Sunday, 26 April 2009

Lying at the Doorstep of the Lover...God

A Poem by Mirza Ghālib and sung below by the recently deceased, Iqbal Bano, God rest her soul. (Photograph: courtesy of Thomas Gugler (Berlin) who found this painting hung in the residence of the Pakistani Poet Philosopher, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, in Lahore)

Da’im para hu’a tere dar par nahin hun main
Khak aisi zindagi pa ke patthar nahin hun main

Lying perpetually at your doorstep, I am not?
Shame on a life like this for I am not a stone.

If we read the first line without a question mark then it would show the desire of the lover to be the stone of her/his threshold.

Kion gardish-e mudam se ghabra na jae dil
Insane hun, piyala-o-saghar nahin hun mein

Why would not my heart get distraught from circulating perpetually?
After all, I am a human being, not a goblet or decanter

This verse refers to self-pity derived from being pushed around. It is also a desperate protest to the world for not being kind to him.

Ya Rabb zamana mujh ko mitata hai kis liye
Lauh-e jahan pa harf-e mukarrar nahin hun main

O! Lord, why does the world keep erasing me?
I am not a letter written by mistake twice on the slate of the world

Had chahiye saza mein uqubat ke vaste
Akhir gunahgar hun kafir nahin hun mein

A limit there must be to the harshness of punishment;
After all, I am only a sinner and not an unbeliever of God

Kis vaste aziz nahin jante mujhe
L’al-o zamurrud-o-zar-gohar nahin hun mein

For what reasons do you not keep me dear to you?
I am neither a ruby, nor an emerald, gold or pearl?

This an the next two verses form and ode to the Prophet Muhammad. Those who shun material things are dearer to the prophet Muhammad.

Rakhte ho tum qadum meri ankhon se kion diregh
Rutbe mein mahr-o-mah se kamtar nahin hun mein

Why do you refuse to place your foot on my eyes?
No less am I than the moon and sun in my status!

In the night journey, the prophet Muhammad travelled to heaven and perhaps touched the moon and sun. I am no less than the moon or sun. Why then do you not find my eyes worthy of your feet?

Karte ho mujhe jo man-e qadam bos kis liye
Kya asman ke bhi barabar nahin hun mein

Why do you forbid me to kiss your feet?
Am I not equal to the heavens?

In the night journey, prophet Muhammad placed his foot upon heaven and thereby let the heavens kiss his feet. Ghalib complains that perhaps he is not equivalent to the heaven and that is why he has not been given the honour of kissing the prophet’s feet. In this and the previous verse, the poet invokes the grand status given to man by God, well above material things. He then questions why he is not allowed to come close to the prophet.

(Taken from Love Sonnets of Ghalib, translated by Sarfaraz K. Niazi, pp. 421-424)

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