Saturday, 15 October 2011

Ghalib - vo firaaq aur vo visaal kahaan

A well-known Ghalib ghazal to bring this site out of another longish spell of hibernation.  Chosen partly because of the exceptionally dulcet number the late Jagjit Singh did on this poem, in Doordarshan's 'Ghalib' serial of yore.  JS's tremendous popularity was not restricted to India (as I am realising by the flood of condolence messages coming in). Some sort of immediate tribute seems fitting.
This is among the rare Ghalib ghazals which maintains consistency of theme and mood across all the aa'shaar.  The kahaa.n that functions as the radif, although having the literal meaning of 'where', is used almost always in the figurative sense of 'is nowhere', allowing it, through context, to evoke an air of defeated melancholy and loss. 

vo firaaq aur vo visaal kahaa.n

vo shab-o-roz-o-maah-o-saal kahaa.n

वो फ़िराक और वो विसाल कहाँ

वो शब्-ओ-रोज़-ओ-माह-ओ-साल कहाँ

وہ فراق اور وہ وصال کہاں

وہ شب و روز و ماہ و سال کہاں

Where is that separation and that union (now)?
Where are those nights and days and months and years (now)?

The sense of something that was experienced earlier and is now lost is brought forth by the simple addition of 'vo' to both lines.  It is thus those specific separations, unions, nights, days, months and years that are being mourned, not just these things in the abstract.  

The lovely ejaafat construction of the second line, makes for as beautiful an aural effect as a semantic one.  The concatenation evokes a beautifully cascading sense of the passage of time...

fursat-e-kaarobaar-e-shauq kise
zauq-e-nazzaara-e-jamaal kahaa.n

फुर्सत-ए-कारोबार-ए-शौक़ किसे
ज़ौक-ए-नज़्ज़ारा-ए-जमाल कहाँ

فرصتِ کار و بارِ شوق کسے

ذوقِ نظّارۂ جمال کہاں

Who (still) has leisure for the labours of love?
Where is the enjoyment in sights of beauty (now)?

The 'kise' of the first line could, in perfectly acceptable idiomatic use, stand for the poet himself, to signify that it is he who finds no leisure to indulge in the daily exertions that passion demands.  Alternatively, it could also denote a more general 'who', in which case the sense of the line would change, to bemoan how in today's world one can't find lovers with the mettle of yore, who are willing to take time off from their daily pursuits to wander madly about wildernesses, etc...

The second line could mean that sighting the Beloveds gives no pleasure any more, or alternatively that the desire to sight the Beloved is itself lost (the latter could simply be from a realisation of the impossibility of the prospect).

dil to dil vo dimaag bhi na rahaa

shor-e-sauda-e-khat-o-khaal kahaa.n

दिल तो दिल वो दिमाग भी ना रहा
शोर-ए-सौदा-ए-ख़त-ओ-खाल कहाँ

دل تو دل وہ دماغ بھی نہ رہا
شورِ سوداۓ خطّ و خال کہاں

(what to say of the) heart, even that mind is no more
where (now) is the agitation of infatuation for the beard and mole

What Ghalib seems to be hinting at here is that the tumultuous agitation that accompanies a crazed infatuation resides more in the mind than in the heart.  It could thus be an allegation that much of this sort of 'madness' is actually self-indulgent make-believe, rather than truly 'heart-felt' grief.  

The sort of amorous madness that this critique is directed against, however, seems to be restricted to philandering infatuations, rather than a single-minded passion for a particular Beloved.  Ghalib qualifies this 'madness' as a craze for both khatt and khaal.  The latter stands for moles or 'beauty spots' whose presence has traditionally been regarded as a marker of a woman's charms.  Whereas khatt means the first faint flush of beard that sprouts on an adolescent boy's face.  In the Persianised 19th Century world of classical urdu poetry, pederasty was a common indulgence, and comely adolescent boys were as prized by older men (especially men of means) as bewitching female partners.  While there are not too many overt references to such variety of sexual tastes in Ghalib's ghazals, a number of earlier poets (including Mir) devote many more of their shers to celebrate the 'beauty of boys'.  In this case, Ghalib's use of this construct seems to be aimed, as I mentioned above, to stress that the sort of 'tumult' he is talking about is the light-hearted variety - the sort that is excited indiscriminately at the sight of every alluring face, rather than one associated with a deep abiding love. 

thii vo ek shakhs ke tasavvur se

ab vo raanaaii-e-khayaal kahaa.n

थी वो एक शख्स के तसव्वुर से
अब वो रानाई-ए-ख़याल कहाँ

تھی وہ اک شخص کے تصوّر سے

اب وہ رعنائیِ خیال کہاں

It existed from the imagination/fancy of an individual
where is that gracefulness of thought now?

The poet is implicitly admitting that in the past he possessed a certain 'gracefulness of thoughts'.  However, he explains that this was sustained by constantly fantasising about the Beloved.  And now that he has lost that fantasy (note - it is not the Beloved he has lost, just her fancy; she was never sufficiently his to lose anyway), his thoughts are no different from, no more beautiful than, those of anybody else.  

I like the beautifully 'detached' air with which the sher makes its unfortunate observation.  The way the first line discreetly, almost impersonally, refers to 'ek shakhs', ('an individual') instead of outrightly naming the Beloved, seems to give this observation an almost clinical air.  [It is almost as if the Poet is standing apart from himself, somewhat like a doctor, and analysing the reasons for his loss of 'beautiful thoughts'.]  Or perhaps some acquaintance has quizzed the poet about his previously vaunted exquisiteness of thought, and he is explaining the reasons for his present coarseness, but without wanting to identify the Beloved by name...? 

I like to think of this sher as a sort of logical continuation of the previous one.  [While classical ghazal rules stress the 'independence' of each sher, we have sometimes earlier seen how the placement of two particular shers adds to the beauty of one or both (even though each can still be read in isolation without any loss of meaning)] 

In this particular case, we can see how the entire ghazal is a rueful lament about a better bygone time, can't we?  Well, within this broader context, the previous sher mourned the lost capacity of the poet (or of society at large) to find excitement in the pretty faces around him.  Whereas, this one expresses regret about the lost delicacy of thought that used to be fuelled by fancies of a particular Beloved.  Hence, the two shers come together to explain that the poet has lost his ability to take both kinds of pleasures - the shallow ones as well as the deep ones, the 'general' as well as the 'specific'.

The sher also allows for some promising 'meaning mining', as befits something by Ghalib.  Note that the 'ek shakhs' of the first line could just as legitimately be read as referring back to the poet himselfSimilarly, the 'ek shakhs ke tasavvur' could mean fantasies about an individual (which is the sense I have implicitly taken above) as well as the fantasies of an individual.  Hence, in an alternative reading, the sher could be saying that his past 'beauty of thoughts' was fuelled by his own powers of imagination, which have now faded.  Hence the sher may be entirely an observation about the poet himself - since a Beloved is nowhere mentioned in the sher, we needn't conjure one from without!       

aisaa aasaa.n nahi.n lahu ronaa

dil mein taaqat jigar mei.n haal kahaa.n

ऐसा आसाँ नहीं लहू रोना
दिल में ताक़त जिगर में हाल कहाँ

ایسا آساں نہیں لہو رونا
دل میں طاقت جگر میں حال کہاں

(it) isn't so easy to weep blood
where is the strength in the heart, the balance in the liver?

This one harks back to the stylised vascular physiology of the ghazal world, where the liver struggles to keep up a supply of fresh blood, while the wounded heart loses the vital fluid constantly, through the eyes, as 'blood tears'.   In keeping with the overall ambience of this ghazal, the Poet's eyes have run dry, and possibly some acquaintance has pointed this out to him, to which he responds with the above sher.  The 'haal' of the second line carries a general sense of 'condition', or 'state', but also has a specific usage in accounting parlance to describe the 'present balance' of the books.  In the present context, this would signify the depleted reserves of blood in the liver...

ham se chhootaa qimaar-khaanaa-e-ishq

vaa.n jo jaawe.n girih mei.n maal kahaan

हम से छूटा क़िमार-खाना-ए-इश्क

वां जो जावें गिरिह में माल कहाँ

ہم سے چھوٹا قمار خانۂ عشق
واں جو جاویں گرہ میں مال کہاں

The gambling-house of love is lost to me
where is the money in the purse, that (I) would go there?

Girih literally means a small knot, and here signifies a purse (from the common practice of carrying one's money tied in a knot in the garment).  Qimaar is literally 'dice', and hence qimaar-khaanaa means a gambling den.  Since it is a gambling-house of love that is now out of bounds for the Poet, the money that he lacks would be denominated in an appropriate currency, of course.

fiqr-e-duniyaa mei.n sar khapaataa huu.n

mai.n kahaa.n aur ye vabaal kahaa.n

फिक्र-ए-दुनिया में सर खपाता हूँ
मैं कहाँ और ये वबाल कहाँ

فکرِ دنیا میں سر کھپاتا ہوں

میں کہاں اور یہ وبال کہاں

(I) bang my head against the worries of the world
where am I, and where is this bane/curse?

A rather nice sher, it hinges on the popular idiomatic usage in hindi/urdu which highlights the incomparable-ness of two things by saying 'yeh kahaan, aur vo kahaan'.  The figurative sense of this idiom is to stress that one of the items is at one end of some sort of spectrum, while the other is at the other end.  However, the literal reading is merely 'where is this, and where is that?'

As so often with Ghalib, he allows us to read the idiom in both its idiomatic sense as well as its literal sense.  In the former, the Poet is ruefully shaking his head at his present state, where he is reduced to spending his days in worldly worries.  Recalling his golden past (where he was too loftily absorbed in the pursuit of love to bother himself with the quotidian quibbles of the world), he asks himself whether he could have ever imagined that this curse, this punishment (i.e. the worries of the world) would someday become worthy of his attentions!  He could also be ruing the unlikelihood of someone like him (who has so little experience of bothering with worldly worries) being able to cope with them now.
Choosing to read the idiom in its literal sense, however, we have a deliciously alternative reading where the 'worry of the world' that is occupying the Poet is precisely the difficulty of fixing his own location vis-a-vis that of the vabaal, i.e. the curse/punishment (the exact nature of which is left ominously unstated). 

muzmahil ho gaye quva'a Ghalib

vo a'naasir mei.n i'tidaal kahaa.n

मुज्महिल हो गए कुव'आ ग़ालिब
वो आनासिर में इ'तिदाल कहाँ

مضمحل ہو گئے قویٰ غالب
وہ عناصر میں اعتدال کہاں
The strengths/powers have faded, Ghalib
where is that balance in the elements/humours (now)?

A'naasir is the plural of the Arabic u'nsur, which means an 'element' or one of the 'humours' which constitutes a living being.  i'tidaal means something like 'moderation', and is specifically used in traditional medical parlance to describe a state where the humours are balanced, i.e. the person is in good health.

The sher thus rues the loss of physical and mental capacities, possibly from age, possibly from grief and disappointment.  The lack of a clearly articulated 'cause' leaves the sher with a haunting air of universality.  

Given the thematic unity of this ghazal, Ghalib could have come up with few better maqtaas to end it.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Dard - Tuhmaten chand apne zimme dhar chale

One of the founding fathers of the Urdu Ghazal, and a towering figure in the Delhi poetic circles of his time, was Khvaja Mir Dard. He was a contemporary of Mir Taqi Mir, and was actually a respected 'mystic' as opposed to a court poet. He was also as much a writer of prose - with an influential body of theological work - as a poet. However, not all his poetry necessarily shows a 'mystical' bent, and most of it fits well within the generally accepted milieu of the romanticised ghazal world. Frankly, I have yet to read anything particularly striking by Dard, but for sake of completeness, thought we could look at the following ghazal, which is among his more famous ones.

