Raplph Russell, the noted Urdu scholar from Great Britain, passed
away today. He was in his nineties.
qamar baandhe hue chalne pe yaan sab yaar baithe hain
bahut aage gaye baaqi jo hai tayyaar baithe hain
kahaan gardish falak ki chain deti hai sunaa Insha
ghaneemat hai ke hamsoorat yahaan do chaar baithe hain.
Ralph Russell died from cancer of the liver in London on 14/09/08 at
the ripe old age of 90. He will be remembred for his services for the
cause of Urdu. May God grant him peace.
As someone living in England, although I have seen him on television
on a couple of occasions, it has been my misfortune that I never met
him. I thought of contacting him a couple of times to discuss one or
two things from his Urdu teaching course, but alas, I never ventured
beyond this thought. I am aware that Ralph Russell came to my home
town (Peterborough, Cambridgeshire) to a Pakistani gentleman's house
who himself is a scholar. This gentleman, Mohammed Sarver Rija, whom I
knew very closely as a family friend, has translated Russell's "In
Pursuit of Urdu Literature..A Select History" into Urdu. Mr. Rija, an
Urdu poet in his own right, has also translated selected works of
Iqbal from Farsi into manzuum Urdu.
There is plenty of material on the internet on Russell. Here are a few
links which may be of interest to ALUP-ers.
http://www.ralphrussell.co.uk/index.html (Ralph Russell'website)
http://www.indowindow.com/sad/article.php?child=14&article=5 (Urdu in
India since independence)
http://www.urdustudies.com/pdf/10/20russellInterview.pdf (An interview
with Ralph Russell)
Nagesh Sahib, aadaab 'arz hai.
Is the first shi'r something like this?
kamar baaNdhe hu'e jaane ko yaaN sab yaar baiThe haiN
bahut aage ga'e baaqii jo haiN taiyyar baiThe haiN
In all honesty I had never even heard of Ralph Russell until today. I
am looking forward to reading about him and his works. I found the
following link whilst researching Ghalib.
An audio interview of Ralph Russell (in Urdu) can be listened here:
Aadaab! Your transliteration is better than mine. It is kamar and
not qamar. Other than that, the version in Shah Abdus Salam's book
(Urdu Poetry) is as I have presented it. The musical version on my
iPod has a different maqta from the one in the book - "bhalaa gardish
falak ki chain deti hai kahaan Insha" is the musical version.
I have most of Ralph Russell's books. His translation (with K.
Islam) of Ghalib's letters is remarkable. An excerpt from a Persian
letter to a bereaved friend;
"In the days of my youth when the blackness of my deeds outdid the
blackness of my hair, and my head held the tumult of the love of fair-
faced women, Fate poured into my cup too the poison of this pain, and
as the bier of my beloved was borne along the road, the dust rose from
the road of that fortitude which was my essence. In the brightness of
broad day I sat on sackcloth and clad myself in black in mourning for
my mistress, and in the black nights, in the solitude of sorrow, I wsa
the moth that flew to the flame of her burnt-out candle. She was the
partner of my bed, whom at the time of parting my jealous heart could
not consign even to God's keeping."