December 20, 2006 11:01am CST
Ghalib was born in 1793, in the North Indian city of Agra, to parents of Turkish aristocratic ancestry. Having lost his father and uncle at an early age, Ghalib grew in an environment free of oppressive dominance otherwise characteristic of a patriarchal set up. It is believe that while there are no records of Ghalib's formal education there are evidences within his writings and profound verse that indicate a deep absorption and understanding of issues pertaining to philosophy, ethics, literature, theology, literature, world history and other theoretical sciences. The history of Persian and Urdu literature never has and in all probability never will witness the evolution of a poet of this caliber. Accused of being hopelessly hedonistic with an intense attachment for all things material in life, one has to admit that Ghalib, despite several character glitches, has been Urdu's most prolific writer. (He wrote as many as two hundred and thirty five ghazals that included 1,818 verses). Needless to add, his contribution to the evolution of the ghazal as a rich medium of poetic expression remains unsurpassed. Click here for a superb and enchanting selection of poetry from this great poet.