Tuhmate.n chand apne zimme dhar chale
jis liye aaye the so ham kar chale

तोहमतें चन्द अपने ज़िम्मे धर चले
जिस लिए आये थे सो हम कर चले

تہمتیں چند اپنے ذمّے دھر چلے
جس لئے آئے تھے سو ہم کر چلے

having taken a few accusations on to myself, I leave
what I had come (to do), I have accomplished

The farsi word 'tohmat' signifies a suspicion of guilt, a false allegation, an aspersion or calumny. The sher wears a grimly celebratory mood, at the poet having managed to attract all the undeserved indignities that had been destined for him...

zindagii hai yaa koii tuufaan hai
ham to is jiine ke haantho.n mar chale

ज़िन्दगी है या कोई तूफ़ान है
हम तो इस जीने के हांथों मर चले

زندگی ہے یا کوئی طوفان ہے
  ہم تو اس جینے کے ہاتھوں مر چلے

is (this) life, or some (sort of) storm
As for me, I have been slaughtered by this life

kyaa hamei.n kaam in gulo.n se ai sabaa
ek dam aaye idhar udhar chale

क्या हमें काम इन गुलों से ऐ सबा
एक दम आये इधर उधर चले

کیا ہمیں کام ان گلوں سے اے صبا
   ایک دم آئے ادھر اودھر چلے

what interest do I have in these flowers, O zephyr?
(they) suddenly appear here, (and immediately) leave for there

The idea being, of course, that despite their appeal, the sheer evanescence of the blooms makes them unworthy of attention. There's some nice philosophising behind that disdain...

dosto.n dekhaa tamaashaa yaa.n kaa bas
tum raho ab ham to apne ghar chale

दोस्तों देखा तमाशा याँ का बस
तुम रहो अब हम तो अपने घर चले

دوستو دیکھا تماشا یاں کا بس
   تم رہو اب ہم تو اپنے گھر چلے

friends, (I've) seen enough of the spectacle here
you stay on; (as for) me, I'm now going home!

Rather nicer, na?

aah bas jii mat jalaa tab jaaniye
jab koii afsuun teraa us par chale

आह बस जी मत जला तब जानिये
जब कोई अफ्सून तेरा उस पर चले

آہ بس جی مت جلا تب جانئے
    جب کوئی افسوں ترا اس پر چلے

oh, that the heart isn't burn, one can (only) know
when some sorcery of yours works on it!

Some subtle word-play here, which comes from the two ways 'afsuun chalnaa' can be interpreted. afsuun is farsi for a charm, a spell, sorcery or witchcraft. jii par afsuun chalnaa could signify a spell being merely cast on the heart, but, in a slightly different sense, could also specifically refer to such a spell working after being cast. Hence, the sher is playing teasingly with two meanings. In one it is saying merely that the state of the heart will be tested when the Beloved casts her next spell on it. In another, it is a little more playful, throwing at her something like, "we will know that my heart isn't burnt only if one of your spells manages to affect it!"

ek mai.n dil-resh huu.n vaisaa hii dost
zakhm kitno.n ke sunaa hai bhar chale

एक मैं दिल-रेश हूँ वैसा ही दोस्त
ज़ख्म कितनों के सुना है भर चले

ایک میں دل ‌ریش ہوں ویسا ہی دوست
    زخم کتنوں کے سنا ہے بھر چلے

It is just I who is so (specially) heart-wounded, o friend
or else, I hear, so many have had their wounds healed!

Quite a nice one, this! The sher wears a sweetly self-mocking note, wryly observing the bloody-mindedness of the wounds in the poet's heart, which refuse to heal, even though others (who had been similarly afflicted by the Beloved?) seem to have recuperated quite comfortably! There's almost an admission of self-inflicted (not to mention self-indulgent!) hypochondria in the poet's persistently painful pangs...

shamaa ke maanind ham us bazm mei.n
chashm-tar aaye the daaman-tar chale

शमा के मानिंद हम उस बज़्म में
चश्म-तर आये थे दामन-तर चले

شمع کے مانند ہم اس بزم میں
   چشم‌تر آئے تھے دامن‌تر چلے

like a lamp, in that gathering
I had came damp-eyed, and leave with (my) daaman stained

While I don't much like this kind of overt simile-making, one must admit there's some clever imagery at work here. Being daaman-tar, which literally means 'having a wet daaman' commonly signifies having been dishonoured, tainted. The simile is to a lamp, a sham'a, which, at the beginning of the bazm, has its wick steeped in oil, and hence is 'moist-eyed' in a manner of speaking; and at the end of the bazm is extinguished, often by having a damp cloth thrown over the outer casing of the lamp (to block off the oxygen supply and thus make the flame die out, while not allowing the resultant smoke to escape). This allows Dard to play rather smartly with the chashm-tar and daaman-tar stylisations here.

DhoonDte hai.n aap se us ko pare
Sheikh saahib chhoR ghar baahar chale

ढूँढ़ते हैं आप से उस को परे
शेख़ साहिब छोड़ घर बाहर चले
ڈھونڈھتے ہیں آپ سے اس کو پرے
   شیخ صاحب چھوڑ گھر باہر چلے

(he) searches for Him (somewhere) apart from himself
the wise one leaves his house and goes outside!

This one is quite purely sufistic, of course, and does reveal Dard's theological bent somewhat. A religious worthy is gently derided for searching for the almighty in the outer world, when he only needs to look within...

ham na jaane paaye baahar aap se
vo hii aaRe aa gayaa jidhar chale

हम न जाने पाए बाहर आप से
वो ही आड़े आ गया जिधर चले

ہم نہ جانے پائے باہر آپ سے
وہ ہی آڑے آ گیا جیدھر چلے

I wasn't able to able to get away from myself
he verily came in the way, whichever way I went

Somewhat similar in tone to the last sher, this one aims deep too. Dard rues the inability of man to get away from his 'self', which inevitably blocks his progress on the path of mystical knowledge.  AaRe aanaa is a colloquial expression for 'getting in the way' of someone or some action.

ham jahaa.n mei.n aaye the tanhaa vale
saath apne ab use le kar chale

हम जहां में आये थे तनहा वले
साथ अपने अब उसे ले कर चले

ہم جہاں میں آئے تھے تنہا ولے

ساتھ اپنے اب اسے لے‌کر چلے  

even though we had come alone to this world
we now take it along with us, as we leave/move

Once again, some nice word play. Dard uses the expression 'take the world along with us' to denote man's susceptibility to burden himself with worldly worries and possessions. The le kar chale could denote two ideas - in one, it is stressing that we unnecessarily trudge through life 'burdened with the world', while we could travel so much lighter if we could only renounce these attachments. In the other, the 'chale' could signify the act of leaving from the world (to contrast with the act of entering the world, talked about in the first misraa), in which case the sher is mocking man's disinclination to let go of his worldly possessions even as he is on the verge of death, almost wishing to 'take it all with him'...

wale is a contraction of the persian wa-lekin, which has a sense of 'but', 'yet', or 'albeit'.

juu.n-sharar ai hastii-e-bebuud yaa.n
baare ham bhii apnii baarii bhar chale

जूं-शरर ऐ हस्ती-ए-बेबूद याँ
बारे हम भी अपनी बारी भर चले

جوں شرر اے ہستیِ بے‌بود یاں
بارے ہم بھی اپنی باری بھر چلے

O spark-like non-existent existence,
at last I too have finished my turn here

juu.n or jyuu.n is a colloquial word meaning 'like' or 'as'. be-buud is the negated form of buud, which is the root of the persian verb buudan, meaning 'to exist'. baare is the indefinite form of the farsi baar, and denotes a sense of 'at length', 'at last' or 'at some time'. Baarii bhar chalnaa signifies something like 'completing one's turn' in a game...

saaqiyaa yaa.n lag rahaa hai chal-chalao
jab talak bas chal sake saagar chale

साक़िया याँ लग रहा है चल-चलाओ
जब तलक बस चल सके साग़र चले

ساقیا یاں لگ رہا ہے چل چلائو
جب تلک بس چل سکے ساغر چلے

O Saqi, there is (such) a bustle here!
until it can be helped, (let) the (wine) pitcher last!

bas chalnaa indicates being able to control or influence things.

dard kuchh maaluum hai ye log sab
kis taraf se aaye the kidhar chale

दर्द कुछ मालूम है ये लोग सब
किस तरफ से आये थे किधर चले

درد کچھ معلوم ہے یہ لوگ سب
کس طرف سے آئے تھے کیدھر چلے

'Dard', (do you) know that all these people
had come from which direction, (and) where they went?

Nothing too special, but a nice note to sign off on, nonetheless!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Faiz - Do Ishq

An ever-vigilant reader has shaken me awake to the shameful realisation that I missed the centenary of Faiz' birth, on 13 February, with nary a comment!  

Inexcusable in itself, the crime is compounded by the fact that I had been quite conscious of the momentous occasion ever since a kind soul directed me, a few weeks back, to a special commemorative edition of the Himal magazine, which celebrates the cementing of Faiz's status, in the century since his birth, as the 'poet of the sub-continent' ( Scroll down to the section titled 'cover'). 

In belated tribute, therefore, the following nazm, which appeared in Faiz's 1952 work dast-e-sabaa, is offered as a salute to the man and his memory.  While it is a tough ask to choose just one of his poems as a symbol of his genius, I settled on this one because it presents, in an exceptionally 'de-constructed' manner, the characteristic feature that defines, for a lot of people, Faiz's oeuvre  - namely his transposition of the classical ghazal's worship of the Beloved (whether earthly or astral) to a deification of a social/political motherland.  As we have seen in the past, this is a recurrent theme in Faiz's poetry, but is usually couched in allusions and hints.  This particular poem, however, makes explicit this equation, right from the title.

Do Ishq

taazaa hai.n abhi yaad mei.n, ai saaqi-e-gulfaam
vo aks-e-rukh-e-yaar se lahke hue aiyaam
vo phuul si khiltii huii diidaar kii saa'at
vo dil saa dhaRaktaa huaa ummiid kaa ha.ngaam

ummiid ki lo jaagaa gham-e-dil kaa nasiibaa
lo shauq kii tarsii huii shab ho gayii aakhir
lo duub gaye dard ke be-khwaab sitaare
ab chamkegaa be-sabr nigaaho.n kaa muqaddar
is baam se niklegaa tere husn kaa khurshiid
us kunj se phutegii kiran rang-e-hinaa kii
is dar se bahegaa teri raftaar kaa siimaab
us raah pe phuulegii shafaq terii qabaa kii

phir dekhe.n hai.n vo hijr ke tapte hue din bhii
jab fikr-e-dil-o-jaa.n mei.n fughaa.n bhuul gayii hai
har shab vo siyaa bojh ki dil baith gayaa hai
har subh kii lau tiir sii siine mei.n lagii hai
tanhaii mei.n kyaa kyaa na tujhe yaad kiyaa hai
kyaa kyaa na dil-e-zaar ne DhunDii hai.n panaahe.n
aankho.n se lagaayaa hai kabhii dast-e-sabaa ko
Dalii hai.n kabhii gardan-e-mehtaab mei.n baahe.n


chaahaa hai isii rang mei.n lailaa-e-watan ko
taRpaa hai isii taur se dil uskii lagan mei.n
DhunDii hai yuu.n hii shauq ne aasaa'ish-e-manzil
rukhsaar ke kham mei.n, kabhii kaakul kii shikan mei.n

us jaan-e-jahaa.n ko bhii yuu.n hii qalb-o-nazar ne
ha.ns-ha.ns  ke sadaa dii, kabhii ro ro ke pukaaraa
pure kiye sab harf-e-tamannaa ke taqaaze
har dard ko ujyaalaa, har ek gham ko sa.nwaaraa

wapas nahi.n pheraa koii farmaan junuu.n kaa
tanhaa nahi.n lauTii kabhii aawaaz jaras kii
khairiyat-e-jaa.n, raahat-e-tan, sehhat-e-daaman
sab bhuul gayii.n maslahate.n ahl-e-hawas kii

is raah mei.n jo sab pe guzartii hai vo guzrii
tanhaa pas-e-zindaa.n, kabhii ruswaa sar-e-baazaar
garze hai.n bahut sheikh sar-e-goshaa-e-minbar
kaRke hai.n bahut ahl-e-hukm bar sar-e-darbaar

chhoRaa nahi.n ghairo.n ne koii naavak-e-dushnaam
chhuTii nahi.n apno.n se koii tarz-e-malaamat
is ishq na us ishq se naadim hai magar dil
har daagh hai is dil mei.n ba-juz daagh-e-nadaamat

