Ghazal 37, Verse 6x


bah .suurat takalluf bah ma((nii ta))assuf
asad mai;N tabassum huu;N pazhmurdagaa;N kaa

1a) in appearance-- formality/courtesy; in reality-- grief/regret
1b) with the face/appearance of formality/courtesy, with the reality of grief/regret,

2) Asad, I am the smile of the withered/blighted ones


bah : 'With, for, from, in, or by him, or it'. (Platts p.209)


.suurat : 'Form, fashion, figure, shape, semblance, guise; appearance, aspect; face, countenance'. (Platts p.747)


ma((nii : 'Meaning, intended sense, intent, signification; indication, import, drift, acceptation; intrinsic quality; --spirituality; --substance, essence; reality; the interior or hidden part (of anything)'. (Platts p.1050)


takalluf : 'Taking (anything) upon oneself gratuitously or without being required to do it, gratuitousness; taking much pains personally (in any matter); pains, attention, industry, perseverance; trouble, inconvenience; elaborate preparation (for); profusion, extravagance; careful observance of etiquette, ceremony, formality; dissimulation, insincerity'. (Platts p.331)


taa))assuf : 'Grieving, lamenting, pining, brooding over trouble or affliction; grief, regret, repentance'. (Platts p.305)


pazhmurdah : 'Withered, faded, pallid, drooping, blighted, decayed; frozen, numbed'. (Platts p.261)


Apparently I am full of formality/courtesy, but in reality I am an embodiment of grief/regret. I am the smile of withered/blighted people-- if sometimes out of formality/courtesy they smile/laugh, then in that smile/laughter too is hidden a whole world of pain. (65)


The way dejected people, for the sake of their companions, would even smile-- that smile will be artificial. It will look like a smile/laugh, but it will be the same as a thousand tear-sheddings. (61)

Gyan Chand:

I am like the smile of withered/blighted and dejected people-- which when it appears outwardly is with formality/courtesy. Inwardly, it is chiefly sorrow and grieving. I too am outwardly happy and joyous, but in reality I've been extinguished [like a candle].

== Gyan Chand, p. 98



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

On this ghazal as a kind of unlabeled verse-sequence, see {37,1}. On the macaronic structure of this ghazal, with its Persian first lines and Urdu second lines, see {37,2}.

The positioning of bah gives two possible readings for the first line. One of them (1a) announces two parallel facts: in outer appearance, there is A; in inner reality, there is B. The other reading (1b) construes the grammar adverbially: 'with an outer appearance of A, with an inner appearance of B' (so that the sentence needs to be completed in the second line).

Thus 'I am', the second line announces, 'the smile of the withered/blighted ones'. We are surely meant to think of withered roses, that may retain their shape for a time but are in fact dried out and will fall apart and lose their petals at a touch; or else of blighted, decayed, or even frozen flowers, that still show a lingering outer color or facade but have no vitality inside it. This is what the 'smile' of the withered/blighted ones is like-- and this is what, somehow, the speaker 'is'.

The word .suurat is especially well chosen, since it can mean 'aspect' and exterior appearance (so that it can be elegantly opposed to the inwardness or essentialness of ma((nii ), but it also of course means 'face', so that it resonates equally well with 'smile'.

Note for meter fans: Although nowadays in Urdu we usually see taassuf , the pronunciation is still ta-as-suf (short-long-long), as of course Ghalib scans it here. The reason is that the alif is to be considered as only a 'chair' for a hamzah . In Ghalib's day, the hamzah was still written. This is just one of those little tidbits of Arabic grammar that we inherit. Compare jur))at .