Ghazal 57, Verse 1

{57,1}*

;husn ;Gamze kii kashaakash se chhu;Taa mere ba((d
baare aaraam se hai;N ahl-e jafaa mere ba((d

1) Beauty was loosed/freed from the tug-of-war of coquettish-glances, after me
2) finally the people of tyranny/oppression are at ease, after me

Notes:

;Gamzah : 'A sign with the eye, a wink; an amorous glance, ogling; coquetry, affectation.' (Platts 773)

 

kashaakash : 'Repeated pulling; pulling backwards and forwards, or to and fro; jostling, hustling; bringing and taking away; command after command; commanding and countermanding; great unpleasantness, or grief, or pain; distraction, dilemma, perplexity, difficulty; struggle, contention, wrangle, squabble; attraction, allurement'. (Platts p.835)

Nazm:

== Nazm page 51

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, beauty was freed, after my death, from the tug-of-war of coquetry. Finally the cruel and tyrannical ones-- that is, all the beloveds-- became at ease. As long as I was alive, every beautiful one was ensnared in the expression of coquettish graces, in order to make me mad for her. (97)

Bekhud Mohani:

After death, the lover says, I've died-- that was good. The cruel beloveds are at peace. As long as I was alive, coquettish glances didn't give the beautiful ones any peace. That is, after me, now there's not another lover left at all in the world upon whom the beautiful ones would shower the arrows of their coquettish glances. (123)

Mihr:

In Urdu very few ghazals are found, of which all the verses are continuous and which have been composed with excellence of arrangement [;husn-e tartiib] about different aspects of one single theme. This ghazal of Mirza Ghalib's too is an extremely fine example of continuous verses. (202)

FWP:

SETS

THE DEAD LOVER SPEAKS: This whole ghazal is spoken by the lover, somehow, after his death. This is really no more improbable than, for example, the lover speaking with equal matter-of-factness as a bird (see {126,5}), or many of the other stylized premises on which the ghazal world is based. Other verses in which the lover speaks or thinks or has opinions after his death: {4,11x}; {8,4x}; {9,3}, on one reading; {9,7}; {14,5}; {16,3}; {17,8}; {20,9}; {23,2x}; {32,2}; {46,6}, on one reading; {51,3}; {53,4}; {57}; {62,9}; {67,1}; {79,3x}, on one reading; {83,1}; {115,9}; {121,5}; {158,4}; {165,3}; {175,1}; {179,4}; {202,6}; {210,6}; {217,5}.

With a refrain like mere ba((d , 'after me', this ghazal is bound to have a certain degree of semantic unity. Mihr wants to classify it as a continuous ghazal, but perhaps that's a bit too strong. For if the verses were rearranged, or some added or subtracted, we wouldn't be able to detect the fact (except in the case of the opening-verse and closing-verse, of course, for formal reasons). Thus it's clear that the ghazal has no narrativity or ongoing, sequential internal organization, which is usually part of the definition of a continuous ghazal.

In a ghazal with a melancholy refrain we might expect a generally melancholy tone as well, but Ghalib is never melancholy for long. Here he wittily represents the flirtatious exchange of glances as a tug-of-war, a kashaakash -- a word with a wonderfully elaborate series of meanings, all of them apposite here (see the definition above). The lovely ones, personified as 'Beauty', no longer need to undergo this tension and stress now that I am gone; they can be at peace. The lover speaks from beyond the grave, solicitously reflecting on the greater relaxation the beloveds will enjoy in his absence. The grandiloquent implication, of course, is that there are no worthwhile lovers left on the face of the earth, now that he is gone. Even the leisurely alliteration of baare aaraam se seems to suggest the repose that Beauty will now enjoy.

Of course, we know the beloved will no more be happy without a lover than a tiger would be content to forego the 'tension' of hunting down its prey. And surely the lover knows it too. So there's a little flavor of sarcasm and self-mockery-- and mockery of the beloved, to add spice to the verse.