The Spell of Desire

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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!