The Nacreous Oughts

17 May 2008

Of whose gay tracery is the picture
A complainant?
Papery is the dress
Of each figure face in the painting.
Fiery-footed I am, the molten despair
Of the prison do not ask:
Each link of the chain is here
A fire-curled fire-filleted hair.
The dazzle-of-deceit is the prey of the
Peacock's despair;
In the greenness is, of the garden's
Glory of encirclement, the snare.
The joy-of-creation-of-magic-producing-
in the furnace-of-fire is the hoof
Of the prey from the beloved's scimitar.
Ho-digging-oh torment of life, ah, do
Not of loneliness ask!
To pass until morning the eve
Is to dig a milk-canal through rocks.
The brick the prop-of-the-helpless-hand,
And the structure the arms
Of departure; when has ever
Flood filled the wine-cup of a building?
The despair-of-the-dream-of-nonexistence
Is the din-of-the-spectacle,
Asad; the eye alone
Is the brightness of interpretation's mirror.

--Asadullah Khan Ghalib (tr Ahmed Ali)

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