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, roughly/unceremoniously burned up
2) like glowing-coals/'silent fire', {so to speak / 'speaking'}, it burned up


mu;haabaa : 'Partiality (for); lenient or gentle treatment, kind behaviour; respect, regard, friendship, affection; —caution, care'. (Platts p.1006)


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)


goyaa : 'Saying, speaking; a speaker, singer; loquacious, talkative; the tongue; a singing-bird; well-tuned (instrument); thus, in this manner, as you would say, as it were; chiefly, principally, apparently, probably'. (Steingass p.1107)


jalnaa : 'To burn; to be burnt; to be on fire; to be kindled, be lighted; to be scorched, be singed; to be inflamed, to be consumed; to be touched, moved, or affected (with pity, &c.); to feel pain, sorrow, anguish, &c.; to burn or be consumed with love, or jealousy, or envy, &c.; to take amiss, be offended, be indignant; to get into a passion, be enraged, to rage'. (Platts p.387)


jal jaanaa : '(intens.) To be burnt up, be consumed (with, - se )'. (Platts p.387)


[1863, to Surur:] That 'something else' [chiiz-e digar] has been vouchsafed to the Persians. Though indeed, in the Urdu language the people of Hind have found that thing. [He lists a verse by Mir, one by Sauda, one by Qa'im, and finally the verse of Momin's that Hali mentions 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 {so to speak / 'speaking'}
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: Yadgar-e Ghalib, p. 83


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 eloquence [balaa;Gat]. Among the special features of Mirza Sahib's style is that without intention and 'search' [talaash] verbal and wordplay-based forms appear [in his verses] 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)



ABOUT goyaa : A great part of the excellent wordplay of the verse is in the use that Ghalib has made of goyaa , which in Persian means both 'speaking' and-- by extension, as in the English 'so to speak'-- 'as if'. (See in the definitions above how Platts and Steingass struggle to pin down this latter sense.) For other such double-meaning uses of goyaa , see {4,12x}; {5,1}; {39,3}; {66,4}; {91,10}; {101,8}*; {111,9}; {111,13}; {147,2}; {157,2}; {231,4} // {361x,3}*. (There are also ordinary uses of goyaa , where only 'so to speak' is intended; a very clear one is {155,5x}.) For a discussion of the value of goyaa , see {111,13}, both Nazm's comment and Faruqi's response. (In discussing Mir's M{1725,6}, Faruqi suggests that Ghalib may have gotten the idea for the goyaa in the present verse from that verse of Mir's; but I find this a bit of a stretch and have made a counter-argument there.) Compare the similar use of kahve in {147,1}.

The beautiful 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 fierce smoldering of hot coals is the nearest analogy to how the speaker's heart burned. In an elegant paradox, the fire was both silent [;xaamosh] and 'speaking' [goyaa]. In a famous anecdote reported by Hali (see above), Ghalib is said to have offered his whole divan in exchange for a verse of Momin's, the chief charm of which was a subtle, complex use of goyaa . For another verse from this same lovely ghazal of Momin's, see {179,2}.

A verse with the imagery of a 'silent flame': {237x,3}; another 'silent fire' verse: {312x,6}.

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

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