ham ;xaamusho;N kaa ;zikr thaa shab us kii bazm me;N
niklaa nah ;harf-e ;xair kisuu kii zabaan se

1) there was the mention of us silent ones last night, in her gathering
2) not a good/favorable word emerged from anyone's tongue



S. R. Faruqi:

On this theme Ghalib has written, with sarcasm directed toward himself and great wit/personality,


In Mir's verse there's apparently an embarrassment, and in Ghalib's verse there is in any case a pride and a high-headed dignity. The theme of both their verses comes from [the Persian of] Ma'zi Farzani:

'In her gathering, no one mentioned my name, even in a bad way--
Although I listened with my ear to the wall.'

Since Ma'zi's verse is in Mirza Maz'har Jan-e Janan's ;xarii:tah-e javaahar , it's probable that Mir would have been acquainted with it. And about Ghalib it can be said that he would have been familiar with the verses of Ma'zi and Mir both. In the Persian poet's verse there's embarrassment and a kind of mental weariness (the lover listens with his ear against the wall to hear what's being said inside), but the rareness of the theme, and the verbal pithiness of the style, are worthy of praise.

Ghalib has found a direction so much his own that if the reader would not be very alert, then it wouldn't even occur to him, when reading Ghalib, to remember Mir's verse and compare them. But in Mir's verse too, as usual, there are a number of points that have been expressed with such mildness and simplicity that they usually remain hidden from the gaze.

(1) By calling himself 'silent' and speaking of others as conversing, he has created an enjoyable ironic tension. He has expressed his own helplessness as well, but he hasn't let go of his dignity-- because in silence there's dignity, and in sighing and groaning there's a lack of dignity.

(2) In the word ;xaamusho;N there's also a suggestion of despotism, that we have been silenced by force.

(3) For ;harf-e ;xair there are three meanings. One is that no one said about us anything good, anything favorable. A second is that no one said about us that we were well (were fine, were in good shape); thus here there's also the implication that the condition of those who are habitually silent is not good. A third meaning is that no one said about us any good, beneficial thing (for example, no one said 'don't oppress those people so much', or 'invite him to the gathering', and so on).

(4) In the whole situation there's of course the implication that the people who sit in the beloved's gathering are flatterers and lickspittles. For them, to speak the truth isn't as important as to make the beloved happy and speak according to her wish.



The plural ;xaamusho;N in the first line catches the attention at once. The speaker is not the usual isolated mad lover (who in any case is rarely so silent), but is part of a group defined by its silence-- so that its members seem more like victims of despotism, as SRF notes, than like crazed individual lovers who have all happened to choose to express their feelings through total silence.

The suggestion of despotism is reinforced by the passive acquiescence of the yes-men in the beloved's gathering. The verse leaves open the question of what kind of a 'mention' the silent ones received, and whether the people present said negative or hostile things about them. Alternatively, perhaps when the beloved mentioned that group of silent ones, the people present said nothing at all in response; this would mean that in an ominous sense, they too were among the 'silent ones'. SRF's commentary opens up what really sounds like a terrible can of tyrannically silenced worms.

Note for meter fans: The spelling ;xaamush rather than ;xaamosh is a permissible variation, to accommodate the meter.