Translation - Bazeecha-E-Atfaal Hai (Ghalib)

baazeechaa-e-atfaal hai duniya mere aage
hota hai shab-o-roz tamaasha mere aage

Line 1/2 - The poet says that this world (world in sense of its struggles and joys) in front of me is just a sport of children and nothing more to me. Every night and day, there is a spectacle (this world and its ways being one circus engaging everyone) in front of me. Ghalib in his brooding thoughts, makes a mockery of seemingly complex interplay of lives and situations and yet says what are these things to the infinitesimally complexity this universe portends. In a way, he shows a disdain for this world around us and for those who seem to be so involved/caught up with it they they forget that this world is just a filament in the grand scheme of things. To him these concerns are childish and not worthy of too much thought.

ik khel hai aurang-e-sulemaan mere nazdeek
ik  baat hai 'eijaz-e-maseeha mere aage

Line 3/4 - The poet says that for him, (in his view) the throne of King Solomon is a mere play. And the same can be said for the miracles of Messiah  They are just the same dramatics!. A bit of history about the fabled throne of King Solomon. The throne is said to have a series of mechanical contraptions to help the king light on the throne. It is quite a 'play' to watch the king take his high seat using just contrivances. Ghalib using this metaphor and says in his view, the throne and its fantastic workings is just a stage show. He continues that the miracles of the Messiah are just more or less the same thing (they are just ordinary and empty talk) and these don't enamor me for we have seen and heard about them so many times. Again an air of disdain for the workings of the world and scorn for ways of the world.

juz naam naheen soorat-e-aalam mujhe manzoor
juz waham naheen hastee-e-ashiya mere aage

Line 5/6 - This is a masterpiece! The poet says that I do not accept that the vision of his world is anything other than just a mere name. Similarly, in front of me the existence of things is nothing more than an illusion. Ghalib in his best and continuing the same tone, says that to him this world is just a mere name that seems to occupy all our lives and minds. In this enormity of cosmos, and in its creation and destruction our world would be just a name in it. I refuse to just be limited to it. I refuse to believe in this existence of things, of wordily matters, of earthly desires. These for me are illusions just to keep oneself bound to this wordily life.

hota hai nihaan gard mein sehara mere hote
ghisata hai jabeen khaak pe dariya mere aage

Line 7/8 - The desert hides itself in midst of the dust in my presence. The sea rubs its forehead in the dust in front of me. The poet says that the desert hides itself in the dust when it comes face to face with me and similarly the sea (seemingly using waves) rubs its forehead in the dirt in front of me. The irony being that the desert and sea are being what they are. They are not hiding from anyone of bowing in servitude. Using these imagery Ghalib again takes jabs at those who contrive stories of victories and subjugation and says those things are as fanciful as my scaring the desert and slaving the sea.

mat pooch ke kya haal hai mera tere peeche ?
too dekh ke kya rang hai tera mere aage

Line 9/10 - The poet says don't ask about what state I am in after you left me. You see what state/color you are in in front of me. Think of it like this this that Ghalib in his taunt to his former beloved who encounters her by chance in a public place and she inquires (though phony  about him to ward off this awkward situation. The poet says that don't bother to ask what has been my state since you left me. Instead he advises that you watch what state/color you are in currently.(probably she is blushing recalling the (not so innocent) times when she was with the poet)

sach kahte ho, khudbeen-o-khud_aaraa na kyon hoon ?
baitha hai but-e-aainaa_seemaa mere aage

Line 11/12 - What you say is correct, I am proud and arrogant/narcissist. Why should I not be! A mirror faced idol is sitting in front of me. This can be interpreted in multiple ways. Maybe the poet is in front of his beloved and says Why shouldn't he be haughty and egoistic  He is looking into the splendorous face of his beloved (her silver faced reflecting his image and he adoring himself in it). Why shouldn't he be proud of this?  She is such a treat! The other interpretation, obtuse though can be that he is referring to God and saying that Yes I am proud and arrogant! But so are you, the One who is sitting in front of me. You are same as me. (for I see myself in you silver mirrored face). My imperfections are same as your imperfections.

fir dekhiye andaaz-e-gul_afshaani-e-guftaar
rakh de koee paimaanaa-o-sahba mere aage

Line 13/14 - Look at my style of scattering flowers in speech, If someone places a glass of wine in front of me. Ghalib acknowledging his love for wine and the flourish it brings out in his speech says if someone was to place a glass of wine in front of him, then look at the my flourish of words in my speech (that look as if I am scattering flowers with my words). Pretty neat!

nafrat ka gumaan guzare hai, main rashk se guzaraa
kyon kar kahoon, lo naam na uska mere aage

Line 15/16 - The hatred of distrust and suspicion comes fore now. Same for the jealousy and envy. Both these emotions cover me up. How can I say to not take her name in front of me. In most literal sense, it means that when others talk of his beloved in his presence a sense of jealousy and hatred gets the better of him. He does not want to hear her name in the conversation because that would reveal his angst against his beloved. The other interpretation could be exact opposite, In it the poet says that the wave of envy and jealousy that gripped him has to come to pass now! There is no reason for him to stop people from mentioning her name in front of him anymore.

