’s up to him now to receive or not.

three (2002)

Today the world awoke again.
Put on the ancient yoke again.

We'll stay but do we have to laugh
When told the same old joke again?

The one true Name remains the one
Invoked in vain? Invoke again.

The barkeep saw me, "Bolt the doors!
Here comes that balmy bloke again!" 

A friend should know what's true, what's false
Don't speak the words she spoke again.

It's spring again. If only we
Could meet beneath the oak again,

Could see far off the lightning flash,
Could hear the bullfrog croak again.

Sweet nights of joy you granted, all
the sooner to revoke again!

Death's foot is pressing on your neck.
Why worry you might choke again!

This naked world that burns the eye:
Let night let down her cloak again!

Alone, we've had no luck in love.
Tonight we'll go for broke again.

four (2002)

"How can you speak so breezily to me?"
"What's hard for you comes easily to me!"

Indeed she was so kind as not to say
Why she behaves so cheesily to me.

"A million's not a miserly amount."
"From you it still looks measly to me."

Now eloquent now reticent he spoke
Then paused and turned uneasily to me.

'Alone', we haven't had our fill of rhyme...
No, no, we've yet to get our share of rhyme...

Or, better yet, to get our share in rhyme...
Or so it seems, increasingly, to me.

five (2003)

His crown's knocked down, his scepter thrown away,
An angel's come to haul his throne away.

Our cavern rocks with happy drunken song,
No angels here to roll the stone away!

She must have kept a whirlwind in her robe,
That he, like so much dust, was blown away.

You found a way to clone a sigh? Now find
A way to drive a sigh cyclone away.

May birds forgive the tree that will not leaf
Until each past year's grief has flown away.

"The line is busy every time I call!"
"It's time to throw your telephone away."

Alone, why not keep knocking at her door?
Are you so certain you'll be shown away?

six (2003)

Let frost and thaw assault these walls.
If they won't fall we'll vault these walls.

Now sprayed with blood, now washed with tears,
As white and pure as salt, these walls.

Help God get out of real estate.
Tear down these fences, halt these walls!

You've brought this on yourself, you know,
This veil's your fault, your fault these walls.

Were you an older man, Alone,
And wiser, you'd exalt these walls.

seven (2003)

As if this weren't absurd enough!
As if we hadn't heard enough!

Her latest message: "Do not come!"--
It seems we weren't preferred enough.

From "no," a "yes"; from silence, "yes"--
Haven't you inferred enough?

A visit wouldn't be risk-free.
You're sure you're self-assured enough?

"Yes," "no," "maybe" -- let her choose.
Just one word would be word enough.

Give it up, Alone. Haven't you
been Uncled, Saahibbed, Sirred enough?

eight (2003) -- "FROST"

The lord of Fall believes in leaves,
Pale autumn's pall relieves in leaves.

His coldest dew's the freeze that frees
The boldest hues in sheaves, in leaves,

The reds, the golds, in fields and trees--
Brief tapestries he weaves in leaves.

Till bare November's evening breeze
Reminds us of our eaves in leaves.

If fall were dying by degrees
Alone, I'd say he grieves in leaves,

But skeletons in filigree's
Not all that he retrieves in leaves

In seeds he sets the spring's reprise,
The summer's glow he leaves in leaves.

nine (2006) -- *GHAZAL* [in Hindi]

ten (2007)

The frozen fountains of regret resume in spring.
Their thawing brings our gardens back to bloom in spring.

Come, singers, dancers, join the jubilant cortège
To consecrate the memories we exhume in spring.

You wayward ones, avoid the windows and beware
The sly insinuations of perfume in spring.

A mountain peak, an empty beach, a hint of wings,
The heart's imagination needs more room in spring.

My shiny red Corvette convertible's in tune.
Just touch her with a key and she goes vrroooom in spring.

Alone, be careful what you think and say and do.
The slopes are slipperier than you assume in spring.

If you'd remember me, then come, Alone, to see
The rioting of flowers on my tomb in spring.

eleven (2008)

May our passions burn to ash, saving nothing,

Leave us but a pinch of dust, craving nothing.


Walking on the road to Oz my legs gave out,

Then my hands, paving and repaving nothing.


What lies beyond the final fond farewell,

The cheers, the warm applause, the waving?  Nothing.


An eye is looking at an empty eye.

In the mirror of my mind I'm shaving nothing.


If we can't have it all must we insist

We'll have (like children misbehaving) nothing?


Alone, we wrote these lines on shifting sands,

Wore fingers to the bone engraving nothing.

a sonnet (2011)

No tarter tongue has ever wrung
The peace and quiet from my mind.
So highly strung, she was among
The most unhappy of her kind.
At times she clung to me and hung
As if I were her sole support.
When her mood swung the words she flung
Would leave me gasping in retort.
It was as if a wounded soul
Inhabiting her flesh and bone
Restlessly sought to wrest control
Over a self not quite her own,
A soul nobody could console,
Unknowable, best left alone.


-- back to Urdu/Hindi page -- FWP's main page --