दो इश्क़
ताज़ा हैं अभी याद में, ऐ साकी-ए-गुलफाम
वो अक्स-ए-रुख-ए-यार से लहके हुए अय्याम
वो फूल सी खिलती हुई दीदार की सा'अत
वो दिल सा धड़कता हुआ उम्मीद का हंगाम
उम्मीद कि लो जागा ग़म-ए-दिल का नसीबा
लो शौक़ की तरसी हुई शब् हो गई आखिर
लो डूब गए दर्द के बे-ख्वाब सितारे
अब चमकेगा बे-सब्र निगाहों का मुक़द्दर
इस बाम से निकलेगा तेरे हुस्न का खुर्शीद
उस कुंज से फूटेगी किरन रंग-ए-हिना की
इस दर से बहेगा तेरी रफ़्तार का सीमाब
उस राह पे फूलेगी शफ़क़ तेरी क़बा की

फिर देखें हैं वो हिज्र के तपते हुए दिन भी
जब फ़िक्र-ए-दिल-ओ-जान में फुगाँ भूल गई है
हर शब् वो सिया बोझ कि दिल बैठ गया है
हर सुब्ह की लौ तीर सी सीने में लगी है
तन्हाई में क्या क्या न तुझे याद किया है
क्या क्या न दिल-ए-ज़ार ने ढूंडी हैं पनाहें
आँखों से लगाया है कभी दस्त-ए-सबा को
डाली हैं कभी गरदन-ए-महताब में बाहें 


चाहा हैं इसी रंग में लैला-ए-वतन को
तड़पा है इसी तौर से दिल उसकी लगन में
ढूंडी है यूं ही शौक़ ने आसा'इश-ए-मंज़िल
रुखसार के ख़म में, कभी काकुल की शिकन में
उस जान-ए-जहां को भी यूंही क़ल्ब-ओ-नज़र ने
हंस हंस के सदा दी, कभी रो रो के पुकारा
पूरे किये सब हर्फ़-ए-तमन्ना के तकाज़े
हर दर्द को उज्याला, हर एक ग़म को संवारा
वापस नहीं फेरा कोई फरमान जुनूं का
तनहा नहीं लौटी कभी आवाज़ जरस की
खैरियत-ए-जान, राहत-ए-तन, सेहत-ए-दामन
सब भूल गयीं मसलहतें अहल-ए-हवस की 

इस राह में जो सब पे गुज़रती है वो गुज़री
तनहा पस-ए-ज़िन्दां, कभी रुसवा सर-ए-बाज़ार
गरजे हैं बहुत शेख सर-ए-गोशा-ए-मिन्बर
कड़के हैं बहुत अहल-ए-हुक्म बर सर-ए-दरबार  

छोड़ा नहीं ग़ैरों ने कोई नावक-ए-दुशनाम
छूटी नहीं अपनों से कोई तर्ज़-ए-मलामत
इस इश्क़ न उस इश्क़ पे नादिम है मगर दिल
हर दाग़ है इस दिल में ब-जुज़ दाग़-ए-नदामत

دو عشق

تازہ ہےں ابہی یاد میں اے ساقی گلفام
وہ عکس رخ یار سے لحکے ہوے ایام
وہ پہول سی کہلتی ہوی دیدار کی ساعت
وہ دل سا دہڑکتا ہوا امید کا ہنگام
امید کہ لو جاگا غم دل کا نصیبہ
لو شوق کی ترسی ہوی شب ہو گی آخر
لو ڈوب گے درد کے بےخواب ستارے
اب چمکےگا بے صبر نگاہوں کا مقددر
اس بام سے نکلےگا ترے حسن کا خورشید
اس کنج سے پہوٹےگی کرن رنگ حنا کی
اس در سے بحےگا تری رفتار کا سیماب
اس راہ پہ پہولےگی شفق تری قبا کی 
پہر دیکہے ہیں وہ ہجر کے تپتے ہوے دن بہی
جب فکر دل و جاں میں فغاں بہول گی ہے
ہر شب وہ سیہ بوجہ کہ دل بیٹہ گیا ہے
ہر صبح کی لو تیر سی سینے میں لگی ہے
تنہای میں کیا کیا نہ تجہے یاد کیا ہے
کیا کیا نہ دل زار  نے ڈہونڑی ہیں پناہیں
 آنکہوں سے لگایا ہے کبہی دست صبا کو
 ڈالی ہیں کبہی گردن مہتاب میں باہیں

چاہا ہے اسی رنگ میں لیلا ے وطن کو
تڑپا ہے اسی طور سے دل اس کی لگن میں
ڈہونڈی ہے یوں ہی شوق نے آسائش منزل
رخسار کے خم میں کبہی کاکل کی شکن میں
اس جان جہاں کو بہی یوں ہی قلب و نظر نے
ہنس ہنس کے صدا دی کبہی رو رو کے پکارا
پورے کیے سب حرف تمننا کے تقاضے
ہر درد کو اجیالا ہر اک غم کو سنوارا
واپس نہیں پہیرا کوی فرمان جنوں کا
 تنہا نہیں لوٹی کبہی آواز جرس کی
خیریت جاں راحت تن صحت داماں
سب بہول گییں مصلہتیں اہل ہوس کی
اس راہ میں جو سب پہ گزرتی ہے وہ گزری
تنہا پس زنداں کبہی رسوا سر بازار
گرجے ہےں بہت شیخ سر گوشہ منبر
کڑکے ہیں بہت اہل حکم بر سر دربار
چہوڑا نہیں غیروں نےکوی ناوک دشنام
چہوٹی نہیں اپنوں سے کوی طرز ملامت
اس عشق نہ اس عشق پہ نادم ہے مگر دل
ہر داغ ہے اس دل میں بہجز داغ ندامت

Two loves

(they) are still fresh in (my) memory, o rose-like saaqii
those days (that) glowed with the reflection of the Beloved's face
that hour of meeting, that (would) bloom like a flower
that moment of hope, that throbbed like a heart

a hope, which (said), 'behold! the destiny of heart's pain has awakened'
(which said), 'behold! love's parched night is finally done'
(which said), 'there, pain's sleep-less stars have (finally) dimmed'
'(and) now the destiny of impatient eyes will take shine'

(that promised that) from this roof would rise the sun of your beauty
from that corner would break forth a ray of henna's colour
through this door would flow your quicksilver gait
(and) on that path would bloom the sunset-glow of your robe

then again, (i have) seen also those scorching days of separation
when (even) cries were forgotten in worries of heart and life
(when) every night was so dark-laden that the heart would sink (under them)
(and) the flame of every morn would pierce the breast like an arrow

In how many ways did (I) remember you, in solitude
How many refuges did the weakened heart seek
at times, i touched the zephyr's hand to (my) eyes
at times, clasped my arms around the moon's neck


(and) in the same way have (I also) loved the Beloved (that is my) country
in the same fashion has (my) heart yearned in her ardour (also)
in like manner has (my) passion searched for the peace of a journey's end
(sometime) in the curve of (her) cheek, sometime in the bend of (her) curl

To that sweetheart also, (my) heart and eye have
at times laughingly called out, at times weepingly summoned

(I) fulfilled the demand of every word of desire (of hers)
(I) lightened every pain, embellished every sorrow

never (did i) turn away any dictat of passion
no toll of the bell ever returned unaccompanied
the well-being of life, the comfort of flesh, the soundness of dress
all (these) counsels of sensible people were forgotten

(and) what befalls everyone on this path, also befell (me)
(at times) lonely behind a prison (wall), at times dishonoured in public.
The holies thundered a lot from the corners of (their) pulpits
men of power boomed often in (their) courtrooms
no arrow of blame was spared by strangers
(nor did) intimates let any manner of rebuke pass

but (my) heart is shamed neither by this love, nor by that (one)
there is every stain on this heart, save the stain of regret

Since this nazm is so 'explicit' in what it says, it doesn't need much by way of additional explication.  Faiz airs out the 'love of his life' openly - personifying his love for an idealised motherland in a heart-achingly haunting fashion.  The first part of the poem, which sublimely chronicles the elation that is felt in the possibility of a Beloved's coming, or the despair that accompanies the certainty of separation from  her, forms, in the latter half, the context for the 'personification' of the country Faiz yearns for.  

I absolutely adore the bit that goes, "kyaa kyaa na dil-e-zaar ne DhuunDii hai.n panaahe.n; aankho.n se lagaayaa hai kabhii dast-e-sabaa ko; Daalii hai.n kabhii gardan-e-mehtaab mei.n baahe.n".  It conjures up such an endearing picture of a desperately lonely lover, seeking messianic comfort or friendly companionship from just about anything or anybody he encounters.   Another totally haunting line is "DhuunDii hai yuu.n hii shauq ne aasaa'ish-e-manzil; rukhsaar ke kham mei.n, kabhii kaakul kii shikan mei.n".  Such a typically Faiz 'sound' to it, isn't it?

And what a totally haunting line the poem signs off with, too...!

Some interesting words:  gulfaam uses the common persian suffix 'faam', which denotes resemblance or verisimilitude, most often used to denote similarity in colour. Ayyaam is arabic for 'days', 'times' or 'season'.  Aasaa'ish is from the same word root at aasaan and means 'repose' 'comfort' or 'tranquillity'.  Ahl-e-hawas is actually ahl-e-hawaas, here shortened for metrical reasons.  hawaas, which we are used to seeing in compound expressions like bad-hawaas or hosh-o-hawaas, means 'sense', (literally, as in 'the five senses').  Tarz is arabic for 'form' or 'style of conduct'.  Malaamat is farsi for reproach, accusation or opprobrium.  Naadim and nadaamat are both from a common farsi root signifying repentance or shame.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Daagh - Shokhi ne teri kaam kiya

Nawab Mirza Khan (1831-1905), who wrote under the pen name of 'Daagh Dehlvi' enjoys a prominent place in the "Delhi school" of shayarii, of which Ghalib and Zauq were the leading luminaries. Related by descent to Bahadur Shah Zafar, Daagh enjoyed the tutelage of Zafar's court poet, Zauq, in his formative years. Following the 1857 Revolt, he shifted base to the kingdom of Rampur (where he composed much of his best work), and spent the final years of his poetic career in Hyderabad, under the generous patronage of the Nizam.

In keeping with his poetical origins, in much of his poetry Daagh seems to aim, at least in ambition, towards the ironical and 'witty' treatment characteristic of Zauq and Ghalib. In particular, many of his maqtas use his takhallus to good effect (which is hardly surprising, given the potential of a moniker like daagh!). Most people are, for instance, familiar with his very famous "koi naam-o-nishaan puuchhe to ai qaasid bataa dena, takhallus daagh hai aur aashiqon ke dil mein rahte hain"! I personally find the takhallus usage in the present ghazal even more enjoyable...

