Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan (1797-1869), known by his pen names Asad (“lion”) and Ghalib (“superior”), is the famous romantic and mystical poet of the Mughal Empire (1526-1858) in India. He is the most-beloved and most widely read poet of the Urdu language, the dominant language of northern India and Pakistan that emerged through the blending of Hindustani with Arabic and Persian.
Acknowledgments 7 Introduction 3 Ghalib’s Life and Times 3 The Religious and Erotic Traditions 7 Ghazals as the Blues 13 Opening Up the Rhyme 15 The Problem with Repetends 19 Rhetorical Play and Wit 20 The Poems 26 Out of Heartfire 28 The Jewel of the Party 29 At This Party 31 The Spell of Desire 33 Murderess 34 Executioner 36 The Idol 38 A Direction in Which to Pray 39 What Comes 41 Seeking a Gash 43 Enough 46 Enter My Dream 48 Thirst 49 A Smaller Miracle 50 Wine Wave 52 Stay Drunk 54 The Empty Cup 55 A Stunned Drop of Wine 57 Then 58 The Betel Nut 60 My Desires Are Legion 62 The Sound of My Own Failure 64 The Accounting 66 Deadbeat Heart 67 Pawned to This Cruel Life 68 She Pawned Her Heart 70 The Dead Lamp 71 Everything Will Be Dust 72 Red Flowers Hidden in Dust 74 Handful of Dust 77 Dust 78 Why Sing the Blues? 79 Why? 81 What We Say 83 Glances Lined with Kohl 85 Kohl for the Eyes 86 Hennaed Feet 87 I Am Human, After All 89 The Stare 91 Rupture 92 The Face in the Mirror 94 More to Say 95 Some Life 97 When the Dead Rise 98 A Footprint in Paradise 99 Be Generous 100 Veil 101 What? 102 The Cure for Life 104 Infected by Love 106 No Medicine 107 Where Is My Heart? 109 Famine 111 A Woundgift 113 Who Cares? 114 Heartgrief School 116 The Desert Sea 118 Wasteland 119 The Traveler 121 Call Down Lightning 122 Lunatic Beggar 123 Madness of the Night of Separation 124 Blood-Filled Eyes 126 A Rose in the Dirt 127 Give Me Lunacy, at Least 129 How Tight Is the World? 131 The Tulip 132 Dew on a Red Tulip 133 Nothing Is What Breathes from Me 135 No One 137 About the Translators: 138
"Ghalib is the Shakespeare of India, the last great poet of the Mughal empire. His poems have been sung in Urdu gatherings for centuries, offering visions of passionate love in a merging of the human and divine. Tony Barnstone and Bilal Shaw have made them sing in English.” —John Balaban - prize winning poet, translator