Mirza Ghalib translations

These are modern English translations of Urdu poems by Mirza Ghalib. 

Near Sainthood
by Mirza Ghalib
translation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

On the subject of mystic philosophy, Ghalib,
your words might have struck us as deeply profound ...
Hell, we might have pronounced you a saint,
if only we hadn't found
you drunk
as a skunk!

***

Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My Songbirds

There is beauty in her.
The way she moves,
Like she’s in a perfect rhythm with the earth.
She hums in sweet sixths with the birds,
While I settle in dissonance,
Lost in the sound.

There is wonder in her;
Her eyes gleam with passion,
and the birds sing, now in thirds.
Meanwhile, I remain in dissonance,
Lost in the sound.

Twas One of Those Dreams

'TWAS one of those dreams, that by music are brought,
Like a bright summer haze, o'er the poet's warm thought --
When, lost in the future, his soul wanders on,
And all of this life, but its sweetness, is gone.

The wild notes he heard o'er the water were those
He had taught to sing Erin's dark bondage and woes,
And the breath of the bugle now wafted them o'er
From Dinis' green isle, to Glena's wooded shore.

He listen'd -- while, high o'er the eagle's rude nest,
The lingering sounds on their way loved to rest;


Twilight in the Alps

I love the hour that comes, with dusky hair
And dewy feet, along the Alpine dells
To lead the cattle forth. A thousand bells
Go chiming after her across the fair
And flowery uplands, while the rosy flare
Of sunset on the snowy mountain dwells,
And valleys darken, and the drowsy spells
Of peace are woven through the purple air.

Dear is the magic of this hour: she seems
To walk before the dark by falling rills,
And lend a sweeter song to hidden streams;
She opens all the doors of night, and fills


Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

The Son of God in doing good
Was fain to look to Heaven and sigh:
And shall the heirs of sinful blood
Seek joy unmixed in charity?
God will not let Love's work impart
Full solace, lest it steal the heart;
Be thou content in tears to sow,
Blessing, like Jesus, in thy woe:

He looked to Heaven, and sadly sighed -
What saw my gracious Saviour there,
"With fear and anguish to divide
The joy of Heaven-accepted prayer?
So o'er the bed where Lazarus slept
He to His Father groaned and wept:


Trinity Sunday

Creator, Saviour, strengthening Guide,
Now on Thy mercy's ocean wide
Far out of sight we seem to glide.

Help us, each hour, with steadier eye
To search the deepening mystery,
The wonders of Thy sea and sky.

The blessed Angels look and long
To praise Thee with a worthier song,
And yet our silence does Thee wrong. -

Along the Church's central space
The sacred weeks, with unfelt pace,
Hath borne us on from grace to grace.

As travellers on some woodland height,


Trilogy Of Passion 03 Atonement

Passion brings reason--who can pacify

An anguish'd heart whose loss hath been so great?
Where are the hours that fled so swiftly by?

In vain the fairest thou didst gain from fate;
Sad is the soul, confused the enterprise;

The glorious world, how on the sense it dies!

In million tones entwined for evermore,

Music with angel-pinions hovers there,
To pierce man's being to its inmost core,

Eternal beauty has its fruit to bear;
The eye grows moist, in yearnings blest reveres


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