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Ghazal (Untitled) -- Ghalib

Guest poem sent in by seema bhakthan nair
(Poem #1160) Ghazal (Untitled)
 Even in prayer, we are so unfettered and self-examining;
 In case the door of Kabla was not open, we would just come back
 (instead of knocking and seeking admittance)

 Everyone accepts your claim for being unique,
 No idol, reflecting you as a mirror, can come face to face with you

 The compliant which does not reach the lips leaves a mark on the heart;
 The drop of water that fails to become a river is simply food for dust on

 If, at the time of telling, blood does not flow from each eyelash,
 The story would not be of love merely (but simply as) the story of Hamza.

 If it cannot see the entire Tigris in a drop and the whole in a part,
 Such an eye would merely be a child’s game, not the eye of a wise man
-- Ghalib
        (Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan)

Note: A literal translation from "Ghazals of Ghalib - versions from the
Urdu", edited by Aijaz Ahmad.

Translations might not be the best way to read and comprehend Ghalib but
nonetheless each couplet in this ghazal has the strength to stand-alone and
spur thought that carries us deep into ourselves. The last couplet I thought
summarizes the essence of the ghazal, quite well. Seeing the whole in the
part, of part being the whole, of the part being nothing if it does not
signify the whole.

My favourite parts are, of prayer being reduced to another effort of man’s
justifications of existence and about how the power of a love story and
oneness is not really powerful enough unless it brings bloods flowing as

Pure, mad passion. Ghalib for you.


[Martin adds:]

Being unfamiliar with ghazals, I took the unusual step of asking the
discussion group for suggestions and useful links before I ran this. Many
thanks to Gary Blankenship and Salima Virani for their help and input. The
comments after the last four links are Gary's.

  [broken link]
    links to a biography of Ghalib and a definition. Seema notes that while
    the biography is uncredited, it is by Aijaz Ahmad, from the foreword of
    "Ghazals of Ghalib"
    a zine for ghazals, the link above is to their link page and actually the
    only one you need
    a good essay, also with good links
    perhaps the best essay

  and [broken link]
    for what is a list of oriental links without one by Jane Reichhold

36 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

David Hamilton said...

I love Ghalib's poetry especially the musical rythm which of course one can
feel intensely when listening to his ghazals sung.

I have a couple of questions about this poem. He refers to Kabla. Does
anyone know what or where this is? Also I am wondering if Hamza refers to
Mohammed's uncle?


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