Ghazal 35, Verse 3


saadagiihaa-e tamannaa ya((nii
phir vuh nairang-e na:zar yaad aayaa

1) simplicities of longing-- that is
2) again/then that marvel/enchantment/deceit of sight came to mind/recollection


saadagii : 'Plainness, absence of ornament; artlessness, simplicity, openness, frankness, sincerity, purity'. (Platts p.623)


nairang : 'Fascination, bewitching arts, wiles; magic, sorcery; deception; --deceit; trick; pretence; evasion; --freak; --a wonderful performance, a miracle; anything new or strange'. (Platts p.1166)


In the first line dekho is omitted. He says, look at my simplicity of longing. That is, the thing that is impossible and will not happen-- through my simplicity and foolishness that is what I long for. (34)

== Nazm page 34

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The meaning is that those things that the glance of the beloved said through hints and suggestions, the lover in his simplicity considered as a means to accomplishing his longing-- or rather, he came to believe perfectly in his success. But the result was nothing at all. It became clear that it was a trick of the beloved's glances, but there was a kind of pleasure in them; thus they come to mind again. (67)

Bekhud Mohani:

The simplicity of my longing is worth seeing-- again it is remembering that same enchanting beloved whose glances have the power of magic and who is never slow to change. That is, despite my knowing the beloved's changeableness, still my heart longs for her-- in that aspect, nairang-na:zar is without an i.zaafat. (83)



Once again we see the power of inshaa))iyah speech. The first line is simply an exclamation, and the ya((nii , 'that is', only purports to explain it. Thus this verse is a classic case of Ghalib's permitting (or forcing) us to decide for ourselves how to connect the lines. Here are some of the possibilities:

=Because of the simplicities of longing, that marvel of sight then came to mind. (Line 1 is the cause of line 2. In the lover's heart, longing directly begets memory.)

=Because that marvel of sight again came to mind, there were simplicities of longing. (Line 2 is the cause of line 1. In the lover's heart, a passing (or recurring?) memory gives rise to deep longing.)

=There were simplicities of longing, and that marvel of sight again came to mind. (Lines 1 and 2 are parallel descriptions of the lover's condition; his life is one in which longing and memory are inextricably merged.)

=What simplicities of longing!-- That is, again that marvel-- or 'deceit', or 'trick'-- of sight came to mind. (Line 1 is a wry, retrospective exclamation at the folly of the mood depicted in line 2. The lover marvels at his own naivete and haplessness.)

The ambiguities of saadagii (see the definition above) are similar to those of 'simplicity' in English. Is it a neutral or complimentary term, with moral connotations of sincerity and straightforwardness? Or is it somewhat patronizing, so that it suggests intellectual naivete and gullibility? These ambiguities are multiplied by the complexities of nairang (see the definition above). What exactly is the speaker longing for? A real beloved? An ideal beauty so powerful that it's spellbinding in itself? An enchantment formerly created by the beloved?

Alternatively, could he be longing for a magic show of some particular kind? A cheap sleight-of-hand trick, even though he knows it's fake? There's no need at all for the nairang to be a human being: it can be anything we ourselves imagine it to be-- for surely we all have our own such naive fantasies and impossible visions. (And even if we know they're chimerical, we are still vulnerable to them.)

In the first line Ghalib has pluralized saadagii into saadagiihaa ; this is as conspicuous in Urdu as 'simplicities' would be in English. No doubt the pluralization complicates the meaning, but how exactly? Doesn't such complication seem to undermine the very simplicity of 'simplicity'? As usual, we are left to decide for ourselves. For a similiar but even more awkward pluralization see 'tough-lifednesses' in {1,2}.

Here's my long-ago attempt at a translation (1985).