Ghazal 58, Verse 3


nahii;N hai saayah kih sun kar naved-e maqdam-e yaar
ga))e hai;N chand qadam peshtar dar-o-diivaar

1a) it's not a shadow; for, having heard the good news of the coming of the beloved,
1b) there is no shade/shelter; for, having heard the good news of the coming of the beloved,

2) they have gone some steps forward, doors and walls


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


maqdam : (from the Arabic qadm , 'to come, arrive') 'Coming, arriving; arrival'. (Platts p.1055)


qadam : (from the Arabic qadm , 'going before, preceding') 'The foot; sole of the foot; a foot's length; a footstep, step, pace; —a going before; merit:'. (Platts p.789)


'Shade' refers to the shade of the doors and walls, which have run out some steps beyond the door in order to welcome the guest. (53)

== Nazm page 53

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, this is not the shadow of the doors and walls that can be seen at a little distance from them; rather, having heard the good news of the beloved's coming, doors and walls themselves have gone some paces forward to welcome the guest. (100)

Bekhud Mohani:

At the time when his beloved comes, the lover is so happy and so absorbed that he doesn't think a shadow is a shadow, but considers it to be doors and walls. And he says that not only I, but doors and walls too, are joyous. And so joyous that they have advanced some steps forward in order to greet the beloved. (126)


With what artistry he has made this extremely narrow, extremely limited and 'stony' [sanglaa;x] ground into water [i.e., irrigated it]! No verse is devoid of inventiveness of thought [jiddat-e ;xayaal] and felicitousness of expression [shiguftagi-e bayaa;N].... Shadow, and in it this light of elegance of meaning [;husn-e ma((nii]-- praise be to God! (135)


HOME: {14,9}

The commentators tend to go for (1a), in which someone in the street outside the lover's house notices what he thinks is a large dark shadow, only to be corrected by the lover: that's not a shadow, that's my walls and doors themselves! They so deeply share my ecstatic joy at the news of the beloved's arrival that they've gone forward a few steps to meet her (in the traditional gesture of courteous welcome).

Or else as in (1b), the lover, entering his house, notices that it no longer provides any protection from the elements-- the walls and doors have gone out to welcome the beloved.

As Bekhud Mohani implies, all this could well be happening only in the mad lover's fevered imagination. But nothing in the verse requires this supposition; the grammar is straightforward and the tone matter-of-factly explanatory. This makes the verse much more amusingly deadpan and saves it from the curse of over-explanation.

Josh describes the rhyme-refrain of this ghazal as a 'stony ground', punning on the literal meaning of 'ground', zamiin . Although his praise for Ghalib's dexterity under these conditions is generalized to the whole ghazal, this verse is singled out particularly. Perhaps he's thinking of the nice wordplay of maqdam and qadam , which actually come from different roots (see the definitions above). To my mind, {58,2} is an even better example of the kind of technical virtuousity he's admiring.