1. Raina’s Ghalib – Introduction

Raina’s Ghalib
Badri Raina is a dear friend and no stranger to UrduShahkar.  With much love and consideration he agreed to help me translate Josh’s marsias into English and continued to do this through failing eyes until he simply could not see well enough to help any more.  So you see his work in much of Josh’s marsias, but not all.  I say this only to acknowledge that my pedestrian translations still linger in places and I want to make sure that you don’t attribute these to the poetic pen of Badri Raina.

Poet, writer, essayist, columnist with a penchant for “speaking truth to power” so well represented in his “The Underside of Things – India and the World” published by Three Essays Collective, 2012.  He has taught English literature at the University of Dehli for over four decades.  He has several collections of poems and translations to his credit including the much acclaimed “Dickens and the Dialectic of Growth”.

I would not call “Raina’s Ghalib” a “translation”.  He has tried to render some of the most difficult and dense (in the sense of being loaded with deep and multiple interpretations) verse into poetic English.  This is not mere translation but a “re-composition”.  At the same time it shows the limitations of the English language (or of any other language) in translating from the well honed traditions of poetry of another language (in this case Urdu, which has a particularly strong tradition of Ghazal).  In spite of this difficulty, “Raina’s Ghalib” has been acclaimed as a “second Fitzgerald”.

I am thankful to Badri Raina for making “Raina’s Ghalib” available to UrduShahkar.  I am going to post only those pieces of Ghalib (and perhaps only a selection of those) which Raina has rendered into English.  I will also post the original in Urdu, Roman and Hindi scripts with word meaning and discussion in English.  The full Ghalib Ghazal is posted with each she’r numbered so that the reader might be able to cross check it with the similarly numbered couplet in Raina’s rendition.  Not all asha’ar have been re-composed but the numbering should make it easy for the reader to follow and enjoy.  Traditionally, each she’r in a Ghazal is a “stand-alone” piece which can be (and is) quoted freely.  Thus, it is possible to translate/re-compose selected asha’ar of a Ghazal without losing continuity.  This is what Raina has done.

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