Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ghalib- ghazal 60

{60,7}*

bik jāte haiñ ham āp matāʿ-e suḳhan ke sāth
lekin ʿayār-e t̤abʿ-e ḳharīdār dekh kar
1) we ourself are sold along with the merchandise/goods of poetry
2) but [only after] having seen the measure of quality/temperament of the buyer

{60,8}*

zunnār bāñdh subḥah-e ṣad-dānah toṛ ḍāl
rahrau chale hai rāh ko hamvār dekh kar
1a) tie on a sacred thread, rip apart the hundred-beaded prayer-beads!
1b) having tied on a sacred thread, having ripped apart the hundred-beaded prayer-beads

2) the traveler moves along, having seen the road smooth

{60,10}

kyā bad-gumāñ hai mujh se kih āʾīne meñ mire
t̤ūt̤ī kā ʿaks samjhe hai zangār dekh kar
1) how suspicious {you are / she is} of me! --that in my mirror
2) having seen the verdigris, {you consider / she considers} it [to be] the reflection of a parrot

{60,11}*

girnī thī ham pah barq-e tajallī nah t̤ūr par
dete haiñ bādah z̤arf-e qadaḥ-ḳhvār dekh kar
1) the lightning of glory/manifestation should have fallen on us, not on [Mount] Tur
2) they give wine [only after] having seen the capacity of the cup-drinker

This is ghazal from 1833- by which time Ghalib would have been firmly established in his Farsi scholarship and familiar with the canonical treatment of the various conceits.
Precisely because I think it isn't an adolescent poem, I don't find much of interest in it.
Still, I don't think the commentators do it justice either.
With regard to the first couplet, I suppose sukhan as poetry, simply, is okay. Still, remembering Sheikh Galip, why not dignify it as Logos-as-poetry? In that case you get a mystical meaning, or even a Confucian meaning. One can still keep the existential meaning, which I've done in the second line.
With the second couplet there is this strange idea that zunnar refers to the Brahmin 'janeo' rather than the Zoroastrian girdle. Both Brahmins and pious Muslims are forbidden wine (at least in Ghalib's part of the world) whereas wine is considered a good thing in Zoroastrianism (or Xtianity or Judaism, for that matter) and the mugh-e-mahood, the elderly Magian Tavern keeper is a stock symbol of wisdom in Farsi poetry. 

The next couplet refers to a very well known, indeed a key, element in Rumi's philosophy of Love.The parrot is shown its own image in a mirror and then taught words which it assumes are addressed to it by its image and which it learns to mimic so as to reciprocate the ardent sentiments expressed to it. Similarly, God teaches us Love by putting such delusive images in front of us. Through spiritual practices one can sublate these delusive images and come to understand that the words we repeat have an origin both hidden and higher. Among the commentators, Bekhud Mohani understands the idiom but doesn't see its relevance.  But this is easily done by making the God of the mystics a jealous Lord, or rather doing so by a self-deprecatory 'majzoob' imputation.
The last couplet refers to 2 Quranic verses 7.143 and 33.72. God had offered his 'amaanah' (Trust/REsponsibility/Viceregency/Free Will) to the mountains and so on, but only man agreed to take it, but this was done rashly. Later, God tells Moses that he will not see Him, but should gaze at the mountain. If it remains steady, then Moses can bear the theophany, otherwise not. However, Mt. Tur is levelled as it can not bear the glory of the Lord's theophany.
Ghalib here is affirming Man's worthiness of amaanah and khilafat but emphasizes Man's highest goal is to seek and yearn for Union with the Divine, even if this means utter obliteration. Just as strong wine, such as might render a callow youth senseless, serves but to invogorate a seasoned warrior- so too God's trust in man can make him worthy of closer communion with his maker.

To assay its purchasers, essays the Logos poetry
Tho' with the wares I purvey what's sold is me!

Ah, let girdled Magians bring wine for my ode!
Prayer beads string but bumps in the road.

'Tis verdigris in my mirror, not a parrot green
Taught Love's tort by an athwart Unseen

Mount Tur lies level like a drunkard in the dust
I alone am that drinker athirst for Thy Trust.

edit-
Thanks Anon for the tip re the ornamental, highly polished, zarf.

This gives a completely different meaning so I'll change the last couplet to-

Mt.Tur's crater, Musa's drunk dumb-waiter, bit yet the dust .
I'm a toper of class & deep looking glass, fit for Thy Trust

2 comments:

  1. A zarf is an ornamental or heat dissipating container for a coffee cup used to prevent the drinker from burning his fingers.I suppose a guy who turns up at pub with a special ornamental mug might get a little more beer than regulation. Or, next time you go to a dinner party, you could take an outsize wine glass with you and see if your hostess takes the hint.
    But zarf also means brilliance/excellence etc. Yet, zarf-e-qadhah locates that brilliance as on the surface and purely external. Perhaps the notion is that God's tajalli should simply be reflected to Him so as to overthrow Him as Mt. Tur was toppled in the eyes of Moses.

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  2. Very nice Urdu poetry.
    I am sharing some of my favorite urdu poetry here.

    Wo kon tha jo mujhy aisy mila k koi gham na raha,
    Jo dour reh kr b mujsy dour na raha,

    Jany kab sy hamy uski talash thi.
    Jb btana chaha usy tou koi lafz na raha,

    Usy dakhny ki chah me nighahen tarsi hy meri
    Or jb nigha mili tou waqt hi na raha ,

    Lamha lamha uski yado me hi guzar jata hy.
    ….Sagar…..
    Wo tabir tou hy meri lekin ab koi khuwab na raha..!

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