Ghazal 88, Verse 7x


:tarz-aafiriin-e nuktah-saraa))ii-e :tab((a hai
aa))iinah-e ;xayaal ko :tuu:tii-numaa kahuu;N

1) it is style-creating of the 'point'-singing of the temperament--
2) the mirror of thought, I would call 'parrot-showing'


aafiriin : 'Creating; creator (used in compn. e.g. jahaan-aafiriin , Creator of the world'. (Platts p.62)


nuktah : ''A point'; —a point (of wit); a quaint saying; a pithy sentence; —a subtle or quaint conceit; a nice or metaphysical distinction; a mythical signification'. (Platts p.1147)


saraa : 'Singing, trilling (used in comp.)'. (Platts p.650)


;xayaal : 'Thought, opinion, surmise, suspicion, conception, idea, notion, fancy, imagination, conceit; whim, chimera; ... —an imaginary form, apparition, vision, spectre, phantom, shadow, delusion; —a kind of song'. (Platts p.498)


numaa : 'Showing itself, appearing (used as last member of compounds)'. (Platts p.1153)


My 'mirror of thought' engenders styles of 'point-singing', and shows to my temperament the roads of 'point-singing'. Now what should I give as a simile for it? This is it: that I would call the mirror of thought 'parrot-showing'. The affinity that there is between a mirror and a parrot, that is obvious.

== Asi, p. 163


That is, the temperament, through the mirror of thought (behind which a parrot speaks), learns the style of 'point-singing'.

== Zamin, p. 233

Gyan Chand:

In order to teach a parrot to speak, they seat it before a mirror in which its reflection is seen. Behind it [=the mirror], a man sits and speaks, and the parrot considers that the parrot in the mirror is speaking. In this way the style of 'point-singing' is taught to the parrot. The mirror of thought teaches to the poet's temperament the styles of various kinds of 'point-singing'; for this reason, why shouldn't it too be called 'parrot-appearing'? That is, it gives 'point'-arrangement to the poet's imagination.

== Gyan Chand, p. 261


MIRROR: {8,3}

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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

This 'mushairah verse' is unusual for its abstractness. In mushairah-verse style, the first line is uninterpretable without the second, and even the second line only explodes into meaning at the last possible moment. But into what kind of meaning, exactly? Usually a 'mushairah verse' bursts like a bubble at the end-- but not this one. What does it mean for the 'mirror of thought' to be 'parrot-showing'?

On a basic level, the image of course suggests that the poet, the singer of stylistic 'points', is a parrot. Parrots are intelligent, social birds; given the chance to interact with a mirror, as a rule they will eagerly do so. The parrot looks into the 'mirror of thought', and it shows to him-- a parrot, himself. Thus he seems to be using only his own resources to learn his 'singing'-- that is, he uses the mirror of his own mind and imagination (see the definition above), the image of his own body. On this view, the verse aligns with Ghalib's insistence on the use of one's own resources at all costs; on this pursuit of 'independence' see {9,1}.

But of course, as Gyan Chand explains, precisely because parrots love mirrors, mirrors are used to teach them to speak. Unbeknownst to the parrot, behind the mirror there may be someone with his own agenda (someone who trains the parrot to say whatever the trainer wishes). On this reading, the verse might well be deeply Sufistic. Or it might be deeply ominous-- after all, the naive parrot is being manipulated by powers that are beyond not only its control but even its comprehension. And there's no reason to believe that these powers have the parrot's own interest at heart.

For more parrot-and-mirror verses, see {29,2}.

An aside, just for interest: I recently came upon the website of a veteran bird-lover who advises bird owners never to give their bird a mirror, despite the fact that most birds love them. 'Mirrors are very psychologically damaging to your bird', she says: mirrors 'give your bird an incorrect perception of reality' because the reflection does not 'react in the same manner as a real bird would'; thus the mirror-addicted bird often fails to develop any ability to socialize with other birds.