dard-e dil likhun kab tak, jaun un ko dikhla dun
ungliyan figar apni. Khama (h) khunchukan apna
For how long shall I write about the angush of the heart?
Instead. I should go and show her
My wounded fingers and the blood-dripping pen.
Dr Sarfarãz K. Niazi has been teaching for over 30 years and has published several books. texts and articles on scientific, philosophical and literary topics. His father Allama Niaz Fatehpuri was a renowned author and critic of the Urdu language. Dr Nazi lives in Deerfield, Illinois.
Dr Farmn Fatehpuri, who formerly held a chair of Urdu at Karachi University, is a scholar of Urdu ‘and the author of scores of books (several on Ghãlib). He is also the editor of a comprehensive dictionary of Urdu and a renowned authority on the subject. He lives in Karachi, Pakistan.
Sadequain a renowned artist and a fan of Ghälib, created ome 20 works dealing with his own interpretation of Ghãlib’s verses, some of which are presented here. Sadequain developed a unique Lyle of abstract presentation and brought the calligraphy of Quranic verses to such an expressive level that they now adorn many revered places.
Mirza Ghgalib is to the Urdu language what William Shakespeare is to the
English language. And the most widely read Urdu book in the world is a collection of the love sonnets of hahb. These sonnets resonate with the voices of maestros through the corridors of history. Gãlib is not just an Asian phenomenon and his sonnets are loved and studied worldwide. Ranking with the likes of
Oran Khayyam and Rumi, his sonnets promise to win the hearts of millions, and because of their reflections associated with love and loving they are, and always will be, universal. Now, for the first time, the complete collection of the love sonnets of Galib has been translated into English by Dr Sarfaraz K. Niäzi. Artistic renditions by Asia’s most famous artist, Sadequain. Beautifully depict the themes and aura of some of these timeless verses.
The most widely read book in the Indian Subcontinent next to the Gita and Qur’an, representing one-fifth of the world population, is Divan-e-Ghalib, the collection of Urdu love sonnets by the 19th century poet, Ghalib. The sonnets of Ghãlib resonate in the voices of maestros from street-side cafes to elegant courtly palaces throughout Asia, making Ghalib a poet of the people. hä1ib is not merely an Asian phenomenon; scores of scholars from Moscow University to the University of Chicago have based their doctoral theses on the style and thoughts of Ghalib; they have critiqued his style and compared him to the best poets of the world: Rumi, Sa’adi, Haflz, Shakespeare, Shelley, Pope. Those who have grown up in the Indian Subcontinent or who have ever lived there cannot avoid exposure to Ghalib’s verses in their daily lives. Required reading in schools and colleges, Ghalib is labored upon by millions trying to decipher the mystery and magic of his two-line couplets that range from spontaneous expression to extremely complex and convoluted poetic thoughts that but a few can visualize, let alone understand. Regardless of the simplicity or difficulty encountered in his verses, nothing is ever straightforward; there are nuances, there are similes, there are traps hidden in every couplet that Ghalib wrote. This is part of what makes him so challenging to read and so thrilling to understand.
Love Sonnets of Ghalib is the first complete English translation, placation, lexicon, and transliteration of Ghalib’s Urdu love sonnets. The difficulties in translating across cultures and languages were overcome by including a detailed explication, keeping the translation on a literal level because of the pragmatic difficulties of a rhyming translation, though several have been attempted. A detailed glossary of terms and lexicon is included in the book to clarify oft-repeated themes that might be new to some readers. Notably, the glossary contains many compound words created by Ghalib that require special
clarification. This book can serve as a reference for readers of Ghãlib’s Urdu ghazis in any language. Those able to read the Urdu script are abetted in understanding word meanings and their subtle nuances as used by Ghãlib. The transliteration aids with pronunciation and the use of izafat or connections between letters. The transliteration is also of benefit to those who are not fluent in Urdü script, and this falls in line with transliteration in other scripts such as Hindi, Bengal, etc. A book of this scope could not have been written without the help, motivation, and assistance of many people. Foremost here was the encouragement given to me by Dr Farman Fatehpür7, the most widely recognized Urdü scholar of our time When I showed him my limited work years ago, he patiently read every word and while encouraging me to improve on it, he challenged me by asking why no one had yet published a complete translation and explication as I was contemn-plating? The answer was that it would present an undertaking of mammoth proportions. I accepted this challenge, and whenever I came up against an obstacle, I returned to Dr Farman Fatehpüri, who assured me I could do this if I studied the dictionaries well and not relied upon the interpretations of others, who may have assumed many meanings. As it turned out, as I looked up just about every difficult word in the dictionaries published in Ghãlib’s time, I was able to identify many differences in the Urdü authoritative texts that did not conform to present-day dictionaries. I read through most available Urdü explanations of Ghãlb’s Urdü poetry authored by renowned scholars, I poured over most of the works published on Ghãlib in English, including sporadic translations, rhyming and literal, as well as other books written by the Western and Eastern authors on the subject of South Asian poetry. I consulted with the faculty teaching Urdü and Persian in American universities and had the rare opportunity of having my long-time friend and associate, Vidã Salehi, a published Persian poetess herself, review and critique my choice of words in the translation and explication sections. She also secured for me old Persian literature by traveling to Iran to help understand some of the most complex compound constructions in Ghalib’s work. She also took on the most difficult and patient task of teaching me Persian and demonstrated to me the difference between “raft” and “band,” as Ghãlib would have liked to see it done. I am also thankful, in a very special way, to my long-time confidant and friend Siam Khan, who, in her own way, helped me understand the meaning of many verses.
