Ghazal 6, Verse 4

{6,4}

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

Notes:

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)

Nazm:

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

Vajid:

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)

FWP:

SETS == GROTESQUERIE

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.