blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
translations by M. Shahid Alam

Ghalib (1797-1869), born Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan in what is today Agra, India, is thought to be one of the greatest poets writing in the Urdu and Persian languages during the vibrant Mughal Empire. The Mughal era, spanning the early sixteenth century to mid-nineteenth century, signaled the burgeoning of modern Indian history, and has since been considered an important source of beauty, art, and culture. In 1810, thirteen-year-old Ghalib married into nobility and left Agra for Delhi, where he remained for the rest of his life. Poetry, deemed by the Mughals as the highest of art forms, was written by members of the upper class and aristocracy and was supported by the Mughal court. It is believed that many of his best-known works were completed by 1816, but he lived to see the last Mughal king, the subsequent British occupation, and the Indian Rebellion of 1857. During his lifetime, Ghalib’s poetry garnered a somewhat mixed reception: while some alleged his poetry was unnecessarily convoluted, he also gained many admirers and was considered a genius by his most significant contemporaries.  end