The Spell of Desire

The spell of desire fails,1
…. so let me pray instead
that Khizr the Immortal
…. is not dead.

Do not wander absurdly lost
…. in the heat-mirage of being.
Now you have depths and skies
…. inside your head.

The spectacle of union is my fantasy,
…. but what fancy
will polish the dirty mirror
…. where anticipation is read?

Each single atom of the lover
…. worships the sun.
I’m gone like dust on the wind,
…. but my lust for her sun has not sped.

Ghalib, do not ask how large
…. is the wine-house of madness.
The bowl of sky shrinks
…. to a dustbin overhead.

1 This ghazal is a bit unusual, in that it has no repeated words, just end-rhymes. Khizr, in line 2, is considered in the Islamic tradition to be an immortal prophet, because he drank of the water of life.

(Ghazal 68)

حریفِ مطلبِ مشکل نہیں فسونِ نیاز
دعا قبول ہو یا رب کہ عمرِ خضر دراز

نہ ہو بہ ہرزہ بیاباں نوردِ وہمِ وجود
ہنوز تیرے تصوّر میں ہے نشیب و فراز

وصال جلوہ تماشا ہے پر دماغ کہاں
کہ دیجے آئنۂ انتظار کو پرداز

ہر ایک ذرّۂ عاشق ہے آفتاب پرست
گئی نہ خاک ہوئے پر ہوائے جلوۂ ناز

نہ پوچھ وسعتِ مے خانۂ جنوں غالب
جہاں یہ کاسۂ گردوں ہے ایک خاک انداز

Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797–1869), known by his pen name, Ghalib, is the famous romantic and mystical poet of the Mughal Empire in India. His poems are characterized by great wit, puns, and a mystical, erotic imagery so passionate as to veer at times into the surreal. He is the acknowledged world master of the ghazal, though certain Persian poets such as Hafiz and Rumi give him a run for his money!

Tony Barnstone and Bilal Shaw

Tony Barnstone and Bilal Shaw

Tony Barnstone is Professor of English and Environment Studies at Whittier College and the author of 18 books and a music CD. He has served as the Visiting Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing in the MFA Program at Bowling Green State University and as the Visiting Professor of Translation in the Ph.D. Program at the University of California, Irvine. He has a Masters in English and Creative Writing and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to Pulp Sonnets, his books of poetry include Beast in the Apartment; Tongue of War: From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki, winner of the John Ciardi Prize in Poetry; The Golem of Los Angeles which won the Poets Prize and the Benjamin Saltman Award in Poetry; Sad Jazz: Sonnets; and Impure: Poems by Tony Barnstone, and a chapbook of poems titled Naked Magic (Main Street Rag). He is also a distinguished translator of Chinese poetry and literary prose and an editor of literary textbooks. His books in these areas include Chinese Erotic Poetry; The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry; Out of the Howling Storm: The New Chinese Poetry; Laughing Lost in the Mountains: Poems of Wang Wei; The Art of Writing: Teachings of the Chinese Masters; and the textbooks Literatures of Asia, Africa and Latin America, Literatures of Asia, and Literatures of the Middle East. His bilingual Spanish/English selected poems, Buda en Llamas: Antología poética (1999-2012) appeared in 2014. He has also co-edited the anthologies Dead and Undead Poems and Monster Verse. Among his awards are the Poets Prize, Grand Prize of the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, the Pushcart Prize in Poetry, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the California Arts Council, the Benjamin Saltman Award in Poetry and the John Ciardi Prize in Poetry.His CD of folk rock/blues songs (in collaboration with singer-songwriters Ariana Hall and John Clinebell, based upon Tongue of War and titled Tokyo’s Burning: World War II Songs) is available on Amazon.com, Rhapsody, and CD Baby. His website is https://www.whittier.edu/academics/english/barnstone

Bilal Shaw is a Kashmiri poet and scientist currently working as a senior data science manager at Neustar in West Los Angeles.He and his co-translator Tony Lee have translated the Urdu ghazals of Mir Taqi Mir into English. He completed his PhD in quantum information science from the University of Southern California. In the past he has worked on DNA-based computation and nanotechnology, software architecture, and theoretical self-assembly.
Tony Barnstone and Bilal Shaw

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Author: Tony Barnstone and Bilal Shaw

Tony Barnstone is Professor of English and Environment Studies at Whittier College and the author of 18 books and a music CD. He has served as the Visiting Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing in the MFA Program at Bowling Green State University and as the Visiting Professor of Translation in the Ph.D. Program at the University of California, Irvine. He has a Masters in English and Creative Writing and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to Pulp Sonnets, his books of poetry include Beast in the Apartment; Tongue of War: From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki, winner of the John Ciardi Prize in Poetry; The Golem of Los Angeles which won the Poets Prize and the Benjamin Saltman Award in Poetry; Sad Jazz: Sonnets; and Impure: Poems by Tony Barnstone, and a chapbook of poems titled Naked Magic (Main Street Rag). He is also a distinguished translator of Chinese poetry and literary prose and an editor of literary textbooks. His books in these areas include Chinese Erotic Poetry; The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry; Out of the Howling Storm: The New Chinese Poetry; Laughing Lost in the Mountains: Poems of Wang Wei; The Art of Writing: Teachings of the Chinese Masters; and the textbooks Literatures of Asia, Africa and Latin America, Literatures of Asia, and Literatures of the Middle East. His bilingual Spanish/English selected poems, Buda en Llamas: Antología poética (1999-2012) appeared in 2014. He has also co-edited the anthologies Dead and Undead Poems and Monster Verse. Among his awards are the Poets Prize, Grand Prize of the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, the Pushcart Prize in Poetry, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the California Arts Council, the Benjamin Saltman Award in Poetry and the John Ciardi Prize in Poetry. His CD of folk rock/blues songs (in collaboration with singer-songwriters Ariana Hall and John Clinebell, based upon Tongue of War and titled Tokyo’s Burning: World War II Songs) is available on Amazon.com, Rhapsody, and CD Baby. His website is https://www.whittier.edu/academics/english/barnstone Bilal Shaw is a Kashmiri poet and scientist currently working as a senior data science manager at Neustar in West Los Angeles. He and his co-translator Tony Lee have translated the Urdu ghazals of Mir Taqi Mir into English. He completed his PhD in quantum information science from the University of Southern California. In the past he has worked on DNA-based computation and nanotechnology, software architecture, and theoretical self-assembly.