Translation - Kahte Hai Jeete Hain Umeed Pe Log (Ghalib)

ishq taasir se naumeed nahin
jaan-sipaarii sajar-e-biid nahin

Line 1/2 - Love is not disappointed by its impression/effect. Surrendering of life is not like a willow tree. The poet says that passion and love is not disappointed by its (lack of) effect. It is still hopeful that it will lead to fruition. Surrendering or sacrificing your life in path of love is unlike a willow tree which does not bear fruit. My love and my sacrifice will lead to success not like the willow tree that grows high and mighty but bears no fruits.

saltanate dast-bah-dast aai hai
jaam-e-mai kaatim-e-jamshed nahin

Line 3/4 - The empire has come from hand to hand. The cup of wine is not the seal of Jamshed. This is complicated to interpret. Jamshed the king used to have a special wine cup in which he can see the future. The first lines says that the reign of the empire goes from hand to hand. Hand to hand could mean being passed around by say inheritance (from father to son) or by show of hands (forcefully). So the empire passes from one person to another. But the cup of Jamshed is not the seal of his empire.The fabled cup of Jamshed is not like his seal which will be passed on from one ruler to another. This cup was only Jamshed to be and after him no one will get to have it.

hai tajalli tiriii saamaan-e-wajood
zarra be-partav-e-khurshid nahin

Line 5/6 - This radiance/splendor of yours is the reason for existence. The grain of sand is not without the reflection of the sun. The poet says referring to the God, that your manifestation and splendor is the cause/reason for the existence of everything. The greatness of Him is the reason for anything and everything to exist. Like the minuscule grain of sand that reflects the rays of the sun. Even the countless and unremarkable grains of sand shows His brilliance by reflecting the sun rays and showing that they too are part of His divine workings.

raaz-e-mashooq na rausva ho jaye
varna mar jaane mein kuch bhed nahin

Line 7/8 - The secret of the beloved does not become revealed/exposed. Otherwise there is no secret in dying. The poet says there is no mystery in dying. I would have sacrificed myself any day. The only reason I am no doing so is that my death would expose or reveal the secrets of my beloved and I do not want that to happen. My sudden death will raise questions and people may ultimately link it back to my beloved and some unwanted and unpleasant secrets could be exposed which I do not want. 'Bhed' also in commonplace language means difference. And this gives a dramatically different view. There is no difference in dying. The pain and agony of love makes living same as dying. The only reason I prefer living is that my death (due to the agony of love) will bring disrepute to the my beloved who is secret.

gaardish-e-rang-e-tarab se darr hain
gham-e-mahrumi-e-jaaviid nahin

Line 9/10 - I fear from the revolving/turning around of the colors of joy. I have no fear from the sorrow of eternal deprivation. The poet says I am fearful of the slow turning manner of the joy. One moment one think he is happy and slowly the feeling winds down. I fear this slowly turning around of emotions from joy to sadness. I do not fear the grief of living in everlasting neediness or want for one does not get these rhythms of joy and sadness in it. Life of never-ending want is easy to live then one where joy gives way to distressing sorrow. There is another interpretation possible. Suppose these lines are said in a reply to someone as a mild censure - You fear the turning around of joy to sorrow. But not the life of endless want! How come? Do you not know that life of eternal want is many times dreadful than one where joy slowly winds down.

kahte hai jeete hain umeed pe log
hum ko jeene ki bhi umeed nahin

Line 11/12 - They say that people live on hope. For we do not hope even for living. The poet says that people live on hope. As long as they are alive, they are hopeful of something. For them to be alive means to be hopeful, having a hope. But for us, we do not have any hope. Not even hope of living, leave aside living on hope. It a cyclical play of words that come out very well.

Meaning of difficult words -
taasir = impression, effect
sipaarii = surrender, sacrifice
sajar-e-biid - willow tree
dast = hand
kaatim - seal/stamp or finger ring
tajalli = manifestation, splendor, brilliance
tirii = yours
samaane-e-wajood = reason for existence
partav = reflection
khurshid = sun
rusva = dishonored, despondent
bhed = secret, mystery. difference
gaardish = turning round, adversity
tarab = joy
mahrumi-e-jaaviid = eternal deprivation

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