Ghazal 67, Verse 5x


begaanah-e vafaa hai havaa-e chaman hanuuz
vuh sabzah sang par nah ugaa kohkan hanuuz

1) alien to faithfulness is the air of the garden, now/still
2) that greenery has not sprouted on (account of) stone, Kohkan, now/still


begaanah : 'Unknown, a foreigner, stranger, alien'. (Steingass p.223)


sabzah-e begaanah : 'Parasitic plants to be torn out or pruned'. (Steingass p.648)


par : 'postpn. On, upon; on the point of; up to, till; on account of, because of, in consequence of, through, for; after, according to; dependent on; notwithstanding'. (Platts p.234)


ugnaa : 'To grow, springup, shoot, sprout, germinate; to be produced, to rise, bud'. (Platts p.71)


The air of the garden is now/still alien to faithfulness, and nowhere here is even the name of faithfulness. Oh Kohkan, why do you seek for this greenery on stone? This greenery has now/still not sprouted on stone. Leave off this futile task!

== Asi, p. 124


sabzah-e begaanah = grass that would sprout outside the garden here and there, out of place and undesired. [Ghalib wanted to use 'Kohkan' as a rhyme-word, but he didn't have room for the name of Shirin, so since she was a 'new sprout of beauty' he brought in vuh to evoke her.]

This verse is an extremely powerful example of artful [ma.snuu))ii] poetry-- for with a single word [i.e., vuh] the poet gave connection to disconnected words and turned them into a verse. And then too, the verse that was made is no ordinary verse. Now only the selection-makers would know why they uprooted it and flung it away like sabzah-e begaanah !

== Zamin, pp. 183-184

Gyan Chand:

Kohkan had carved stone in the hope/expectation that his beloved would show faithfulness, and come and meet him. The poet says that the air of the garden of this world is now/still not favorable/suitable for faithfulness. When this greenery (faithfulness) has now/still not sprouted on stone, why are you willy-nilly making the attempt?

== Gyan Chand, p. 211



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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The idiomatic expression sabzah-e begaanah , 'alien greenery', has the basic meaning of 'weed'; for more on this phrase, see {42,10x}. Here the idiom is cleverly evoked: the verse gives us the two words separately, and leaves it up to us to piece the well-known phrase together.

Zamin maintains that vuh sabzah refers to Shirin; such a reading is possible but not at all necessary, for the reference could also be more directly to 'faithfulness'.

The intriguing word in the verse is that nice little postposition par (see the definition above). Perhaps the verdure of faithfulness didn't sprout 'on' stone-- that is, the ground was so extremely stony that it couldn't take root. But how can a 'garden' exist on such stony ground in the first place? So perhaps faithfulness could not be induced to grow 'by means of', 'in consequence of', 'through' stone. All these instrumental possibilities remind us of Kohkan's intense connection with stone; he was, after all, the 'Mountain-digger'. For his story, see {1,2}.

Compare Mir's much more powerful treatment of a similar idea: M{71,3}.