Altaf Hussain Hali Poetry
Altaf Hussain Hali Poetry

Hali occupies a special position in the history of Urdu literature. Though he is not as great a lyricist as Ghalib, Momin, or Mir, he is more versatile than all of them. 

He is a poet, a critic, a teacher, a reformer, and an impressive prose-writer. 

As a poet, he did not confine himself within the narrow bounds of the ghazal but successfully exploited the other poetic forms such as the nazm, the rubai, and the elegy. 

His famous long poem, Musaddas-e-Hali, examines the state of social and moral degradation prevalent in contemporary Muslim society. 

His prose treatise, Muqaddama-e-Shaer-o-Shaaiv, is a pioneering work of literary criticism. 

His poem Barkha Rut describes the beauties of nature in the rainy season; Hubb-e- Watan, an excerpt from which is included in this anthology, underscores the virtues of patriotism, while Bewa ki Manajaat focuses on the plight of widows in the Indian society. 

Hali was the poetic disciple of Ghalib and he has written an insightful biography of the poet: Yaadgaar-E-Ghalib. He has also written biographies of Saadi Sheeraazi, and Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan.

Hali has a simple, natural, matter-of-fact style which makes him accessible to all kinds of readers.

💚 Khwaja Altaf Hussain Hali 💚

Delhi That Was (Delhi Marhoom)

Do not tell the tale, O friend, of Delhi, long-demised,
We haven’t got the strength to hear about its tragic plight.

Do not talk, O nightingale, about the rose in autumn days,
Do not, with your grinning face, make us weep and cry.

The crazy heart is ferreting for a mere excuse to weep,
Do not, O lyrist, a painful lyric recite.

It will surely call to mind associations of yore,
Do not paint a picture, pray, which the past revives.

Peerless pearls lie interred in every yard and park,
No other place in the world such precious treasures hides.

Delhi was once your home, O art and learning wise,
Though you have forgotten us, forget not your seat of pride.

The Muse has since departed, beyond recall she lies,
Why recall the happier days, and fret and fume besides!


Tazkara Delhi-e-marhoom ka ai dost na chher,
Na suna jaaega hum se yeh fasana hargiz.

Daastaan gul ki khazaan mein na suna, ai bulbul,
Hanste hanste hamen zaalim na rulana hargiz.

Dhoondata hai dil-e-shoreeda bahane mutrib,
Dard angez ghazal koi na gana hargiz.

Suhbaten agli, musawwar, hamen yaad aaengi,
Koi dilchasp muraqqa na dikhana hargiz.

Chappe chappe pe hain yaan gohar-e-yakta tah-e-khak,
Dafan hoga na kahin itna khazana hargiz.

Kabhi ai ilm-o-hunar ghar tha tumhara Dilli,
Hum ko bhoole ho tau ghar bhool na jaana hargiz.

Shairy mar chuki, ab Zinda na hogi, yaaro,
Yaad kar karke ise ji na kurhana hargiz.

💚 Khwaja Altaf Hussain Hali 💚 

England’s Freedom, India’s Slavery (Inglistaan ki Azadi, aur Hindustan ki Ghulami)

A slave becomes free when once he here arrives,
This, they say, is the magic touch of the English Isles.

As soon as he sets his foot within the British bounds,
One by one fall off the chains that kept him shackled tight,

If England knows this alchemy of changing human fate,
No less is India in charismatic enterprise.

A free man becomes a slave the day he here arrives,
Just a breath of Indian air, and fettered-fast he lies.

Kahte hain azad ho jaata hai jab leta hai saans,
Yaan ghulam aa kar, karamat hai yeh inglishtaan ki,

us ki sarhadd mein ghulaamon ne joohin rakha qadam,
Aur kat ke paaon se ik ik ke beri gir pari.

Qalb-e-maaheeat mein inglistaan hai gar kimeaa,
Kam nahin kuchh qalb-e-maaheeat mein Hindustaan bhi.

Aan kar azad, yaan azad rah sakta nahin,
Woh rahe ho kar ghulam, is ki hawa jisko lagi.

Khwaja Altaf Hussain Hali

💚  Patriotism (Hubb-e-Watan) 💚

O planets of the upper skies,
O glorious glades and garden sights,

O, exhilarating air of hills,
Cool breezes from the rills;

O, nightingales atrill at dawn,
Moon-lit nights star-adorned,

Lovely though in every place,
At home you have a special grace,

When we were in our country still,
You filled our lap with joyous thrills,

Hill and desert, earth and sky,
Each a source of rare delight!

Since we left our home and hearth,
Your beauty seems a dream forgot.

Whither gone those days and nights,
Where flown your magic might?

Ai sapahr-e-bareen ke sayyaaro,
Ai fiza-e-zameen ke gulzaaro,

Ai pahaaron ki dilfreb fiza,
Ai lab-e-joo ki thandi thandi hawa,

Ai anaadal ke naghma-e-sahri,
Ai shab-e-mahtaab taaron bhari;

Tum har ik haal mein ho yoon tau aziz,
The watan mein magar kuchh aur hi cheez.

Jab watan mein hamaara tha rahna,
Tum se dil bagh bagh tha apna,

Sab miri dil-lagi ki shaklen thein;

Par chhuta jab se apna mulk-o-dayaar,
Ji hua tum se khud-ba-khud bezaar.

 Kya hue woh din aur woh raaten,
Tum mein agli si ab nahin baaten.

Khwaja Altaf Hussain Hali

💚  Patriotism 💚

The world and we are still the same,
But the zest of life has been drained.

O my country, heaven-like,
Whither have fled your earth and sky?

Away from you I pine in grief,
And stand bereft of calm and peace.

The garden scene repels my heart,
The flowers look like ugly scars.

Zest and joy have taken flight,
You were the source of our delight.

How sad would be the plight of those,
Who live away from native shores!

In just two days, see, how I fare,
 A moment hangs on like a year.

While I pledge my life to you,
Are others too as fond of you?


Go wohi hum hain aur wohi duniya,
Par nahin humko lutaf duniya ka.

Ai watan, ai mire bahisht-e-bareem,
Kya hue tere aasmaan-o-zameen.

Teri doori hai moorad-e-aalaam,
Tere chhutne se chhut gaya aaraam.

Kaate khata hai bagh bin tere,
Gul hain nazron mein dagh bin tere.

Mit gaya naqsh kaamraani ka,
Tujh se tha lutaf zindagaani ka,

Jo ke rahte hain tujh se door sada,
un ko kya hoga zindagi ka maza.

Ho gaya yaan tau do hi din mein yeh haal.
Tujh bin ek ek pal hai ek ik saal.

Sach bata tu sabhi ko bhata hai
Ya ke mujh se hi tera nata hai.

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