Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Ghalib's 'nah gul-e-naghmah hun nah pardah-e-saaz'

nah gul-e naġhmah hūñ nah pardah-e sāz

maiñ hūñ apnī shikast kī āvāz

tū aur ārāʾish-e ḳham-e kākul

maiñ aur andeshah'hā-e dūr-darāz

lāf-e tamkīñ fareb-e sādah-dilī

ham haiñ aur rāz'hā-e sīnah-gudāz

huu;N giriftaar-e ulfat-e .sayyaad
varnah baaqii hai :taaqat-e parvaaz


vuh bhī din ho kih us sitam-gar se
nāz kheñchūñ bajā-e ḥasrat-e nāz

mujh ko pūchhā to kuchh ġhaẓab nah huʾā
maiñ ġharīb aur tū ġharīb-navāz


asadull;āh ḳhāñ tamām huʾā

ay dareġhā vuh rind-e shāhid-bāz



I'm neither plangent lute nor melody's bloom
But alone the bruit of my own peal of doom

Thou and curls coiffed by, all breathless, the air
I and Damocles' sword that hangs by a hair


Un coeur simple, thou mine self-encrypting boast,
 Art as breast smelting mirror to Venusberg's host!

A dervish is fleet but halt to be held dear
Aflame, the forest, the hunter to draw near

To turn you coquette is my self-ruinous aim
I burn but to burn as candle to your game.

Wretchedness so secure & spreading an Estate
Protector of the Poor! do enquire of my fate

Alas! a Don Juan to his own despite
Asadullah Khan is finished quite.





6 comments:

  1. Ustadji,
    You never fail to disappoint- you take one of the loveliest couplets in the language-
    tū aur ārāʾish-e ḳham-e kākul
    maiñ aur andeshah'hā-e dūr-darāz

    and write some nonsense about the sword of Damocles which simply is not there in the text!

    The meaning is
    You and adornment cluster wavy tresses to curl
    I and adoration muster to but distance the girl

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  2. @Sanjay- Strange to say, I quite like your version. Is it better than mine?
    Actually, yes. It has a new thought whereas mine was just filling out the verse.
    It doesn't fit with my conception of the whole... but my conception mightn't be that good in the first place. This was just a random ghazal I choose to translate last night coz I couldn't get to sleep.
    I also feel your couplet is in 'my' style.
    So thanks for this you foul little rent-boy. Now go and finish you homework.
    You never know, I might steal this from you. Don't get your hopes up, but, tell you what, I'll sleep on it.
    P.S kindly remove the aubergine from your rectum, wash it and put it back in the fridge. I happen to know your Mummy is cooking baingan ki barta today.

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  3. Ustadji,
    Steal what you like- I was having a joke at your expense.
    BTW have you ever actually read any English poetry other than Mother Goose nursery rhymes?
    I have seen a lot of praise of Narendra Modi on this blog. ARe you aware that like Vajpayee he has a good command of Urdu and would be utterly repelled by your barbaric handling of Ghalib?
    Honestly, I find your impartial ignorance of both Urdu and English utterly hilarious.
    My dear fellow, you should know Ghazal is a musical form. First learn Music.
    'The man that hath no music in himself,
    Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
    Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils."
    (The Merchant of Venice (V, i, 83-85))
    William Shakespear- maybe you have heard of him? After all, you keep telling us you are a U.K wallah.

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  4. @ Sanjay. It hurts coz its true. (Like the aubergine I previously referred to.) BTW I know Sheikh Peer very well. His name is not William but Waris. His father was a kasai from Bradford on the A1 motorway, not Stratford upon Avon.

    P.S. God created Adam and Yves St. Laurent not Adam and Steve. Kindly ponder these simple words and repent while there is time.

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  5. lāf-e tamkīñ fareb-e sādah-dilī

    ham haiñ aur rāz'hā-e sīnah-gudāz

    is one of the most ambiguous lines in Ghalib. The word play is between 'saada dili' and 'raz'a-e-sina-gudaaz'- the plain and simple heart and the mystical secrets which 'melt the breast'. Ghalib says his dervish simplicity or all abnegating heart is in fact a sort of self-aggrandising delusion because it contains mystical secrets which 'melt the breast'.
    Your translation is- 'Un coeur simple, was my own worldly boast/ now gaudy mirror to the Town gallant's toast'.
    I suppose one could say that there is a Sufi tradition such that what transforms the plain and simple heart of the dervish into the repository of the highest, most 'breast melting' secrets is the glimpse of fabled beauty. This would give a sort of justification for your version. Still, I think Ghalib is not telling us this story. He is saying the boast of simplicity of heart is a mirage because it contains breast melting secrets. In other words, the feeling 'I have a simple heart' is the sign that the heart already contains breast melting secrets. Certainly that Secret may be of the same order as that caused by the glimpse of Heavenly Beauty. Or even that the simple and plain heart causes the breast melting secret with the glimpse of Heavenly Beauty being merely an epiphenomenon or part of the effect not the cause.

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  6. @ Anon- well, if you put it like that, obviously you are right. I looked this up again on the desertful of roses site and confess that I've totally screwed up here- but can no longer remember why. Probably ran out of Coke and drank my Rum neat.
    Also, I somehow didn't get my head round the idea that, as you say, the glimpse of Zohra or the Houri or whatever is not the efficient cause but just a sort of epiphenomenon associated with the filling of the heart with the highest 'breast burning' secret.
    Anyway, I've had a stab at amending the line- but on reflection the whole thing looks a washout.
    Still, thanks for this.

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