kaam me;N hai havaa-e gul kii mauj
te;G-e ;xuu;N-rez-e yaar ke se rang

1) in work/desire/throat is a wave of the breeze/desire of the rose
2) with the aspect/'color' of the blood-scattering sword of the friend/beloved



S. R. Faruqi:

ke se rang = like

This verse is a treasury of mysteries. Whether we suppose havaa-e gul kii mauj to mean 'the spring season', or read havaa in the sense of desire and lust and take it to mean 'a wave of desire of the rose' (that is, the desire of the spring season that is like a wave in the heart), in both interpretations a number of aspects of meaning can be seen.

The beloved's 'blood-scattering sword' does two things. (1) It wounds people, it causes their heads to fall; (2) it causes blood to flow. In the first case, its action can be said to be destructive; and in the second case, constructive, because when blood is caused to flow the ground becomes red, and in this way an effect like that of a garden is produced. Ghalib, taking this second aspect, has composed a powerful [unpublished] verse:


Thus in Mir's verse the wave of spring is causing flowers to bloom here and there, and making the ground red, and in this way is doing the work of the beloved's sword, because the beloved's sword too makes the ground red (by shedding blood).

But if the destructive aspect of the beloved's sword is foregrounded, then the interpretation emerges that the way the beloved's sword causes people's heads to fall, or wounds them, in the same way the wave of spring in its ebullience causes flowers to bloom. But the moment that flowers bloom, they begin to wither. When flowers wither, they fall from the branch, and so to speak the branch's head is cut off, or it becomes wounded-- because where there was a flower, now that place is empty. In this way the wave of spring, in the veil of garden-making, does the work of destroying the garden.

If we take havaa-e gul kii mauj in the sense of 'the wave of the desire of the rose', then the point is that in our heart desire for the rose is wave-creating the way the beloved's sword is wave-creating. That is, the beloved's sword creates waves. That is, the way the beloved's sword scatters redness in every direction, in the same way the wave of desire for the rose have made our heart and life colorful. But the way that the beloved's sword wreaks murder and devastation, in the same way this wave of desire for the rose too is devastating our heart.

Now please consider that there's the ebullience of spring, in every direction flowers are blooming and withering. In order to express this experience, what meaning does the metaphor have of the beloved's blood-scattering sword? To come beneath the beloved's sword is the lover's ascent to heaven. But it's also the beloved's power of destruction, because passion itself is a devastater of cities and towns.

Through the beloved, the universe is colorful and also desolate. The wave of spring is doing the very same work that the beloved's sword does, as if there's some deep unity between them both. With regard to their origin/essence, both are one. Or else the spring has adopted the beloved's style. In this regard, the colorfulness of spring is a metaphor for the finishing/end of life. What a temperament it must have been, that saw in the ebullience of spring the beloved's sword; and what an experience it must have been, that harmonized spring with death!

We can also take kaam in the sense of 'throat'. Now the meaning becomes that the wave of spring has stuck in my throat (my heart has been so affected by the ebullience of spring that my throat has choked up) the way the beloved's blood-scattering sword sticks in the lover's throat; or the wave of desire of the rose is so powerful that my breath is suffocating. This meaning isn't as beautiful as the above meanings, but it's certainly present in the verse.

Then, kaam me;N honaa meaning 'to be effective' or 'to be absorbed in work'-- in both there's an extraordinary tone of freedom/liberation. If the present verse is read as following from the first verse, then another aspect is created [{1162,1}]:

chaak-e dil hai anaar ke se rang
chashm-e pur-;xuu;N figaar ke se rang

[the rip in the heart has a pomegranate-like color,
the eye full of blood, a wounded-like color]

That is, in the spring season the rip in the heart has become red like a pomegranate, and the eye full of blood has become like a wound. Thus the desire for the rose is doing the very same work that the beloved's sword does.

For the desire of the rose, to say 'wave' is just right; for the sword too the metaphor of 'wave' is very suitable. For a sword, with regard to its 'water'/temperedness [aab] the simile of a water-channel or a fountain is used. For a sword, 'to cause to wave/ripple' [lahraanaa] is also used; thus between a sword and a wave is an affinity. Then, between 'blood' and 'wave' and 'sword' there's an affinity. The whole verse is illumined by affinities.

[See also {952,6}.]



Here is a textbook-perfect example of elegant use of the izafat construction, and further evidence of how the ka/ke/ki set can do almost (though not quite, since it can't join adjectives, and it can't be optional) everything that an izafat can do. In effect, here's what we have:

in X is A of B of C
[with the] Y of D of E of F

In this case the izafat between 'sword' and 'blood-scattering' is an adjectival one; but the principle remains the same. And to top if off, there's even one more occurrence in 'with the Y' [ke se rang]. If we changed the verse to replace the ka/ke/ki constructions with more izafats, there wouldn't be even the smallest change in the meaning.

Now we fill in a couple of those izafat slots with kaam (which surely is the most crucially multivalent single word in the whole ghazal repertoire), meaning 'work' and 'desire' and 'throat', and with the similarly multivalent havaa , meaning both 'breeze' and 'desire'. Then we fill in a couple more slots with the fundamental metaphor 'rose' and the versatile 'wave', and throw in the even more versatile 'color, style' for good measure. How could we not have a kind of indefinitely ramifying tree of possibilities?

Ah, but what we have, according to SRF, is a 'treasury of mysteries' [ganjiinah-e asraar]. And there is the glory of Mir and the other great ghazal poets. The structure of this verse is such a grammatical monoculture that any student who learned the meter system could replicate it, and could link together an impressively indeterminate and obscure-looking set of izafats. But anybody who has read much mediocre classical ghazal poetry quickly learns that such a chain of abstractions is usually just a big yawn. It's TOO indeterminate, too potentially unlimited, and too pretentiously uninspiring to really hold our attention and make us invest a lot of mental work in it.

Mir and Ghalib, however, can make us work and work and cudgel our brains-- because they grab us, they tantalize us, they make us feel that if we can only get to the center of the maze we'll be richly rewarded in some way that we can maddeningly glimpse but can't quite pin down. We are willing to work for rewards, and do they ever reward us! Among their rewards are verses like this one-- complex but not too abstract; mysterious, alluring, even compelling.

A small personal recollection: When I first began to analyze and learn the meter system, and also to study Ghalib systematically, I had a great urge to create a verse of the kind I so loved in Ghalib. So I did, and it was a verse of multiple hooked-up izafats very much like this one. With false modesty, but great inner pride, I showed it to SRF. He was silent for a minute, and then politely asked, 'But what does it mean?' Somewhat huffily, I told him a few of the lofty thoughts that had been captured in it: 'That's what it means!' After another small pause he said, friendlily but firmly, 'No, it doesn't mean that. It just tries to mean that.' Oof! I went home and began to think further about things. Of course, 'he's Ghalib, and I'm not'; but why not? How does he do what he does? That question became the key that helped to unlock the real 'treasury of mysteries', the riches of ma((nii-aafiriinii , of 'meaning-creation'.