Many obligations are due to Di: Farman Fatehpüri, my life-time mentor, for writing the Introduction and for his affectionate style that inspired me with the energy I needed badly to complete this work.
This was a labor of love for me. It took several years to complete, having undergone scores of revisions. The fine editing and critique by Subunit Sultan was pivotal in identifying the errors in transliteration, grammatical issues in the explication and translation. The detailed editing by Karl Monger was exemplary. My incessant critic Gulafihan did more than just pursue me in completing this work—she made sure that I did it. My friend Steven E. Shear’s appreciation of this work was important to me. Many others have assisted me with their labour and suggestions including Arshad Pahattak, who worked on the digital files, Sims noshed, who typed the most difficult section on transliteration. My brother Riãz, who diligently poured over the glossary and lexicon section. Above all, I am thankful to my family, who endured through the trials and tribulations of writing this book that resulted in the inevitable transformation of Saiñrãz K. Niazi from an ordinary mortal into a Ohalib addict. Alain Dc Botton’s, “How Proust Can Change Your Life” can be easily replicated for “How Ghãlib Can Change Your Life.” How the thoughts of Ghãlib affect the lives of his readers is remarkable as I experienced it the hand. I am deeply indebted to Dr. Frances Pitched at Columbia University for offering many suggestions to me along with her continuous admonishing that a perfect translation of Ghãlib’s verses into English cannot exist. I
agreed with her and it was this clear appreciation that made me combine a literal translation with explication to achieve my design.
I am thankful to Sultan Ahmed, nephew of Sadequain and heir to the works of Sadequain, for giving me permission to reproduce the works of Sadequain in this book that are surely rare and totally delightful. I am thankful to the editors at Rupa & Co., for their incessant efforts in making this work as error-free as possible and for the appreciation of Rupa and Co., for bringing this work to the readers.
Whereas many people and institutions have helped me correct the mistakes in the book, it is inevitable that a work of this nature cannot be error-free; any remaining errors are altogether mine, however. I hope that the readers of this book will be kind enough to point these errors to me and offer their suggestions on improving this work for future editions. I can be reached at [email protected], or though Rupa & Co. or Ghalib Academy of America. The translation put forth in this book qualifies for a literal translation wherein I have tried to capture the subtleties of the construction of thought. The choice of words may often seem abrupt but it remains an accurate reflection, as best I could come up with, of how the verse had been written—subtle, and often abrupt. I have translated the couplets into two lines, which may or may not be joined. In the case of continuous thought with no need for a pause, the two lines form a single sentence but with the capitalization of the first letter of the second line. in some instances, a pause was necessary and it was provided by a comma, hyphen, or a semicolon. In Persian and Urdu, there is no capitalization of words; as a result, all transliteration is in lower case except for proper names, merely for ease in reading rather than for correctness of transliteration. The Glossary and Lexicon section contains a dictionary and a description of various topics. In arranging it, I have followed the serial order of the Urdu alphabet. The delicate and deliberate choice of addressing the beloved as female was made despite many objections that can be rightfully raised since in Urdu poetry, the beloved is traditionally addressed as either male or as a neutral gender, the latter more in line with the lack of gender differentiation found in Persian. The fact that in some instances, the beloved is a male is elaborated in the explication section.
