Ghazels by Alisher Navoiy

Presented by A'zam Obidov

Ghazal #1

Men Presume Heavenly Maidens…

Men presume heavenly maidens are fascinating,
But my own angel is infinitely more captivating.

While Earthly beauties offer many temptations, many charms,
None can spin the glorious imaginings of my love’s creating.

Day and night are not as fine as your downy cheek,
Others are like basil, when with you in the garden venerating.

Is it a wonder lovers like me don’t die of beauty’s magnificence,
While the miracles of her face are so adoringly penetrating?

The more I drink her beauty, the more beautiful she becomes,
Only her hiding under Joseph’s coat would I find dishearting.

Yea soul, if Leila and Shirin were as fine as our hearts’ desire,
Farhod and Mejnun* would like us be in danger of dissipating.

If a beloved gives a false word, she would be left unattended,
Could a man ignore his heart’s desire if – like mine – she is intoxicating?

Yea soul, I heard the description of peris and houris* oftentimes,
None of them – in humanity like a human – is radiating.

Yea Navoiy, thorns in her street are like flowers in my eyes,
And her place in front of me is like paradise – illuminating.


*Shirin and Farhod and Leila and Mejnun, two pairs of tragic lovers appearing in Navoiy’s epic poems.

*peris and houris:beautiful, fairylike beings, and beautiful maidens who live in paradise.

Ghazal #2

The Sun Would Hide Itself in Shame…

When the glow of a hundred candles reflects off your cheek,
The sun would hide itself in shame, embarrassed by being so weak.

We stand blessed and joyous while in the wind of your existence,
When even the healing breath of Jesus would merely be a gleek.*

From everlasting to everlasting, you cannot be measured,
Like a circle with no beginning and no end, you are oblique.*

You light the taper, brighten the flower, and the moth is inflamed,
Frightened by the unearthly light, the desperate nightingale starts to shriek.

Your enchantment was reflected truly in Shirin and Leila,
Farhod died, Mejnun* became mournful, pitiable, and meek.

Your love and beauty, as you wanted, ’re demonstrated in your names,
From this, the essence becomes feeble, lighting of pain gloss the peak.

Those who wish to reach you need to get through the steppe of self,
Since to gain eternity one ought – nonentity – to seek.

It is not necessary to tell you all my needs and wants,
As you are aware always what from people’s hearts will leak.

Pour the rain of beneficence in the garden of Navoiy,
For bloom and nightingale – no leaf, no tune – sans your grace unique.


*gleek: a joke.

*oblique: not straight, inscrutable.

*Shirin and Farhod and Leila and Mejnun, two pairs of tragic lovers appearing inNavoiy’s epic poems.

Ghazal #3

The Sky Became a Herald…

Spring is inescapable hell for me without you,

The red bloom is fire, the white has an icy hue.
It is no wonder – without you – spring is inferno,
Since paradise will – sans his face – turn to hades too.

As soon as his dreamy fantasies come into my sight,
The tears on my face form wrinkles of affliction, rue.

The sweetest fruits are tasteless to the sick,
It’s unsurprising if your sweet lip will – vile curses – askew.

A soul in nothingness longs for heart to hold,
Because it feels this body for its boorishness, its rue.

Do not say Navoiy is unclothed, he wears
A robe of nonexistence, a misfortune-sewn tissue.

Having turned a ten-day moon* to a smaller arrow,
The sky became a herald in front of the king’s horse – blue.
*ten-day moon: a moon in the shape of drawn bow.

Alisher Navoiy was born in 1441 in Herat, which is now in north-western Afghanistan. During Alisher's lifetime, Herat was ruled by the Timurid Empire and became one of the leading cultural and intellectual centers in the Muslim world. Alisher belonged to the Chagatai amir (or Mīr in Persian) class of the Timurid elite.

The Alisher Navoi State Museum of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan is a scientific-cultural, educational establishment which mainly focuses ...

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