Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ruth L. Schwartz: "Versions of Ghalib: Ghazal I"
["Everything sings, in each moment"]

            Ghalib was a 19th-century Urdu poet. These versions were developed
            from the prose translations provided by Aijaz Ahmad in Ghazals of
            Ghalib (Columbia University Press, 1971). Numbering corresponds to
            the numbers used in that volume.


Everything sings, in each moment, a song—and is,
in the very next moment, unsung.

It's no use being a mirror which sees both sides;
both sides are wrong.

What you claim to know will fail you; so will
what you venerate. Drink up. Refill your cup.

Deliberately love kicks up dust
to irritate the eye between two worlds.


Each song loves and hates itself.
If there's a mirror which tells the difference, don't look.

Forget what you know; don't bother to believe.
Not-knowing is the only cup which can hold the world.

Where love has been and gone, the world grows honest.
Each thing sings: I am essential. I do not exist.

All you think you know is wrong. So is all you worship.
No matter how much you drink, there's more in the cup.


Praise the futility of song. Accept that the shine in the mirror
is wrong. You are not important.

What's a mirror, anyway? Who looks back from that bright glass?
It's love again, come to save us, or drive us mad.

The more you know, the less you see;
faith can't be drunk, though it fills your cup.

Love's like a dust which settles on all things
and clings like skin. Even the sky bows down to it.

"Versions of Ghalib: Ghazal I" ["Everything sings, in each moment"] by Ruth L. Schwartz. Text as published in Dear Good Naked Morning (Autumn House Press, 2005). © Ruth L. Schwartz. Reprinted by permission of the poet.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer.

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