Great poets are distinguished by their thought and diction—ready hallmarks are but two of the many qualities shared by great poets. if we examine the classical Urdñ poetry from the times of Wall to Iqbãl (from the first poetry to the mid-2Oth century) and introspectively analyze the fundamental aspects of those poets who me to fame before, during, and after Ghãlib, we find a mosaic of thoughts clearly displayed. Thus, appreciating the characteristics of larder poetry (as displayed by these great poets) allows us to form a ailkctive opinion about each one of them. For example, we can say about Will Deccani that he is entirely a poet of corporeal love. Kkwoja Mir Dard, among the finest of poets and contemporary of niche giants as Mir and Saudã, espouses a style of diction quite peculiar and different from that of Mir and Sauda. In him, we find d dark shadow of Sufism; he is not a corporeal lover, but a lover the Almighty From Mirza, perhaps the greatest poet of Urdu ghazal, hear a prolonged lamentation on the decay of cultural life and i1ltaneously sense the profound imprints of philosophic thoughts;
lover of an imaginary beloved, he loves a real human being. Akhough Hasrat Mohani also declares his love for the Almighty, he is reality a lover of beauty, not the beloved. FanI Badayunl, a poet the ecstasy and joy, draws from sorrow. Yagana has a loud and bold apt. and Asghar Gondvl aches for the love of his beloved. The - prominent Urdü poet of the last century is Moharninad Iqbal, preaches a life of discipline and self-respect; in this regard he .philosopher-poet of the highest order.
Ghãlib’s poetry encapsulates the full range of styles and artistic concerns of these prominent Urdü poets. To this repertoire, he adds peculiarities found nowhere else. In the realm of life, Ghãlib is a poet who questioned its logic and expends much creative energy addressing the dilemmas of human existence. Philosophy is a peculiar characteristic ofhã1ib’s poetry, but his mind is not restricted merely to his surroundings, contemporary thoughts, or oft-repeated themes. He exceeds these things and, contrary to Iqbal, Ghãlib emerges as a poet-philosopher. After Dr Abdur Rahmãn Bj/nori declared that in India there were only two divinely inspired books—the collection of Ghãlib’s poetry and the Holy Veda (the bible of Hindus)—Ghãlib became a topic of discussion everywhere, and a mass movement to dissipate his thoughts emerged, disseminating Exhale to Britain, Russia, France, and other European countries. Impressionable minds worldwide absorbed Ghãlib quickly despite the ire that he faced, mostly from his contemporaries back in his homeland. Hundreds of books published on Ghãlib attest to his popularity, the likes of which has not been seen for any poet or writer of the Urdü language. The question arises: why did his contemporaries ridicule him and withhold the recognition he deserved? This can be answered by examining the times, the people, and the society in which Ghãlib lived.
Ghãlib’s perceptions and sensitivity, political vision, style of diction, and analytical thinking were exceedingly progressive. Thus, it comes, as no surprise that a poet so advanced in his thinking would be widely misunderstood, particularly by his contemporaries, who lived in a time when anarchy was rampant. Ghãlib’s originality in itself was enough to cast him beyond the grasp of most, making it easy for many to overlook his worth, his potential, and his value to literature. Ghãlib was indeed unique, his vision, futuristic. Whereas most poets of his time took pride in the royal past of India and lamented the fact that it had begun to vanish, Ghalib looked to the future and was farsighted enough to acknowledge that the Western technological revolution was here to stay—through the lens of his singular poetry, he had viewed the writing on the wall: he was able to predict the future. There was no need, in his view, to stick to the orthodoxy of the East, a common theme among many of his contemporaries. Ghãlib’s ode to the new culture was not limited to his poetry and spilled into his prose writings as well. His futuristic vision was so strong that he even denounced the most liberal and dynamic leader of that time, Sir Side Ahmad Khãn, calling him ritualistic and orthodox. We can compare Ghãlib’s poetic philosophy to Iqbal and others and readily see the superiority of freshness and straightforwardness in Ghãlib’s thinking. He was an optimist and looked forward to a bright future. Many of his verses, condemned by his contemporaries, reveal a path to future, including splitting the atom, landing on the moon, and the rise 0f the West. One criticism that has been leveled at Ghãlib has been his complexity of expression and the mental gymnastics employed in his verses. The fact is that to this day, those attempting to decipher these verses have scarcely been able to scratch the surface. He was a complicated man, one who was not concerned about how others saw him. All he could manage was to contain the entire ocean between the two halves 0f a seashell. Two centuries after being committed to paper, his thoughts retain their original freshness; readers still find new meanings, just as compelling, with every reading of Ghãlib. Every new invention has the look of something Ghãlib had predicted; every rise and fall of political fortune smacks of something Ghãlib wrote about long ago; mankind’s unending strife and self-directed atrocities make us tremble: for their poetic horror and because they underscore the accuracy of Ghãlib’s portents.
