Ghazal 11, Verse 3x


rah-e ;xvaabiidah thii gardan-kash-e yak-dars-e aagaahii
zamii;N ko sailii-e ustaad hai naqsh-e qadam meraa

1) the sleepy/drowsy road was insolent/'neck-lifting' from a single lesson of awareness
2) to the ground, my footstep is the slap of an Ustad


gardan-kash : 'Proud, haughty, vain; insolent, refractory, rebellious, disobedient; stubborn, obstinate'. (Platts p.903)


dars : 'Reading, learning to read; a lecture; a lesson, exercise'. (Platts p.512)


The meaning is that the long, far-reaching road was very arrogant from a single lesson of awareness, but my footsteps broke this pride of the road's, and operated like a teacher's slap to awaken it.

== Asi, p. 60


This verse is about a situation in which the poet sees something, and says something. If the verse's superficial meaning is considered, then those roads that were unfamiliar with a human footstep, and that up till now had not taken the 'lesson of awareness' (they were 'sleepy')-- my footstep struck them and awakened them (the way a teacher slaps a pupil when he forgets a lesson).

The idea is that my wildness/madness caused the kind of jungles/wildernesses to be inhabited (by me), through which not even Qais or Farhad had passed. And if we reflect on the deep meaning, and turn the pages of the copy-book of creation, then mankind will be found giving the lesson of awareness not only to the ground, but also to the angels.... Alas, that he ignored such very fine verses!

== Zamin, pp. 46-47

Gyan Chand:

For the road, the message of awareness is that people's footsteps would fall on it, and it would be aware of them. That empty road on which no one used to travel, and which used to rebel against acquaintance with footsteps-- I went on it. My footsteps fell on it like the slap of an Ustad, and it became aware of human footsteps. It's possible that 'sleepy road' might be a metaphor for the tradition of poetry. By footstep may be meant his path of poetry. In this aspect, the ground would be the 'ground' of poetry.

[Or:] A long road prided itself on being acquainted with many people's footsteps. My footstep acted on the ground of the road like the slap of a teacher, and broke its pride. My swiftness or 'heat' of movement told the road that until it was acquainted with this gait, it had no cause for pride.

== Gyan Chand, p. 84


ROAD: {10,12}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

Since this is an 'A,B' verse in which we're left to figure out for ourselves the relationship between the two lines, we might add to the commentators' interpretations another possibility: we might choose to read the lines separately, as contrastive. The 'road' learns one basic thing, and then gets uppity. Perhaps an effect of its arrogant behavior is that it doesn't learn anything more, because the speaker ceases to walk on it.

By contrast, the 'ground' is much better disciplined than the road, for it receives many 'slaps' from the feet of an Ustad like the speaker. Perhaps this extra disciplinary attention results from the fact that the speaker prefers the ground to the road. The ghazal world offers excellent reasons for such a preference on the (desert-wandering) speaker's part.