Translation - Dil Hi To Hai Na Sang (Ghalib)

dil hi to hai na sang-o-khisht dard se bhar na aaye kyon?
royenge ham hazaar baar, koi hamein sataaye kyon?

dair nahin, haram nahin, dar nahin, aastaan nahin
baithe hain rehguzar pe ham, ghair hamein uthaaye kyon?

jab woh jamaal-e-dil_faroz, soorat-e-meher-e-neem_roz
aap hee ho nazzaara_soz, parde mein munh chupaaye kyon?

dashna-e-ghamza jaan_sitaan, naawak-e-naaz be_panaah
tera hee aks-e-rukh sahee, saamne tere aaye kyon?
       
qaid-e-hayaat-o-band-e-gham asl mein dono ek hain
maut se pehle aadmee gham se nijaat paaye kyon?

husn aur uspe husn_zan rah gayee bulhawas ki sharm
apne pe 'eitmaad hai, ghair ko aazmaaye kyon?

wahan wo ghuroor-e-iz'z-o-naaz yaaN yeh hijaab-e-paas-e-waz'a
raah mein ham mile kahaan, bazm mein wo bulaaye kyon?

haan wo naheen khuda_parast, jaao wo be_wafa sahi
jisko ho deen-o-dil 'azeez, uskee galee mein jaaye kyon?

'ghalib'-e-khasta ke baghair kaun se kaam band hain?
roiye zaar-zaar kya, keejiye haay-haay kyon?

Line 1/2 - The poet says it is only a heart and not some stone and bricks. Why will it not fill up with pain? With a sense of aggravated injury/anguish, the poet aggrieve that I am not made of stone and bricks that I don't feel pain. Even my cup of pain brims. I will cry a thousand times. Why does someone want to keep tormenting me? The second line echoes the first line provoked sense of injustice in saying that I am crying endlessly for I am being subjected to torment. The couplet as with Ghalib most works can be directed at the beloved or at the rigors of the existence where each passing day brings new misery. 

Line 3/4 - The poet says it is not a temple, nor a mosque. It is neither a door, nor a home. It is a pathway (public road) that I am sitting on, why are the others making me get up? This couplet though simple can take multiple connotation, each elegant in it own way. Ghalib says that he is not in the temple, nor inside the mosque thus independent of any religious affiliations. Also he is not inside a household or a door thus free from the drudgery of married life and household and social mores. No one can accuse him of religious impropriety or trespassing, instead he is deliberately sitting on the public road and no one can remove him from here now. In just two lines, he has aimed at religious as well as social tie-ups and asked to be left alone in the middle of the street, with no faith and no relations or love. Why can't I live like this? Why do you not let me live, out here.. alone.. unloved? Simply brilliant!

Line 5/6 - The poet says when that beauty of yours is so brilliant that it shins up the admirer's heart. Your face is like the mid-day sun, radiant and beaming and eye-blinding You are the one who is worth seeing, so why do you hide your face in the veil? Again multiple interpretations can be put forth. The poet says that your beauty is such a treat to watch but why do cover it with a veil? It can also be argued that poet is saying that your beauty is so brilliant and radiant that any unworthy person seeing you will be blinded by it and hence you actually don't need to cover your face to protect your modesty for no unworthy can eye you directly. Ghalib being ghalib, one can also interpret that these lines are complaints to the Omnipotent one. Why does God need to hide his true self. Your one sight/miracle would be enough to make people go blind in devotion.

Line 7/8 - This is an absolute play on words. The poet says that with those dagger pointed amorous glances that literally take one's life away, those senses-pleasing grace, those haughty demeanor, those amorous behavior of yours is like rain of arrows from which there is no relief. The beloved with her subtle though flirty (not in a crude but as an artistic charm) and yet a bit overbearing manners evokes a deadly potency that there is no escaping them. The second line states that with such deadly charm, even the reflection of your beautiful face can not can not afford to come before you for it will be waylaid by its bewitching glance. Why do you risk yourself coming before the mirror and come face to face with it?