Ghazal is a genre of Urdñ in which love prevails. The verses (more like hemstitches) of Ghazals contain within them an entire ocean of thought, representing the traditions and trends of cultural impressions; culture and social style are entailed in these verses, and because cultures and languages cannot exist without the other, it is easy to understand the difficulties inherent in translating ghazals into other languages. One can readily arrive at a literal correspondence for every word, but a translation of a ghazal that truly captures the emotional essence or message of the genre is a hearty task. How does one translate into another language soulful, whimsical, cultural, and situational word arrangements that are entirely indigenous and colloquial? Translating hazals can be an arduous and often impossible task unless the translator has a firm grasp of the subtleties involved in the construction and design of this genre.
It seems Ghãlib was introduced to Europe by the writings of the famous French scholar Garcon de Tasty, author of “History of Hindi and Hindustani Literature”, the first edition of which appeared in French in 1839. The introduction of Ghalib into the English language is somewhat more of a mystery that I will avoid dwelling on; but what has been so far published about Ghãlib (most of which I have seen), comprises only sporadic commentary and selected translations from his Urdü and Persian works; in some instances these translations include limited critical explication. The story of the translation of Ghãlib’s Urdü Ghazals begins in 1969, the first centenary of his birth, when we find sporadic translations of selections of his ghazals, although no one at the time dared to write a complete translation and explication of his Divan of Urdü Ghazals. The work of Dr. Yusuf Husain Khan is noteworthy but it lacks the essential explication.
The first complete translation and explication, written by DK Sarfiraz Niãzi, you now hold in your hands. It is not only comprehensive, but also describes in detail the characteristics of Ghãlib’s poetry—the body and meaning of ha1ib’s monumental efforts together in a single volume for the first time in over 200 years. To date, this is by far the most successful translation of Ghãlib’s Urdü ghazals. The translator and explicator relied heavily on his familiarity with Eastern and Western literature, culture, and etiquette. Following his undergraduate education in India and Pakistan, Di: Nazi received his postgraduate degree in healthcare sciences in the U.S. A recognized scholar in his field, he has triumphed in completing a work that, while perhaps removed from his academic profession, is nonetheless closer to his heart. Through his mastery of Urdu and English, his love for his parent culture and land, and above all his reverence for poetry (in particular Ghãlib), Dr Niãzi was able to realize this work. Also abetting Dr Niazi in this work was his membership in one of the most prominent literary families of the Indian subcontinent. His father, Niaz Fatehpuri (d. 1966), was a recognized scholar, critic, and writer, and known for his mastery of English, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, broadly recognized as the ultimate authority of the Urdã language during the 20th century, when his knowledge, vision, and style dominated debate on the subject. He wrote an explicatory book on Ghãlib’s Urdu hazals, but this was an abbreviated effort, limited to a handful of verses, particularly those he considered most difficult to understand. Dr. Niãzi’s grandfather, Amir Mohammad Khãn, was another ardent fan of Ghalib, and he corresponded with Ghãlib frequently. This was from the home where Sarfarãz was raised, steeped in an atmosphere of appreciating literature, poetry, and, particularly, the phenomenon of Ghalib. The impression left on him by his home environment is amply evident in the achievement of this text. At the outset of his book, Niãzi examines Ghãlib’s life and works, communicating to the reader some sense of the environs and cultural situation Ghãlib lived in and of the events most formative to his life and thinking. Another noteworthy aspect of this work is the style of presentation; first Niãzi presents the verses in Roman, using special diacritical fonts in order to pronounce the verse properly, and then offers a two-line translation of the verse, which is then, followed by a comprehensive yet compact explication, emphasizing various subtleties of meaning. This method sheds an illuminating light on Ghãlib’s linguistic labyrinth and dispels the haze of uncertainty, priming the mind of the reader to absorb meaning. This book uniquely enables poetry lovers to form their own interpretations without having to decipher the nuances in expression that have for too long kept secular minds at a remote distance from Ghãlib. Through Niãzi’s presentation, we are free to imbibe the beauty of Ghãlib’s verses and
arrive at our own meaning by avoiding the obstacles of obsolete words, obscure idioms, and classical references. Among the many significant books written about Ghãlib in English, A Critical Introduction, by Captain Fayez Mahmud, is noteworthy. At over 500 pages, the book was published in 1969 at the centenary of Ghãlib’s birth and includes explications of many verses and simultaneous translations of a few ghazals. Following are some examples of Mahmud’s translations, along with the corresponding translations by Niãzi.
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