Diwan-e-Ghalib (A Selection) Selection and English Translation by Kuldeep Salil. ISBN- 978-81-7028-629-9. 2012. Rajpal & Sons, Delhi.
“Translating a ghazal into English and still retaining its charm and appeal is, indeed difficult. And in case of Ghalib, this difficulty is even greater.” These are the views of Kuldeep Salil, who is the translator of some of the poems of Diwan-e-Ghalib by Mirza Ghalib.
Mirza Asad-Ullah Khan Ghalib better known as Mirza Ghalib is considered by almost all the scholars and intellectuals as the greatest Urdu poet and one of the greatest in any Indian language. And perhaps he is one among the great poets of the world. It is believed that Shakespeare and Milton are the greatest English poets, in the same way, Meer and Ghalib are the greatest in Urdu.
Kuldeep Shalil has done a great job by translating the work of this great poet into English, which is very good for the promotion of Urdu literature and in a bigger term Indian literature. It is very good for Indian literature because Indian literature in any language is as great as any other literature in the world.
Kudeep Salil is himself a poet, who has published four collections of poetry and ghazals. His poetry collection is Bees Saal ka Safar (1979) and Hawas ke Shehr (1987), Mein Jo Keh Na Sake, (2004), Awaz ka Rishta (2004) are his ghazals collections. He has also published an anthology of his best-known English poems in Hindi verse translation, ‘Angrezi ke Shreshth Kavi Aur Unki Shreshth Kavitayein.’
Diwan-e-Ghalib- A Selection is his latest book on selected ghazals of Mirza Ghalib translated by him in English. He is credited with publishing, ‘A Treasury of Urdu Poetry’ which is a translation of one hundred nazms and ghazals into English verse which he has selected from the works of thirty four popular Urdu poets including their life-sketches and brief critical introductions. In addition to this, he has published many poems in various newspapers, journals and in Khushwant Singh’s columns. He is also the winner of Delhi Hindi Academy Award for poetry in 1987. So, being a poet he is able to understand Ghalib and his poetry in a much better way.
In the ‘Introduction’ of the book in his assessment of Ghalib’s poetry, Kuldeep has given some of its traits which reflects his thought that he considers Ghalib to be a great poet. He has also illustrations from the texts defining this logic. Khushwant Singh has highly praised the book saying:
“I can say without hesitation, these renderings of Diwan-e-Ghalib by Kuldeep Salil read better than any I have read by scholars of Urdu, be they Indian, Pakistani or Firangi.”
Translating Ghalib’s ghazals into English is very difficult thing because as Kuldeep feels that, ‘it is well nigh impossible to do full justice to poetry, particularly the ghazal in translation. So he thought to translate the verses into independent rhymed couplets and he has tried to be faithful to the original.
Although Salil has translated Ghalib’s ghazals into English but he has also given them in Hindi as well as in Roman script, so it is convenient for the reader to read and understand them more clearly and in the same way retaining its charm. He has also tried to give the meanings of difficult Urdu words in footnote.
The author has translated the ghazals of Ghalib’s into English and has still retains its charm and appeal which is incredible. In this way he has done full justice to Ghalib’s poetry. Through this book, he has given a tribute to the legendry poet whose name will shine throughout the world and will continue to inspire people in future also. Ghalib himself would have been very happy to see this great contribution of Kuldeep Salil’s attempt for making Diwan-e-Ghalib popular among English readers, which is indeed a great effort. This book is highly recommendable to not only the lover of Urdu poetry but to all those who are admirer and lover of good poetry in any language.