Ghazal 11, Verse 5x


havaa-e .sub;h yak-((aalam garebaa;N-chaakii-e gul hai
dahaan-e za;xm paidaa kar agar khaataa hai ;Gam meraa

1a) the breeze/desire of the dawn, is entire(ly)/'whole-world' ripping of the collar of/by the rose
1b) entire(ly)/'whole-world' ripping of the collar of/by the rose, is the breeze/desire of the dawn

2) create the mouth of a wound, if you feel/'eat' {my grief / grief over me}


havaa : 'Air, atmosphere, ether, the space between heaven and earth; --air, wind, gentle gale; ... --affection, favour, love, mind, desire, passionate fondness; lust, carnal desire, concupiscence'. (Platts p. 1239)


;Gam-;xvaar : 'Afflicted, sorrowful, sad; —commiserating, pitying, condoling, sympathetic; one who commiserates, or condoles, or sympathizes (with), a consoler, comforter; a sympathetic or intimate friend'. (Platts p.773)


The dawn breeze is, so to speak, with regard to the rose, a 'whole-world' of equipment for collar-ripping. Thus through this 'breeze-eating' no work of mine either was able to get done. If you want to feel/'eat' {my grief /grief over me}, then create the mouth of a wound.

A second meaning is that at dawn, the state of 'breeze-eating' is manifest through the rose-- that the rose tears its collar. If you wish to do my 'grief-eating', then first create the mouth of a wound. Mirza has at one place composed the creation of the mouth of a wound like this: {214,1}.

== Asi, p. 60


For the mood of the dawn breeze, another name can be said to be 'the collar-tearing of the flowers'. The verse says that the dawn breeze, which keeps company with the flowers, does so mortally-- for wherever there are roses with their collars torn, there the shreds of the torn collar of the dawn too are scattered. But, oh sympathizer, oh companion, oh compassionate one, if you claim to be my sympathizer, then before saying words of sympathy or compassion, first create the mouth of a wound!

== Zamin, p 47

Gyan Chand:

At dawn, people go to take the air. But they don't know the reality of the dawn breeze. At dawn, how many flowers tear open their collars! As if the coming of dawn is an expression for the collar-tearing of flowers. The collar is torn only in some anxiety or distress. In this way the dawn breeze is a scene of pain and distress, of which the breeze-enjoyers are not aware.

The literal meaning of 'sympathizer' [;Gam-;xvaar] is 'grief-eater'. The poet says to his sympathizer, if you want to 'eat' my grief, then create in your body the mouth of a wound, and eat it with that. The poet has taken 'to eat' in its dictionary meaning, and created for it the necessity of a mouth. By 'eating' grief through the mouth of a wound the point is that if you want to understand my grief, then you yourself will have to become extremely sorrowful and a temperament-sharer.

The relationship between the two lines is that from somebody's outward situation, his interior state cannot be guessed. Seeing the dawn, who can understand that it's a sign of grief? By seeing me from the outside, my inner sorrow cannot be guessed.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 85-86



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}.

For discussion of yak-((aalam and related constructions, see {11,1}. The positioning of this enigmatic little phrase is also cleverly ambiguous: it can be read as adjectival for the ripping of the rose's collar ('entire'), or adverbial ('entirely').

Above all, the word havaa is crucial here. It of course names the 'breeze' of dawn that blows on the rose and, deliberately or in passing, opens it out into bloom, and then soon bears away its dying petals, so that the breeze itself causes the rose's collar to be torn. The ambiguity of the i.zaafat makes it equally possible that the tearing of the collar 'of' the rose is in fact done 'by' the rose itself. On the general significance of the tearing of the collar, see {17,9}.

But havaa also means 'affection, favor, love', and even 'lust' as well. (For more on havaa , see {8,3}.) On this reading, what the dawn wants is for the rose's collar to be torn. Perhaps it wants the rose to tear open its own collar, as a mad lover should; though of course in the ghazal world the rose is usually the beloved, not the lover. Perhaps it wants the rose to display its beauty more visibly to the world. Or perhaps it wants to rip open the rose's collar itself, in a 'lustful' way. No matter how we read the nature of the havaa , the result is clear: the attentions of the dawn aim at the 'tearing of the collar' of the rose. And in a splendid show of wordplay, to stroll or 'take the air' is in Urdu to 'eat the air', havaa khaanaa -- an idiom that, in view of the second line, cannot fail to hover over the verse.

The second line seems to envision a sympathizer, a 'grief-eater' (see the definition of ;gam-;xvaar above). For a literal use of this term, see {2,1}. This person is urged by the speaker to take some appropriate action, if he or she 'eats my grief'. But what exactly is it to 'eat my grief'? On the ambiguity of meraa ;Gam as either 'my grief' or 'your grief over me', see {41,6}. In the present verse the grammar leaves it completely open as to whether the sympathizer might feel or share the lover's own grief, or might feel a different grief born of sympathetic concern for the lover.

And ultimately it doesn't matter: we know what the outcome should or must be. If you 'eat my grief', says the lover, then go ahead-- create the 'mouth' of a wound! How else could grief be 'eaten'? Similarly, the only way for the lover to talk to the beloved may be through the 'mouth' of a wound, as in {214,1}. There's also the grotesque view of a similar(?) kind of 'eating' in {6,4}.)

A weakness of the verse is that the first line is so exceptionally multivalent that it's difficult to make a really satisfying connection with the second line.