vaa))e kih us hijraa;N-kushte ne baa;G se jaate ;Tuk nah sunaa
gul ne kahaa jo ;xuubii se apnii kuchh to hame;N farmaa))o tum

1) alas, that that separation-slain one, going from the garden, didn't listen just a bit!

2a) when the rose said, 'Tell/command us something of your excellence/merit'
2b) when the rose said, out of its goodness/virtue, 'Tell/command us something'



;xuubii : 'Beauty; goodness, excellence; merit, virtue; well-being; pleasantness'. (Platts p.495)


farmaanaa : 'To order, command; (in polite or respectful speech with reference to superiors, &c.) to say, affirm, declare; to make, do (= karnaa ); to grant, deign, vouchsafe'. (Platts p.779)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse too the situation is novel and interesting. Say that the garden is a metaphor for the world, and rose for the beloved. For his whole life the separation-slain lover was before the beloved, and was a lover (in the garden of the world, there was the rose-- the beloved-- and the lover too). The beloved paid him no heed, perhaps because the lover himself didn't present himself forcefully in the presence of the beloved, he didn't speak of his excellences and his truthfulnesses.

Finally the beloved herself said, 'Tell us about your excellences, about who you are, about what you want'. But by that time the cup of his lifetime had already been filled to overflowing, and the lover didn't have time even to listen. Thus he couldn't even know that the beloved even had any interest in him.

He's given the melancholy of life an everyday aspect, and presented it very well. If the lover had been of a 'wounding' temperament, and like Ghalib's speaker had seized the beloved's garment-hem in a challenging way, then perhaps his life would have become fulfilled.

In the modern poetry of both East and West, themes of this kind are vanishingly rare. But an almost unknown French poet, Felix Arvers (1806-1850) has used a very similar theme in a sonnet with such 'mood' that my heart wants to note down the whole sonnet [here presented in the original French]:

Mon âme a son secret, ma vie a son mystère,
Un amour éternel en un moment conçu:
Le mal est sans espoir, aussi j'ai dû le taire,
Et celle qui l'a fait n'en a jamais rien su.

Hélas! j'aurai passé près d'elle inaperçu,
Toujours à ses côtés, et pourtant solitaire.
Et j'aurai jusqu'au bout fait mon temps sur la terre,
N'osant rien demander et n'ayant rien reçu.

Pour elle, quoique Dieu l'ait faite douce et tendre,
Elle suit son chemin, distraite et sans entendre
Ce murmure d'amour élevé sur ses pas.

À l'austère devoir, pieusement fidèle,
Elle dira, lisant ces vers tout remplis d'elle
'Quelle est donc cette femme?' et ne comprendra pas. 

[My soul its secret has, my life its mystery;
A never-ending love, born in a moment's span.
The sickness lacks all hope, and I must silent be,
And she who is its cause has never known, nor can.

Alas ! that I shall pass so near her unperceived,
Forever by her side, and yet so much alone,
And, till my span of time upon the earth has flown,
Daring to ask for naught, and having naught received.

For she, though God has made her tender and sincere,
Will go upon her way, careless, and will not hear
The murmur of my love about her on each hand.

Of this devoted task, this faith that I aver,
She'll say, when she has read these lines so full of her ,
'Who is this woman then?' and will not understand. -- trans. by Bill Stanton]

Since the Arabs' style of thought has had a deep effect on French romantic poetry, even in the first half of the nineteenth century such a poem became possible there. Today, it's not possible even in our land.



The positioning of apnii ;xuubii se as an actual 'midpoint' surely invites us to read it not only as applying forward the way SRF does (2a), but also as applying backward (2b). On this reading, the rose is motivated to speak by its own 'goodness' or 'virtue' (see the definition above)-- it pities the suffering lover, or perhaps its sense of justice recognizes that his self-sacrifice deserves some acknowledgment.

The use of farmaanaa , with its sense of great courtesy or respect as to a superior (see the definition above), works especially well with (2b). The rose is moved by the lover's humility and submissiveness, and rewards him with at least a courteous show of humility on its own part. To say 'Give us a command' is to speak at least formally as a servant, one who is already enthralled (literally) by the lover's mystical or romantic prowess.