Ghazal 15, Verse 18x


shab kih ;zauq-e guft-guu se terii dil be-taab thaa
sho;xii-e va;hshat se afsaanah fusuun-e ;xvaab thaa

1) last night, when/since from the {taste for / relish of} your conversation, the heart was restless
2) through the mischievousness of wildness/madness, the 'incantation of sleep' was a story


be-taab : 'Faint, powerless; agitated, restless, uneasy ...; devoid of splendour, lustreless'. (Platts p.204)


afsaanah : 'Tale, fiction, story, romance'. (Platts p.62)


fusuun : '(prob. akin to afsaanah ) Enchantment, incantation, fascination, &c.'. (Platts p.781)


Last night when because of your [his text reads tere] taste for conversation the heart was becoming restless, then the situation was that the magic-spell of sleep, because of mischievousness and wildness, had become a story. The 'incantation of sleep', the task of which is to bring sleep-- it too was entirely futile and ineffective. That is, not even from the magic-spell of sleep was sleep able to come.

== Asi, p. 57


That is, last night when the heart became restless to hear your conversation, and wildness began its mischievousnesses, then even/also the incantation of sleep became a story (that is, sleep vanished). Between afsaanah and fusuun there's the device of [a shared] 'derivation' [ishtiqaaq]. In the first line with an extremely displeasing convolutedness he has said ;zauq se tere instead of tere ;zauq ; but there was the duress of the meter.

== Zamin, p. 41

Gyan Chand:

In this whole ghazal-- or rather, 'double ghazal' [do-;Gazlah] -- there are themes of a single style/'color'. That is, the comparison of the state of the lover in separation, and the beloved's indifference and voluptuousness. Between afsaanah and fusuu;N there's wordplay [ri((aayat]. And fusuun-e ;xvaab is that incantation, the reciting of which brings on sleep or unconsciousness....

Last night, the heart was becoming restless to converse with you. There was such a state of wildness/madness that sleep could by no means come. Even if someone would recite an 'incantation of sleep', that too became a useless false idea like a story, it did not work.

If on the contrary 'story' would be taken as the subject and 'madness' as the predicate nominative, then the meaning will change. Last night, having told a story, sleep is brought.

On the other hand, there is a sleep-binding [;xvaab-bastan] incantation-- one through which sleep would be bound. Then, an 'incantation of sleep' means an incantation that drives away sleep. Thus the meaning of the second line becomes that because of wildness/madness, instead of a story's bringing sleep, it was causing sleep to disappear. In {243x,3}, there's a mention of the 'magic' of sleep-binding. Here too, 'incantation of sleep' can have the same meaning.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 78-79



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse was NOT among those chosen by SRF, but I'm now adding it anyway because I find it interesting. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

This opening-verse appears in Raza's text as the original one at the start of the whole long ghazal, while {15,1} and {15,9} appeared embedded among its twenty-three verses.

Gyan Chand's description of the 'sleep-binding incantation' adds an enjoyable multivalence. Last night, the speaker's ardent longing for, and enjoyment of, the beloved's conversation had one or another kind of powerful effects. Through the mischievousness of the lover's passion and craziness,

=the 'story' that she was telling acted as an 'incantation of sleep' and put him to sleep.
=the 'story' that she was telling was an 'incantation of sleep-binding' that kept him awake.
=the 'incantation of sleep' became a (purely fictional) 'story', and failed to bring sleep to him.
=the 'incantation of sleep-binding' took the form of the 'story' she were telling, and deprived him of sleep.

A pretty good range of possibilities, isn't it? Ghalib has paired fasaanah with the apparently related (see the definitions above) fusuun or afsuun elsewhere as well-- for example, in {145,14x}, and in an unpublished verse from {188} that is not discussed on this website (you can use the Raza link to find it).