Friday, July 27, 2012

Daily Dose of Ghalib

An old professor of mine once told me she starts each day with some poetry to get her in the right frame of mine for research and I thought it was a lovely sentiment and one I would give a shot. I have been attempting to read some Mir Taqi Mir lately, but thanks to the labyrinth of scholarly delights that is the venerable Frances Pritchett's website (an absolute gem and necessity for neophytes to Urdu poetry such as myself), I stumbled upon a ghazal of Ghalib (57: 4) that was so evocative and delightful I had to share: 

خوں ہے دل خاک میں احوالِ بتاں پر یعنی
  ان کے ناخن ہوئے محتاجِ حنا میرے بعد

The heart turns to blood, in the earth, at the condition of the idols--that is
Their nails are in want of henna after me

I've slightly modified Frances Pritchett's translation found here. Those familiar with Perso-Urdu love poetry will immediately identify the idols as the beloved(s). If the love is a blood-sport (who can forget Amir Khusraw's image of the beloved as a callous polo player and the lover as the ball) in which she paints her nails in the poet's blood (metaphorically, but the image would appeal to universe of True Blood), then Ghalib laments that as he lies dead in his grave, his heart turns to blood in both anguish that the beloved must now paint her nails in henna instead and in the hopes of offering his blood to perpetuate her sport.

No comments:

Post a Comment