The ghazal I have chosen today is fairly well known, since corrupted versions of it have been sung by a number of modern singers. [In general, Daagh has been much favoured by singers - Farida Khanum, in particular, having sung a remarkable number of his ghazals.]

Shokhii ne terii kaam kiyaa ik nigaah mei.n
suufii hai butkade mei.n sanam khaanaqaah mei.n

शोखी ने तेरी काम किया इक निगाह में
सूफी है बुतकदे में सनम खानकाह में

شوخی نے تیری کام کیا اک نگاہ میں
صوفی ہے بتکدے میں صنم خانقاہ میں

Your mischievous ways did (their) work in a single glance

the sufi (finds himself) in an idol-temple, (while) the idol is (itself) in an abbey!

A fairly standard reproach against the coquetries of the Beloved, which make things go 'topsy turvy', and cause rules of 'propriety' to be violated. The fact that the words could be directed against the Celestial Beloved add an additionally piquant element to the 'mischief' that this but has wrought - tempting sufi saints to seek the comfort of idols in their temples, while the idols themselves are busy inveigling their way into the abodes of the sufis (a khaanaqaah is a a convent, a monastery, typically meant for sufi recluses)!

aankhe.n bichhaye.n to ham a'du kii bhii raah mei.n
par kyaa kare.n ke tuu hai hamaarii nigaah mei.n

आँखें बिछाएं तो हम अदू की भी राह में
पर क्या करें कि तू है हमारी निगाह में

آنکهین بچهاین تو حم عدو کی بهی راه میں
پر کیا کرین که تو ہے حماری نگاہ میں

I would await even the Rival with ardent eyes
but what can I do - for I have you in my gaze!

Actually, that very inadequate translation can do no justice to the sher! The enjoyment in the sher comes from the idiomatic usage of 'kisi ki raah mei.n aankhe.n bichhaanaa', which literally translates to "to lay down one's eyes on someone's path", and has the meaning of "to wait for someone ardently". In this case, the Poet ironically assures the Beloved that he bears no rancour against his Rival, in fact he even looks forward to the his arrival. But if he is constrained from actually 'laying down his eyes' on the Rival's path, it is because the Beloved happens to be in his view, i.e. 'in his eyes', and he can hardly take his eyes off her, let alone place them (hence, by implication, her!) on the road!

baRhtaa huu.n aage puuchh kar us se maqaam-e-i'shq
jo fitna mujh gariib ko miltaa hai raah mei.n

बढता हूँ आगे पूछ कर उस से मक़ाम-ए-इश्क
जो फितना मुझ गरीब को मिलता है राह में

بڑہتا حوں آگے پوچہ کر اس سے مقام عشق
جو فتنہ مجہ غریب کو ملتا ہے راہ میں

I proceed forward, asking for (directions to) the resting place of love
(from) whichever calamity is encountered on the road by poor (old) me!

maqaam or muqaam is Arabic for a halting-spot, a place to stay or camp, used in the general sense of a 'destination'. fitna which comes from the Farsi fatan ('to burn' or 'to try by fire') denotes any kind of mischief, calamity or torment, particularly one engendered by deliberately seditious motives. In this case, the 'bite' in the sher comes from the characterisation of the travel-worn aashiq desperately seeking directions to his goal from the very calamities that thwart his steps!

dil mei.n samaa gayii.n hai.n qayaamat kii shokhiiyaa.n
do chaar din rahaa thaa kisii kii nigaah mei.n

दिल में समा गयीं हैं क़यामत की शोखियाँ
दो चार दिन रहा था किसी कि निगाह में

دل مین سما گئ ہین قیامت کی شوخیاں
دو چار دن رہا تہا کسی کی نگاہ میں

the mischiefs of the day of reckoning have taken abode in (my) heart
(even though) it stayed for a (mere) day or two in someone's gaze!

This one is quite ho-hum, merely noting the potent effects (on the heart) of even a short time spent under the Beloved's bewitching gaze. The juxtaposition of do chaar din with qayaamat serving to highlight the lasting effects of such abbreviated exposure...

raate.n musiibato.n kii jo guzrii.n thii.n aaj tak
maatam ko aayii.n hai.n mere roz-e-siyaah mei.n

रातें मुसीबतों की जो गुजरीं थीं आज तक
मातम को आई हैं मेरे रोज़-ए-सियाह में

راتیں مصیبتوں کی جو گزریں تہیں آج تک
ماتم کو آئ ہےں مرے روز سیاہ مین

the difficult nights that had been passed until today
have (all) come to mourn me on my dark days

This one's much nicer! The idiomatic junction of nights (wearing black in mourning?) visiting the Poet on a 'dark day' is especially delicious...

is tauba par hai naaz tujhe zaahid is qadar
jo TuuT kar shariik ho mere gunaah mei.n

इस तौबा पर है नाज़ तुझे ज़ाहिद इस क़दर
जो टूट कर शरीक हो मेरे गुनाह में

اس توبہ پر ہے ناز تجہے زاہد اس قدر
جو ٹوٹ کر شریک ہو مرے گناہ مین

you have such pride in this (vow of) renunciation, o hermit
that it, in breaking, is complicit in my crime!

A tauba is a vow to 'sin no more', a formal abjuring or renunciation of proscribed indulgences. Pride in one's renunciation is, of course, an indulgence in itself, which negates, in some manner, the very act of renunciation!

aatii hai baat baat mujhe yaad baar baar
kahtaa huu.n dauR dauR ke qaasid se raah mei.n

आती है बात बात मुझे याद बार बार
कहता हूँ दौड़ दौड़ के क़ासिद से राह में

آتی ہے بات بات مجہے یاد بار بار
کحتا ہوں دوڑ دوڑ کے کاصد سے راہ مین

things (to be said) come to my mind again and again
I (go) running to tell the messenger, again and again, on the path!

Clumsy as that translation is, I hope it does manage to capture, at least in part, the impossibly delicious vignette evoked in this very enjoyable sher. The vision of the besotted Lover never quite being able to exhaust all that he wants to convey to the Beloved, desperately running out again and again to catch up with the messenger on the road, just so that he can add another complaint, another plea that he wants to add to his missive, is as endearing as it is amusing...

Moreover, at a purely aural level, the repetition of long vowels in 'baat baat', 'baar baar' and 'dauR dauR' in the sher lend it a very enjoyable ring.

taasiir bach ke sang-e-hawaadis se aaye kyaa
merii du'a bhii Thokre.n khaatii hai raah mei.n

तासीर बच के संग-ए-हवादिस से आये क्या
मेरी दुआ भी ठोकरें खाती है राह में

تاثیر بچ کے سنگ حوادث سے آے کیا
میری دعا بہی ٹہوکرےں خاتی ہے راہ مین

(how) can effectiveness save itself from the stones of calamities, and come?
(why) even my prayer is stumbling around (against the stones) on the path!

This one is rather nice, with some enjoyable word-play! Tasiir (which comes from the same root at asar) is Arabic for 'effect' or 'impression' or 'influence', and denotes the 'power' to affect something. The poet rues any prospect of such potency being able to 'come to him', avoiding, on the way, the slings and arrows of fate (sang, or stones, has a similarly stylised connotation. Hawaadis which shares roots with the more common word haadisaa means something like 'misfortune' or 'calamity').

To drive home this improbability, he points out that even his prayer is unable to achieve anything more than wandering about fruitlessly, stubbing its toes on the stones on the path (the path to the Beloved, presumably?). The idiomatic potency of a phrase like 'raah mei.n Thokare.n khaanaa' (and the implied existence of 'stones' on the path) is difficult to capture in any English equivalent, but it beautifully links up the difficulty of taasiir in avoiding the 'flung' stones of misfortune with the inability of the du'a in doing the same with the stones strewn on the path...

kaisaa nazaaraa kis kaa ishaaraa kahaa.n kii baat
sab kuchh hai aur kuchh nahii.n niichii nigaah mei.n

कैसा नज़ारा, किस का इशारा, कहाँ कि बात
सब कुछ है, और कुछ नहीं, नीची निगाह में 

کیسا نظارہ کس کا اشارہ کہاں کی بات
سب کچہ ہے اور کچہ نہیں نیچی نگاہ مین

What spectacle, whose gestures, talk about what?
there is everything, and nothing at all, in a lowered eye

This one is too beautiful to even try and analyse! A true masterpiece, despite the simplicity of its words (or maybe because of it)!

jo kiinaa aaj hai tere dil mei.n sitam sh'aar
jaaye gaa kal yahii to dil-e-daad-khwaah mei.n

जो कीना आज है तेरे दिल में सितम श'आर
जायेगा कल यही तो दिल-ए-दाद-ख्वाह में

جو کینہ آج ہے ترے دل مین ستم شعار
جاے گا کل یہی تو دل داد خواہ مین

the rancour that is in your heart today, you emblem of cruelty
this very (rancour) will, tomorrow, go in the heart of the petitioner

A little abstruse, this. Kiinaa is Farsi for hatred, animosity, malice, or a desire for revenge. A daad-khwaah (a word which combines daad - Farsi for 'justice' - with the root of the Farsi verb khwaastan, meaning the act of 'desiring' or 'wishing') is a petitioner for justice, a plaintiff. It is also used for a suitor. The sher seems to hold an implied threat that the rancour the Beloved holds in her heart may, one day, reflect itself as a desire for revenge in the hearts of her supplicants...

sh'aar is derived from the Arabic verb for 'knowing' and denotes a habit or a custom, as also a mark or sign. It is a word that is commonly used in conjunction with nouns to create adjectival expressions: eg. karam-sh'aar means someone known for habitual generosity.

mushtaaq is sadaa ke bahut dard-mand the
ai daagh tum to baiTh gaye ek aah mei.n

मुश्ताक़ इस सदा के बहुत दर्द-मंद थे
ऐ दाग़ तुम तो बैठ गए एक आह में

مشتاق اس صدا کے بہوت درد مند تہے
اے داغ تم تو بیٹہ گے ایک آہ مین

(those) ardent for this cry possessed a lot of pain
(but) O Daagh, you sat down (subsided) in a single groan!

A truly brilliant maqtaa which milks every bit of potential out of the takhallus! Recall that daagh, one of the most commonly evoked words in the ghazal universe, denotes the wound, the burning scar, or the taint, on the Lover's heart. Hence, for a daagh, 'baiTh jaanaa (or subsiding) in a single groan', would cast doubts on its 'authenticity' as a true lover's wound to begin with. Which is why that second line wears that deliciously sneering tone. But since daagh is also the poet's takhallus, and since the delivery of the maqta indicates that he is going to 'sit down' (physically and metaphorically) after having said his bit, one can well imagine what a tour-de-force mushairaa sher this would have been!

