Ghazal 41, Verse 9x


har-chand mai;N huu;N :tuu:tii-e shiirii;N-su;xan vale
aa))iinah aah mere muqaabil nahii;N rahaa

1) {although / however much} I am a parrot of sweet speech, but/nevertheless
2) a mirror, ah! [=a sigh] did not remain confronting/matching me


har-chand : 'Although, even if, notwithstanding; --how-much-soever; howsoever; as often as'. (Platts p.1222)


muqaabil : 'Fronting, confronting; opposing, contending; opposite; --comparing; collating; --corresponding, matching; resembling, like; --in opposition (to, - ke ); in front (of), over against; face to face (with), in the presence (of); --in comparison (with)'. (Platts p.1053)


That is, 'Although I am a parrot of sweet speech, I am the kind of parrot before whom a mirror has never remained, such that I would have said some things'. The meaning is that I am accomplished, but I never obtained an occasion for showing my accomplishments.

== Asi, p. 71


That is, I was never esteemed as I ought to have been esteemed. Thus I too was unable to show the temperedness [jauhar] of my accomplishment the way I ought to have showed it....

Now read this verse together with {41,4}, and draw out the meaning from them both! There [in that verse] there is a mirror, and here there is no mirror. After this, please understand that other commentaries that have been made are only flailing around.

== Zamin, p. 81

Gyan Chand:

The technique for teaching a parrot to speak is that a man places a mirror before the bird and sits behind it. When the man speaks, the parrot considers its reflection to be the speaker, and it too, in imitation of it, begins to speak. Ghalib says, 'Although I am, because of my poetry, a parrot who speaks good things, nevertheless, alas that now no mirror remained before me! That is, there remains no connoisseur who would listen to my poetry/speech.'

== Gyan Chand, p. 111


MIRROR: {8,3}

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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

On har-chand , see {59,7}; for a discussion of other parrot and mirror verses, see {29,2}.

What it might mean for a 'parrot of sweet speech' to be now (though apparently not formerly) deprived of a mirror? Here are some possibilities:

=He is no longer able to practice and refine his 'speech', the way it would be possible to practice before a mirror.

=His 'speech' is so potent that no mirror (with a parrot-trainer behind it?) could long endure to confront him.

=No poet now alive is capable of confronting him as an equal, so he doesn't get a chance for the real exercise of his 'speech'/poetry.

=There is no longer any connoisseur who could appreciate and encourage his 'speech'/poetry.

The parrot is alone, with no 'mirror' or sounding-board, no peer or 'frenemy', no listener, no sympathizer or connoisseur. For another verse about the crucial importance of such an interlocutor, see {60,7}.