Ghazal 25, Verse 6

{25,6}

gar nigaah-e garm farmaatii rahii ta((liim-e .zab:t
shu((lah ;xas me;N jaise ;xuu;N rag me;N nihaa;N ho jaa))egaa

1) if the hot/angry glance would keep commanding/doing the teaching of restraint/control

2a) like flame in straw, blood will become hidden in the vein
2b) like blood in the vein, flame will become hidden in straw

Notes:

.zab:t : 'Keeping, taking care of, guarding, defending, watching over, ruling, governing; regulation, government, direction, discipline; restraint, control, check'. (Platts p.748)

Nazm:

That is, the glance of anger, which hints at me to restrain laments and sighs-- from fear of it, it won't be strange if flame becomes hidden in straw like blood in a vein. (26)

== Nazm page 26

Vajid:

Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {25}

Bekhud Mohani:

That is, if the beloved's disaster-arousing glance keeps on instructing me to hide my heart, then sighs and burning laments will become hidden in the frail body of the lover the way blood is hidden in a vein.... and the burning of the heart will dry up the blood, and life will come to an end. (63)

Chishti:

This verse is a very fine example of exaggeration.... the effectiveness of the beloved's wrathful glance is such that even fire will hide itself in straw out of fear of it. (335)

FWP:

SETS == MIDPOINTS
FLAME/STRAW: {21,5}
GAZE: {10,12}

The perfect positioning of jaise as what I call (for want of a better term) a 'midpoint' is the main pleasure of the verse. It is placed exactly between two suitable clauses, and might with complete ease be read as applying to either one. Nazm opts for (2b), followed by Chishti; Bekhud Mohani, for (2a). Two whole situations are being compared here: 'flame in straw' and 'blood in the vein': one of them will become hidden like the other. The complex undecideability of the similes-- and their clever use-- is the greatest part of the pleasure of the verse.

For what does it mean that 'blood will become hidden in the vein like flame in straw' (2a)? After all, blood is in the veins all the time. Does it mean that the blood will be terrified and 'hide out' in the veins, refusing to flow (and thus causing death), and thus would be as destructive as flame in straw? Does it mean that the blood will refuse to leave the veins, so that the lover can't weep tears of blood, lacerate his breast, etc. (the way flame refuses to let go of straw)? Does it mean that blood in the vein will act like flame in straw and explode into self-destruction, so that it can't be 'hidden' at all?

Alternatively, what does it mean that 'flame will become hidden in straw like blood in the vein' (2b)? Normally, flame that enters straw for any reason will last only the space of a breath (as {21,5} reminds us). If the flame instantly burns itself out, destroying both itself and the straw, will that be a defiance of the 'lesson of restraint' (the way a lover's blood is unable not to emerge from his veins)? Or will the 'lesson of restraint' be so powerful that the flame will somehow hide itself in straw the way blood hides in veins, and not burn itself out? Or will the very act of burning itself out, and thus annihilating itself, be a form of extreme obedience to the 'lesson of restraint' (as the lover's restraint of his own hot blood probably kills him)? And of course, the beloved's 'hot' glance may well be what starts the flame in the first place, or at least encourages it.

Even the first line is not as simple as it looks. If a 'hot' or 'angry' glance imparts a lesson of 'restraint,' does the garm quality of the glance enhance the force of the lesson, because it shows that the beloved is really determined? Or does it diminish the force of the lesson, because the beloved's own anger sets a bad example? Does her anger show that she herself has not learned the lesson, and thus tend to discredit her teaching? Does her 'heat' arouse emotion in the lover too, making 'restraint' less possible?

Like so many others, this verse generates multiple permutations of meaning, leaving us unable to resolve them in any clear way, so that we have to choose the interpretation(s) for ourselves.

On the use of the perfect verb form as a subjunctive, see {35,9}.