Ghalib, (1797-1869) is generally considered to be the greatest poetic genius of the Urdu language. His poetry, and especially the ghazals are known and loved by all who have a knowledge of Urdu.Owing to the difficulty and obliqueness of his style, only a few casual attempts have so far
been made to translate selections from his poetry into English.
Now for the first time the complete collection of ghazals of the current diwan along with a selection from the Hamidia edition has been translated into English by Dr. Yusuf Husain.In this volume over seventeen hundred Urdu verses have been faithfully and accurately trans-
lated into English, so that Ghalib’s renown may be spread to a much wider audience.
Ghalib was the last representative of the intellectual and aesthetic achievements of Mughal culture in India. The quality
and tone of literature is always related to the culture of which the author is a part, and the aesthetic situation is largely a recreation of the pattern of emotions experienced in life. Ghalib’s poetry, sophisticated and sometimes obscure and oblique,expresses the cumulative experience of a very sensitive soul who
was avid for knowledge in all its forms, in order to enrich the highly-strung imaginativeness of his personality.
Ghalib’s early poetry shows the strong influence of Bedil,a poet who specialised in intellectual speculation, curiously inter-
mingled with nostalgic love for the infinite, his assertion of self and a hopeless sense of futility. Ghalib in his youth was much attracted by the sophisticated style of this poet, and his often quaint images which reverberated in the memory through their indefinable emotional effect. Ghalib followed in his footsteps in that instead of the limpid diction employed by such masters of
the ghazal as Mir Taqi Mir and Khwaja Mir Dard, he freely used a vocabulary loaded with obscure, wild and extravagant symbols and imagery. Despite his claims to the contrary, Bedil’s
influence persisted in Ghalib’s poetry till the end, both in his Persian and in his Urdu verse. Curiously enough, Bedil’s
influence is more marked in his Urdu than in his Persian poetry,which is more indebted to Naziri and ‘Urfi, great masters of Persian ghazal in the early Mughal period.