Ghazal 3, Verse 14x

{3,14x}*

;xvur shabnam-aashnaa nah hu))aa varnah mai;N asad
sar-taa-qadam guzaarish-e ;zauq-e sujuud thaa

1) the sun didn't become acquainted/familiar with the dew; otherwise I, Asad,
2) from head to foot {was / would have been} a {tribute to / petition of} the relish of prostration

Notes:

varnah : '(contrac. of va agar nah ), conj. And if not, otherwise, or else; although'. (Platts p.1189)

 

guzaarish : 'Payment; tribute; representation, explanation; statement; petition, request'. (Platts p.900)

Asi:

What can be done-- the sun never paid any attention to the dew! Otherwise, oh Asad from head to foot I was eager and ready for the relish of prostration. They say that dew is created by the sun, and is attracted toward the sun. One other verse is very similar: {78,5}.

== Asi, pp. 52-53

Zamin:

Because a drop of dew is round, it is wholly a site of prostration-- that is, he has construed it as a head. He says, the way the dewdrop is wholly a head in prostration, in the same way I too was wholly a site of prostration; but when I saw that the dewdrop had no access to the sun, I too avoided making prostrations, because my worship wouldn't at all reach the object of worship.

== Zamin, p. 31

Gyan Chand:

If the sun would fall on the dew, then at once the dew arrives at the sun. But if the sun wouldn't show kindness at all in its direction, then the dew will remain oppressed and deprived. I too, from head to foot, wanted to do prostration in the presence of the beloved. But she never paid any attention to me at all.

== Gyan Chand, p. 67

FWP:

SETS == VARNAH
ISLAMIC: {10,2}
SUN: {10,5}

VARNAH verses: {3,5}; {3,14x}; {5,3}; {10,10}; {13,4}; {15,12}**; {13,1}; {15,15}; {40,4x}; {42,8x}; {59,4} ; {71,4}*; {77,2}; {82,2x}*; {89,3}; {91,3}, vagarnah ; {95,4}; [{99,8}, only contrafactual]; {109,1}, mostly indicative; {146,2}; {212,3}; {212,4} // {255x,9}

ABOUT varnah : The original form was the Persian va agar nah , 'and if not' (see Steingass p.1479). In Urdu, the word varnah is flexible, and signals some kind of condition that is contrary or contradictory to the clause before it. 'Otherwise' is the only possible English translation, yet it's not entirely satisfactory. But here's an attempt to capture the effect: Suppose X has invited Y to his house to try his famous barbecue. Y might reply, 'Well, I'm a vegetarian; otherwise, I can certainly come'; the grammar invites a work-around (grilled vegetables?) to solve the problem. Or Y might reply, 'Well, I'm a strict vegetarian; otherwise, I would certainly have come'; the contrafactual verb suggests a polite but firm refusal. Or Y might even reply, 'I'll come for your sake; otherwise, I never go to carnivorous parties'; the grammar suggests an exceptional favor. A similar degree of multivalence is provided by varnah , through the various kinds of clauses and verb forms that it can introduce.

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The two possibilities of guzaarish , 'tribute' and 'petition', and the two possibilities of varnah , contrafactual or simply the perfect form, make for two distinct readings:

=The sun didn't invite me to such familiarity; otherwise, I would have immersed myself completely in the relish of paying tribute through prostration (the sun didn't shine on the dewdrop, otherwise it would have collapsed and then evaporated).

=The sun didn't permit me such an action-- otherwise (if only things had been otherwise, if only it had done so!), I was entirely a petition for the relish of prostration (the sun didn't pay any attention to the dewdrop, and didn't heed its ardent plea to be shone on and evaporated).

But there's also the very enjoyable wordplay of the speaker describing himself as 'wholly' or, literally, 'from head to foot', eager for the relish of 'prostration'-- an action which of course involves the whole body from head to foot.