Line 9/10 - After couple of heavy worded sher, this is simple on words but meaty on meaning. The poet laments that prison of life and the chains of sorrow are both in fact essentially the same thing. Why would man be released from pain before death? Ghalib in its brutal nakedness of human existence says that prison of human existence, the endless misery of being is fundamentally same (derive from same source) as continuous pain that afflicts the mortal soul. It is not possible to not have sorrow/pain in this existence of ours. Both go hand in hand. So why would a person be freed from this drudgery before death? Why would one expect so? There is no escaping this pain in our lives and the only escape is the eventual death.

Line 11/12 - The poet says that beauty and on the top of it the smartness and intelligence that his beloved displays. The lusty stranger was able to keep his honour and not be ashamed. There is calm confidence on oneself, but why do you want to test the other? Ghalib says that his beloved is someone who is extremely beautiful not only physically but from the heart as well, and the intelligence and confidence she oozes that she does not get intimated by other watching her or be conscious of her mannerisms. Her supreme confidence (due to her personality) makes her indifferent to the surrounding so that the lusty admirer is able to ogle at her without the risk of being caught by her eyes and hence be ashamed. You have confidence in yourself, but why do you test the strangers/others?

Line 13/14 - The poet says over there, there is pride and vanity over the splendor and manners/grace. While over here there is modesty made possible due the respect and upright behavior. Where would we meet on the  road? Why would she call me to the social gathering that she is having. Ghalib aware of the stark social differences between him and his beloved comments that while there self-esteem prevails due to their mannerisms and splendor, over here its humble rectitude and self respect. The difference is so bare, that why would he be invited to the social meeting happening at her place and there is no place where they can meet on the road away from the prying eyes so as not to risk public embarrassment.

Line 15/16 - The poet says that yes she is not God-worshiper, she is unfaithful, agreed! One who loves his faith and his heart, why would they go to her street? Ghalib in conversation with some one (presumably the so called keepers of the faith/society). They warn the poet about his beloved's Godless ways and lack of devotion, besides doubting her faithfulness to him as well. The poet with a hint of irritation says that "agreed, she is not god-fearing and its fine if she is unfaithful as well. Why (those who so call love their heart and faith) why do they frequent her street?" Ghalib in other ways hinting that he does not care about his heart and his faith, for he will continue to go after his beloved but those so called moral custodians themselves are aware and maybe frequenting her street and yet preach the exact opposite to him.

Line 17/18 - Since the wretched Ghalib is not more, what worldly activities have come to stop? Why weep bitterly? Why wail about it now? Ghalib (now dead) says that the normal activities of the world are going on as before, despite the end of this miserable existence. So why do you weep and moan and make a big matter about. The pleasures and the sorrows and the daily grind and the hustle bustle of life is still there. Why do you unnecessarily lament my departure?

Meaning of difficult words -
sang = stone
khisht = brick
dair = temple
haram = mosque
dar = gate
aastaan = abode
rehguzar = pathway
jamaal = beauty
faroz = shining/luminous
meher = sun
neem_roz = mid day
nazzaara_soz = beautiful/worth seeing
dashna = dagger
ghamza = amorous glance
jaan_sitaan = destroying life
naawak = a kind of arrow
aks = image
hayaat = life
band-e-gham = chains of sorrow
nijaat = release/liberation
husn_zan = good opinion of a person
bulhawas = slave of passions/very greedy
'eitmaad = reliance/dependance
ghuroor = pride
iz'z-o-naaz = respect and beauty
hijaab = veil/modesty
paas = regard
waz'a = behavior
bazm = social gathering
parast = worshiper
deen = religion/faith
khasta = sick/injured
zaar-zaar = bitterly

Borges : The Approach to Al Mu'tasim (Summary)

For those who know Borges, knows what kind of density and imagination he packs in the magical and short tales he spins. I have not read much of his work but whatever I have has a certain sense of strangeness to it. A concept, a stretch of imagination that could be used as a construct to make bigger stories or can be left just an idea hanging there. I read another of his short works called "The Approach to Al Mu'tasim". This story is part of the bigger book called "The Ficciones". As with Borges, the focus is on an idea with not much of a prose to work on the idea. The obsession with whats real and what's not, with mirrors and labyrinths is very much in play. The foreword states that instead of writing huge books about an idea that can be stated in five minutes, a far better idea would be to assume that such huge book exists and then write a summary or commentary on them. This story is based on the similar construct. The writer assumes that such a book is already published and provides a commentary on it.

