Skip to main content

Dil he to hai Ghalib

Sketch of Ghalib

Dil he to hai na sango-khisht, Dard se bhar na aaye kyon
Royenge hum hazaar baar, koi hamein sataye kyon

(It is heart after all, not brick and stone, why won’t it well up with pain
Why should anybody harass us, we shall a thousand times cry )

Dair nahi, harum nahin, dar nahin, aastaan nahin
Baithey hain rahguzar pe hum, koi hamain uthaye kyon

(No home, no hearth for us, no temple, no mosque
Why should anyone remove us from one throughfare, can we ask)

Jab who jamale-dil-faroz saratey-mehare-neemroz
Aap he ho nazara soaz, pardey men muhb chhipaye kyo

(Her beauty illumines all, a full waxing moon in grace
loveliness incarnate indeed, why should she hide her face)

Quaide-hayat-obande-ghum, asal mein dono ek hain
Maut se pahale aadmi ghum sey nijaat paye kyon

(Life’s incarceration and bondage to suffering are the same thing indeed
Until our death how can we from suffering be relieved)

Haan who nahin Khuda parast, jao who bewafa sahi
Jisko ho dino-dil aziz, uski gali mein jaye kyon

(All right she is not kind hearted, nor faithful she, so
Why should anybody who loves, his faith and life, go to her street)

- English translation of Ghalib's Ghazal is from Kuldip Salil’s Diwan-e-Ghalib (A Selection)


Found it a few weekends back in the HT column by 'Man in the Bulb' Khushwant Singh.
He is lavish in his praise for the author and the book. He writes:

There are few simple facts about the art of translating prose and poetry from one language to another. Translating prose is comparatively easier; so we have fiction, essays and articles, which read as well in translation as in the originals. Poetry is much more complicated. It must be translated into poetry and not fobbed off in prose—it loses the music of meter and rhyme.

Equally important is that it must only be taken in hand if the translator is confident of doing a better job than has been done before without taking too many liberties with the original. Keeping these points in mind I dipped into Kuldip Salil’s Diwan-e-Ghalib (A Selection) Ghazals with original text and their English Translation(Rajpal).

He has reproduced the original in Devnagri and roman Englisg on one side of the page, his translation in English on the page facing it. I can say without hesitation, his renderings read better than any I have read by scholars of urdu, be they Indian, Pakistani or Firangi. Salil, born in Sialkot in 1938, was teaching English at hans Raj College, Delhi till he retired a few years ago.


  1. Hi,

    I normally do not leave comments, but I thought I would let you know that your blog really made my afternoon. Half a verse was stuck in my head all morning and then I suddenly found your page!
    To top it off, was the English translation which really helps!! Keep up the good work and my regards and praises for all the great work!


Post a Comment

I always like to hear back :)
However, irrelevant comments and irrelevant links will not be published. Needless to say, same goes for abusive comment and spam. Leaving back links related to the topic is encouraged. I know it can be tempting but try not to leave your email ids, phone nos and CVs in the comment.

Popular posts from this blog

Famous Old Faces of Doordarshan

Some people recall the faces and some people recall the names. Here are images of some of the famous readers and presenters of Doordarshan down the years. If you recognize any of them, leave a comment. [ Update 1 : Most of the faces now have names thanks to helpful comments by olio-gallimaufry ] [ Update 2 : Included image of one of the earliest presenters, Gopal Kaul. Send in generously from personal collection by son, Ashutosh Kaul. Sept, 2010.] [ Major Update 3: Got a tip-off about a documentary about the famous faces of Doordarshan from the makers   of     “The Golden Trail , DD@50 :Special feature on Golden Jubilee of Doordarshan ” from which these caps were taken. I managed to catch the incredible documentary and am adding some more faces/name and part of the docu here. New ones can be found after the image of  Narotam Puri. 30th Oct, 2010]  Pratima Puri. Believed to be the first Doordarshan reader.

Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.” Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met… While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cig

Operation Topaz

In around 1983, General Zia ul-Haq was thinking about "a thousand cuts", "Blood"  and "India". In around 1989, Operation Topaz to destabilize India was set in motion even as Zia had everyone trust  the merits of cricket diplomacy. Zia could well have been thinking of a shaving blade when he thought up that name - Operation Topaz. Image courtesy: . 75 year old C.K Devassy has been collecting blades for last 55 years and his awsome collection  includes more than 60 blade brands from around 10 countries incuding India, USA, England and even China. -0- Topaz presents T.M. Bihari's Professor Pyarelal Image courtesy: Eatern Eye Zeenat Aman is looking for the 1 rupee coin that fell from her hand while Dharmendra was driving crazy to keep the bad guys at bay.