Ghazal 41, Verse 10x


huu;N qa:trah-zan bah mar;halah-e yaas roz-o-shab
juz taar-e ashk jaadah-e manzil nahii;N rahaa

1) I am a runner/'drop-rainer' in the journey/stage of/to despair, day and night
2) except for a thread/string of tears, no path to the halting-place has remained


qa:trah-zan : 'Going quickly, running fast or hard; trotting about, running to and fro hastily; —a fast runner, &c.'. (Platts p.l793)


qa:trah-zadan : 'To run to and fro, to make haste ... qa:trah-zadan bar : To pour or rain upon'. (Steingass p.977)


mar;halah : 'A day's journey, a stage; —the place or time of travelling; a place of alighting or abode; a halting-place, or station, or inn (for travellers)'. (Platts p.l021)


manzil : 'A place for alighting, a place for the accommodation of travellers, a caravansary, an inn ... ;—a day's journey; —a stage (in travelling, or in the divine life); —place of destination, goal; boundary, end, limit:


We run around in the valley of longing [Zamin's text has bah vaadii-e ;hasrat], we pay no heed to day or night, we have become drenched in sweat, but are making the rounds-- perhaps in some direction some road might become visible. But there, where is there a road?! There is longing, there is weeping, and there's a thread/string of tears. Because of the abundance of the tears, he has given to the thread/string of them the simile of a path to the destination, and for wordplay with tears he has said qa:trah-zan . It's a witticism!

== Zamin, p. 80

Gyan Chand:

Night and day I very swiftly run around in the halting-place of hopelessness. Because for me, no road has survived besides a thread/string of tears. This road is that of the halting-place of despair. The road to the halting-place of success is, for me, closed. The thread/string of tears has the similitude of a very narrow road, and it's obvious that the road of tears is a road of despair.

== Gyan Chand, p. 111


ROAD: {10,12}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I have added it because Ghalib himself chose it for inclusion in Gul-e ra'na (c.1828). For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

Zamin points out the idiom-based wordplay that's really the chief feature of the verse. For qa:trah-zan in Persian literally means 'drop-striking' or 'drop-striker', so that the phrase idiomatically describes a person who is running hard, and thus 'rains down' (see the definitions above) drops of sweat as he goes. If such a runner is also shedding tears, does that mean he's doubly a 'drop-rainer'? Perhaps that's pushing it too far, but we can enjoy the juxtaposition of the sweat-drops that testify to the runner's speed, with the tear-drops that testify to his lostness-- a juxtaposition that offers both wordplay and meaning-play.

The verse invites a Sufistic reading, for sorrow and despair in this finite worldly life (with its 'day and night') can be stages on a pilgrim's spiritual journey. A path defined and guided by an endless string of tears may in fact be the only one that can finally take the mystical seeker to his destination.