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Mirza Ghalib: Legendary poet of the Urdu language

Mirza Ghalib, who was born on December 27, 1797 in Agra was a well-known poet in the Persian and Urdu languages.  Today he remains as the one of most popular and influential masters Poets of the Urdu language, and is known simply as Ghalib.

He remains popular not only in India and Pakistan but also in whole World. In his honour, Google is changing its doodle portraying him.

Legendary poet of the Urdu language

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Mirza Ghalib started writing poetry at the age of 11. His sadness is in his verse. A result of an often tragic life. He was orphaned at an early age and lost all of his seven children in their infancy.

Agra as Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, who later used pen name “Ghalib” (the conqueror), he migrated to Delhi where he lived for the rest of his life.

He struggled financially, never had a regular job and depended on patronage from royalty.

The poet had an arranged marriage at the age of 13. But none of his seven children survived beyond infancy, tragedies which are reflected in his work.

Ghalib’s poetry After marriage, he settled in Delhi. In one of his letters, he describes his marriage as a second imprisonment after the initial confinement of life itself.

The idea that life is one continuous struggle was a recurring theme in his poetry.

Mirza Ghalib‘s best poems were written in three forms: ghazal (lyric), masnavi (moralistic or mystical parable), and qasidah (panegyric).

Ghalib took the concept of ghazals and changed them from an expression of anguish in love to philosophies of life.

His critics accused him of writing in an ornamental style of Persian that was incomprehensible to the masses. But his legacy became celebrated. Particularly his mastery of the Urdu ghazal.

Gifted letter writer, Mirza Ghalib was also a gifted letter writer. His letters opened the doors to an easy Urdu.

Before him, letter writing in Urdu was highly ornamental. His letters talk by using common words.


He was awarded the title Dabir-ul-Mulk by Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1850. Along with the title of Najm ud-daulah.He died in Delhi on February 15, 1869. The house where he lived has been turned into a memorial and hosts a permanent Ghalib exhibition.


Ideas through poems

  • Seeking God. Ghalib placed a greater emphasis on seeking of God rather than ritualistic religious practices.
  • In one of his poems, he wrote: “The object of my worship lies beyond perception’s reach; For men who see, the Ka’aba is a compass, nothing more,” according to William Dalrymple, in his book The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi.
  • “The prison of life”. The idea that life is a struggle which can end when life itself ends shows in his poetry.
  • “The prison of life and the bondage of grief are one and the same. Before the onset of death, why should man expect to be free of grief?” he wrote.
  • Life is a playground. Ghalib’s view was one that was similar to a playground, where people are busy in mundane activity but not aiming for a major goal.
  • “Just like a child’s playground this world appears to me. Every single night and day, this spectacle I see,” he wrote.
  • Final goal. His final aim with his writing? “I want to write lines that make whoever reads them, happy.”


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