Ghazal 50, Verse 5x


har ;Gunchah-e gul .suurat-e yak qa:trah-e ;xuu;N hai
dekhaa hai kisuu kaa jo ;hinaa-bastah sar-angusht

1) every rosebud has the aspect of a single drop of blood
2) since/if/when [someone] has seen someone's henna-'bound' fingertip


bastah : 'Bound, shut, closed, fastened, folded up'. (Platts p.155)


;hinaa bastan : 'To dye with henna (applied to women)'. (Steingass p.431)


;hinaa-band : 'Having henna applied, adorned with henna'. (Platts p.482)


The bud of every flower, in my eyes, seems to be a single drop of blood, and this is because I have already seen someone's henna-adorned fingertips. So to speak, the henna-adorned fingertip has settled into my gaze to such an extent that now I see that very thing in every direction, and in every rosebud I see this same aspect. (98)


For the rosebud to become a drop of blood is on the basis of envy/jealousy, but the point is the simile.

And if in the second line dekhaa hai is taken to apply to the speaker, then the meaning of the second line becomes that in my view every rosebud is a single drop of blood-- that is, has no significance compared to someone's fingertip. If this meaning would be taken, then the verse becomes founded on reality. (140)The

Gyan Chand:

The verse very clearly has two meanings:

(1) In passion, the lover turns to blood. Every bud too, in any case, is like a drop of blood-- it too has begun to feel passion for someone, in the course of which it has turned itself to blood. This also proves that a henna-ed fingertip appears better than the red bud of a flower.

(2) I have seen a henna-ed fingertip. It has possessed my gaze in such a way that compared to it a red flower-bud seems to be only a single drop of blood. That is, it has no attraction at all for the heart.

== Gyan Chand, p. x


HENNA: {18,4}

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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The first line gives us 'Every A has the aspect of a B', and the second line gives us ' jo [X] has seen Y'. The verse thus relies on the possibilities of jo (for more on these, see {12,2}), and also the question of the subject (who is 'X'?). So it does use some of the devices of 'meaning-creation'.

Physically speaking, we have three small red objects: a rosebud, a blood-drop, and a henna-ed fingertip. The verse invites us to shuffle the metaphors around into different possible relationships. But here the 'objective correlatives' are so strong and explicit, so abundant and obvious, that it actually makes the verse a big yawn. It's too easy, too cut-and-dried. I've included it partly to make myself think about why I so markedly dislike it. I think the main reason is its boring obviousness. I really resent it when Ghalib falls so low.