Ghazal 5, Verse 1


dil miraa soz-e nihaa;N se be-mu;haabaa jal gayaa
aatish-e ;xaamosh ke maanind goyaa jal gayaa

1) my heart, with hidden flame, unceremoniously burned
2) {speaking / 'so to speak'} like {'silent fire' / glowing coals}, it burned


aatish-e ;xaamosh , literally 'silent fire', refers to glowing coals hidden in ashes.


goyaa : 'Saying, speaking; --conversible; talkative, loquacious; eloquent; --a speaker; a singer; --adv. As you (or as one) would say, as it were, as though, so to speak; thus, in this manner'. (Platts p.928)


[1863: Illustrating the best verses of Urdu, the ones with that indefinable 'something else', he names among them Momin's verse, as given by Hali below.]
==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum, vol. 2, p. 615


In the same way, when he heard this verse of Momin Khan's:

tum mire pas hote ho goyaa
jab ko))ii duusraa nahii;N hotaa

[you are with me {speaking / so to speak}
when no other is there]

then he praised it greatly and said, 'If only Momin Khan had taken my whole divan, and had given me only this one verse!' This verse too he has copied out in a number of his letters.

==Urdu text: p. 83 in Hali, Yadgar-e Ghalib


That is, it burned quietly, in such a way that no one knew of it. (5)

== Nazm page 5


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {5}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

aatish-e ;xaamosh is a fire that burns invisibly/hiddenly and from which flame doesn't arise. To use it in the second line in juxtaposition to soz-e nihaa;N is the extreme limit of rhetoric [balaa;Gat]. Among the special features of Mirza Sahib's style is that without intention and 'search' [talaash] verbal and wordplay-based forms appear that are counted among the verbal devices [.san((at-e alfaa:z]. (14)

Bekhud Mohani:

My heart has burnt to ashes in the suppressed fire of love. And it burned in the manner of suppressed fire, that is, it burned me to ashes in such a way that until the fire was was burnt out and extinguished I didn't even know it. (9)



The happy evocation of 'silent fire' is at the heart of this verse. How does 'silent fire' burn? Remorselessly, no doubt, and in a very hidden way. The smoldering of hot coals is the nearest analogy to how my heart burned. In an elegant paradox, the fire was both silent [;xaamosh] and 'speaking' [goyaa].

About goyaa : The other half of the pleasure is the use that Ghalib has made of goyaa , which means both 'speaking' and-- by extension, as in the English 'so to speak'-- 'as if'. (See above how Platts struggles to pin down this latter sense.) For other such double-meaning uses of goyaa , see {4,12x}; {39,3}; {66,4}; {91,10}; {101,8}; {111,9}; {111,13}; {147,2}; {157,2}; {231,4}. (There are also ordinary uses of goyaa , where only 'so to speak' is intended; do a search for the word and you'll find some.) For a discussion of the value of goyaa , see {111,13}: Nazm's comment and Faruqi's response.

Here he has juxtaposed goyaa with ke maanind , 'like; in the style of'. The effect is to place the analogy at two removes: my heart burned 'as if' 'in the style of' silent fire. Perhaps my heart in fact burned so uniquely that nothing was very comparable to it after all.

I once really worked at translating this ghazal: version 1 (1985); version 2 (1991). My failure with this one was part of what taught me about his fundamental untranslatability, and the need of a commentary instead.