Sunday, July 26, 2015

Two People reading Ghazals in Homage to Ghalib

    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.

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