Ghazal 6, Verse 4


dil-e ;hasrat-zadah thaa maa))idah-e la;z;zat-e dard
kaam yaaro;N kaa bah qadr-e lab-o-dandaa;N niklaa

1) the longing-stricken heart was a banquet-table of the relish of pain
2) the friends' work/desire/'throat' emerged [into accomplishment] to the extent of their lips and teeth


la;z;z­at : 'Pleasure, delight, enjoyment; sweetness, deliciousness; taste, flavour, relish, savour; --an aphrodisiac; an amorous philter'. (Platts p.955).


kaam : '(Hindi) Action, act, deed, work, doing, handiwork, performance; work, labour, duty, task, job; business, occupation, employment, office, function; operation, undertaking, transaction, affair, matter, thing, concern, interest'. (Platts p.804)


kaam : '(Persian) Desire, wish; design, intention; --the palate'. (Platts p.804)


That is, however much worth was in each one, to that extent he obtained from me the pleasure of pain; otherwise, on my side there was no lack. The word 'work' [kaam] has a relationship of .zil((a with 'lips and teeth' [because of its Persian meaning of 'throat']. (7)

== Nazm page 7


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {6}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, my longing-stricken heart was a dining-cloth of the pleasure of pain, on which were set out various types and kinds of food. According to their capability and relish, the friends received portions from my dining-cloth. Here there was no shortage. The meaning is that people receive benefit from me according to their individual capability. (17)

Bekhud Mohani:

The point is that my verses were an album of despair and longing and pain. However much ability each person had, that was how much pleasure he received. (12)



FOOD verses: {6,4}; {17,7}; {19,7}; {26,4}; {39,4}; {50,1}; {51,6x}; {56,6}; {67,3}; {114,1}(?); {118,2}; {167,7}; {233,2}

PROPORTIONALITY verses: {5,4}; {6,4}; {12,2}; {12,5x}; {27,1}; {27,7}; {44,4x}; {98,5}; {112,4}; {117,2}; {205,2}; {234,8}

Faruqi maintains (July 2000) that this is not one of Ghalib's better verses. For a much finer treatment of this theme, he suggests that we consider one of Mir's ({454,3}):

bhuu;Nte hai;N dil ik jaanib sikte hai;N jigar yak suu
hai majlis-e mushtaaqaa;N dukkaan kabaabii kii

[To one side, they roast a heart; elsewhere, they grill a liver
The gathering of the ardent ones is a kabab-seller's shop]

He has a point. Mir's verse has a playfulness and vigor that this one conspicuously lacks. (I just encountered another such highly literal verse of Mir's, which includes naan-o-namak as well: {1384,1} in the new edition.)

Somehow this verse seems uneasily poised between humor and morbid over-physicalness. Are we really supposed to imagine the heart as a banquet being literally eaten by the friends, who are using their lips and teeth to the best of their ability, and politely wiping the blood from their fingers with a dainty napkin? Without that specificity of image, the verse has little to recommend it; with that specificity, it becomes, so to speak, unappetizing. This is a verse of what I will call 'grotesquerie'; for further discussion, see {39,3}.

For a more detailed discussion of the very suitable double meaning of kaam as both 'work' and 'desire' see {22,6}. But in this verse, Nazm is surely right to insist on 'throat' as well, since the interaction of all three meanings is an indispensable part of the pleasure.