Ghazal 97, Verse 13


;Gaalib chhu;Tii sharaab par ab bhii kabhii kabhii
piitaa huu;N roz-e abr-o-shab-e maah-taab me;N

1) Ghalib, wine has been left behind [by me], but even/also now, from time to time,
2) I drink on cloudy days and moonlit nights



It was the winter season. One day Navab Mustafa Khan Sahib [Sheftah] came to his house. Mirza filled a glass with wine and placed it before him. He began to stare at Mirza's face. Mirza said, 'Please take it'. Since he had already given it up, he said, 'But I've renounced it'. He replied in surprise, 'What-- even in the winter?'

==Azad: Pritchett and Faruqi, p. 508


The meaning is that I've left off wine, but my state is still such that when I see clouds and moonlight I can't bear it-- I drink. (100)

== Nazm page 100

Bekhud Dihlavi:

They say that wine gives more pleasure on cloudy and rainy days, or on moonlit nights. Mirza Sahib says, even after giving up wine, on these two occasions-- that is, cloudy days and moonlit nights-- I can't do without drinking. (151)

Bekhud Mohani:

I've given up wine. But even now, when in the daytime the clouds float by, or at night when the moon shines brightly, I can't bear it. I always drink. (196)


NIGHT/DAY: {1,2}
WINE: {49,1}

An unusual separation of maahtaab into maah taab was, according to Arshi, a very fine correction carefully made by Ghalib himself; see Arshi's discussion in his introduction, p. 122.

This verse is as lyrical, arresting, and beautifully translatable as the two immediately preceding ones. It has one clear, romantic, meaning, and its flowingness makes it pleasure to recite. Instead of leaving us perplexed and also stimulated, with our minds ricocheting among a dozen unresolvable possibilities, it leaves us in a kind of Zen-like peace and calm. And it leaves 'Ghalib' with plenty of days (the whole monsoon season), and surely the majority of nights, available for wine-drinking.

Traditionally, cloudy days and moonlit nights are evocative times to drink wine, ideally on a roof or balcony where the drinkers can enjoy the atmosphere of the season. Cloudy days are also associated with the rainy season, which in South Asia is the 'springtime', the season of romance; for more on this, see {49,4}. In Azad's amusing anecdote, Ghalib treats as the perfect time for drinking wine-- the season that it happens to be just then.

The sound effects are soothing, too-- par ab bhii kabhii kabhii ripples like waves in a pond. We also notice the set of ab , kabhii , abr , shab and the resonance of sharaab , maah taab .

Here's how simply and literally I planned to translate it, back in my translating days:

Ghalib, I've given up wine, but even now sometimes
I drink on cloudy days and moonlit nights.

For another verse about clouds and moonlight and wine, see {107,2}.

Some editions of the divan treat {98} as a continuation of this ghazal; for discussion see {98,1}.