Ghazal 10, Verse 8


;xamoshii me;N nihaa;N ;xuu;N-gashtah laakho;N aarzuu))e;N hai;N
chiraa;G-e murdah huu;N mai;N be-zabaa;N gor-e ;Gariibaa;N kaa

1) in silence, hidden, (re)turned to blood, are all the hundreds of thousands of longings
2) I am the burnt-out/'dead' oil-lamp, tongueless, of the tomb of {strangers / the poor}


gashtah : 'Returned; turned; inverted, reversed; converted; perverted; changed; --become; formed'. (Platts p.910)


;Gariib : 'A stranger, foreigner, an alien; --a poor man; a meek or humble person'. (Platts p.770)


They call a silent man 'tongueless', and they use the simile of a 'tongue' for the flame of a lamp. So the extinguished lamp is compared to a tongueless man. (11)

== Nazm page 11


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {10}


[The commentator Asi says:] The theme has been expressed in words extremely full of longing. (35)


This image is exactly appropriate and extremely full of rhetorical effect [balaa;Gat]. (62)



STRESS-SHIFTING verses: {10,8}; {10,12}*; {17,3}**, discussion; {17,8}; {27,7}; {35,5}; {36,2}*, {72,4}; {84,4x}; {88,4}; {91,14x}; {93,3x}; {98,5}; {99,6}; {107,5}*; {108,8}; {110,1}*; {116,1}; {119,6}; {120,10}**; {126,9}; {129,7x}**; {131,9}; {149-10x}; {154,4}; {158,2}; {158,3}; {159,3}; {159,5}; {161,2}**; {163,1}; {166,4}; {173,10}; {183,2}; {189,8}; {193,6x}; {203,3}; {219,3}; {227,3} // {321x,3}; {347x,4}; {389x,3}

Lighting a lamp on someone's tomb is an act of piety and remembrance. It's an oil lamp, so it has a 'tongue' of flame. Or at least, it would if it were lit; but in this verse the speaker is a burnt-out or extinguished, literally 'dead', lamp. Here are some of the points of comparison; as various ones are emphasized, the nuances of interpretation change, in a process I call 'stress-shifting':

=A lamp has a 'tongue', but the speaker's longings are all 'in silence', like those of a poor man or a stranger.

=A lamp has a tongue of flame, but the speaker's longings are all 'hidden' in the dark, like the grave of a poor man or a stranger.

=A lighted lamp has a steady flow of liquid oil that emerges into fire, but the speaker's longings have all turned (or returned) into a mere pool of blood in his heart that is going nowhere, like the longings of a poor man or a stranger.

=A lighted lamp is in some sense alive, but the speaker is a 'dead' or burnt-out or extinguished lamp-- just the kind that would be on the grave of a poor man or a stranger.

It's a verse of mood. The verse is also full of sonorous long vowels, making for fine sound effects and great flowingness.

It's the kind of verse that a traditional audience could enjoy immediately; if Ghalib had written nothing but verses like this, he would never have become the controversial figure he did become.

Compare Mir's shorter and simpler verse M{12,2}.