Ghazal 88, Verse 5x


ma.zmuun-e haath nah aayaa magar use
ab :taa((ir-e pariidah-e rang-e ;hinaa kahuu;N

1) the theme of union did not come to hand-- but/perhaps
2) now I would call it the flown-away bird of the color of henna


haath aanaa : 'To come to hand, to reach, be received; to come into the possession, or power (of)'. (Platts p.1215)


pariidah : 'Flown, taken wing'. (Platts p.259)


The theme of union did not come to hand, such that I would be able to give for it a simile of something, and would be able to tell what union is. But indeed, it can be called the flown-away bird of the color of henna, for that too has no existence. (163)


Because the flown-away color of henna too does not come to hand. The cause of similitude is movement. (232)

Gyan Chand:

The color of henna fades/'flies away' after some time. Ghalib has given for this the simile of a flown-away bird. Union with the beloved could not be vouchsafed to me. It is like a bird that would have escaped/flown from the hand-- the bird of the color of henna, that in reality flies off from the hand.

== Gyan Chand, p. 260


HENNA: {18,4}
‘UNION’: {5,2}

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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

Not only was 'union' with the beloved unavailable-- even the ma.zmuun , the 'theme', of union wasn't available. It didn't 'come to hand' in the sense that a suitable way of describing it in a verse had not been thought of-- and also in the way that an escaped bird does not 'come to hand'. But now-- or 'perhaps' now-- the poet has decided how to 'capture' that bird in a verse.

For what bird could be more 'flown away', more irretrievably lost, than the 'bird' of the color of henna? (On henna see {18,4}.) It's a bird that fades away gradually into complete, irreversible nonexistence-- like even the lover's hopes (not to speak of his chances) for 'union' with the beloved.

Compare {220,4x}, which equips the 'bird of henna' with a nest.

This particular henna-bird looks dark because the henna has just been applied. It will not stay this way for long.