Mushtaaq shares word root with shauq and denotes the act of becoming ardent or eager about something. A sadaa is a sound, a voice, a call or a cry. mand is used in conjunction with nouns to denote possession - eg. aql-mand is someone imbued with intelligence.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Faiz - Jame gii kaise bisaat yaaraa

Yet another exceptionally melodious ghazal from Faiz's 1965 work, dast-e-tah-e-sang.  There's a popular rendition of a part of it by Farida Khanum, which merits a hear.

jamegii kaise bisaat-e-yaaraa.n ke shiishaa-o-jaam bujh gaye hai.n
sajegii kaise shab-e-nigaaraa.n, ke dil sar-e-shaam bujh gaye hai.n 

जमेगी कैसे बिसात-ए-यारां कि शीशा-ओ-जाम बुझ गए हैं 
सजेगी कैसे शब्-ए-निगारां, कि दिल सर-ए-शाम बुझ गए हैं 

جمے گی کیسے بساطِ یاراں کہ شیشہ و جام بُجھ گئے ہیں
سجے گی کیسے شبِ نگاراں کہ دل سر شام بُجھ گئے ہیں

how will the gathering of friends/lovers be organised? For the wine-glasses have dimmed themselves... 
how will the adorned night be embellished? For, (already) on evenfall, the hearts have dimmed themselves...

bisaat is literally something that is 'spread out' or 'laid out', used for goods and merchandise, as well as beds and carpets.  A specific usage is in the context of a 'game board' such as one for chess.  In this context, a 'bisaat-e-yaaraa.n' is possibly a convivial get together with friends, or a union of lovers...  

sar-e-shaam would be the onset, or the early part, of the evening. 

vo tiiragii hai rah-e-butaa.n mei.n, chiraagh-e-rukh hai na sham'a-e-vaada
kiran koii aarzuu kii lao, ke sab dar-o-baam bujh gaye hai.n 

वो तीरगी है रह-ए-बुतां में चिराग़-ए-रुख है न शम-ए-वादा 
किरन कोई आरज़ू की लाओ, कि सब दर-ओ-बाम बुझ गए हैं
وہ تیرگی ہے رہِ بُتاں میں چراغِ رُخ ہے نہ شمعِ وعدہ
کرن کوئی آرزو کی لاؤ کہ سب در و بام بُجھ گئے ہیں

such darkness (fills) the path to idols; there is neither the lamp of a face, nor the flame of a promise
call for some ray of desire, for all doors and roofs have dimmed themselves 

Indeed, what, save longing, can light these treacherously obscure paths to the Beloveds...?  They certainly wouldn't deign to provide any assistance - either by allowing their radiant faces to guide one's steps, or by dangling incandescent promises as street lamps...!
bahut sambhaalaa wafaa kaa paimaa.n magar vo barsii hai ab ke barkhaa
har ek iqraar miT gayaa hai, tamaam paighaam bujh gaye hai.n

बहुत संभाला वफ़ा का पैमां, मगर वो बरसी है अब के बरखा 
हर एक इक़रार मिट गया है, तमाम पैगाम बुझ गए हैं
بہت سنبھالا وفا کا پیماں مگر وہ برسی ہے اب کے برکھا
ہر ایک اقرار مٹ گیا ہے تمام پیغام بُجھ گئے ہیں

The pact of faithfulness (I) tried much to guard, but such was the rain this time
(that) every acknowledgement were obliterated, all messages have dimmed themselves

Nice, isn't it?  What hope can mere devotion, howsoever desperate, have against these forces of nature...?!

qariib aa ai mah-e-shab-e-gham, nazar pe khultaa nahii.n kuchh is dam
ke dil pe kis-kis kaa naqsh baakii hai, kaun se naam bujh gaye hai.n

करीब आ ऐ मह-ए-शब्-ए-ग़म, नज़र पे खुलता नहीं कुछ इस दम 
के दिल पे किस-किस का नक्श बाक़ी है, कौन से नाम बुझ गए हैं
قریب آ اے مہِ شبِ غم ، نظر پہ کُھلتا نہیں کچھ اس دم
کہ دل پہ کس کس کا نقش باقی ہے ، کون سے نام بُجھ گئے ہیں

come closer, o moon of the night of pain, (for) nothing is apparent to the eye now
whose portraits still remain on the heart, (and) which are the names that have dimmed themselves

This is a sublime one!  It sort of caps, in triumphant manner, the recurring imagery of a vision-challenging darkness that snakes like a leitmotif throughout this ghazal.  Finally, the moon that presides over the night of separation is called upon for assistance, with a request to bend a little closer... to shed a little light on the wounded heart... so the poet can see which of his memories still remain etched on the cardiac walls, after all its dark palpitations...!

bahaar ab aa ke kyaa karegii, ke jin se thaa jashn-e-rang-o-naghma
vo gul sar-e-shaakh jal gaye hai.n, vo dil tah-e-daam bujh gaye hai.n

बहार अब आ के क्या करेगी, के जिन से था जश्न-ए-रंग-ओ-नगमा
वो गुल सर-ए-शाख जल गए हैं, वो दिल तह-ए-दाम बुझ गए हैं
بہار اب آکے کیا کرے گی کہ جن سے تھا جشنِ رنگ و نغمہ
وہ گل سرِ شاخ جل گئے ہیں ، وہ دل تہِ دام بُجھ گئے ہیں

What will the spring achieve by coming now? Those (because of) whom there was celebration of colour and song
all those flowers have withered on branches, (all) those hearts have fallen dim (trapped) in snares

Hmm... has such a lovely rhythm to it, doesn't it?  So typically Faiz.  And what an endearingly petulant irritation the sher wears, at the offer by the spring to make an 'oh-so-belated' appearance!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Faiz - ye jafaa-e-gham ka chaara

Faiz wrote this short poem in 1959, while incarcerated in Lahore jail. It appears in his 1965 publication dast-e-tah-e-sang. While broadly in ghazal format, it lacks a strict radif.  Once again, it has that enjoyable metrical rhythm so typical of Faiz. 

ye jafaa-e-gham ka chaara, vo nijaat-e-dil kaa aalam
teraa husn dast-e-iisaa, terii yaad ruu-e-mariyam

ये जफा ए ग़म का चारा वो निजात ए दिल का आलम
तेरा हुस्न दस्त ए ईसा तेरी याद रू ए मरियम

یہ جفاے غم کا چارہ، وہ نجات دل کا عالم
ترا حسن دست عیسا، تری یاد رُوے مریم

This, the cure for pain's oppression; that, a state of heart's deliverance
your beauty, the hand of Christ; your memory, the face of Mariyam

Nothing too deep here, but the sher pays its tribute to the Beloved with such beauty, doesn't it?  Her glimpse, her memories, have a curative, even a messianic, ability to soothe, to redeem...  Nijaat (or, more correctly, najaat) means escape, salvation or deliverance.

dil-o-jaa.n fidaa-e-raahe, kabhii aa ke dekh hamdam
sar-e-kuu-e-dil-figaaraa.n, shab-e-aarzuu kaa aalam

दिल-ओ-जां फ़िदा-ए-राहे कभी आ के देख हमदम
सर-ए-कू-ए-दिल-फिगारां, शब्-ए-आरज़ू का आलम

دل و جاں فداے راہے کبھی آ کے دیکھ ہمدم
سرِ کوے دل فگاراں شبِ آرزو کا عالم

hearts and lives (are) sacrificed on paths; do come and see sometime, friend
the state (that prevails on every) night of desire, in the lane of the broken-hearted,

Lovely!  There is such a nicely conversational touch to that challenging invitation to the Beloved - to come and see for herself how the 'night of desire' plays out, the spectacle that prevails, in the neighbourhoods of those smitten in her ardour... 
Fidaa in its original meaning is 'to be given in ransom', but has come to be used in the general sense of being sacrificed towards something, also for being completely devoted to something.  Figaar means 'wounded', used also in the sense of 'afflicted' or 'crippled'.

terii diid se siwaa hai, tere shauq mei.n bahaaraa.n
vo chaman jahaa.n girii hai, tere gesuo.n kii shabnam

तेरी दीद से सिवा है तेरे शौक़ में बहारां 
वो चमन जहां गिरी है तेरे गेसुओं की शबनम

تری دِید سے سوا ہے ترے شوق میں بہاراں
وہ چمن جہاں گِری ہے تری گیسوؤں کی شبنم

Other than your glimpse, in your love (what) are springs
The garden (is) where the dew of your tresses has fallen

Despite expressing a fairly standard tribute to the Beloved, the sher does manage an exceptional sonorous beauty, doesn't it?  The water droplets that the Beloved shakes out of her wet ringlets determine where gardens will sprout - what indeed can spring mean in such a state, other than a glimpse of her?!

ye ajab qayaamate.n hai.n, terii rahguzar mei.n guzraa.n
ne huaa ki mar miTe.n ham, na huaa ki jii uTHe.n ham

ये अजब क़यामतें हैं तेरी रहगुज़र में गुजरां

न हुआ कि मर मिटें हम, न हुआ कि जी उठें हम

یہ عجب قیامتیں ہیں تری رہگزر میں گزراں
نہ ہُوا کہ مَر مِٹیں ہم، نہ ہُوا کہ جی اُٹھیں ہم

such wondrous calamities are lived on your lane!
to die away was not to be, to come alive was not to be

Once again, the sher itself doesn't make a particularly original point, but has an engaging aural ring to it that is recognisably 'Faiz'.  Guzraan karnaa is a multivalent expression, used in many related senses, one of which is "to pass life, to live".  Ajab, of course, means something that evokes wonder or astonishment - it shares word root with ta'ajjub, which means surprise or admiration.

lo sunii gayii hamaarii, yuu.n phire.n hai.n din ki phir se
vahii gosha-e-qafas hai, vahii fasl-e-gul kaa maatam

लो सुनी गयी हमारी, यूं फिरे हैं दिन कि फिर से 
वही गोशा ए कफ़स है, वही फ़स्ल ए गुल का मातम

لو سُنی گئی ہماری، یُوں پھِرے ہیں دن کہ پھر سے
وہی گوشہ قفس ہے، وہی فصلِ گُل کا ماتم

There - (my pleas) have been heard! So has (my) fate turned, that again
there is that same corner of the cage; that same mourning for the flowering season!

Isn't that a lovely note to sign off with?!  Deliciously ironical, the sher harks back, in that impossibly sublime second line, to the stylised ghazal images of a caged bird and a spring-deprived garden.  Gosha is a corner or a nook.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Faiz - Toofaan-ba-dil hai har koi dildaar dekhnaa

When I promised on the last post that this sonorous Faiz ghazal would be next, i hadn't intended such an inexcusably long hiatus to intervene! Regrets and apologies.  A constellation of circumstances conspired to keep me away from here -  some frantic flurries of activity at work, a bout of illness and hospital stay, followed by hassles of having to shift base across countries...

As mentioned earlier, the following ghazal appears in Faiz' Sar-e-Vadii-e-Seena, dating from the late 60sThough not among his best known ones, it wears a nice conversational air, while retaining Faiz's trademark 'political' overtones.

Toofaa.n-ba-dil hai har koi dildaar dekhnaa
gul ho na jaaye mash'al-e-rukhsaar dekhnaa

तूफां-ब-दिल है हर कोई दिलदार देखना
गुल हो न जाए मश'अल-ए-रुखसार देखना

طوفاں بہ دل ہے ہر کوئی دلدار دیکھنا
گل حونہ جاۓ مشعل رخسار دیکھنا

Look sweetheart - everyone has a storm in (his) heart
Watch out, lest the lantern of (your) face gets blown out!
The sher wears a nicely mocking tone which works equally well whether it is seen, in traditional ghazal terms, as directed against an incandescently beauteous Beloved who inspires 'storms' in hearts, or (as intended) against a symbol of power/authority who believes himself immune to popular sentiment...

aatish-ba-jaa.n hai har koi sarkaar dekhnaa
lau de uThe na turrah-e-tarraar dekhnaa

आतिश-ब-जां है हर कोई सरकार देखना
लौ दे उठे न तुर्रा-ए-तर्रार देखना
آتش بہ جاں ہے ہر کوئی سرکار دیکھنا
لو دے اٹھے نہ طرّہ طرار دیکھنا

Look Your Majesty, everyone's soul is alight,
Watch out, lest (your) curled forelock catches the flame!

More of the same.  The second line is exceptionally cute - the fashionably curled forelock of the Beloved, or the tasselled plume worn on a regal turban, would both be equally susceptible to incendiary contact...!

jazb-e-musaafiraan-e-rah-e-yaar dekhnaa
sar dekhnaa na sang na deewaar dekhnaa

जज़्ब-ए-मुसफिरां-ए-रह-ए-यार देखना
सर देखना न संग न दीवार देखना

جزب مسافران رہ یار دیکھنا
سر دیکھنا نہ سنگ نہ دیوار دیکھنا

Look at the absorption of the travellers (on) the Beloved's lane!
(they) see neither their heads, nor the stones, nor (even) the walls!

