Translation - Koi Umeed Bar Nahi Aati (Ghalib)

koi umeed bar nahin aati
koi soorat nazar nahin aati

Line 1/2 - I do not see any hope in living. There is no solution in sight. Ghalib in his works has frequently touched upon this theme, that life is a continuous meaningless struggle that will end only with only when life itself ends. The second line could also mean I recall no face in my thoughts. He could be referring to his Love or God as he was disillusioned in both.

maut ka ek din mu'ayyan hai
neend kyun raat bhar nahi aati

Line 3/4 - Death is definite one day. It has to come someday certainly to everyone. But why can't I sleep in the night. Why am I so restless when I know that the end will be same for all irrespective of wealth, luck or actions?

aage aati thi haal-e-dil pe hasee
aab kisi baat par nahi aati

Line 5/6 - Earlier I was able to laugh at the dilemma of my heart. But now I am unable to laugh at anything. Ghalib is saying that the optimism and cheerfulness of youth has given way to the anguish and the despair of old age.

jaanta hoon sawaab-e-taa'at-o-zahad
par tabiyat idhar nahin aati

Line 7/8 - Though I know the benefits and rewards of devotion and religious duty, but I am in no mood of it. It's not in my temperament these days. Ghalib taking aim at the religious clergy that constantly preaches of religious deeds/devotion so that they are rewarded of good life in the next life.

hai kuch aisee hi baat jo chup hoon
warna kya baat kar nahin aati?

Line 9/10 - This is such a matter that it is better to be quiet. Otherwise there is no such thing which I can not speak of. Ghalib reckons that it is prudent for him to not talk of religious matters as he may offend people who may think what a non-practicing Muslim knows about religion.

kyon na cheekhon ki yaad karate hain
mere awaaz gar nahin aati

Line 11/12 - Why shouldn't I yell with joy at those old glorious days. But my voice fails to produce a sound. The overbearing state of mine has devoid me of any respite that I could get by recalling old fond memories.

daag-e-dil gar nazar nahin aata
boo bhi aye chaaraagar! nahin aati

Line 13/14 - Though nobody can see the wound of my heart, but the wound is festering and yet the healer does not come. Ghalib again questions the faith and says that he is a tortured soul searching for answers, yet the higher powers have not provided him any comfort.

hum wahan hain jahaan se humko bhi
kuch humari khabar nahin aati

Line 15/16 - I am in such a situation right now, from where even I am unable to get any news of myself. The sadness, the sorrow has covered his self to an extent that he is not able to hear his inner self. He bemoans the hopelessness of the existence where the sorrow and grief have overtaken the sense of being.

marte hain aarzoo mein marne ki
maut aati hai par nahin aati

Line 17/18 - I am dying of impatience in hope of death. Death arrives, but it does not. Ghalib depicts the human condition when faced with adversity or alienation that leads to a sense of despair.

kaaba'a kis munh se jaaoge 'ghalib'
sharm tumko magar nahin aati

Line 19/20 -How will you go to Kaaba? O Ghalib! You do not have any shame left. How will you face the Mecca? Ghalib humbly accepts that he has not lived his life according to the faith. This is opposite to so many verses where he questions his faith and methods of the religion. In a way, he is probably mocking himself as to how he will go there and not necessarily regretting his ways.

Meaning of difficult words:-
sawaab = reward of good deeds in next life
taa'at = devotion
zahad = religious deeds or duties
mu'ayyan = definite
chaaraagar = healer

Read more posts on Ghalib.


  1. Masha Allah! Nicely translation and exlplained.

    Understanding 'Ghalib' sahab need dedication and deep thinking.


  2. Kaise chupaun raaz-e-gham deeda-e-tar ko kya karun
    Dil ki tapish ko kya karun soz-e-jigar ko kya karun

    Shorish-e-aashiqi kahaan aur meri saadgi kahaan
    Husn ko tere kya kahun apni nazar ko kya karun

    Gham ka na dil mein ho guzar vasl ki shab ho yun basar
    Sab ye qubool hai magar khauf-e-sehar ko kya karun

    Haal mera tha jab batar tab na hui tumhen khabar
    Baad mere hua asar ab main asar ko kya karun
    pls can u explain in english

  3. @anon.

    Thanks for a comment. Here is a very simple translation of the above lines!

    How to hide this secret grief, what to do of wet eyes?
    what to do of the passion of the heart, what to do of the passion of liver?

    Where the madness/confusion of love is? and where my simplicity is?
    What to say of your beauty, what to do of my glances?

    There is no passing of grief in heart, the night of meeting passed like this
    We accept all this, but what to do of the fear of the morning?

    When my state was bad (batar??), then there was no news from you
    After me you realised, now what am I to do of that realisation?

  4. Thanks Rahul for such an amazing explanation.Completely demystified the deep thinking of Galib Sahab.I was able to enjoy the Gazal in much more profound way.