Ghazal 6, Verse 5

{6,5}

thii nau-aamoz-e fanaa himmat-e dushvaar-pasand
sa;xt mushkil hai kih yih kaam bhii aasaa;N niklaa

1a) difficulty-loving Courage was a {novice / new arrival} in Oblivion
1b) the {novice / new arrival} in Oblivion was of a difficulty-loving courage

2) it's a severe difficulty that this task too turned out to be easy

Notes:

Nazm:

My courage considers it a pleasure to be enmeshed in fear and danger. This work is a sign sent by Oblivion; that is, we knew life and the world to be a very difficult task. But alas-- that too turned out to be easy! (7)

== Nazm page 7

Vajid:

Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {6}

Hasrat:

The meaning is that my difficulty-loving courage needs some rank higher than oblivion, because oblivion proved to be an easy stage for it. (7)

Bekhud Mohani:

He says, my courage and my enthusiasm have become difficulty-loving to such an extent that education in oblivion ought to be considered a commonplace task for them.... At one other place too Mirza Sahib has expressed this theme: there he says {61,3}. (17)

FWP:

SETS == SYMMETRY
DIFFICULT/EASY verses: {6,5}; {8,2}; {17,1}; {111,15}; {112,3}; {136,3}
EXISTENCE/NONEXISTENCE: {5,3}
GRANDIOSITY: {5,3}

There are some manuscript variations in this verse. For the first word of the verse Hamid adopts a reading of ay ; Nazm and others adopt hai . As always, I follow Arshi's reading, which in this case is thii .

The commentators emphasize the implication that Courage wanted something even beyond Oblivion to aspire to, or a task even more difficult, just to have a proper challenge. Did Courage find the task easy because Courage is so able and dauntless, or because Oblivion really is an easy thing to achieve?

This latter possibility points to the exclusivity angle, which emerges clearly in {60,3}-- 'what honor or prestige can passion obtain, where cruelty is widely available?' Perhaps what difficulty-loving Courage really wanted was a chance specifically to do something so difficult that nobody else could achieve it. In that case, what a let-down to find that Oblivion is within the capacity of every Tom, Dick, and Harry! It's almost enough to make Courage give up on Oblivion entirely.

This is the kind of in-your-face difficult verse that people think of when they think of Ghalib at his most irritating. It's gnomic, cryptic, undecipherable in a really radical way. The proper question to ask is always, does it sufficiently reward us for our struggles with it? This one I don't find very inspiring. Would anybody ever have memorized or lovingly recited it, or lingered over it and savored it for long periods? Since Ghalib has so many verses that conspicuously do receive such tributes, verses like this one end up, in my judgment, in the second rank.