About the Book:
Ghalib (1797-1869) was the most intellectual poet and a versatile literary genius of his time. He was a great artist and possessed a vivid and dynamic personality. He had excelled in almost all branches of Persian poetry and prose. But his main field is Ghazals in which his colourful personality is fully projected. His Ghazals are characterised by the depth of thought and feeling, maturity of wisdom, original interpretation of reality awareness to problems of life, analogical expressions, humanism, liberalism etc. His Ghazals are the best expression of his poetic genius.
Now for the first time an exhaustive selection of PersianGhazals of Ghalib has been translated into English by Dr. Yusuf Husain. By his attempt to introduce the great genius of his age to the European world, Dr. Yusuf Husain has rendered a great service to the cause of Indo-Persian culture and literature. The book would create interest in scholars and writers to initiate this great poet of India, as has been done in cases of Khayyam, Sadi, Hafiz, Jami and others.
About the Author:
Dr. Yusuf Husain Khan is an author of more than two dozen books in Urdu, English and French, and has made an intense study of the works of Ghalib during the last 50 years. His critical work on this poet, Ghalib aur Ahang-i-Ghalib, is considered a work of highest merit on the subject. His contribution to the study of Urdu literature is also exemplified by his books like Ruh-i-Iqbal, Urdu Ghazal, and Hafiz aur Iqbal. He has also translated Urdu Ghazals of Ghalib into English which has earned him high acclaim, His translation of Ghalib's poetry retains the spirit of the poet's work, and at the same time is a faithful rendering of his actual words and phrases.
Ghalib was the most intellectual poet and a versatile literary genius of his time. He was a great artist and possessed a vivid and dynamic personality. He had excelled in almost all branches of Persian poetry and prose. But his main field is ghazal in which his colourful personality is fully projected. His ghazals are characterised by the depth of though and feeling, maturity of wisdom, original interpretation of reality, awareness to problem of life, analogical expressions, humanism, liberalism etc. his ghazals are the best expressions of his poetic genius.
Ghalib has often been criticised for creating intricacies in his poetry. This may be true in the sense that in him we find the philosophical profoundness of Bedil with complex imageries and thoughtful diction. But ghazals full of freshness, optimism and lucidity are not rare. A representative ghazal reads as under :
“If thou dost not believe,
In my anxious waiting, come!
Don’t produce lame excuses,
Don’t be quarrelsome, come!
“My heart cannot be gladdened,
With one or two gestures of oppression;
I swear in the name of my death,
That thou should come with all the provisions of time.
“Thou hast severed thyself from us,
And to others pledged thyself;
Yet come to us, since the promise
Of thy constancy is not binding.
“The nature of patience is more delicate
Than the disposition;
come to me-my hand and heart
Are growing numb through lack of use”.
Ghalib was an artist and has drawn attractive pictures of the beloved. His matchless art of portrayal is revealed in many a ghazal. In one of his ghazals he says :
“One whose coquettry,
Has the manners of an infidel,
Has robbed my heart of strength,
One of high stature with a short tunie.
“Like sudden death,
And like sweet life
Of little constancy.
With curling ringlets,
Wearing a musk coloured veil;
With the dazzling radiance of her body,
Wearing a golden mantle.
When receiving supplications,
Like Laila scornfully rejecting;
And in spite of Ghalib,
Ghalib’s ghazals indicate that he had full awareness to such matters as a man had to face in everyday life. In one line he states that learning and scholarship are such that their value cannot be fixed in terms of money or position. He ridicules the social conditions of the time in which people of little understanding occupied the position of authority and power. The line rune :
“Knowledge is independent of position,
Position is unaware of knowledge,
Thy gold (worth) is unfit for a touchstone,
While mine needs no touchstone (to test its worth).”
In another line we find a reference to the fluid social and political conditions of his age. The line runs :
“Whatever the gatherer of time,
Seized opening, he gave not back;
Whatever the writer of Fate wrote secretly,
He would not erase.”
Ghalib’s Persian ghazals have great ethical value. According to him man is the best creation; he should not debase himself at any cost; he should not accept gratification which results in self mortification. In one line he states that to a selfless person even the so-called auspicious shadow of Huma causes heaviness. In another line he says that Jamshid is to be followed in that he was a pleasure seeker and not in that he was a personification of pomp and grandeur. Again he gives a new interpretation to the allusions of Alexander to him, the former’s invention of mirror is based on his self glorification; while the later’s introduction of drinking is a healthy contribution to the advancement of human society.
Ghalib was not a mystic; but his poetry specially his ghazals are full of mystical thought. It is to be noted that in the treatment of mystical ideas he given new and original interpretation. In despising such themes, he has gone to the extent of despising the heavenly pleasures a faithful is destined to enjoy. Some of his lines remind us of an anecdote attributed to the eminent female suif saint Rabia of Basar. She is stated to pass through the bazar holding a burning candle in one hand and a glass of water in another. On somebody’s enquiry she is reported to have retorted that she would like to burn the paradise by the burning candle she was holding and extinguish the fire he hell with the water in the cup so that the people may have sincerity in their prayers. They should worship Allah in the manner He deserves to be worshipped and not in the hope of obtaining the pleasures of the paradise or securing immunity from the dreadful fire of the hell. One line runs as follows :
“So that none who cherishes his body
Might fall into the trap;
I wish there was no grain,
To bait the snare.”
Ghalib was a believed in the theory of unity of soul called “Wahdatul Wajud”. For example he says :
“Each smell requires,
A correct sense of smelling;
The smell coming from the garment (of Joseph)
Was correctly sensed in Kanan (by Jacob).”
In another line he says :
“The clue of His unity
Is found in His diversity,
To all the countless numbers,
The common figure is one.”
Again he says :
“O glorious manifestation of multicoloured hues,
Where art thou, after all? Here in this world,
Whatever sign of Thee was given
Has been wrong, yes, it was wrong.
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