Life, Arts and Sciences

Ghalib- the poet that explains M Moeen uddin

Posted on: September 16, 2007


Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan — known to posterity as Ghalib, a `nom de plume’ he adopted in the tradition of all classical Urdu poets, was born in the city of Agra, of parents with Turkish aristocratic ancestry, probably on December 27th, 1797. As to the precise date, Imtiyaz Ali Arshi has conjectured, on the basis of Ghalib’s horoscope, that the poet might have been born a month later, in January 1798.

The death of his father and uncle during his youth left Ghalib with no male-dominant figures. He then moved to Delhi.

Ghalib’s early education has always been a matter of confusion. There are no known records of his formal education, although it was known that his circle of friends in Delhi were some of the most intelligent minds of the time.

Around 1810, he was married into a family of nobles, at the age of thirteen. He had seven children, none of whom survived (this pain has found its echo in some of Ghalib’s ghazals). There are conflicting reports regarding his relationship with his wife. She was considered to be pious, conservative and God-fearing while Ghalib was carefree, unconventional without any scruples, and arguably not very religious, in the strict sense of the word.

Ghalib was very fond of drinking and gambling (in this respect, he himself admitted he was not quite a strict “Muslim”). Gambling used to be an offence in Delhi at that time and he was even apprehended once for having indulged in it in his own backyard. Ghalib also had an affair with a courtesan who quite admired his poetry. There still exists the First Information Report filed against Ghalib in Kotwali ( “Police Station” is a more convenient term in modern (English) language), Daryaganj, New Delhi that relates his rivalry with the then Kotwal when it came to the courtesan.

Ghalib never worked as such for a livelihood but lived on either state patronage, credit or generosity of his friends. His fame came to him posthumously. He had himself remarked during his lifetime that although his age ignored his greatness, it would be recognized by later generations. History has vindicated his claim. He also is arguably the most “written about” among Urdu poets.

He died in Delhi on February 15th, 1869.

Ghalib’s closest rival was poet Zauq, tutor of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the then emperor of India with his seat in Delhi. There are some amusing anecdotes of the competition between Ghalib and Zauq and exchange of jibes between them. However, there was mutual respect for each other’s talent. Both also admired and acknowledged the supremacy of Meer Taqi Meer, a towering figure of Urdu Poetry of 18th century. Another poet Momin, whose ghazals had a distinctly lyrical flavor, was also a famous contemporary of Ghalib.

Ghalib’s poetry
Although Ghalib wrote in Persian as well, he is more famous for his ghazals written in Urdu. It is believed he wrote most of his very popular ghazals by the age of nineteen. His ghazals, unlike those of Meer Taqi Meer, contain highly Persianized Urdu, and are therefore not easily understood or appreciated by a vast majority of people without some extra effort. Before Ghalib, ghazal was primarily an expression of anguished love but he expressed philosophy, the travails of life and many such subjects, thus vastly expanding the scope of ghazal. This, together with his many masterpieces, will forever remain his paramount contribution to Urdu Poetry and Literature.

In keeping with the conventions of the classical ghazal, in most of Ghalib’s verses, the identity and the gender of the beloved is indeterminate. The beloved could be a beautiful woman, or a beautiful boy, or even God. As the renowned critic/poet/writer Shamsur Rahman Faruqui explains, since the convention of having the “idea” of a lover or beloved instead of an actual lover/beloved freed the poet-protagonist-lover from the demands of “realism”, love poetry in Urdu from the last quarter of the seventeenth century onwards consists mostly of “poems about love” and not “love poems” in the Western sense of the term. Ghalib’s poetry is a fine illustration of this. Ghalib also excels in deeply introspective and philosophical verses.

The first complete English translation of Ghalib’s love poems (ghazals) was written by Dr. Sarfaraz K. Niazi(http://www.ghalib.org) and published by Rupa & Co in India and Ferozsons in Pakistan. The title of this book is Love Sonnets of Ghalib and it contains complete roman transliteration, explication and an extensive lexicon.

His Letters
Not only Urdu poetry but the prose is also indebted to Mirza Ghalib. His letters gave foundation to easy and popular Urdu. Before Ghalib, letter writing in Urdu was highly ornamental. He made his letters “talk” by using words and sentences as if he were conversing with the reader. According to him “sau kos say ba-zabaan-e-qalam baatein kiya karo aur hijr mein visaal kay ma-zay liya karo” [ from hundred of miles talk with the tongue of the pen and enjoy the joy of meeting even when you are separated] His letters were very informal, some times he would just write the name of the person and start the letter. He himself was very humorous and also made his letter very interesting. He said “main koshish karta hoon keh koi aisi baat likhoon jo pa-rhay khoosh ho jaaye” [ I want to write the lines that whoever reads those should enjoy it] When the third wife of one of his friends died, he wrote… “Allah allah aik woh log hain jo teen teen dafah iss qaid say chhoot chu-kain hain aur aik hum hain keh aik ag-lay pachas baras say jo phansi ka phanda ga-lay mein parha hai to nah phanda hi tut-ta hai nah dum hi nikalta hai” [Allah Allah, there are some among us who have been freed from this prison three times and I have for the past 50 years this rope around my neck; neither this rope breaks nor it takes my life] Some scholars says that Ghalib would have the same place in Urdu literature if only on the basis of his letters.They have been beautifully translated into English by Ralph Russell, The Oxford Ghalib.

source: wikipedia

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1 Response to "Ghalib- the poet that explains M Moeen uddin"

Good effort on Urdu literature. Continue please..

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