Ghazal 34, Verse 1

{34,1}

vuh mirii chiin-e jabii;N se ;Gam-e pinhaa;N samjhaa
raaz-e maktuub bah be-rab:tii-e ((unvaa;N samjhaa

1) from the wrinkle of my brow she understood the hidden grief
2) the secret/mystery of the letter, she understood from the disconnectedness of the title

Notes:

chiin : 'Fold, plait, pucker, crease, wrinkle'. (Platts p.471)

 

maktuub : 'What is written; a writing; a letter, an epistle; —a collection of letters (generally pasted together) forming a long roll'. (Platts p.1058)

 

unvaan : 'Superscription, title, or title-page (of a book, &c.); preface; anything that serves as an indication (of another thing); that which is understood (by anything); —mode, manner'. (Platts p.766)

Nazm:

bah has come in to express the reason. And he has used the title of a document as a simile for the forehead, and the secret of the writing for hidden grief. (33)

== Nazm page 33

Vajid:

Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {34}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The beloved understood my secret grief from the wrinkles on my forehead.... Then he has expressed the same theme in other words. The theme of the letter was revealed to her through the disconnectedness of the title. He has used the metaphor of the envelope of a letter for the wrinkles on the forehead, and the metaphor of the secret of the writing for hidden grief. (64-65)

Bekhud Mohani:

The way from the disarray of the title the theme of a letter can be learned, in the same way she saw the lines on my forehead and understood that these were the effects of thought and of the anxieties of passion. (79)

FWP:

SETS
SOUND EFFECTS: {26,7}
WRITING: {7,3}

This verse has an intriguing counterpart, {97,9}, in which the lover notices the beloved's frown-- right through her veil.

Frowning makes visible sharper, more vertical lines in the forehead that seem to break up what otherwise might be smoother horizontal lines. Thus it creates an effect of disconnectedness, be-rab:tii . A lack of connection or rab:t is a serious literary fault. From this abrupt, jagged look 'that one'-- presumably the beloved-- understood the grief-deranged state of the speaker's heart, the way a connoisseur might surmise from a badly-put-together title that the contents of the written work too would be disconnected.

In the process, Ghalib has also created an extra and strikingly apparent bit of disorder: he has juxtaposed bah , Persian for 'with,' and be , Persian for 'without': the beloved has understood the state of the heart, literally, 'with without-connectedness of title'-- a perfect illustration of disarray. And just to increase the alliteration, he's made sure that the word right before these two, maktuub , ends in the letter be which metrically counts as a short syllable by itself. So that when reciting the verse we end up saying -ba , bah , be- all in a row-- an effect almost of stammering. (Then of course rab:tii immediately provides yet another conspicuous and somewhat clunky letter b .) Not bad for a show of barely controlled verbal disorder.