Ghazal 61, Verse 2


nah chho;Rii ;ha.zrat-e yuusuf ne yaa;N bhii ;xaanah-aaraa))ii
safedii diidah-e ya((quub kii phirtii hai zindaa;N par

1) even/also here, His Excellency Joseph didn't leave off chamber-adornment
2) the whiteness/whitewash of the gaze of Jacob wanders/travels/spreads on the prison-cell


phirnaa : 'To turn, go round, revolve, whirl; to circulate; to turn back, to return; to walk, walk about, walk to and fro; to wander, rove, ramble, stroll; to travel; to turn over, to roll'. (Platts p.286)


phernaa : 'To pass (a brush, colour, &c. over, - par ), to colour, whitewash, plaster'. (Platts p.293)


That is, when in separation Jacob's eyes indeed keep turning white, then it's as if he's come into Joseph's cell. The reason is that his eyes, searching and searching, arrived in the cell, and the whiteness of his eyes is spreading whitewash on the walls of the cell. And the spreading of whitewash on the cell, and the eyes' becoming white, share a common condition of movement, and here too the basis for similitude is movement. (60)

== Nazm page 60


In 'spreads' [phirtii hai] there is an iihaam . First, the whiteness [safedii] of the eyes of Yaqub, which spreads on the walls of the cell through ardor for the search for the sight of Hazrat Yusuf. Second, the whitewash [safedii] which is spread on houses for adornment and cleanliness. (59-60)

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in prison equipment appeared for the adornment of the beauty of Joseph. That is, the whiteness of Jacob's eyes is spreading over the door and walls. This is a reference to the way weeping and weeping at the thought of Joseph had made Jacob's eyes blind. (107)

Bekhud Mohani:

The poet says that wherever beauty goes, the radiance of that place increases.... Where in every direction the mirrors of the eyes of those eager for sight can be seen, the greatest adornment of beauty is that those eager for beauty would not leave it under any circumstances.

The word 'too' has increased the force in the verse. In 'spreads' [phirtii hai] is an iihaam .... First, the whiteness [safedii] of the eyes of Yaqub... can be seen 'wandering' [phirtii hai]. Second, whitewash [safedii] is spread [phernaa] on houses for adornment and cleanliness. (136-37)


This theme too is an example of the 'thought-binding' and elaboration [takalluf] of Ghalib and some of his contemporaries of the later generation. This is exactly what is meant by 'an enchantment of words'. (143)


GAZE: {10,12}

The story is that Jacob went blind with weeping for the lost Joseph; his eyes turned completely white. Joseph ended up in Egypt, in a dark prison cell, but Jacob's white gaze, wandering everywhere, sought him out even there. No gaze can see for miles, into a foreign country; no gaze can see through thick walls. Yet Jacob's blind gaze somehow can, and does. No gaze can see into a dark cell, yet Jacob's 'white' gaze somehow can and does. Yet does the gaze really 'see'? It 'wanders' all over the cell-- is that 'seeing', or a sign of a deeper mystical insight, or simply a kind of blind restless longing? This is a haunting verse about the love of a parent for a lost child. Compare the haunting {111,4}, in which Jacob's eyes become crevice-work in the wall of the cell.

In the first line, we learn that even in prison Joseph didn't abandon his 'chamber-adorning' [;xaanah-aaraa))ii]. This phrase has two possible meanings: first, that he himself was chamber-adorning, meaning that he was so beautiful as to be himself an adornment to any room; or second, that he did chamber-adorning, meaning that he redecorated a room to enhance its beauty.

Both of these possibilities are evoked, and fulfilled, in the second line. Joseph is so irresistibly beautiful that even alone in the darkness he adorns his chamber, and the blind white gaze of Jacob never ceases to wander after him, lovingly and admiringly. And even more enjoyably, Joseph is also fastidious: he beautifies even his prison cell, so that for his sake the whitewash of Jacob's gaze constantly spreads itself [phirnaa] on the walls of his dingy chamber.