Ghazal 5, Verse 9x

{5,9x}

hai asad begaanah-e afsurdagii ai be-kasii
dil z andaaz-e tapaak-e ahl-e dunyaa jal gayaa

1) Asad is a stranger to coldness/dejection, oh Friendlessness/forlornness
2) [his] heart, from the style of the warmth/fervor of the people of the world, burned up

Notes:

be-gaanah : 'Strange, foreign, another, not related, not domestic, not an acquaintance or friend, alien, unknown'. (Platts p.210)

 

afsurdagii : 'Frozenness; frigidity, coldness; numbness; dejection, melancholy, lowness or depression of spirits'. (Platts p.62)

 

be-kasii : 'Forlorn state, friendlessness, destitution'. (Platts p.203)

 

z is short for az , to suit the meter.

 

tapaak : 'Warmth, ardour, fervour, zeal; the anguish of love; solicitude of friendship; love, affection, friendship; apparent cordiality; --affliction, distress, uneasiness, disquietude; consternation; palpitation'. (Platts p.309)

 

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)

Zamin:

The rule is that friendlessness is a cause of coldness/dejection, but even in the state of friendlessness, the poet is not chilled/dejected in temperament-- rather, instead of being cold, his heart has burned at the sight of the outward show of the people of the world. From this burning, the poet has gained the benefit of warmth in his heart. This is the kind of wordplay that no one can do except Ghalib.

== Zamin, p. 75

Gyan Chand:

Oh Friendlessness, Asad is now not influenced by dejection. He has seen the warmth and ebullience of the people of the world, and having seen its artificialness and triviality his heart has burned. Now he has arrived beyond the feeling of dejection.

== Gyan Chand, p. 110

FWP:

SETS

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}. In Raza 1995, this verse appears only in a footnote; but see the Hamidiya text, p. 74.

This was an earlier closing-verse that contained Ghalib's original pen-name of 'Asad'. When it came time to choose verses for his divan, he re-framed this verse into the present official closing-verse, {5,6}.

Here is an elegant example of wordplay that is also conspicuously meaning-play. Asad is a 'stranger' to 'coldness', he says to a personified 'Friendlessness'. And why so? Because his heart saw the 'style of warmth' of the people of the world, and 'burned'. The meanings of 'warmth' [tapaak] include 'friendship', 'apparent cordiality', and more negative emotions as well (see the definition above). Moreover, the emphasis on the 'style' [andaaz] of this warmth alerts us: it may be merely a (hypocritical?) quote-unquote 'warmth' that is really some other emotion ('uneasiness', 'disquietude'), or even just 'coldness' in disguise.

Then, the possibilities of 'burned' include not only the literal (being consumed by fire), but also a tremendous range of metaphorical, emotional ones: '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'.

It's possible to imagine other kinds of tapaak ('affliction', 'distress', etc.) shown by the people of the world, that might have aroused in Asad other kinds of jalnaa ('to be touched, moved, or affected with pity'). But on the whole, such readings feel contrived. The overtones of the particular phrase 'people of the world' [ahl-e dunyaa] seem to be, in the ghazal world, almost entirely negative.

If we compare this verse to its more fortunate cousin, {5,6}-- the one that made it into the published divan-- it's not hard to see that {5,6} is a stronger verse. In the present verse there's a real problem with begaanah-e afsurdagii . If we take afsurdagii literally as 'coldness, frozenness', then why should Asad be a stranger to it, when his heart has burned up, and we would expect that to leave him in a state of ashy coldness? And if we take afsurdagii metaphorically as 'dejection, melancholy', then why should Asad be a stranger to it, when his heart has burned up with vexation at the 'warmth' of the people of the world, and we would expect that to leave him in low spirits? And why the address to a personified 'Friendlessness'? It feels as though Ghalib wanted to work in both begaanah and afsurdagii for their wordplay, but wasn't really to make the imagery cohere.

Note for meter fans: z is short for the Persian az , 'from'. Often such a change is made to accommodate the mater. But here it would be possible to write az , and then use what I call word-grafting to read azandaaz , and it would still scan. I don't know why the az has been shortened in this case.