“No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved”

By Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

Translated By Vijay Seshadri Read the translator's notes

No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved.   
If I’d lived longer, I would have waited longer.   

Knowing you are faithless keeps me alive and hungry.   
Knowing you faithful would kill me with joy.   

Delicate are you, and your vows are delicate, too,   
so easily do they break.   

You are a laconic marksman. You leave me   
not dead but perpetually dying.   

I want my friends to heal me, succor me.   
Instead, I get analysis.   

Conflagrations that would make stones drip blood   
are campfires compared to my anguish.   

Two-headed, inescapable anguish!—
Love’s anguish or the anguish of time.   

Another dark, severing, incommunicable night.   
Death would be fine, if I only died once.   

I would have liked a solitary death,   
not this lavish funeral, this grave anyone can visit.   

You are mystical, Ghalib, and, also, you speak beautifully.   
Are you a saint, or just drunk as usual?   

Source: Poetry (April 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2009
 Mirza  Asadullah Khan Ghalib


Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib is one of the great poets of the Mughal empire, of whose dying court he was the chief ornament. His ghazals, many set to music and sung by the most popular South Asian vocalists, still pervade the cultures of India and Pakistan.

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Love, Friends & Enemies, Unrequited Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love

Poetic Terms Ghazal

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.