Ghazal 15, Verse 1

{15,1}

shab kih barq-e soz-e dil se zahrah-e abr aab thaa
shu((lah-e javvaalah har ik ;halqah-e girdaab thaa

1) last night, when/since from the lightning of the burning of the heart the cloud's {fear was great / gall-bladder was water}
2) every single circle of the whirlpool was a blazing flame

Notes:

zahrah : ' Gall-bladder; bile; --boldness, spirit, pluck'. (Platts p.619)

 

zahrah aab honaa : ''The gall to turn to water,' to be much distressed or terrified, to be panic-stricken, to take fright'. (Platts p.619)

 

girdaab : 'Whirlpool, abyss, gulf, vortex'. (Platts p.903)

Nazm:

This was only the effect of the burning of my heart. (15)

== Nazm page 15

Vajid:

Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {15}

Josh:

This ghazal has been called 'continuous'. In every single verse events and scenes only of the night of separation have been depicted. (68) [Josh is speaking of verses 1-8 only; he takes 9-15 to be a separate ghazal.]

Chishti:

The excellence of the verse is only in pushing exaggeration to the limit of its range. The poet has shown the perfection of inventiveness. First he has supposed the cloud to be a person. Then he has shown that he has a gall-bladder. He has made the gall-bladder melt into water and run off, and in it he has shown the spectacle of a blazing flame. (290)

FWP:

SETS == IDIOMS; KIH
LIGHTNING: {10,6}

FORMALLY IDENTICAL GHAZALS: Some editions of the divan divide this long ghazal into two separate but formally identical [ham-:tar;h] ghazals: verses 1-8 as the first, and verses 9-15 as the second. (Verse 8 is not a closing-verse, but verse 9 is an opening-verse, so formally the case is a bit ambiguous.) As always, I follow Hamid and Arshi, both of whom treat it as a single long ghazal. A similar (though weaker) case: {97} and {98}, which are formally identical and are sometimes treated as a long single ghazal, even though each has its own opening-verse and closing-verse. Formally identical ghazals have the same meter, rhyme, and refrain. Some other examples of formally identical pairs of ghazals composed by Ghalib, including both published and unpublished ones: {3}; {29}; {81}; {91}. More examples can be found by consulting the indices of the unpublished ghazals. There are also cases in which he himself combined parts of two different ghazals into a new one for publication: {3}; {4}, {6}, {24}, {108}, {190}, {214}, and {226}.

The verse features a form of enjoyable wordplay (the 'concretization' of an idiom, as the cloud's gall-bladder literally, rather than metaphorically, 'turns to water' with fear. It's also an exercise in hyperbole (the cloud, made of water, fears the fire of the lover's heart); and it offers the arresting vision of a whirlpool with a heart of flame. But without the enjoyable use made of idiom 'the gall to turn to water', the verse really wouldn't have much to offer.

Note for meter fans: The verse has a really clunky bit of scansion in abr aab , which with word-grafting comes out sounding like 'ab-RAA-b'. The abr almost fades away and seems to blend into the phantom word raab . There's nothing illegal about this, but it's distracting, awkward, and definitely no fun to say.