4. Ghazal from Ghalib

translated by M. Shahid Alam

Only a few come back to us in roses and tulips.
Many more lie buried, dust on their sleeping eyelids.

By day, the daughters of Pleiades play out of sight.
At night, they lift their veils in ravishing display.

My eyes pour blood on this night of savage partings:
two lamps I have lighted to sanctify love’s sorrow.

I will make them pay for the years of torment, if
by chance, these darlings play houris in paradise.

He shall have sleep, perfumed air, silken nights,
if you untie your jasmine-scented hair in his arms.

I have no use for your coy approaches to the divine.
Past your schools and creeds, we worship God alone.

If Ghalib were to keep this up (he cries inconsolably),
every man, woman, child will soon be leaving town.

first published in Prairie Schooner, Spring 2011

For more ghazals from Ghalib, click here.

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is the author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave, 2009) and Challenging the New Orientalism (IPI, 2007). Visit his website at http://qreason.com. Write to him at alqalam02760@yahoo.com.

3. A Ghazal from Ghalib

translated by M. Shahid Alam

If a thing’s delayed, there’s a thing delaying it.
Not you, your suitors slowed you down a bit.

It wasn’t right, pinning my troubles on you.
The furies, fate, kismet, each had a hand in it.

If you can’t remember, let me jog your memory.
I was your prized quarry: you grew fond of it.

Captive, I stay awake, thinking of you all night.
It’s true my shackled feet also hurt a bit.

I hadn’t asked for this blinding flash of light.
I wish He’d speak to me: my heart aches for it.

I bared my neck for her. She backed out of it.
She is a sharp shooter. An arrow too could do it.

Wrongly, we are tried on the report of angels.
Is there a man like us to say he saw us do it?

Ghalib, you do not have the crown of the ghazal.
It’s rumored there was Meer, with better claim to it.

First published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Fall 2001.

For more ghazals from Ghalib, click here.

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is the author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave, 2009) and Challenging the New Orientalism (IPI, 2007). Visit his website at http://qreason.com. Write to him at alqalam02760@yahoo.com.

2. Ghazal from Ghalib

translation by M. Shahid Alam

.

کہتے ہو نہ دینگے ہم دل اگر پڑا پایا
دل کہاں کہ گم کیجئے ‘ ہم نےمدُعا پایا

.

I can’t have it – you say – if you find my heart.
Once – it was mine. Now I know who has it.

Love is easily the best part of life. This pain
cures life’s itch: there is no cure for it.

She is coy & cunning, sweet – exacting too.
She is testing me when I do not know it.

The plain truth about my heart is this.
Every time I look for it, she says she has it.

My mentor likes to rub salt in my wounds.
Sir Tormentor, I ask, what is your reason for it?

.

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