Ghazal 47, Verse 3x


bahaar-e rang-e ;xuun-e gul hai saamaa;N ashk-baarii kaa
junuun-e barq nashtar hai rag-e abr-e bahaarii kaa

1a) the springtime of the color/style of the blood of the rose, is the equipment of tear-scattering
1b) the equipment of tear-scattering, is the springtime of the color/style of the rose

2) the madness of the lightning, is the lancet of the vein of the springtime cloud


saamaan : 'Furniture, baggage, articles, things, paraphernalia; requisites, necessaries, materials, appliances; instrument, tools, apparatus; provision made for any necessary occasion, necessary preparations'. (Platts p.627)


That springtime of color that is created from the blood of the rose, is equipment for tear-scattering. The madness of the lightning is a lancet for the springtime cloud. That is, lightning, after seeing the springtime of color, has become mad and is writhing. That madness will work as a lancet for the springtime cloud, and now very quickly it will begin to be tear-scattering at the condition of the lightning. (67)


He says, 'What is it for the spring season to come? It is the preface to tear-scattering. The clouds have closed in, the lightning has writhed and put a lancet into their vein (the 'vein of a cloud' is an overt metaphor), water has rained down, the flowers have bloomed (gardens and summer-houses have become colorful with the blood of the roses). In short, sorrowful hearts don't find pleasure even in the springtime. They consider the clouds' raining down to be weeping, and the flowers' blooming to be the flowing of the roses' blood.'

Or this: The murderer is mad. Seeing the downpour of rain and the flourishing of tulip and rose, she considers that the lightning applied a lancet. It causes the spring raincloud's blood to flow, and causes earth and sky to weep.

Or this: Having seen the blood-shedding of the lightning, she herself has begun to shed tears. (63)

Gyan Chand:

rag-e abr = the line that is visible in the cloud.

The springtime of Hindustan is not in the month of March, it is in the rainy season. This verse has been composed for the season in which on the one hand flowers would have bloomed, and on the other hand clouds would be pouring out rain and lightning would be flashing.

In the springtime, where does color come from? It is the blood of flowers. Since the flowers have become martyrs, in the spring season tears ought to be shed. In the springtime, lightning has become mad. The streak of lightning that flashes is in reality a lancet that pierces into the vein of the cloud so that its essence would flow out. From a cloud, only water can fall. According to the poet, it is not rain; it is the scattering of tears over the blood/murder of the rose. In the verse is 'elegance in assigning a cause'.

== Gyan Chand, p. 100



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

This was the opening-verse of the original ghazal.

On the nature and use of the lancet, see {166,2}.

Well, we have 'A is B' (or of course 'B is A') in the first line, and 'C is D' (or of course 'D is C', though in this case it makes almost no difference) in the second line. That is, 'springtime is equipment' (or 'equipment is springtime'), and then 'madness is lancet'. As so often, we're then also left to figure out for ourselves the relationship between the two lines.

What's intriguing is how differently the symmetry effects work in the two lines. In the first line, we have a very coherent choice: either the 'springtime' with its rose-blood constitutes the 'equipment' for the lover's bloody tears (1a), or else the 'equipment' of the lover's bloody tears is what constitutes the 'springtime' with its rose-blood (1b). Either nature shapes the lover (1a), or the lover shapes nature (1b). This is a familiar Ghalibian doubleness of choice; for one of many classic examples, see the second line of {10,6}. This kind of back-and-forth oscillation of choices is fascinating.

Any hearer or reader, noting the marked parallelism of structure between the two lines, would anticipate another such enjoyable doubleness of microcosm versus macrocosm, the human versus the non-human.

But the second line disrupts our expectations entirely, through junuun-e barq . For if the lightning can be 'mad', is it then a lover too, is it then personified and even quasi-human? It seems thus to span the gulf between the human and the natural worlds, and blur the clear dichotomy in the first line.

And then, the rest of the line is even more disrupted. It's easy to see a bolt of lightning as a lancet, but the line instead gives us 'madness' as a lancet-- thus disrupting the easily imagined 'objective correlative' that we were expecting. Both a lightning-bolt and a lancet come down swiftly, penetrate sharply, cause pain, open up interior worlds to the outside world, etc. How annoying it is to be denied that elegant metaphor! Yet this is exactly what the line does-- it takes us almost all the way there, and then thwarts our pleasant, satisfying expectations. We are left frustrated, vexed, with so much more mental work to be done, and now with seemingly inferior tools. (But are they really?)

This kind of disruption too is very Ghalibian, in my view. We have to think, and think again. We have to work harder than we thought, and for uncertain rewards. We are forbidden to pick the low-hanging fruit. Could any ordinary poet make us sit still for this?