Ghazal 23, Verse 4X


asiir-e be-zabaa;N huu;N kaash-ke .saiyaad-e be-parvaa
bah daam-e jauhar-e aa))iinah ho jaave shikaar apnaa

1) I am a voiceless captive-- if only the careless Hunter
2) in the net of the polish-lines of the mirror, would become her own prey!



I am a single voiceless prisoner; if only my careless Hunter would sometime become entangled in the net of the polish-lines of the mirror! That is, that she would sometime look into the mirror, and I would be able to see her. That is, I am the kind of captive who, like the polish-lines of the mirror, is both a captive and voiceless. If only she would sometime look into the mirror and become my prey!

== Asi, p. 59


Through 'voiceless' there's a suggestion of being a Nightingale or parrot, so that the relationship with a Hunter is maintained. He says that 'I am voiceless-- I cannot express the difficulties of being a captive of passion. May the Lord grant that the one who has made me her captive-- may the mirror show respect for my captivity, so that while she looks into it, she would become the prey of her own beauty!'

== Zamin, p. 45

Gyan Chand:

The connection of apnaa is with the Hunter. Asi has taken it in the meaning of 'my', which is not correct. On a metal mirror, the polish-lines have the similitude of a net. The beloved is a Hunter; she has captured me in a net. I am silent and voiceless, I cannot make any complaint. If only the very same thing would happen to the Hunter, and through carelessness she would be ensnared in a net! What net? That of the polish-lines of the mirror, into which she looks to adorn herself.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 82-83


BONDAGE: {1,5}
JAUHAR: {5,4}
MIRROR: {8,3}

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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

This verse may well belong to the set in which the lover is a bird; for others, see {126,5}. The reference to the 'net' of polish-lines in the mirror suggests that the speaker himself may well have been captured in a 'net'. The first line tells us only that the speaker is a 'voiceless captive'; Zamin observes that this description too hints at the identity of a bird, but it's not made explicit.

It also belongs to the small set in which the beloved is imagined to fall in love; for the full list, see {13,2}. Especially comparable is {40,1}, which also involves a mirror.

Does the speaker, seemingly a captive bird, simply wish the Hunter ill, so that the verse is a kind of curse, or a hope for vengeance? If so, in the context of the ghazal it's a very rare emotion, since the Hunter is clearly identified with the beloved through her narcissistic beauty and her obsession with the mirror. Hardly ever does the lover simply curse the beloved. (Asi maintains that the speaker hopes for the chance to gaze at her, but the verse provides no grounds for this supposition.)

And in any case, what would it really mean for the Hunter to become her own prey? We are in the self-reflexive realm of paradox here.