Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Life: Ghalib

I really feel I should acknowledge Mirza Ghalib's birth anniversary here after reading this tribute.

Here's a lesser-known couplet that has haunted me for a while. I have realized that one of the special qualities of Ghalib's couplets is that instead of losing their appeal on repeated reading and mulling over, their value is actually enhanced...every time a new door of meanings, insinuations and perspectives opens up on revisiting the same couplet.

Often, such a couplet becomes a prism through which one continues to see everything in life for days and days. Even his lesser-known couplets are packed with such rich poetic flavor:

Umr har chand ki hai barq-e-khiraam
Dil ke khoon karne ki fursat hi sahi.
[By Mirza Ghalib]

Life’s moments are but lightning flashes,
And yet suffice to slay the heart. [1]
[Interpretive translation by Siyaah]

[1] "dil ke khoon karne" literally means to 'turn the heart to blood', but the metaphor is lost on an English audience. I have used the direct meaning of "khoon karna" as ' to slay'.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Confession: An interpretation

[By Majaaz. Interpretive translation from the Urdu by Siyaah]

You come to me now – alas for what?

You are the visage of beauty, I deny not,
Of this garden of time, the very soul,
Dazzling as the sun, O youth of heavens,
Born of the moon, descended from worlds beyond

Yet to meet me now invites blame
My own deeds chastised me, to this end

Those days – of my fury unrestrained
A fury heedless of all but pleasures wild
A fury of love for burning moon embers
Of one-upmanship with the city’s men

My world was but a bed of roses,
A wonderful dream, of colors and beauty

What’s left to hear but wails of my youth, wounded
Pleas of my heart, complaints of my tears
My words drowned in agony deep
And I - a victim of my own cravings

That tender heart, long dead – how can I revive?
That innocent passion – where now can I find?

The poet's nom-de-plume, Majaaz, means "Metaphor" and also "Passing through".