Ghazal 89, Verse 2


.zu((f me;N :ta((nah-e a;Gyaar kaa shikvah kyaa hai
baat kuchh sar to nahii;N hai kih u;Thaa bhii nah sakuu;N

1) in weakness, what complaint is there of the Others’ taunts?!
2) an utterance is not some head, that I couldn't even bear/'lift' it


u;Thaanaa : 'To lift, take up, raise, raise up, elevate, hoist; ... to support, bear, carry; to take upon oneself, bear the burden or responsibility of, undertake; to undergo, experience, suffer, endure'. (Platts p.20)


== Nazm page 88

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in the state of weakness, while I am complaining about the Others' taunts, why are you afraid? In the state of weakness, I can endure them. Your words are not my head, which because of weakness I can't lift up. (139-40)

Bekhud Mohani:

When I am in a state of weakness, let the Rivals make whatever taunts they might wish. I will endure them all. To lift up [u;Thaanaa] my head is impossible for me, but a remark can be borne/sustained [u;Thnaa]. This verse seems to tell us the extremity of the Rivals' baseness and pitilessness and enmity, that they throw taunts at such a weak and feeble and oppressed one. (182)


sar nah u;Thaanaa: To be unable to lift the bowed head, out of shame; for the head to remain lowered under the burden of gratitude. Under the burden of shame, or gratitude, my head cannot be lifted. A taunt is only a word, which is not hard to endure-- especially since there is weakness also. (358)



Some general comments about this ghazal appear in {89,1}.

The chief charm of this verse is the same trick described and illustrated in the discussion of the previous verse: 'A word is not some kind of head (which I can't 'lift'/bear), that I can’t 'bear'/lift it'. The line officially tells us that the speaker is able to sustain/bear [u;Thaanaa] words, even if they're abusive; in the interstices of the grammar, we learn that the speaker, in his weakness, can't hold up [u;Thaanaa] his head. We can't do quite the same trick in English in this particular case, but we can do it in many similar ones: we could say 'A wineglass is not my heart, that it can't be lifted'.

Mahmood Piracha adds (Jan. 2021): 'There's an Urdu expression baat u;Thaanaa which means to bear the taunts of others. This is an accepted expression and I think warrants mention.'

The idiomatic force of kuchh in the phrase baat kuchh sar to nahii;N hai is almost impossible to convey in translation; 'some head' was the best I could come up with. The absence of the possessive pronoun (in English we'd say 'my head') is not conspicuous in Urdu, though it certainly works well in this verse, as further showing the speaker's detachment and indifference.

The lover's being too weak to hold his head up is no surprise; see {32,2} for an example. Very possibly this weakness is what the Others are taunting him about-- and he finds himself too weak even to resent their taunts.