Doesn't that second line have a lovely flow to it?!  And such endearing simplicity of words!  One can't help but feel a pang of sympathy for the besotted souls shuffling dazedly, zombie like, around the Beloved's threshold, oblivious to projectiles directed against them, or to the obstacles they run into!

kuu-e-jafaa mei.n qaht-e-khariidaar dekhnaa
ham aa gaye to garmii-e-baazaar dekhnaa

कू-ए-जफा में कहत-ए-खरीदार देखना
हम आ गए तो गर्मी-ए-बाज़ार देखना

کوۓ جفا میں کہط خریدار دیکھنا
ہم آ گۓ تو گرمی بازار دیکھنا

See the paucity of buyers in the lane of oppression
(but) watch how the market heats up once I get there!

And the 'Koo-e-Jafaa', which was populated by determinedly masochistic souls in the last sher, now becomes devoid of 'customers'... until the Poet gets there, of course!  Qaht is used in the sense of 'dearth' or 'lack'; also used to denote a famine or drought.

us dilnawaaz shahar ke atwaar dekhnaa
be-iltifaat bolnaa bezaar dekhnaa

उस दिलनवाज़ शहर के अतवार देखना
बे-इल्तिफ़ात बोलना बेज़ार देखना

اس دلنواز شہر کے اطوار دیکھنا
بے التفات بولنا بیزار دیکھنا

look at the manners of that heart-soothing city
uncivil speech, (and) vexed looks!

Dil-Nawaaz would be literally 'heart soothing' or 'heart cherishing', though it is used in the sense of 'Beloved'.  But here, the literal meaning contrasts more enjoyably with the boorish unfriendliness of the Beloved's town!   Atwar is used for 'mode of behaviour' or 'dealings'; Iltifaat denotes respect or consideration.  Both come from Arabic roots.

khaalii hai garche masnad-o-mimbar niguu.n hai khalk
ru'aab-e-kabaa va haibat-e-dastaar dekhnaa

खाली हैं गरचे मसनद-ओ-मिम्बर निगूं है ख़ल्क़
रौब-ए-क़बा व हैबत-ए-दस्तार देखना

 خالی ہیں گرچھ مسند و منبر نگوں ہے خلق
رعب قبا و ہیبت دستار دیکھنا

albeit the throne and pulpit are empty, creation (still) stands bowed
see the clout of the robe, and the dread of the turban!

Oh very nice!  This one is pure politics!  'Symbols' of power can cow down humanity, even when they are held by 'vacuous' people!  Don't you love the way Faiz manages to take on both secular and scriptural figures of authority here?  
 Mimbar is a pulpit or rostrum, Masnad denotes a cushion or a royal seat.  Niguu.n is, of course, the state of 'hanging' or 'drooping', often used to denote abjectness. Dastaar is the muslin cloth used to tie a turban. Haibat is used for fear or intimidation or awe...

jab tak naseeb thaa teraa diidaar dekhnaa
jis simt dekhnaa gul-o-gulzaar dekhnaa

जब तक नसीब था तेरा दीदार देखना
जिस सिम्त देखना गुल-ओ-गुलज़ार देखना

جب تک نصیب تھا تیرا دیدار دیکھنا
جس سمت دیکھنا گل و گلزار دیکھنا

Until (I) used to be afforded your glimpse
in whichever direction I looked, I perceived (only) flowers and flower-gardens

Somewhat ho-hum, this one, no...? 

phir ham tamiiz-e-roz-o-mah-o-saal kar sake.n
ai yaad-e-yaar phir idhar ek baar dekhnaa

फिर हम तमीज़-ए-रोज़-ओ-मह-ओ-साल कर सकें
ऐ याद-ए-यार फिर इधर एक बार देखना
پھرہم تمیز روز و مہ و سال کر سکیں
اے یاد یار پھر ادھر ایک بار دیکھنا

(so that) I can again distinguish days from months, months from years,
O beloved's memory, glance back (at me) one more time!

Oh, much nicer!  One who is abandoned not only by the Beloved, but even by her memory, would indeed lose the markers, the perspectives, of time.  Doesn't that second line capture a truly poignant plea...?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ghalib - Taskiin ko ham na roen

While this isn't among the deepest of Ghalib's ghazals, I love its tonal balance, its 'swingy' rhythm... Set in a relatively short behr, it has an engagingly casual and light-hearted aural impact, and almost cries out for being set to music.

Taskii.n ko ham na roe.n jo zauq-e-nazar mile
huraa.n-e-khuld mei.n terii suurat magar mile

तस्कीं को हम न रोएँ जो ज़ौक-ए-नज़र मिले 
हुरां-ए-खुल्द में तेरी सूरत मगर मिले 

تسکیں کو ہم نہ روئیں جو ذوقِ نظر ملے
حورانِ خلد میں تری صورت مگر ملے

I wouldn't cry for relief, if pleasure of sight was granted (to me)
among the sirens of paradise, however, (where is) your face to be found!

A typically clever mushaairaa sher.  

The first line, which says something like, "look, how can you expect me to stop crying for relief, unless you give me the visual gratification I seek?" sounds like the typical petulance of a love-struck protagonist, trying to convince the evasive Beloved to give him a glimpse of her face.  It is only after one hears the second line, however, that the true import of the compliment being bestowed on the Beloved sinks in.  The second half of the sher unexpectedly 'ups the ante' by making it clear that the petulance of the Lover is being expressed in a very specific situation - he is already dead, and now stands surrounded by the beguiling houris of paradise (who are promised to the pious, in Islamic discourse).  And yet, he continues to complain, craving visual relief, because among the houris, he does not, of course, find the one face that can actually bring him comfort!  

The entire sher is thus merely a reiteration of the hyperbolic compliment that the appeal of heaven's houris pales in comparison to that of the Beloved - but what an originally worded reiteration, it is!   In a mushaairaa context, the second line is a perfect example of that 'surprise element', that 'twist in the tale', that brings out the waah-waah's from assembled ahl-e-sukhan

apnii galii mei.n mujh ko na kar dafn baad-e-qatl
mere pate se khalq ko kyo.n teraa ghar mile

अपनी गली में मुझ को न कर दफ्न बाद-ए-क़त्ल
मेरे पते से ख़ल्क को क्यों तेरा घर मिले

اپنی گلی میں مجھ کو نہ کر دفن بعدِ قتل
میرے پتے سے خلق کو کیوں تیرا گھر ملے

Don't bury me in your (own) lane, after the slaying!
why should the world find your house, from my address?

Cute!  Nothing too profound here, but a nicely ironical touch, nonetheless.  The Lover, on the verge of being slaughtered by the Beloved, is busy offering her solicitous advice - to bury him somewhere far from her own house, lest people are led to her adress while looking for him!  There may also be a touch of perverse jealousy here - the Lover being more concerned about the possibility of others reaching the Beloved's house than about his imminent demise! 

The sher is doubly ironical in the stylised ghazal universe, of course, because in the 'normal' poetic idiom of this world, it is precisely the possibility of dying in the Beloved's lane, of being interred in it, that the Lover would want to salvage from his otherwise hapless situation!

The 'solicitude' of the Poet could be directly linked to the murderous act about to be performed by the Beloved, of course... the advice may be to 'get rid of the body' in a careful manner, since a hasty disposal in her own backyard may lead to the crime being proven on her!

Khalq literally means something that is 'created', and is used to refer to mankind as a whole. 

saaqi garii kii sharm karo aaj varnaa ham
har shab piyaa hii karte hai.n mai jis qadar mile

साक़ी गरी की शर्म करो आज वरना हम 
हर शब् पिया ही करते हैं मैय जिस क़दर मिले 

ساقی گری کی شرم کرو آج ورنہ ہم
ہر شب پیا ہی کرتے ہیں مے جس قدر ملے

O Saaqi, heed the honour of your calling today!  Otherwise, we
do drink every evening, in any case, however the wine may be found/given!

Lovely!  See what I meant about the cadences?  Doesn't that second line just spill out flowingly from the mouth, as one says it aloud?
And the sher has a lovely mocking tone to it too!  The saaqii (or the Beloved seen as one) is addressed, and is asked to dispense the wine generously, graciously, as befits the high standing of her office [garii is Farsi for a 'trade' or an 'office'].  The truly nice touch is in the second line, however, where the Poet disdainfully indicates that his insistence on courteously generous service is motivated only by concern for the dignity of the saaqi's trade - as for he himself, well, he is, in any case, a habitual drunkard, and is wont to drinking whatever is served to him, in whatever manner!
The main fulcrum of the sher is, thus, the play in the two ways one can read the final mile.  Ghalib is using the word in the sense of 'found' (which would characterise the Poet as a habitual drunk, looking for any opportunity to find his daily fix of booze).  However, when the saaqii is addressed, the same word can also be used in the sense of 'being given' of 'being served', which makes him sound merely indifferent to the manner in which he is served. 

tujh se to kuchh kalaam nahi.n lekin ai nadeem
meraa salaam kahiyo agar naama-bar mile

तुझ से तो कुछ कलाम नहीं लेकिन ऐ नदीम 
मेरा सलाम कहियो अगर नामाबर मिले 

تجھ سے تو کچھ کلام نہیں لیکن اے ندیم
میرا سلام کہیو اگر نامہ بر ملے

(I have) nothing to say to you, but o confidant
if (you) find the messenger, convey my greeting (to him)

The sher has a lovely conversational touch about it, but the main appeal is in its sheer 'unsaidness'.  Obviously there is some situational sub-text, but we are left to imagine it by ourselves.  How has the 'messenger' annoyed the Poet? Has he failed to convey his message to the Beloved (or does the Poet merely imagine that the lack of a response from the Beloved is because his message never reached her?).  Or has the messenger himself fallen under the charms of the Beloved, while conveying the Poet's letter?   

The idiomatic expression 'tujh se kuchh kalaam nahin' would essentially translate to "I have no bone to pick with you".  Perhaps it was the 'confidant' in question who had suggested that it would be sensible for the Poet to send a message to the Beloved, rather than waste his life pining for her in isolation. And the poet reluctantly took heed of this advice, despite his own doubts on this score.  And now, despite his fears having been proven right, the Poet ironically reassures the confidant, somewhat dryly, that he doesn't hold him responsible (for the lack of response from the addressee, or for a 'negative' response which has ruined the fantasy world the Poet was living in), but is quite ready to 'shift the blame' on to the messenger, who probably goofed up somehow and was unable to convey the message in a suitably convincing manner!   

There's also the lovely internal rhyme of the two operative words kalaam and salaam, of course, that merits attention:  "I have no kalaam for you, but I do have a salaam for the messenger..."

tum ko bhi ham dikhaaye.n ki majnuu.n ne kyaa kiyaa
fursat kashaakash-e-gham-e-pinhaa.n se gar mile

तुम को भी हम दिखाएँ कि मजनू ने क्या किया 
फुर्सत कशाकश-ए-ग़म-ए-पिन्हाँ से गर मिले 

تم کو بھی ہم دکھائیں کہ مجنوں نے کیا کیا
فرصت کشاکشِ غمِ پنہاں سے گر ملے

to you too I would show what majnuu.n had done/accomplished
if (I) had reprieve from the agitations of (my) hidden-grief

Nice word-play in the first line, despite the simplicity of the words themselves.  On first reading, the line is saying "I would show you too, what Majnoon had done", which seems to imply that, given a chance, the Poet would emulate Majnoon, and replicate his actions.  However, the expression "majnoon ne kya kiyaa" could also be read in the idiomatically dismissive sense of "what great task did majnoon achieve?!"  In this sense, the Poet could be saying that, given a chance, he would demonstrate his junoon in such a manner that Majnoon's demonstration of it (by merely going mad, renouncing the world, and taking to the wilderness) would be shown up as trifling and insignificant.  

