Ghazal 9, Verse 7


mar gayaa .sadmah-e yak-junbish-e lab se ;Gaalib
naa-tavaanii se ;hariif-e dam-e ((iisii nah hu))aa

1) I died from the shock of one movement of the lip, Ghalib
2) from weakness, I did not become a {equal to / a withstander of} the breath of Jesus



In this verse, the subtle point of meaning is that the poet considers the movement of Jesus's lip to override the effect of the voice of Jesus. He says, I died from the shock of the very first movement, and was not equal to the breath of Jesus; that is, I had no encounter with the breath of Jesus, and because of my weakness I had no chance to hear the voice of Jesus. (10)

== Nazm page 10


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {8}

Bekhud Mohani:

By 'breath of Jesus' here... the voice of the beloved is intended. (18)


[Concerning the problem of the rhyme-word,] Arabic words ending in alif-e maq.suurah have been pronounced in Persian not only that way, but also with yaa-e ma((ruuf . Ghalib has here imitated the Persian usage. Thus in this ghazal the rhymes will be read as taqvii and ((iisii . (2006: 41)



In Islamic tradition, the characteristic miracle of Jesus is to breathe on the dying or dead and thus restore them to life. Doesn't the failure of this miracle give the lover a perverse form of pride? He is so extravagantly weak, he has carried his passion so far, that he's more weak than Jesus's life-restorative power is strong. Thus the attempt at a cure is actually what kills him (as in {48,3}).

As usual, from the first line we can't tell what's going on. Could the beloved be about to say something to him, something exceptionally cruel or kind? Could she even be about to kiss him? Could he himself be about to say something, and struggling to move his lips? Even after we see the second line, we still can't say whether 'Jesus' is meant to be a literal, explicitly religious reference or (as Bekhud Mohani maintains) a metaphor for the beloved.

This verse is a member of the 'dead lover speaks' group; for others, see {57,1}. It's just conceivable that 'Ghalib' could be the subject in the first line, so that somebody else could be reporting Ghalib's death; but the remote placement of the 'Ghalib', and the strong tradition of self-address in the closing-verse, make this a very secondary reading.

Note for fans of metrical technicalities: This verse has been criticized for its 'audacity' with the rhyme-word. The criticism is understandable: basically, it doesn't rhyme. In the word is;aa , the chho;Tii ye at the end is really only a bearer of a dagger alif . The name is thus pronounced as though it ended with alif , not ii . To use it as a rhyme-word in this ghazal is really a remarkable liberty to take; but as Faruqi points out, it's based on earlier Persian usage. As Nomanul Haq pointed out in a meter workshop at Penn (October 2005), everybody takes liberties in the opposite direction, using rhyme-words of varying spellings if they have (more or less) the same sound. This verse is an unusual example in which syllables of completely different sound have been harmonized only by archaic Persian usage and (apparent, not real!) spelling. For a similar case see {9,4}, in which taqv;aa has similarly been seemingly forced into being pronounced as taqvii .