“Man-Bitten” Ghalib: introducing himself

Ghalib’s immortal and complex poetry transcends time and sometimes even the boundaries of human thought.

The translation of this ghazal was found in Mirza Ghalib – A Creative Biography by Natalia Prigarina. Cited as an apt self-introduction, this is a timeless composition brings together myriad facets and moods of Ghalib. What a fascinating post-modern ‘unpacking’ of the self (that too in the nineteenth century)!

Afraid of the Mirror

It is not possible that even by mistake
I should find ease and comfort
In the wilderness of grief, I am the deer
Which has espied the hunter

Mumkin naheen keh bhool kay bhi aarmeedah hoon
Mein dasht-e-gham mayn aahoo-e- sayyad deedah hoon

Whether by predestination or free will
I remain afflicted; sometimes
I am a long-drawn sigh
And sometimes a trickling tear

Hoon dardmand jabr ho yaa ikhtiar ho
Gaah naala-e-kasheedah, gaah ashk-e-chakeedah hoon

I have nothing to do with the rosary
Or with the wine bowl
In a dream, I am as one
Whose hands have been cut off

Neiy subbha sey alaaqa nah saaghir sey waastah
Mein ma’arz-e-masaal meyn dast-e-bareeda hoon

Being most humble
I bear enmity to none
I am neither a fallen grain
Nor a stretched-cut share

Hoon khaksaar par nah kissi sey haiy mujh ko laag
Neiy daana-e-fatadh hoon neiy daam-e-cheedah hoon

My value and my position
Are not what they should be
I am that Joseph
Who is sold to the first bidder

Jo chaahiye, naheen woh meri qadr-o-manzalt
Mein Yusuf-e-beqeemat-e-awwal khareedah hoon

There is no place for me
In the heart of any one
I am an eloquent speech
Which is so far unheard

Har gizz kissi kay dil meyn naheen haiy meri jagah
Hoon mein kalam-e-naghz walay na shuneedah hoon

My songs are prompted by delight
In the heat of my ideas
I am the nightingale
Of the flower-garden of the future

Hoon garmi-e-nishat-e-tasawwar sey naghmah sanj
Mein andleeb-e-gulshan-e-na aafreedah hoon

In the circle of the pious
I am contemptible
But in the company of sinners
I am the most select

Ahl-e-wara’a kay halqay meyn har channd hoon zaleel
Parr aasiyoon kay zumray meyn, mein bargazeedah hoon

O Asad as one bitten
By a dog fears water
So I, being man-bitten
Am afraid of the mirror

Paani sey sagg-gazeedah daray jiss tareh Asad
Darta hoon aeenay sey keh mardam-gazeedah hoon

Translations were done by Dr. Yusuf Husain

Image at the top from here

Published on February 26, 2007 at 6:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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