by Ghalib
translated from Urdu by Tony Barnstone and Bilal Shaw



Again I recall
her tear-glazed gaze.
My heart and liver call out,
thirsting for my lover.

Doomsday had not yet
paused for breath
when I recalled
the time you left.

Oh, Desire,
your simplicity makes
me recall
my lover’s witching glance.

Excuse my longings,
O thirsty heart.
When I call out,
I recall my lover.

Life might have passed
so easily.
Why did I recall
the path you walked?  

What a fight I’ll have
with the angel Rizwan,
if I recall
your house in Paradise.

How can I get the courage
to beg?
Recalling my lover,
I’m tired of my heart.

Once again, my thoughts
wander your alleys.
Maybe I can call back
my lost heart.

My wasteland
is such a wasteland
that seeing the desert,
I recall home.

Asad!  Like a child
I heft a stone
to attack Majnun
--- then recall my senses.

                                                (Ghazal 35)


Rizwan is the angel who serves as the gatekeeper of the Islamic Paradise. Ghalib is either saying he’ll have to fight Rizwan to leave Paradise and go to her house, or that he’ll disagree about whether her house is better than Paradise.

Majnun is another name for Qais, the great lover of the Islamic tradition (see note for Ghazal 3). Majnun was in one version of the story sentenced to be stoned to death for killing Laila’s brother Tabrez for refusing to allow the lovers to marry. Perhaps Ghalib is like a village child throwing stones at the madman because he has suffered so much for emulating the great lunatic lover, but then he is called back to his senses—which ironically means he goes back to being mad with love.




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