I am home recuperating from thyroid surgery, and that means even more silence than usual because it is painful to speak. Not to complain too much, but my husband is an introverted silent person and I have always been willing to take up the slack. But with that option gone, the hours of quiet became oppressive. I cast about for something to unleash some words from Yash and I was thinking of his love the poetry of Ghalib and especially his old delight in reciting Urdu couplets. But his memory loss is so complete that he cannot recall them. I felt stymied by the fact that most of my books have either been boxed up and stored in the garage or dispersed to various book sales and libraries and the Salvation Army.
I decided to bite the bullet and re-buy them at the trusty Amazon and Alibris, and sure enough in two days volumes of ghazals in Urdu and English were at our door. I did not urge the books on Yash--that is deadly. I just started reading them and nodding and smiling. Sure enough within minutes Yash picked up the volumes and started reading the Urdu aloud to just hear those wonderful sounds.
Then he started reading the English versions aloud--and that seemed like a happy out come.
We both tried to memorize couplets and have spent several happy evenings exchanging ideas about such lines as these:
When I describe my condition, you say "What's your point?"
When you talk to me that way what am I to say?
Your lover may not be faithful, but she is your lover.
We could mention the sensuous rolling way she walks.
Spring doesn't last that long but at least it is Spring.
It would be good to mention the scented winds that move through the garden.
Ghalib, once the boat has arrived at the other shore,
Why go on and on about the wickedness of the boatman?
This is Robert Bly's translation and according to Yash he has gotten close to the ironic and puzzling and puzzled tone of voice in the original. There is something so direct and funny about that voice that I love it.
How I wish I could find that tone of insouciance, idiomatic speech, hidden depth and surface charm for my own poems. Wish me good luck with that dream.