That imaginary book called "The Approach to Al Mu'tasim" set up in per-independent Bombay. The hero (a muslim) caught up in a communal riot, kills (or thinks he killed) a hindu. Fearing that he will be pursued, he runs to the edge of city. There he meets a wretched soul who raids graves for gold teeth. Shaken by the events, the hero decides to lose himself in the vastness of India. In this journey, the hero adopts the evil ways of the underclass. Here in these vile ways, he comes across a companion who has a sudden change of heart, "a certain moment of tenderness". He concludes that that guy is actually echoing someone else, a friend, or the friend of a friend. He deduces that somewhere in this earth, a person exists from whom the light emanates and this gets reflected to any person who gets in touch with him and some light gets on this person who in turn reflects it to whoever he comes across. And so his colleague also come across a person who had that light that came to him reflected by that One. He calls the One Al Mu'tasim. Thus the journey becomes one of a soul looking for that elusive light, which sometimes nearer made the divinity of the mortal soul more profound, but they were still the mirrors reflecting the true light. Finally the hero comes to a door, and behind a curtain is a shining light. He calls out for Al Mu'tasim and enters the door. The novel ends here.

In the footnote the author refers to the poem Mantiq ut-Tair (The Colloquy of the Birds) by the Persian mystic Mohammad ibn-Ibraham Attar. In the poem the king of birds, the Simurgh, drops one of his splendid feathers somewhere in the middle of China; on learning this, the other birds, tired of their age-old anarchy, decide to seek him out. They know that the king's name means 'thirty birds'. Setting out on epic journey, Thirty, purified by suffering, reach the great peak of the Simurgh. At last they behold him; they realize that they are the Simurgh and that the Simurgh is each of them and all of them.

Reading the footnote, the story becomes clear. The hero was Al Mu'tasim. The seeker was the one that was being sought. The search for truth becomes the search for one's identity. The travails of the life reflected on him incrementally to make him the one. Each experience, each moment, each meeting contributed in making him a complete perfect man, The Al Mu'tasim. In a way Borges uses an actual poem and an imaginary novel to come up with an idea on search for one's identity. The one that we do not see on the mirror everyday. The one who though not visible in the clarity of the mirror, yet shins out so brilliant that its reflects its brilliance all around. Where one loses oneself into enormity to discover oneself. Where the searcher takes the iota of the sought slowly by slowly to ultimately become one that is being sought. As Nietzsche puts it, when you stare at the abyss it stares back at you. As you know about things, you take a piece of it and ultimately become a part of it. Come to think of it, each one of us is the God and god is each One of us. 

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain V










Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose,
And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.



This is the fifth quatrain of the Fitzgerald's The Rubaiyat. Unlike the last four where the passing of timeand change was significant, like the change from night to day or change of seasons, this quatrain can be interpreted as one where time passes, but some wonders remain (nature) and some become relics of the past. Time does not wait, it  just passes by bulldozing the crowning human achievements and demigods by the wayside but the humble and seemingly and ordinary ways of nature continue.

The quatrain first two lines mentions that Iram is lost and with it all its glory is also gone forever and Jamshid's fabled seven ringed cup (Jam-e-Jam) has been forgotten. Iram was an ancient city in Arabia that served as a trading post and consequently come to be known as a opulent city. The reputation of the city fell in later times and the city was abandoned and is now only mentioned as a footnote in the history books. King Jamshid (according to Persian mythology) was among the greatest king the world has ever seen. He owned a mythical cup (Jam-e-Jam) that was said to contain the elixir for immortality and one could see the entire universe by looking into it.The king later lost his glory as he become full of pride and lost the blessings of God. The next two lines state that even though the glories of the kings and the magnificence of human race has been lost in time, yet the ordinary garden by the river is still there blooming and the old vineyard is still producing those ruby shaped grapes. The banality of nature has outlived the grandeur of human existence. All human endeavors ultimately will be forgotten and will be outlived and survived by simple ways of nature. The critical element again as in last quatrains is time, not the change the time brings but the constantness of nature with time.

