The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib: Selected Poems of Ghalib

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9780880016865: The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib: Selected Poems of Ghalib

Ghalib is an astonishing poet from India, perhaps the most important poet since Kabir. In The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib: Selected Poems of Ghalib, poet Robert Bly and Urdu scholar Sunil Dutta collaborate to bring the delicacy and intensity of Ghalib's poetry to readers of English. This collection of thirty ghazals by Ghalib also serves as an introduction to the ghazal, the elegant and amazing poetic form revered for centuries in the Muslim world.

Ghalib was unorthodox in many ways: he was a Muslim, but he drank and was fond of gambling. He had a difficult life, full of rejections and excesses; much of his life was spent in Delhi during the British conquest of India. Ghalib's poems often mingle humor and anguish. In "The Clay Cup," he says:

I know that Heaven doesn't exist, but the idea
Is one of Ghalib's favorite fantasies.

His form and detail are exquisite. Many emotions flood into one poem--he complains, he pokes fun at intellectuals, he grieves over desires--and it is up to the reader to find the thread that holds the couplets together. Ghalib ends "The Road with Thorns" with a charming boast:

The lightning that fell on Moses should have
fallen on Ghalib.
You know we always adjust the amount of the wine
to the quality of the drinker

His work lies in the tradition of Hafiz and Rumi; and yet he manages to join that fervor with a contemporary style. More than one hundred years after Ghalib's death, his ghazals remain indisputably modern, intense, and as fresh as ever.

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About the Author:

Robert Bly is the author, editor, and translator of numerous works of poetry and prose. His books include his most recent Eating the Honey ofWords: New and Selected Poems, Morning Poems, The SoulIs Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures,published by The Ecco Press, and Meditations on the Insatiable Soul as well as Iron John, The Sibling Society, and The Maiden King, which he wrote with Marion Woodman. Robert Bly lives in Minnesota.

Sunil Dutta is a biologist as well as a student of classical Indian music and literature. He is helping to preserve the ancient musical tradition called Dhrupad singing in India. He was born in Jaipur, India, and now lives in Los Angeles, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Surprises In Ghalib

Reading the literal versions of Ghalib that Sunil Dutta and I began working on, it was clear to me that some fresh substance was appearing that I hadn't experienced before. For years, I have been fond of Kabir's delight in God and the soul:

Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine mountains, and the maker of
canyons and pine mountains!
All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions
of stars....

If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.

(Translated by Robert Bly)

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