The second line then explains why the bravado promised in the first line is not followed up by actual actions - it is because the Poet is occupied with the internal tensions of a hidden grief.  Kashaakash which comes from the root of kash (meaning 'pulling' or 'stretching') implies a state of being pulled any which way, a state of anxieties and worries. The Poet explains that his problem is bigger than Majnoon's because he is obliged to keep his grief hidden and thus doesn't have the luxury of making an open demonstration of it, the way that iconic lover was able to. 

laazim nahii.n ki khizr kii ham pairavii kare.n
jaanaa ki ek buzurg hame.n ham-safar mile

लाज़िम नहीं कि खिज्र की हम पैरवी करें 
जाना कि एक बुज़ुर्ग हमें हम-सफ़र मिले 

لازم نہیں کہ خضر کی ہم پیروی کریں
جانا کہ اک بزرگ ہمیں ہم سفر ملے

It isn't necessary that we follow the footsteps of Khizr
(We merely) recognise that we came across an elderly fellow-traveller

The sher harks back to the story of khizr, whom we had first encountered in the last sher of this ghazal.  

Ghalib airily dismisses the need for any navigational guidance (presumably on the path to mystical knowledge), preferring to find his own way.  To him, even a venerated guide found on the path is to be seen merely as a fellow-traveller encountered by chance, rather than someone who should be followed blindly.  There is a fairly deep philosophical underpinning to the sher, of course, but what a cheekily impudent air it wears, nonetheless!

ai saakinaan-e-kuuchaa-e-dildaar dekhnaa
tum ko kahii.n jo ghaalib-e-aashufta-sar mile

ऐ साकिनान-ए-कूचा-ए-दिलदार देखना 
तुम को कहीं जो ग़ालिब-ए-आशुफ्ता-सर मिले 

اے ساکنانِ کوچۂ دلدار دیکھنا
تم کو کہیں جو غالبِ آشفتہ سر ملے

O inhabitants of the Beloved's lane, watch out
in case you find, somewhere, (that) woolly-headed Ghalib

A fairly straightforward maqtaa by Ghalib's standards.  Aashuftaa can mean anything from 'disturbed' and 'disordered' to 'enamoured' or 'miserable'. To call someone aashuftaa-sar, therefore, is to describe him as deranged or depressed, as someone who would be given to wandering aimlessly. Saakinaan comes from sakin which, in Arabic, means something that is still or stationary, and hence could be used for the persons who stand transfixed in the Beloved's lane, or have actually taken up abode there.  

The sher could be an appeal for assistance - "I am looking for that crazed Ghalib.  Do please keep an eye out, and let me know if you see him somewhere", or could also be a solicitous warning - "You who have parked yourselves in the Beloved's lane, do keep a careful eye out - that crazed Ghalib wanders in there now and then!" 

Once again, the first line of the maqtaa has that undefinable 'flowingness' that one finds so often in this ghazal. The combination of long vowels with the long ijaafat construction makes for a very mellifluous mix.  

In fact, don't the cadences of this this misraa remind you of something that Faiz might have composed?  This view was shared by none other than Faiz himself, I think, because he chose to take this misraa as the 'pattern line' for setting the behr and the rhyme pattern of a lovely 1967 poem that appeared under the title of 'dildaar dekhnaa' in sar-e-vadii-e-siinaa.  We'll look at it in the next post.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Ghalib - hai bas ki har ek un ke ishaare mein nishaan aur

For reasons that are entirely understandable, the maqtaa of this ghazal is among the best known, and best loved, shers in the entire canon of Ghalibiana.

The radif of this ghazal is aur, and we have already seen how consummately Ghalib can play with the duality inherent in this word - exploiting it, at will, in the sense of 'more' as well as in the sense of 'different'. Let's see what he makes of it this time.

Hai bas ki har ek unke ishaare mei.n nishaa.n aur
karte hai.n muhabbat to guzartaa hai gumaa.n aur

है बस कि हर एक उनके इशारे में निशाँ और
करते हैं मुहब्बत तो गुज़रता है गुमां और

ہے بسکہ ہر اک ان کے اشارے میں نشاں اور
کرتے ہیں محبّت تو گزرتا ہے گماں اور

In every gesture of hers, [there are so many signals] / [to such an extent there lurk other signals]

(that) when she expresses love, [(I) suspect something else] / [suspicion besets me even more]

A typically brilliant matlaa that straight away sets the stage for the clever word-play that's to follow.

We use the word bas in everyday speech to signify limitation - in the sense of 'enough' or 'only', or as in interrogative mode to mean 'that's all?' The compound bas-ki in Farsi is used, however, to mean something like 'so much so that' or 'in so far as' - the entire phrase is az bas ki. Hence, the beginning of the first line of this sher can be read as a qualifier of degree,to emphasise what is being asserted in the rest of the misraa.

And what is being asserted admits of differently nuanced readings, depending on whether we choose to read aur as 'more' or 'different'. An ishaaraa is a signal, an indicative gesture, a deliberate non-verbal cue. If one reads the aur of the first line as 'more', the line could be emphasising how potently expressive the Beloved's oblique gestures are. If one reads the aur as 'different', however, it could be emphasising how ambiguous her signals are. So one is immediately faced with the potential for some fairly convoluted logical meandering here.

Then the second line follows up with its own usage of aur which can also be read in both the above senses, leading to the following four sense-combinations:

So expressive are her signals, that when she shows love, I begin to suspect something else

So expressive are her signals, that when she shows love, my mistrust of her increases even more

So ambiguous are her signals, that (even) when she shows love, I am led into believing something else

How ambiguous her signals are (even otherwise)! And when she shows love, I feel even more mistrustful about her!

The first two possible readings would describe somewhat similar situations, of course, except that in the first, the protagonist begins to have doubts about the Beloved only after she shows some loving sign, whereas in the second, he feels doubtful about her already, but his doubts mount after her expressive gestures acquire an amatory air. The third reading, which is the most straightforward, is the most common way this sher is interpreted.

I love the usage of the picturesque guzartaa as opposed to a simple hotaa in the second line. It gives the line an ironical air, the poet saying something like he is 'visited by doubts' on seeing the Beloved's ostensibly genteel demeanour.

As with almost everything by Ghalib, the possibility that the sher may be directed to the Celestial, as opposed to an earthly, Beloved, adds an added layer of enjoyment to them.

yaa rab vo naa samjhe hai.n na samjhenge merii baat
de aur dil un ko jo naa de mujh ko zabaa.n aur

या रब वो न समझे हैं न समझेंगे मेरी बात
दे और दिल उन को जो न दे मुझ को ज़बां और

یا رب وہ نہ سمجھے ہیں نہ سمجھینگے مری بات
دے اور دل ان کو جو نہ دے مجھ کو زباں اور

Oh Lord! [She has] / [They have] neither understood, nor will she/they understand what I say!

give her/them more/different heart(s), if (you) won't give me (a) more/different tongue(s)!

Oh lovely! Just too clever!

On the face of it, the sher is fairly straightforward. The use of the third person plural is a common ironical device when talking about the haughty Beloved. The sher peevishly admits the complete impossibility of the Poet being able to communicate his message to the Beloved, and then (depending on how one chooses to read the two instances of aur in the second line), exasperatedly asks the Lord to give her 'more' heart, or a 'different' type of heart (which might render her more receptive of the message) if He can't give the Poet greater facility of expression, or endow him with a different (effective) style of communication.

The usage of dil and zabaan in the second line gives an especially amusing ring to the whole thing - 'Please, God! Replace her heart, or replace my tongue!!'

However, the sher is even more delicious when one realises that the Beloved is only a device here. What Ghalib actually intends to do is to take a gentle pot-shot at those among the poetic cognoscenti of his time who decried his poetry for being too 'complex'. The 'third person plural' construct of the first line leads naturally to this interpretation - with Ghalib hinting that his listeners need to augment their capacity for comprehension, to acquire more heart (or more open hearts), if they are to have a hope of 'catching' what his tongue conjures up!

abroo se hai kyaa us nigah-o-naaz ko paiwand
hai tiir muqarrar magar us kii hai kamaa.n aur

अबरू से है क्या उस निगाह-ए-नाज़ को पैवंद
हैर तीर मुक़र्रर मगर उस की है कमां और

ابرو سے ہے کیا اس نگۂ ناز کو پیوند
ہے تیر مقرّر مگر اس کی ہے کماں اور

[what connection does that coquettish glance have with the eyebrow?] / [is that coquettish glance connected to the eybrow?]

[It is] / [There is] certainly an arrow, but [it has another bow] / [she has another bow]

While this sher doesn't directly exploit the multivalence of aur, there is enough in it to leave multiple strata of sense in almost every other part of the couplet.

Abroo is Farsi for 'eyebrow'. The sher harks back to the common trope in the Ghazal world, where the obliquely mischievous glances of the coquettish Beloved are characterised as arrows (recall all those tiir-e-niimkash constructs we've looked at). A paiwand, in Farsi, is a join, a junction, a connection (also used, of course, in the sense of a 'patch' or a 'graft' in stitching or gardening). Nigah is, of course, a glance (contracted from nigaah, for reasons of poetic meter here). Muqarrar is Arabic for something that is settled or fixed - used here in the sense of 'certainly' or 'unquestionably'. Kamaan is a bow (tiir-kamaan is a common expression), or any other sort of arched structure.

Depending on how one chooses to juxtapose the kyaa, the first line can be read as either a straightforward question ("is her glance connected to her brow?", where the kyaa is read with hai) or as a negation ("what connection does her glance have with her brow?" - asserting that her glance is clearly not connected to her glance - where the kyaa is read with paiwand). The second reading flows more logically into the second line, where Ghalib asserts that her arrow-like glances obviously come from some other bow.

Note that the us of the second line can qualify either the Beloved or the arrow - which doesn't change the overall sense of the sher much, but is still an enjoyable ambiguity. Also, the 'hai tiir muqarrar' phrase of the second line could be seen to be taking the nigah-e-naaz of the first line as its subject, which would make the whole thing read as 'the coquettish glance is certainly an arrow'. But one doesn't need to assign a subject to the phrase - left to itself, it would give a nicely enjoyable reading of "there is certainly an arrow (heading my way), but..."

tum shahar mei.n ho to hamei.n kyaa gham jab uThenge
le aayenge baazaar se jaa kar dil-o-jaa.n aur

तुम शहर में हो तो हमें क्या ग़म जब उठेंगे
ले आयेंगे बाज़ार से जा कर दिल-ओ-जां और

تم شہر میں ہو تو ہمیں کیا غم جب اٹھینگے
لے آئینگے بازار سے جا کر دل و جاں اور

[As long as you're in town, what worry do I have? Whenever I feel like it] / [Even if you're in town, what do I care? When pains arise]
(I) will go to the market and get back [a different] / [more] heart-and-life

Lovely! Probably the cutest sher in the ghazal!

One principal source of enjoyment in this sher, in my view, comes from the fact that the gham of the first line can be read either in continuation with hamein kyaa (to make an interjective phrase 'hamein kyaa gham?') or in conjunction with jab uThenge (to make a conditional phrase 'gham jab uThenge').

These two possibilities lead to delicious differences of nuance in the 'tone' of the first line. If one goes with the hamein kyaa gham option, then the first misraa is saying something like this - "as long as you are in town, why should I worry? Whenever I get down to it...". And then the second misraa follows up with "I will go to the market, and get myself another pair of heart and life". The tone of the entire sher is casual, carefree, almost cheerful. The emphasis is on the fact that any town inhabited by the Beloved would always have a 'ready market' of hearts and lives, given the 'high turnover' she causes in these commodities. And so the Lover can rest easy in the comfort that whenever he wants to, he can go and get replacements for his own damaged goods.

