Ghazal 81, Verse 9x


far:t-e be-;xvaabii se hai;N shab'haa-e hijr-e yaar me;N
juu;N zabaan-e sham((a daa;G-e garmii-e afsaanah ham

1) from an excess of sleeplessness, we are, in the nights of separation from the beloved,
2) like the tongue of the candle, scarred/wounded by the 'heat' of the story/tale


far:t : 'Excess, extravagance, exorbitance; exceeding degree; superfluity; abundance; —mastery, ascendency, prevalence, predominance'. (Platts p.779)


daa;G honaa : 'To be cauterized, be scarred, &c.'. (Platts p.501)


garmii : 'Heat, warmth; warm or hot weather, the hot season; warmth, glow; fervour, fervency, ardour; activity, briskness, throng (of a market); —heat of temperament; heat of system, morbid heat; fieriness, vehemence; passion, rage, anger, excitement; attachment, warm affection; sexual passion, lust; heat'. (Platts p.905)


Because of sleeplessness, in the nights of separation from the beloved, we, like the tongue of the candle, through the 'heat' of the story have become a scar/wound. That is, the way the tongue of the candle, while telling a story, has burned up, in the same way the 'heat' of the story has blown us too into flame. That is, instead of of lulling us to sleep, the story has had this effect on us. (157)


A story drives away sleep, especially a 'hot', interesting one; and when one is awake, it is usual to keep a candle lit.... Just this is our situation during the nights of separation-- that the whole entire night is spent remembering the beloved, or hearing her words. (224)

Gyan Chand:

In our story-- that is, in the events of our biography-- there was great 'heat'. The complaint we have about this 'heat' is that because of it, in the nights of separation we lie awake. The tongue of the candle too, having burned up with the 'heat' of its story/tale, becomes only a scar/wound. We too, like it, are burning, and are sleepless. (253)

== Gyan Chand, p. x


CANDLE: {39,1}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The literal meaning of daa;G honaa is 'to be a scar/wound'; by metaphorical extension it also means 'to be scarred/wounded'. In the course of a night, the heat of the too-long-burning candle's tongue of flame gradually turns the wick into a dark, burnt-looking blob; similarly, the 'heat' of the story (told by a tongue-- perhaps even the tongue of the candle?) turns the burnt-out, too-long-sleepless lover-- or his heart?-- into a 'scar/wound'.

The excellently useful word garmii is of course a staple of ghazal imagery and wordplay. But it is multivalent only in a very direct way-- the 'heat' is either literal or metaphorical (see the definition above). Compare the similar but somewhat wider range of jalnaa (see {60,1}). Other multivalent words, like aab and taab , have a far wider range of more divergent and self-contradictory possibilities, and thus offer richer fields for 'meaning-creation'.

For other 'tongue of the candle' verses, see {75,2}.