Ghazal 61, Verse 6


mujhe ab dekh kar abr-e shafaq-aaluudah yaad aayaa
kih furqat me;N tirii aatish barastii thii gulistaa;N par

1) now, having seen the sunset-smeared cloud, there came to my memory
2) that in separation from you, fire used to rain down on the garden


aaluudah : 'Defiled, polluted, sullied, soiled, stained, spoiled; smeared, immersed, covered; loaded (with), overwhelmed'. (Platts p.78)


In this verse, the word 'now' is full of meaning. That is, to say that 'now' it comes to mind necessarily implies that previously it had been forgotten. And to forget the shock of separation in this way implies that seeing the beloved has brought on a state of extreme absorption and joy. And that implies that it's as if some complaint of separation had been made, and some words now fitfully come to mind. In short, so many meanings in one word is the extreme of rhetorical power [balaa;Gat]. And then again, the simile of the clouds of sunset as 'fire-raining' is the extreme of eloquence [badii((]. (61)

== Nazm page 61

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Mirza Sahib addresses the beloved and says, now, in your presence, seeing the red sunset cloud, I've remembered that in separation from you, fire rained down on the garden in just this way. That is, when in separation from you, I happened to go for a stroll in the garden, then when my glance happened to fall on a rosebud, it seemed as if fire was raining down. Because of the affinity of the red color, his giving for the rose the simile of fire, and his expressing the distastefulness of strolling in the garden in a state of separation-- the excellence with which he has expressed these things is impossible to praise sufficiently. (108)


The harmony of this whole ghazal requires special attention.... In all the verses the sound of re has been used so abundantly that the whole ghazal, moving along at a stately pace, creates an effect like the rustling of silken wings.

The present verse is apparently very clear. But in the first line the problem is why the word 'now' has been used. The meaning is entirely apparent, but to put the first line in prose order is a bit difficult. If it is made to begin with mujhe ab , then the meaning emerges that 'Up till now I had forgotten; now, when I saw a sunset-smeared cloud, then I remembered'. Or it could also be 'Although previously too I had often seen a sunset-smeared cloud, this time when I saw it I remembered'.

If the prose would be arranged to begin with ab mujhe , then this meaning too appears, that 'I didn't at all know that in separation from you fire rained down on the garden (that is, others knew it); now I too have remembered (that is, have learned)'. Or else 'I used to remember this when I saw other things, but now I have realized it only/emphatically having seen the sunset-smeared cloud'.

In short, whatever situation would be assumed, it's necessary to pay attention to the word ab ; otherwise the verse becomes very weak. [A discussion of the views of various commentators.]

In the absence of the beloved, fire seemed to rain down on the garden. When the period of separation passed, then these matters were lost. Then after many days the speaker's glance fell on the sunset-stained cloud-- that is, the season of spring came, the same season of spring that once before had been passed in separation. The moments of union had diminished the grief of separation. Now when he saw the sunset-smeared cloud, then the pathways of thought made fresh the memory of the moments of separation. In this way it was also proved that the wounds that are inflicted on lovers' hearts are in truth not cured, because memory keeps refreshing them.

Between 'sunset-smeared cloud' and 'fire' are two affinities: one is redness, and the other smoke, which accompanies fire. Clouds spread like smoke, and the redness of sunset in them creates an effect like leaping flames. Water rains from the cloud. In this respect, in the second line for fire to rain down is also appropriate.

== (1989: 71-72) [2006: 87-89]



It's the word 'now' that's so full of mystery and so enticing for speculation, isn't it? What state is the speaker in 'now', that calls to mind this bloody caricature of a picturesque garden scene? As Faruqi points out, the sunset-smeared cloud has several kinds of affinity with fire and water imagery in the verse: it is red like fire, it is swirling and opaque like smoke, it 'rains down' fire into the garden. The 'sunset-smeared' [shafaq-aaluudah] cloud itself, because of the basically negative flavor of aaluudah , seems to be something not only damaging, but also damaged.

The commentators agree that the 'now' means that the lover is much better off than formerly: he is addressing the beloved with the intimate [tuu], and seems to be sitting with her watching the sunset and remembering the bad old days of separation. That obviously is one possibility, but to me it's much too cozy and happy-ending-ish to be entirely satisfactory. Can we really imagine the lover and beloved riding off into the sunset (so to speak) together?

What if the 'now' is not a time of blissful union, but a time of radical exhaustion, such that the lover is on the verge of death? Think of {48,7}, in which the lover observes that the way the spring rainclouds pour themselves out in rain shows how in the grief of separation one can weep oneself into oblivion. In the present verse we see the lover watching a cloud that's red only because it's 'sunset-smeared', and it reminds him of how, suffering in the beloved's absence, the cloud-- that same one?-- used to rain fire down on the garden. Why shouldn't the clouds too suffer from the beloved's absence? Or perhaps the garden suffered so grievously that even rainwater burned it like fire?

All nature is disordered when the beloved has gone away. 'Now' the lover and the cloud are both burned out and fading like embers. Perhaps the lover doesn't even enter the garden any more-- is he too weak? is the garden a charred ruin? He only sits and watches the sunset-stained cloud. It reminds him of the long-ago days when the garden was a place where lightning could strike and fires rage, and when he too had a heart that could endure the ravages of passion-- as he no longer does; see {41,1} for his quiet recording of its loss. His addressing the beloved is, alas, no proof of her presence.