Ghalib and His 15 Select Couplets

Today is the birth anniversary of King of Shayari, Mirza Ghalib. This famous Urdu poet was born on this day in 1797.

Mirza Baig Asadullah Khan, known as Mirza Ghalib was an Urdu and Persian poet of the 19th century. He used the pen names Ghalib (i.e. dominant) and Asad (i.e. lion). He started writing verses at the age of 11. In most of his verses, the gender of the beloved is never known.

He was bestowed with the titles Dabir-ul-Mulk and Nazm-ud-daula by Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II. It was a turbulent period in Mughal history. An already declining empire eclipsed by the British Rule was finally deposed by them.

Here I’m going to share his 15 famous couplets with English translation for you to relish:

1. उनके देखे से जो आ जाती है मुंह पर रौनक,
वो समझते हैं कि बीमार का हाल अच्छा है…

1. The face of the sick glows up with
just a glimpse of hers,
and she thinks that the condition
of the sick is good…

2. हाथों की लकीरों पर मत जा ऐ गालिब,
नसीब उनके भी होते हैं जिनके हाथ नहीं होते…

2. Don’t go by the lines on the palm of hand,
Luck is bestowed even on those who don’t have hands…

3. हाथ जख्मी है कुछ अपनी ही खता थी गालिब,
मैं ने किस्मत के लकीरों को मिटाना चाहा…

3. My hand is hurt, but it’s my fault,
I wanted to erase the lines of fate…

4. मोहब्बत में नहीं है फर्क जीने और मरने का,
उसी को देखकर जीते हैं जिस काफिर पर दम निकले…

4. In love there is no difference between life and death,
I live by looking at the same infidel for whom I die…

5. यही सोचकर उसकी हर बात को सच माना है गालिब,
कि इतने खूबसूरत लब झूठ कैसे बोलेंगे…

5. I accepted everything about her as truth,
Thinking how such beautiful lips can lie…

6. इश्क ने गालिब निकम्मा कर दिया,
वरना हम भी आदमी थे काम के…

6. Love ruined me,
Otherwise I was also a man of importance…

7. कौन पूछता है पिंजरे में बंद परिंदों को गालिब,
याद वही आते हैं जो उड़ जाते हैं …

7. What is the importance of caged birds,
Only those who fly away are remembered…

8. उम्र भर गालिब वही गलती करता रहा,
धूल चेहरे पर थी और आइना साफ करता रहा…

8. All my life I kept making the same mistake,
The dust was on the face but kept cleaning the mirror…

9. मैं नादान था जो वफ़ा को तलाश करता रहा गालिब,
यह न सोचा कि एक दिन अपनी सांस भी बेवफा हो जायेगी…

9. I was innocent looking for loyalty, Never thought that one day my breath would also be unfaithful…

10. हम ने माना के तगाफुल ना करोगे लेकिन
ख़ाक हो जायेंगे हम तुम को खबर होने तक!

10. I know, you would respond without least delay
But you’ll come to know when I’d be no more!

11. इशरत-ए-क़तरा है दरिया में फ़ना हो जाना,
दर्द का हद से गुज़रना है दवा हो जाना…

11. The joy of a drop is to diminish in the river
Transcending the limits, pain becomes antidote…

12. रगों में दौड़ते फिरने के हम नहीं क़ाइल
जब आँख ही से न टपका तो फिर लहू क्या है…

12. I’m not convinced by blood running in the veins
It’s not blood, unless it flows from the eyes…

13. हम को मालूम है जन्नत की हक़ीक़त लेकिन
दिल को ख़ुश रखने को ‘ग़ालिब’ ये ख़याल अच्छा है…

13. I know the reality of paradise,
But to keep the heart happy, this idea is good…

14. ये ना थी हमारी क़िस्मत के विसाल-ए-यार होता
अगर और जीते रहते, यही इंतज़ार होता…

14. It was never my fate to be united with my beloved
If I had lived any longer, it would be nothing but more waiting…

15. मेहरबां हो के बुला लो मुझे चाहे जिस वक्त,
मैं गया वक्त नहीं हूं के फिर आ भी न सकूं…

15. Be kind and call me at any time you wish,
I’m not the elapsed time that I can’t come back again…

–Kaushal Kishore



  1. बेहतरीन collection 👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻 कई बार घूमा हूँ बल्ले मारन की गलियों में , मेरे जैसे इंसान का उर्दू साहित्य से कोई ख़ास वास्ता नहीं पर ग़ालिब तो भाषा की सीमा से भी परे थे .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. धन्यवाद इस दिलचस्प टिप्पणी के लिए! शायरी का अनुवाद उपलब्ध नहीं होता तो मेरे भी कहां पल्ले पड़ता।😊😅


      1. Will do so… He wrote alot along the lines of ghazals and naaths… He was a musician as well… Qawali was his passion… Will transliterate and send to you as it was in urdu…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Kaushal, for bringing the wisdom of Ghalib’s verses again,
    I save some in my book of quotes. The festivities are over and time to learn
    I like in particular numbers 7 and 14, although all have profound meaning.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. So happy to know that you liked these couplets. Last year I had shared some different ones. But you’re right, these should be treated as quotes. Thank you, Joanna, for your thoughtful support!


    1. I agree with you, Stella that he had not written couplets inspired by any specific religion. That’s why his couplets are widely read across boundaries. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m delighted to know that you liked those couplets, especially no. 3. In fact I had been a great fan of this poet right from the childhood days. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for sharing, dear KK! This was such a fun read, I particularly loved #2 and #7. Beautiful post, I’m always so excited to see what magic you have in store for us 🤍🤗🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Grace for your kind words and support! I’m happy that you liked these couplets that have been translated from Urdu or Persian, as some essence is lost in translation. Thanks so much 😊💖

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Ghalib’s couplets are so popular that these are used as idioms or quotes in day-to-day life. Thank you for taking your time to read and comment 🙏💐

      Liked by 1 person

  4. मिर्ज़ा साहिब का कुछ इस कदर छाया असर,
    जो ज़ख़्म पिरोया करते थे, वे भी बन गए शायर।

    Liked by 1 person

    1. आप में भी हैं शायरों के सारे लक्षण
      शेरनुमा टिप्पणियां करती हैं तत्क्षण
      बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद!

      Liked by 1 person

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