Ghazal 80, Verse 5


iijaad kartii hai use tere liye bahaar
meraa raqiib hai nafas-e ((i:tr-saa-e gul

1) spring invents/creates it for you--
2) it's my Rival-- the perfume-like breath of the rose


iijaad : 'Creation, production; invention, contrivance: —iijaad karnaa , v.t. To create, produce, originate, invent, design, discover'. (Platts p.112)


((i:tr : 'Perfume, fragrance; essence; ottar (or otto) of roses, &c.'. (Platts p.762)


'For you'-- that is, the flowers would become a garland for your neck, and remain in contact with you. (81)

== Nazm page 81

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, spring has created flowers in the garden so that they would make a garland for your neck, and sleep with you all night in your bed, and I would see it and be jealous. It seems that the attar-like breath of the rose is my Rival. (129)


That is, spring has created flowers for you so that their attar could be extracted and rubbed on your body. Thus because of this creation, attar remains your companion-- or rather, in your embrace. For this reason this essence of flowers that is called attar is my Rival, and I am envious of its success. (166)



In classic mushairah style, the first line is entirely uninterpretable until we are allowed to hear the second as well. We can't possibly guess what the 'it' might be, and the suspense is a real part of the pleasure of the verse.

'Attar' [((i:tr] of roses is, in the words of the Shorter OED, a 'fragrant, volatile, essential oil obtained from the petals of the rose'. Empress Nur Jahan, wife of Jahangir, is usually credited with its invention-- which is quite appropriate, since making even a small amount of powerfully aromatic attar requires royal amounts of rose-petals and much pressing and distillation.

Here, however, it's just a simile, just an adjective describing the breath of the rose. It's as though the breath of the rose is so fragrant that it's already its own concentrated essence, already its own attar. And of course attar is made only from torn petals of destroyed roses, so the very mention of it already evokes both the rose's death, and its quasi-immortality as a precious essence in a small bottle, to be used only a drop or two at a time.

Why is the rose-breath my Rival? Partly, no doubt, because I'm so mad with passion that I see all sorts of implausible things as rivals. (For commentarial discussion of this point, see {60,4}, in which the lover dies of jealousy of the very sword in the beloved's hand.) But there's more to it than just general insanity.

Since the rose will be woven into a garland for you, or tucked into your hair or bosom, it will be crushed against your body and its scent will mingle intimately with your skin in a way that drives me mad-- and also arouses my furious jealousy-- when I think about it. I'm jealous not just of the actual rose attar that you perhaps delicately apply to your body (which would be a mad enough jealousy), but even of the (entirely intangible) scent of the rose. This is the measure of my passion, my suspicion, my desperate and vain possessiveness. And why shouldn't I be on my guard? Spring itself, with all its irresistible sensual powers, is my enemy; to see you is to desire you, and why shouldn't Spring too fall victim?