If we go with this first option, then the jab uThenge of the first line sits alone, not to be read in continuation with gham. These two words manage to create a delicious effect of extreme insouciance, almost a mocking indifference - the Lover doesn't even see any particular need to hurry in getting his damaged heart and life replaced. There's even a hint of laziness - "I'm resting right now. When I feel up to it, I will just get up, stroll down to the market, and...etc."

If one goes with the second option, however, the first line acquires a subtly different air. The translation would run along the lines of "What do I care that you are in town? When pain rises...".

Perhaps somebody (the solicitous naaseh?) has warned the Poet that the Beloved has returned to town. And, despite the deliciously apprehensive pang this obviously causes in his heart, he chooses to indulge in a bit of desperate bravado: "Well, what do I care?". The construct 'gham jab uThenge', that follows, makes it clear, however, that the Poet isn't carrying his bravado so far as to claim that he isn't going to be affected by the Beloved's proximity. He implicitly concedes that seeing her about (possibly showering her coquettish favours on others) will devastate his heart and life. But bravely comforts himself with the thought that whenever that happens, he would always have the option of going to the market and getting new ones! Maybe even different ones, which won't be as affected by her? Fond hopes, perhaps - but one does need something to cling to!

Depending on how one chooses to read the first line, therefore, the mood of the sher shifts deliciously from tongue-in-cheek humour to an endearingly desperate bravado. In either reading, however, it is a masterpiece!

har chand subuk-dast hue but shikanii mei.n
ham hai.n to abhii raah mei.n hai sang-e-giraa.n aur

हर चंद सुबुक-दस्त हुए बुत-शिकनी में
हम हैं तो अभी राह में है संग-ए-गिरां और

ہر چند سبک دست ہوئے بت شکنی میں
ہم ہیں تو ابھی راہ میں ہے سنگِ گراں اور

Much as (we? / I? / they?) become dexterous in idol-breaking

as long as [we are around] / [I am around], there is still, [another] / [a different class of] heavy stone on the path

And after the mischievous frivolity of the previous sher, we get this weightily mystical masterpiece! And a masterpiece it is!

Har-chand or har chand ki are used in Farsi to mean 'notwithstanding' or 'much as'. Subuk is Farsi for 'light'. And as in the English 'having a light touch', being subuk-dast implies a dexterous facility at doing something manual - in this case, at but-shikanii, the breaking of heathen idols (shikanii has the same word root as shikast, or 'defeat').

Most commentaries of this sher use the ham at the beginning of the second line as the implicit subject of the first line also. Which gives the entire sher a unified meaning of "howsoever deft we might get at breaking idols, as long as we are around, there's always another heavy stone encountering us on the path!". The 'path' being the path to mystical knowledge, of course - on which the myriad stone idols act as enticing diversions, or as physical obstacles. In this sense, therefore, the sher acts as a lovely reiteration of the standard 'the price of freedom is eternal vigilance' sort of caution - asserting that the true seeker of mystical knowledge can never afford to let his guard down; there will always be another hurdle, another mesmerising phantasm, to overcome. In this sense of the sher, the final aur can only be read in the sense of 'additional' or 'more'.

However, note that it is entirely possible to keep the ham as the subject of the second line only. The first line then could be talking about some group of people (because of the plural construct of hue it can't be just one person) - a congregation of religious worthies perhaps, who have become adept at breaking idols? The second line then acts independently, to imply that howsoever adept this gathering might have become at clearing bute.n from the path, as long as Ghalib is around, there is always a different sort of 'heavy' stone facing them! To appreciate this alternative sense, try reading the second line with an implicit magar preceding it, and placing verbal emphasis on the ham. See? The entire sher then becomes a challenge thrown at the religious establishment - "all right, so you guys are good at demolishing idols, are you? Well, I'm equally adept at creating them! And here's my latest creation - why don't you try your hands at this?!". And who can play down Ghalib's ability to 'create idols' eh?

In this alternative sense, the aur can be read easily in either of its two senses. In the first, the Poet is always ready to place another stone but on the path of the idol-breakers. In the second, Ghalib is himself a sang-e-giraan on their path - and one that is in a completely different class than what they are used to breaking with ease!

hai khoon-e-jigar josh mei.n dil khol ke rotaa
hote jo kai diidaa-e-khoon naab fishaa.n aur

है खून-ए-जिगर जोश में दिल खोल के रोता
होते जो कई दीदा-ए-खून नाब फिशां और

ہے خونِ جگر جوش میں دل کھول کے روتا
ہوتے جو کئی دیدۂ خوں نابہ فشاں اور

the blood of the liver is in ferment, (I would have) opened the heart and wept
if (only) there were many more pure-blood scattering eyes

We had encountered khoon-naab in an earlier Ghalib ghazal (see the seventh sher there). Fishaan is an adjectival form implying something that 'scatters', or 'spreads' or 'showers' something (it shares root and meaning with afshaan). Dil khol ke ronaa is a common figurative phrase used in the sense of 'to have a good cry', or "to weep to one's heart's content" - but the literal meaning of the phrase is, of course, to 'to open out the heart, and cry'.

The sher evokes the common ghazal-world pseudo-physiological stylisation (of the liver supplying blood to the rent heart; blood which then escapes through the eyes as tears). Ghalib seems to be saying that his pain is such that merely two eyes do not allow a sufficiently fast 'outlet' for the blood that his heart wants to spill. Hence he is forced to keep the fissures in his heart partially closed, so as to keep the flow at a moderate level. And it is the consequent building up of 'pressure' within, perhaps, that is causing the blood to froth in the liver?

martaa hoo.n us aawaaz pe har chand sar uR jaaye
jallaad ko lekin vo kahe jae.n ki haa.n aur

मरता हूँ उस आवाज़ पे हर चंद सर उड़ जाए
जल्लाद को लेकिन वो कहे जाएँ कि हाँ और

مرتا ہوں اس آواز پہ ہر چند سر اڑ جائے
جلّاد کو لیکن وہ کہے جائیں کہ ہاں اور

I die for that voice; much as (I may) lose (my) head
she keeps telling the executioner, however, "yes, more!"

Rather nicer! The language of the sher has a wonderfully colloquial simplicity about it, doesn't it? Especially the 'ki haan aur' at the end!

The sher conjures up a delicious sort of paradox - the poet needs to only hear the Beloved's voice to die (of excitement) anyway! And he is quite prepared to even 'lose his head' for the sound of a single word from her mouth. Having 'set up' this situation of hopeless infatuation in the first line, Ghalib deftly 'ups the ante' in the second by evoking a Beloved who viciously keeps exhorting the executioner, even after the deed is done!

The haan of the second line is especially delicious - it seems to suggest that even the executioner has sought confirmation whether he is supposed to keep on chopping at the Lover's head - the poor man is dead already, after all! And yet, she commands with perverse relish - "yes, more!" And the lover, dead as he may be, shivers with pleasure at the sound of her voice!

The aur in this sher can only be read in the sense of 'more', of course - not in the sense of 'different'.

logo.n ko hai khurshiid-e-jahaa.n taab kaa dhokhaa
har roz dikhaataa hoo.n mai.n ek daagh-e-nihaa.n aur

लोगों को है खुरशीद-ए-जहां ताब का धोखा
हर रोज़ दिखाता हूँ मैं एक दाग़-ए-निहां और

لوگوں کو ہے خورشیدِ جہاں تاب کا دھوکا
ہر روز دکھاتا ہوں میں اک داغِ نہاں اور

People are deluded (into thinking) of the world-warming sun
every day I show [one more] / [a different] hidden wound

A daagh is, of course, a smouldering wound, usually inflicted on the heart. And so 'smouldering' are the Poet's wounds, that his 'uncovering a fresh one every day' is akin to a new sun rising on the world every morning!

Notice however, that the second line doesn't emphatically say that it is his own wounds that the Poet is exposing on a daily basis. Ghalib could even be asserting the power of the poet to 'bring to light' the hidden wounds of all lovers everywhere...?!

letaa na agar dil tumhe detaa koii dam chain
kartaa jo na martaa koii din aah-o-fighaa.n aur

लेता न अगर दिल तुम्हे देता कोई दम चैन
करता जो न मरता कोई दिन आह-ओ-फिगां और

لیتا نہ اگر دل تمہیں دیتا کوئی دم چین
کرتا جو نہ مرتا کوئی دن آہ و فغاں اور

(I would have) sometime taken a breath of peace, if (I) hadn't given (my) heart to you

(I would have) indulged in a few more days of cries and lament, if I hadn't died

An otherwise straightforward sher, the principal point of interest in it is a poetic rearrangement of words, where the 'na agar dil tumhe detaa' and the 'jo na martaa' phrases have been 'inserted' in between otherwise complete thought-units, thus breaking up the idiomatic expressions 'dam lenaa' and 'aah-o-fighaan karnaa'. There is also the internal rhyme of letaa-detaa in the first line, and kartaa-martaa in the second, which adds to the mellifluous quality of the sher.

The second line has a nice pathos to it - if the Poet hadn't died, his ambition would still have been restricted merely to continuing the same cries and laments he spent his curtailed lifetime indulging in!

paate nahi jab raah to chaRh jaate hai.n naale
ruktii hai merii tab`a to hotii hai rawaa.n aur

पाते नहीं जब राह तो चढ़ जाते हैं नाले
रुकती है मेरी तब'अ तो होती है रवां और

پاتے نہیں جب راہ تو چڑھ جاتے ہیں نالے
رکتی ہے مری طبع تو ہوتی ہے رواں اور

When rivers/cries don't find a path, they 'rise'
when my genius stops, it [becomes more flowing] / [sets off differently]

There is some clever word-play in the first line. Naale can be the plural of both 'rivulets' and 'cries' in Farsi. And just like a river would 'rise' (come into spate) if its natural flow was blocked, so do cries become more ardent if they are not allowed to discharge themselves continuously.

Tab`a is Arabic for 'innate nature' of 'inner quality' or 'genius' [the more commonly used word tabiyat is from the same root]. rawaan means 'flowing', 'moving smoothly', etc. and 'rawaan karnaa' would be the act of 'setting something in motion'. Hence both the senses of aur can be evoked in the second line - the Poet claiming that if his natural poetic disposition is held in check, it either becomes even more potently expressive, or else finds an alternative channel of expression - somewhat like what an artificially dammed river might do. Of course, while rawaanii comes from a hydrodynamic word-root, it is used figuratively to denote fluidity and elegance, and hence is an apt word to use while describing one's poetic genius.

I am not a great fan of 'similes' in poetry, but this one would admittedly have been a competent mushairaa sher.

hai.n aur bhii duniyaa mei.n sukhanvar bahut acchhe
kahte hai.n ki Ghalib kaa hai andaaz-e-bayaa.n aur

हैं और भी दुनिया में सुखनवर बहुत अच्छे
कहते हैं कि ग़ालिब का हैं अंदाज़-ए-बयाँ और

ہیں اور بھی دنیا میں سخن ور بہت اچّھے
کہتے ہیں کہ غالب کا ہے اندازِ بیاں اور

There are other very good speakers in the world too
(however) they say that Ghalib's recounting (of things) [has more style] / [has a different style]

And then the famous maqtaa, of course! Not much that can be said about this - except for the fact that from almost any other Poet, an assertion like this might have sounded silly. In Ghalib's case, it can only evoke a smile of agreement from the listener, howsoever grudging it might be.

The truly delicious touch is the kahte hain of the second line, which allows Ghalib to airily ascribe the fawning praise about his andaaz to unnamed 'others', rather than making any claims about it himself. A rather unnecessary show of restraint, especially coming after the previous sher!