Ghazal 69, Verse 4x


huu;N ;xamoshii-chaman-e ;hasrat-e diidaar asad
mizhah hai shaanah-kash-e :turrah-e guftaar hanuuz

1) I am a silence-garden of the longing of/for sight, Asad
2) my eyelashes are the comb-wielder of the forelock of speech, still/now


diidaar : 'Sight, vision ... look, appearance; face, countenance, cheek; interview'. (Platts p.556)


:turrah : 'Hair, or a fringe of hair, on the forehead; a forelock; a curl, ringlet; an ornament worn in the turban; an ornamental tassel, or border, &c.; a plume of feathers, a crest; a nosegay'. (Platts p.752)


guftaar : 'Speaking, saying, telling; speech, discourse, conversation'. (Platts p.910)


Silence became a barrier in the longing of/for sight, which made it into a garden, and the eyelashes began to comb the forelock of speech. Now please look-- does meaning emerge from these words, or not?! But it should be remembered that when a poet composes a verse, in his mind there is certainly one or another theme. In Ghalib's mind too there was a theme that he versified; now we should look at what that theme was.

The rule is that when the longing for sight reaches the limit, then a person is overtaken by a kind of absentness, self-forgetfulness, and silence. One can usually notice that in situations when this mood overtakes the poet he has become a 'silence-garden of longing'. Now the second thing is that the longing is for 'sight'; thus in the silence the eyes definitely remain open. The eyelids never close. Even if someone asks for something, then [the lover] looks at him and becomes silent-- rather, for a long time he stares at him in silence. It's as if he wants to say something, but it can't be said; the tongue does not help him to speak. Instead of saying something, he lowers his eyelids. Just this is their becoming for the tongue a 'comb-wielder of the forelock of speech'.

In short, the verse is not so meaningless that nothing at all can be drawn out from it-- though indeed, it's certainly convoluted. The word 'garden' is unnecessary, but in Mirza's mind along with :turrah there would have come sunbul [=hyacinth, to which the beloved's curls are often compared], and along with sunbul there would have come chaman . The affinity was not able to come together, it became padding.

== Zamin, pp. 191-192

Gyan Chand:

The construction ;xamoshii-chaman is not permissible. The meaning will be that in the longing for sight I am strolling in the garden of silence-- that is, I do have a longing for sight, but before the beloved I cannot express it. I remain silent. My eyelashes are still/now drawing a comb through the curls of speech-- that is, preparation for speech has not been completed, such that it would be able to appear before everyone. That is, my desire for sight has not yet reached the stage of words.

== Gyan Chand, p. 216



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 awkward and unidiomatic construction 'silence-garden', ;xamoshii-chaman , is probably best considered to be a 'reversed izafat'; on these see {129,6x}. As Zamin observes, the word 'garden' is quite useless, unless we give it a dubious bit of wordplay credit for the secondary or tertiary meaning of :turrah as a 'nosegay' (a small bouquet). Zamin rolls his eyes at this verse: 'Now please look-- does meaning emerge from these words, or not?!' And it's hard to disagree with his exasperation.

The most plausible reading that I can figure out is that the speaker's eyelids are lowered (in shame? in shyness? in absorption?), so that his eyelashes point downward and perhaps flutter a bit. Thus they are as close to the mouth as possible, and are positioned to act as a comb, and comb out the 'forelock of Speech' (which would be located at or near the top of Speech's head-- if we assume that speech has a head) in preparation for the big moment when Speech gives its oral performance. What a vividly bizarre imagination the young Ghalib had! Sometimes he could pull things off, and sometimes he couldn't; but even the odd bits left lying around can be fascinating in their own way.

Compare the more enjoyable {23,1}, in which the 'comb' of the deer's eyelashes is turned into a backscratcher.