Alisher Navoiy’s Ghazals

  • Alisher Navoiy

Alisher Navoiy’s ghazals and Navoiy’s Blooming Garden published in the U.S.

In mid-January, 2021, Without You, a collection of ghazals by Alisher Navoiy and Navoiy’s Blooming Garden by Tursunoy Sodiqova, was published in English at Jasmaya Productions and Publications in Arizona, U.S.A. The texts have been translated and prepared for publication by Uzbek poet and translator Azam Abidov. The book is dedicated to the 580th anniversary of the birth of great poet and thinker Alisher Navoiy.

“I was astonished and disappointed to learn how little of Alisher Navoiy’s work is available in English. If I could live my life again, I would dedicate it to translating the works written in Chagatai Turkic and related languages that remain practically unknown to English-speakers,” Abigail Britton, the editor of this book, said.

Without You consists of 14 beautiful ghazals by Navoiy, as well as wonderful and meaningful commentaries to his ghazals by famous poet and enlightener Tursunoy Sodiqova. Two talented Uzbek artists, Shavkat Muzaffar and Husan Sodiqov, have contributed to the edition with their splendid illustrations. The book is also available on Amazon.

“We have done too little to introduce Navoiy not only to the English-speaking world, but also to millions and millions of other nations globally. I am not affiliated with any government-supported organizations or associations in Uzbekistan who are responsible for translation and promotion of the best names in Uzbek literature abroad, and I am doing these works independently and voluntarily. I want those who carry the name of Alisher Navoiy and all responsible institutions to awaken and start dealing with serious international projects,” the translator, Azam Abidov, said.

A.Abidov has extensively worked to introduce Uzbek literature, especially Navoiy, worldwide. For instance, in 2004, together with an American actress, he presented Navoiy at the Iowa Theater. In 2011, he compiled the international poetry anthology entitled The Language of the Birds in seven world languages, featuring Navoiy in the first chapter. In 2018, he translated Farhod and Shirin into English. He has also translated the movie called “Navoiy” from Uzbek into English. Azam has helped foreign authors and translators such as Janusz Krzyzowski, Gary Dyck, Maria Filipova, Morii Kae, Laura Whitton and many others with translating and popularizing Navoiy in Poland, Canada, Bulgaria, Japan, the U.S. and other countries.

To promote Uzbek culture, literature and art, together with Uzbek compatriots abroad, Azam Abidov dreams of opening Alisher Navoiy Institute in foreign countries in the near future. He also plans to organize annual International Poetry Festival in Uzbekistan. This year he is going to continue “The International Writer and Artist Residency Program in Uzbekistan” – UzLAB – also an independent initiative. He also runs the “Mitti Ko’prik” Telegram channel and a free English language club for creative people s at the S. Yudakov House Museum, gradually explaining to writers, poets and artists how to open up to international relations and become known abroad. He votes for independence of literature and art in his homeland and calls the country’s leadership, international donors and volunteers to support and join him and his family in establishing the International House of Creativity in a Tashkent neighborhood, where foreign authors would live and translate the best voices of Uzbek literature, including the books of Alisher Navoiy, into world languages, as well as to launch advanced literary and cultural projects.

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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.

***

THE COLOR OF LOVE

By Tursunoy Sodiqova

Youthfulness is your spring. You are beautiful and green in this season. However, remember that abundance in your autumn depends on your spring. Do not think that to err is human and man makes many mistakes in youth. If you feel that your work is not acceptable, you start to observe Satan. Remember that one day you will have to answer for your mistakes. All processes in our life live in harmony: we wear skullcap in order to protect our head from the sunshine and we put on our shoes in order to save our feet from the cold. God created teeth so we do not fall sick. We have reason in order to distinguish good things from the bad ones. When people feel passion in their heart and deviate, they shift the blame to love at once. They say, “It is a trick of love. I am not to blame”. Well, what is the color of love? What are its properties?

Alisher Navoiy writes:
Lover is that man – hard to cure,
Whose tongue, heart and eyes are pure.

When man falls in love, he becomes sad and thoughtful like the sick. His voice and features soften. He speaks to himself and always begs his beloved. It is the appearance of a man in love.

What is a “pure tongue”? A true lover will never deceive or boast. He will never hurt anyone or gossip. He will never reveal another’s secret. If he does the opposite of these, he has not fallen in love yet.

What is a “pure heart”? A true lover will never envy, complain, or seek revenge. He feels heartache, but he will never be jealous. If he suspects, avenges, or envies, he has not fallen in love.

To do everything sincerely is also one of the facets of a pure heart. If a lover insists that he must have his beloved, there is no love there. But if a lover humbly asks for his love’s feeling of fondness, his tongue and heart will become pure. There is no greater reward. It means that the sun entered your heart, and almond will forever flourish in your body. You will never be bored; the nightingale of your heart will continuously sing.

What are “pure eyes”? Impure eyes are the main reason for the spoiling of the tongue and the heart. If you do not lose your eyes to Satan, they will become the first teacher to acquaint you with most beautiful colors of the world. The eyes pass energy to mind and awake the heart, starting action. The eyes working sincerely are pure eyes. You know that the first theological revelation came to Mohammed (May peace be upon him) was the word “read”. Eyes reading scholarship, eyes learning a craft, eyes looking with good intention, searching for kindness, and weeping for people’s sufferings are pure eyes.

Anxiety begins with the eyes. Shameless eyes are the slaves of carnal desire. People with such eyes will never become lovers. Love will not come to them. Love disdains them all.

Translated by Azam Abidov

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