imaan mujhe roke hai jo khinche hai mujhe kufr
ka'aba mere peeche hai kaleesa mere aage

Line 17/18 - The poet says that the faith holds me back, while impiety pulls me. The Kaaba is behind me, while the church is in front of me. Ghalib says that all his talk of competing religious propriety is just confusing him. What is piety? What is impiety? I am being equally pulled in both direction. They are saying one way leads to righteousness and other way leads to impiousness, but all I can see is a holy Kaaba behind me and an equally holy church in front to me. In simple two lines Ghalib has blasted the hyper-competing religiosity that claims one faith is better then other. He says for him both are true to his soul and needs to be respected.

aashiq hoon, pe maashooq_farebee hai mera kaam
majnoon ko bura kehti hai laila mere aage

Line 19/20 - I am a lover, but my occupation is to fool innocent beloveds. Even Laila speaks bad about Majnoon in front of me. In a simple reading, The poet admits that he is a vile and a wicked lover whose task it to poison the minds to beloveds against their genuine lover to an extent that even Laila says ill of Majnoon in his presence. In a way he uses his vile ways to gain confidence of beloveds to such an extent that they share not so complimentary things about their lover.

khush hote hain par wasl mein yon mar naheen jaate
aayee shab-e-hijaraan ki tamanna mere aage

Line 21/22 - We are happy, but we do not die like this during the union, The desire of the night of separation came before me. This is a bit obtuse, but can be interpreted as somehow the poet has been united with his beloved (unexpectedly), and in that moment of union, he dies of the joy of being together (figuratively). The poet says no one dies like this during the union, it seems like  his wishes of dying on the night of their separation came true. Those sad desire have been answered!

hai mauj_zan ik qulzum-e-khoon, kaash, yahee ho
aata hai abhee dekhiye kya-kya mere aage

Line 23/24 - The sea of blood is agitating and shaking! (with waves), may it be like that! Let us see what else comes before me now!. Another obtuse one! Not really sure when this was written but it could be Ghalib's commentary on rising storm of 1857. The poet says that a bloody storm is rising on the horizon pregnant with energy and agitation. I hope it is this storm. Lets see what result this storm brings now! Alternatively, the poet could mean this love and torment has made him shed tears of blood that have collectively become a sea of blood agitated and vigorous  The poet says that let see what this torment brings to him going forward.

go haath ko jumbish naheen aanhon mein to dam hai
rehne do abhee saaghar-o-meena mere aage

Line 25/26 - Although there is no movement in the hand, my eyes still have life. Keep the wine goblet before me as it is. Ghalib says that though he can not move his hands (obviously because he is so drunk), yet his eyes can still fathom. So do not remove the wine goblet from in front of me yet! Keep it as it is. I can still drink it from my eyes.

ham_pesha-o-ham_masharb-o-ham_raaz hai mera
'ghalib' ko bura kyon kaho achchaa mere aage !

Line 27/28 - He is my confidant, as well as my partner in booze and my co-worker. Why do you criticize Ghalib in front of me! In a middle of conversation someone is criticizing Ghalib though this person has not seen the poet, Ghalib defends Ghalib saying why do you criticize him. He is my co-worker, my drink partner and my confidant. He is always good in front of me.

Meaning of difficult words -
baazeechaa = play/sport
atfaal = children
aurang = throne
'eijaz = miracle
juz = other than
aalam = world
hastee = existence
ashiya = things/items
nihaan = hidden
gard = dust
sehara = desert
jabeen = forehead
khudbeen = proud/arrogant
khud_aaraa = self adorer
but = idol
aainaa_seemaa = like the face of a mirror
gul_afshaanee = to scatter flowers
guftaar = speech/discourse
sahaba =  wine, esp. red wine
gumaan = distrust
rashk = envy
kufr = impiety
kaleesa = church/cathedral
farebee = a fraud/cheat
hijr = separation
mauj_zan = exciting
qulzum = sea
jumbish = movement/vibration
saaghar-o-meena = goblet
ham_pesha = of the same profession
ham_masharb = of the same habits/a fellow boozer
ham_raaz = confidant

Read more posts on Ghalib.

1 comment:

  1. please take a look at my translation:

    Mat pooch ke kya haal hai mera teray peechey
    Tu dekh ke kya rang tera meray aage

    Do not look at the colors draining from me after you leave
    Just look at the colors filling you up just by my presence
    (Why ask others, how colorless I seem without you
    you must see the range of colors I paint you with/
    you must see how colorful you become in front of me
    sometimes I believe that Assadullah was talking to Ghalib
    his name in this couplet praising himself for creating Ghalib)

    I am sorry if any of my understanding offends someone. I apologize in advance.
    for complete translation read here