Ghazal 26, Verse 9


rahzanii hai kih dil-sitaanii hai
le ke dil dil-sitaa;N ravaanah hu))aa

1) is it highway robbery, or is it heart-theft?!
2) having taken the heart, the heart-thief moved on


sitaan : 'Taking, seizing, carrying away (used as last member of compounds)'. (Platts p.637)


In ravaanah , ravaa is the rhyme and nah was part of the refrain.... In the terminology, they call such a rhyme a 'contrived rhyme' [qaafiyah-e ma((muulah]. In the metrical rulebooks, they note it as a defect. But now all the poets consider it a device of scansion [.sanaa))a((-e taq:tiih] and use it freely. The truth is that a 'contrived rhyme' makes a verse feeble. (28)

== Nazm page 28


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {26}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

In this verse the 'contrived rhyme' has made for even more enjoyment. (55)

Bekhud Mohani:

The ancients had counted ['contrived rhyme'] among the defects. But later poets have declared it to be a virtue. And so they ought, because poets compose a 'contrived' at times when they are able to convey some good theme only through a 'contrived'.... The truth is that any rhyme through which a verse becomes feeble should be abandoned. The rule of 'contrived' and 'genuine' [a.slii] is useless. (67)


['Contrived rhyme' is a defect] because the rhyme does not remain fixed, and the excellence of a rhyme is its remaining fixed. (160)


This ['contrived rhyme'] is entered among the defects, but in a ghazal it has been considered permissible to do it one time. In this verse, the rhyme is of this kind. (91)



This is an example of what I call a 'mushairah verse'-- a verse with exactly one punch, one that is withheld as long as possible, and then is immediately comprehensible and enjoyable. For more on this see {14,9}.

The 'contrived rhyme' that the commentators are busy debating (in an all-too-rare show of lively technical discussion among themselves) is the chief charm of the verse. In the previous verse, {26,8}, the question arose of whether Ghalib had provided such a 'contrived rhyme' as a secondary reading, and I argued that he had. But here, the 'contrived rhyme' is the first (and apparently only) reading, according to the commentators. Thus the discussion. Other such examples are listed in the Glossary: see 'contrived rhyme'.

The first line asks indignantly whether this is 'heart-stealing' or 'highway robbery'; as is so often the case, we can't possibly tell what's going on until we hear the second line; this is of course a great structure for the oral-performance poetics of the mushairah. And even then, the 'punch' is delayed until the very end of the second line (as it is in {14,9} too), and in fact involves tampering with the end: turning ravaa nah into ravaanah in an amusing, tongue-in-cheek way that everybody knew was quasi-forbidden. The beloved steals the lover's heart, as is quite right and proper-- but then she runs off with it, instead of staying to torment him properly? What is this? Hey wait, this is highway robbery!