Translation - Ishq Mujhko Nahin (Ghalib)

ishq mujhko nahin, wehshat hi sahi
meri wehshat, teri shohrat hi sahi

qata`a keeje na ta`alluq ham se
kuch nahin hai to `adaavat hi sahi

mere hone mein hai kya ruswaaee?
'ei woh majlis nahin khalwat hi sahi

ham bhi dushman to nahee hain apne
ghair ko tujh se mohabbat hi sahi

apni hastee hee se ho, jo kuch ho!
aagahee gar nahin ghaflat hi sahi

'umr harchand ke hai barq-e-khiraam
dil ke khoon karne ki fursat hi sahi

ham koi tarq-e-wafa karte hain
na sahi ishq, museebat hi sahi

kuchch to de 'ei falak-e-na_insaaf
aah-o-fariyaad ki rukhasat hi sahi

ham bhee tasleem kee khoo daalenge
be_niyaazee teree `aadat hi sahi

yaar se cheda chalee jaay, 'Asad'
gar nahu wasl to hasrat hi sahi

Meaning of difficult words:
wehshat = madness/horror
shohrat = fame
qata'a = break/intercept
ta'alluq = relation/connection
'adaavat = hatred/animosity
majlis = assembly
khalwat = isolation
hastee = existence
aagahee = knowledge/information
ghaflat = negligence
harchand = every moment
barq = lightning
khiraam = manner of walking
tarq = relinquishment
falak = sky
tasleem = greeting/saluting
khoo = habit
be_niyaazee = independence
wasl = meeting
hasrat = desire

Line 1/2 - The beloved addressing the lover says there is no love between us and your feelings towards me are not love. The poet replies let it be madness then and let my madness be the cause of your fame. The lover is willing to go mad in quest for his love even though the love is unrequited. Even his madness, he wishes would bring more fame to his beloved. He wants the best for his lover irrespective of his love is returned or not.

Line 3/4 - Don't break of the relationship/ties between you and me. Even if nothing remain between us, then let the enmity remain. The poet is not willing to let go of his beloved. He laments that don't sever the ties, but if you do then let us be enemies. In that way, you will not wither away from my mind but will be a strong feeling in my thoughts even if those thoughts are of enmity.

Line 5/6 - What is this displeasure that you are showing in my presence? If you don't like it here (in the public assembly place), then meet me alone someplace isolated. The poet aware that his beloved my not be keen on exposing our relationship to public sphere, pleads that she can meet him alone, away from the prying eyes.

Line 7/8 - The poet says that I am also not enemy of my own self. So what if a total stranger is in love with you. This seems to be a simpler couplet, yet thinking it multiple times one can argue that the poet says that he is not enemy with his inner self (his alter-ego), so what if the alter-ego is in love with you. He has nothing to worry about. The physical self is satisfied with his metaphysical self being in love with his beloved.

Line 9/10 - This is the jewel of this ghazal. The poet says that whatever you are, it is because of your being/self. If one is not aware of this eternal truth, then let there be ignorance. In an existentialist streak, Ghalib says that being/self defines the essence of life. It precedes it. Your life, your actions will define what and how you will be known. If this fact is not being realized and understood by people, then let ignorance reign over the masses.

Line 11/12 - Life is passing by (moving forward) every moment like a lightning flash. Despite this, there is lot of time to engage in the rigors of love. The poet says that even in this short-lived life, its not small to be in love and occasionally sometimes to fail in love.

Line 13/14 - I am not the one who has given up on this relationship of ours. I still believe in it. If not love, then it be another torment/trouble. Ghalib says I am not questioning this relationship, but if there is no love left between us then let the torment remain. Let the misery and uncertainty continue to inflict my soul.

Line 15/16 - Give me at least something, O you unjust One (referring to God as Keeper of the unfair blue sky). Give me at least the right/permission to plead and appeal. Ghalib using simple imagery (like blue sky), in a cynical tone mocks to God to give him some hint of his impartiality or else give him the sanction to plea.

Line 17/18 - I will accept this habit. Even if this indifference of yours is a habit of yours. Ghalib says i will start accepting and continue bearing this habit/conduct without complaining. It's okay if this apathy towards me is your usual demeanor.

Line 19/20 - The poet says that this teasing and sweet-talking the beloved by Asad will finally end. Even if union is not possible, then let the desire remain at least. Ghalib says that this playfulness eventually will be no more, and if union is not there then let the unfulfilled desire remain.

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Shelly Beach, Manly

North Head, Manly