Ghazal 15, Verse 2

{15,2}

vaa;N karam ko ((u;zr-e baarish thaa ((inaa;N-giir-e ;xiraam
girye se yaa;N punbah-e baalish kaf-e sailaab thaa

1) there, to Kindness the excuse of rain was a {restrainer / 'rein-puller'} of its pace/gait

2a) from weeping, here, the cotton of the pillow was the foam of the flood
2b) from weeping, here, the foam of the flood was the cotton of the pillow

Notes:

((inaa;N : 'A rein; bridle'. (Platts p.766)

 

;xiram : 'Pace, gait, walk, march; stately gait, graceful walk; strut'. (Platts p.488)

Nazm:

That is, the rain prevented her from showing mercy, and I was in such a state from weeping and weeping that here, instead of a cotton pillow there was the foam of the flood. (15)

== Nazm page 15

Vajid:

Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {15}

Baqir:

[Sa'id says:] The cloudburst of my tears itself prevented her from moving along-- tears which were caused by her not coming. (51)

[Asi says:] The foam of the flood was the cotton of the pillow, that is, the cotton pillow had floated away. (51)

Shadan:

This verse begins a verse-set. (131)

FWP:

SETS == CATCH-22; HERE/THERE

Despite Shadan's assertion, most editors and commentators don't treat {15,2-7} as a verse-set, but it's easy to see what Shadan means. Unlike the verses before and after them, these six are all structured around the contrast between vaa;N ('there', meaning in the beloved's world) in one line, and yaa;N ('here', meaning in the lover's world) in the other. The witty and appropriate parallels between these two worlds both disguise and reveal how radically incommensurable they are.

I like the circularity of Sa'id's explanation: the beloved was prevented from coming by a rainstorm-- that is, by a small part of the flood of tears I wept when I learned she was not coming. Or perhaps it shouldn't be called circularity, but 'mutual causality'-- her behavior causes my behavior, and my behavior causes her behavior. Thus lover and beloved are intimately linked, even though they are (literally) poles apart. (After all, aren't the two poles intimately linked?)

Sa'id's notion also amounts to a form of 'catch-22'. (The original 'catch-22', for those who don't remember the novel: you can only be excused from flying bombing missions if you're insane; but if you seek to get excused from flying bombing missions, you're sane.) The lover hopes to earn a visit because he weeps so much; but because he weeps so much, she has a 'flood' excuse not to visit him.

The cotton of my pillow was white like sea-foam, and from my weeping it was also just as wet (2a). Or, as Asi says, the sea-foam was all the pillow I had, since my own pillow had long since floated away (2b). The difference between (2a) and (2b) depends on the direction in which we choose to read the metaphor. There's a similar situation in {11,1}, which also involves waves of water and a hard-pressed lover (though in that verse he's much more confident).

Literally, the 'excuse of rain' was a 'bridle-puller' or 'rein-puller', a metaphor that clear brings to mind the 'reining in' of a horse. (Or the 'rain' was a 'rein-puller', with an accidental English homonym.) Then the use of 'gait, pace' [;xiraam] reinforces this image. But is the beloved really like a beautiful, eager, spirited horse, restrained only by someone else's hand tugging on its reins or bridle? Surely this image lets her off too easily; the word 'excuse' also suggests that she's actually not all that eager to visit the lover anyway.