Love Sonnets of Ghalib–Ghalib in translation

If you are a fan of Urdu poetry and haven’t had a chance to read Ghalib may be it is the time to do that. Understanding Ghalib is no easy task, though. You may not the get the real context what he wants to say in the verse. That is where some translation helps. Most of the translations from Urdu to English do kill the real essence but Love Sonnets of Ghalib (Translated by Sarfaraz Niazi) doesn’t do that. I think it is the best reference out there on Diwan-e-Ghalib; at least in English. It is a must have for any Ghalib poetry lover especially people for whom Urdu is not the native language. But I am sure people having Urdu as their native language will also enjoy reading the translations. He provides with the verse translation first and then goes on to explain the context of that verse in detail. Reading Ghalib from this book has been an absolute pleasure.

Go get it !

Here is a link on flipkart.com and amazon.com .

ye na thi hamari qismat…ajab apna haal hota

Yesterday while searching for a live version of Ghalib’s ye na thi hamari qismat on Youtube came across this brilliant rendition of the same poem by Tina Sani. It is done bit differently where she picked up another poem by Daag Dehlvi and she sings one verse from Ghalib’s poem and then next one from Daagh’s poem and so on. Verses from both the poets are somewhat related to each other in terms of the emotion that is expressed. On top of  that there is a brilliant singing by Tina Sani. Absolutely mesmerizing. Can it be a called a new year gift ? Yes I think.

Happy New Year everyone !  Enjoy the masterpiece !

naqsh faryaadi hai…

Have just been trying to understand the opening verse of Diwan-e-Ghalib. Finally after looking at few of the books and translations, it is making some sense to me. So here is what I understood of it.

Poets generally start their work by remembering the God and praising him for creating this world. Waris Shah opens his epic qissa Heer with:

awal hamd khuda da vird keeje,
ishq kita su jag da mool miyan

First of all let us acknowledge God, who has made love the worth of the world, Sir – Translation from Wiki

Ghalib also does the same but bit differently. He does acknowledge that this universe was created by God but doesn’t praise him for this. He rather takes a shot at God and complaints about the pain and sufferings humans go through in this world. The complete verse is:

naqsh faryaadi hai kis ki shokhi-e-tahreer ka,
kaagzi hai pairahan har paikar-e-tasveer ka

First few word meanings:

naqsh – a painting or portrait
faryaad – complaint or plea so faryaadi – the one who is complaining
shokhi – mischief
tahreer – handwriting
kaagzi – made of paper
pairahan – clothes
paikar – face, form, appearance

Before we get in to the explanation it is important to understand the importance of kaagzi pairahan (clothes made of paper). It has its roots in old Persian tradition where the complainants would go to their kings wearing clothes made of paper. It was considered a symbol of humility.

In the first line Ghalib says “who did the mischief of creating this universe ? You ! right ?” So he does acknowlge that everything has been created by God. But he sees everyone (all humans) as faryaadi and to who we are complaining ? of course God. So he relates the condition of humans to someone who is there in a king’s court with his faryaad. Here we are the complainants and God is the king. He questions the very creation of such world where there is so much of suffering and everyone seems to be doing a faryaad in the king’s (God) court. What was the need to create such a world ?

Here and here are some links discussing it in much more detail.