Ghazal 49, Verse 2


puuchh mat vaj'h-e siyah-mastii-e arbaab-e chaman
saayah-e taak me;N hotii hai havaa mauj-e sharaab

1) don't ask the reason for the {extreme/'black'}-drunkenness of the lords of the garden
2) in the shade/shadow/shelter of the grapevine, the breeze/desire is [habitually] a wave of wine


siyaah-mastii : 'Extreme drunkenness'. (Platts p.709)


saayah : 'Shadow, shade; shelter, protection'. (Platts p.631)


taak : 'A vine; creeper; branch of any tree growing like a vine; grapes.'. (Platts p.305)


havaa : 'Air, atmosphere, ether, the space between heaven and earth; --air, wind, gentle gale;... --affection, favour, love, mind, desire, passionate fondness; lust, carnal desire, concupiscence'. (Platts p.1239)


That is, in the shadow of the grapevine the air is so forceful-- as if it has become a wave of wine. The pleasure of 'black-drunkenness' has a great affinity with the shadow. (44)

== Nazm page 44


The poet says that when the trees are swaying drunkenly in the garden, the cause for their mood of joy is that the breeze has passed through the shadow of the grape-vines and taken on the effect of wine. (48)

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in the shadow of the grapevine the air is so joy-inspiring that it's as if it has become a wave of wine. The swaying of the trees is not because of the breeze; rather, the branches sway because of the intoxication of 'black-drunkenness'. (87-88)


In this verse the excellence of 'elegance in assigning a cause' is found. (397)


WINE: {49,1}

How much more lyrical and intoxicated-seeming can a verse get? The commentators have explained the wordplay; extreme intoxication is siyah-mastii , literally 'black-drunkenness', and the image works perfectly for the dark shade or shadow [saayah] of the grapevine in the garden. The 'lords of the garden' are the birds and flowers, and they too are as inebriated with the springtime as are the humans who join them in celebration.

Ghalib repeats the rhyme-word, havaa , in {49,4} as well; see that verse for discussion.

There's an enjoyable sound-play between siyah (shortened from siyaah , to fit the meter) and saayah that echoes the wordplay between the same two words.

Mr. Mat Ansari has reported a family anecdote that the references to blackness and to shadow or 'shade' (which can mean 'shelter, protection') might also be related to Ghalib's gratitude to his friend and protector (and Mr. Ansari's ancestor) Kale Shah [kaale shaah], the emperor Bahadur Shah's Sufi spiritual guide, who supported Ghalib and advanced his interests in many ways. The date of the ghazal makes this possible. On at least one occasion Ghalib did make a play on Kale Shah's name, as Hali tells us:

When Mirza came out of prison [for gambling, in 1847], then he went and stayed at Miyan Kale's house. One day he was sitting with the Miyan. Somebody came and congratulated him on being freed from prison. Mirza said, 'What wretch [bha;Ruvaa, literally 'pimp'] has gotten out of prison? First I was in the white man's [gaure kii] prison, now I'm in the black man's [kaale kii] prison!'
==Urdu text: p. 31 in Hali, Yadgar-e Ghalib
==another (expurgated) trans.: Russell and Islam, p. 71

So it's just conceivable that some overtones of Miyan Kale's name might have formed a part of Ghalib's private sense of this verse. However, there's no way a reader could deduce this association without special knowledge, so it certainly can't be considered part of the poetics of the verse; the 'shade' and the 'black'-drunkenness are easy enough to account for on the usual grounds of wordplay. This family anecdote is also one example among many of how people have, over time, greatly cherished every possible connection to Ghalib.