Translation - Nuktaacheen Hai Gham-e-Dil Usko Sunaaye (Ghalib)

nuktaacheen hai gham-e-dil usko sunaaye na bane
kya  bane  baat jahaan  baat  banaaye  na  bane

Line 1/2 - She is such a critic, the grief of the heart I am unable to recite to her. What would work out where a thing made up (an argument/story cooked up) has not been able to succeed. These lines from a delivery perspective in a gathering, has a nice tongue twisting qualities to it. The poet says she is such a complainer and a nitpicker that I have not been able to come up to her and recite to her the grief of my heart. What would succeed when made up & embellished lies are not able to impress her. What chance does the painful and sorrow tales of my heart have in succeeding. My beloved even censures the fancy stories that I tell her (about her generosity towards him). No point telling her the misery of my heart. I wonder what should I say that would work.

main bulaata to hoon  usko magar 'ei jazba-e-dil
uspe ban jaaye kuchch 'eisee ki bin aaye na bane

Line 3/4 - I do call her, but oh! the passion of heart. May something comes over her like that, that she can not endure not coming. The poet says I do call her to give me company but all I get is a disappointment and her indifference. If only somehow something could happen to her that she could not resist coming to me! The poet in his solitude and misery  personifies the only thing he knows will give him company and a patient ear while he waits for his lover which he knows will not come. you my torrid heart, my only friend!

khel samjha hai kaheen chod na de, bhool na jaay
kaash ! yoon bhee ho ki bin mere sataaye na bane

Line 5/6 - It's thought as a game, may (she) not abandon it, not forget about it. If only it would be that with out tormenting me she can not stand. The poet says this may appear cruelty to me, but for her its like fun!. But I am okay with this torment. In fact I enjoy it. May she not forget about it or abandon it. I wish that she would not be able to stand (live/succeed) without tormenting me. She is playing a game with me, but it's alright if she does not abandon her devices. I have began to take pleasure in them. If only somehow she can make it by tormenting me always. The poet longs for the attention of his beloved, the cruelty, the torment is better than the beloved's indifference. I wish we could keep it like that at-least.

ghair firta  hai liye yoon  tere khat ko ki agar
koee pooche ki yeh kya hai ? to chipaaye na bane

Line 7/8 - The other wanders around carrying like this your letter that if someone asks - what is this? then he would not be able (succeed) to hide it. The poet says my rival (his opponent for his beloved's favours) goes around the town, openly showing the letter that you wrote him. Such is his manner that if someone were to ask him, what is this? then he can't even hide. He would have to disclose who wrote it or worse still, read it out loud. He is not being discreet about receiving the letter from you, and openly flaunting it in a way that could bring you a bad name.

is nazaakat ka bura ho, woh bhale hain to kya
haanth aaye to unhain haanth lagaaye na  bane

Line 9/10 - May bad tidings/evil bestow on such elegance or delicateness. She is good & kind, so what. If she was to come to hand, then the hand would not able to be laid on her. The poet referring to beloved's behaviours says - to hell with this elegance and subtleness. May evil fall on such delicateness even though she is good and generous, so what! Her being kind would still not help for these delicate airs of her make even the act of laying hands on her impossible even if she ever was to come to hand. What good her coming to me would lead to when such elegance just frustrates any union.

keh sake kaun ki yeh jalwaa_garee kiskee hai
parda choda hai woh  usne ki uthaaye na bane

Line 11/12 - Who can say that whose is this splendour doing (act of). That one has lowered the veil that it is not able to be lifted. These are the best lines from the ghazal. Simple words yet many possible and contemplative themes. The poet says, who can tell whose acts of splendour this is? Whose brilliant manifestation this is? That manifested one, has lowered the veil/curtain that can not be lifted even if tried. Who can says whose demonstration or brilliant presentation this is? We do not know whose and we do not know who can tell us about that whom? That demonstration is yet another question (what has been displayed so brilliantly?). To all these questions, the second lines answers none and instead adds more questions. Who dropped the curtain? Maybe the splendour itself casts a veil on us by its brilliance or is it the doer that intentionally drops the veil. Referring to the Divine Beloved, the poet questions who can tell whose magnificence is this? The One has left behind this veil (the magnificence being mentioned is the world and its workings around us) that does not allow us to lift it up and see the True nature of the Divine. The veil has been intentionally left down so that we are unable to see that. In alternative reading the veil being inability of us (with no help from anyone in dropping the veil) to grasp the Divine and lift the veil of falsehood and mortality. As said earlier, it is a fairly obtuse lines and open to any line of thought!

maut kee raah na dekhoon ki bin aaye na rahe
tumko chaahoon ki na aao, to bulaaye na bane

Line 13/14 - In anticipation of death, I do not wait for it will not desist from coming. I want (desire) you for you won't come, then you won't be able to be called. The poet says it is useless to wait for death for it will always come. One will never get disappointed waiting for death for it will always come, it can't refrain itself from coming. I call you out to give me company, I desire you but you will not come. If you keep up with these refusals, then it would not be able for me to call you. If I request you to come and you do not come, then I do not have the power (or gumption) to call you again. Compare this with death that would come by even without asking and is so keen to come that it can't stop, but you my beloved! leave aside coming when I request, you leave me in such apathy and resignation that I find it impossible to call again. Death is a better beloved than you my dear!

bojh woh sar pe gira hai ki uthaaye na uthe
kaam  woh aan pada  hai, ki banaaye na bane

Line 15/16 - The burden that has fallen on the head, that having been lifted still won't get lifted. The work has come that having been done, would not become done. The poet says the burden has fallen on the head (what burden? its not specified), this unmovable and unmanageable burden that having tried lifting still would not budge. The task (again what task? its not mentioned) needs to be done, but having tried it to complete, would not complete. One can only guess what is being mentioned here, may be it is the rigors of an uncertain life, maybe the burden of life, maybe the specter of death itself but whatever is it, the realization of the burden comes one day and then the burden becomes unmovable after that. And with the realization of burden comes the realization that work needs to be done to make sense of the new situation, but whatever you do there is still something left to be done!

ishq par zor naheen, hai ye woh aatish 'ghalib'
ki  lagaaye  na  lage  aur  bujhaaye  na  bane

Line 17/18 - There is no control over love, this is that fire, Ghalib!. That having been lit, still does not burn and having been extinguished, it still does not go out. These are the most well known lines from this ghazal, no guess why!. The poet says love is a like a fire over which no one has any control. It is not in anyone's power to lit the flames of passion in someone's heart despite trying nor is it possible to extinguish the flames of passion from someone's heart despite trying. Fairly straightforward lines!!

Meaning of difficult words - 
nuktaacheen = critic/sweetheart
nazaakat = elegance
jalwaa_garee = manifestation, splendour
aatish = fire

Read more posts on Ghalib.