Ghazal 100, Verse 8

{100,8}

.saaf durdii-kash-e paimaanah-e jam hai;N ham log
vaa))e vuh baadah kih afshardah-e anguur nahii;N

1) clearly/simply, we people are drinkers of the lees from Jamshid's wine-cup
2) alas-- that wine that is not pressed from grapes!

Notes:

.saaf : 'Pure, clean, clear... plain, simple... ; -- adv. Clearly; plainly;... decidedly, flatly; thoroughly, entirely'. (Platts p.742)

 

durd : 'Sediment, dregs, lees'. (Platts p.511)

 

vaa : 'Oh! ah! alas! alas for!'. (Platts p.1171)

Nazm:

That is, our wine-drinking too is of a lofty rank-- we haven't been vouchsafed that wine not made from grapes, so we can't touch our lips to it, because this is contrary to our imitation of Jamshid. Here Mirza Sahib has uttered a .zil((a -- that is, for the sake of durd he has brought .saaf into the verse. (106)

== Nazm page 106

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, it's contrary to the imitation of Jamshid that wine of a low rank should be drunk. The wine that is not made from grapes is ill-omened. That is, let it be pure wine [that we drink]. We people don't even touch our lips to such low-ranking wine. (157)

Bekhud Mohani:

It's clear that we people (wine-drinkers) are drinkers of the leftover wine of Jamshid. We drink no small amount of wine made from grapes. Wine not made from grapes-- is that any wine at all? That is, we are not casual, commonplace wine-drinkers. (207)

FWP:

SETS == A,B; EXCLAMATION; GENERATORS
WINE: {49,1}

Nazm points to a fine example of wordplay: the contrast between .saaf -- 'clean, pure, clear'-- and durd -- 'dregs, lees, sediment'. Ghalib even contrived to juxtapose these two words, so that the 'clear, limpid, pure' and the 'murky, thick, impure' would be bumped up against each other as ostentatiously as possible.

The commentators make it out to be an easy and straightforward verse, but it's obviously not. Consider the first line. It's clear that we are drinkers from the dregs or lees of Jamshid's wine-cup. But that's no ordinary wine-cup! As everybody in the ghazal world knows, the Cup of Jamshid was a magic one-- when he filled it with wine and gazed into the still surface of the wine, he saw reflected the whole world, and events from the past and future. When the Cup had been emptied down to the lees, the magic reflecting surface would be gone, and this vision would no longer be apparent. So if we drink only the lees, isn't that a wretched state of affairs? Aren't we getting only the miserable residue, as the word 'dregs' itself suggests? Jamshid got the magic visions, and the wine-- and what do we get? Only the dregs!

The commentators insist on taking the first line as a cheerful, deliberate choice on our part, but I can't see why. It could be that, but it could also, at least as plausibly, be a wry recognition of loss, or a complaint against injustice. That sweeping, absolute .saaf at the start of the line is perfect for the tone I'm thinking of-- it's entirely, hopelessly clear.

Then-- the ambiguities of the second line! This is an 'A,B' verse, in which we're left to decide for ourselves the relationship between the two lines. Right away, we need to ask whether the wine from Jamshid's cup is to be considered 'that wine not pressed from grapes'. Since it's impregnated with magic power, the reference seems quite possible. After all, if Ghalib wanted an unproblematical contrast between 'grape' wine and 'non-grape' wine, he could have used as an example of the former any amount of other wine (as in fact he does all the time). By choosing the wine in the Cup of Jamshid, the only 'non-natural' magic-filled wine in the whole ghazal tradition, he has at the very least forced us to pause and consider what classifications of wine he might have in mind.

If we decide that Jamshid's wine is to be considered 'not pressed from grapes', then the effect of the second line is to reinforce the tone of lament or complaint in the first line-- alas, that we're left vainly longing and thirsting for a kind of 'magic wine' of vision and insight! It's a wine that only Jamshid was actually able to drink, but we're hooked on the hope and the yearning, so we keep on swallowing even the lees left in that magic cup. Alas, for that wine-- it has enslaved us to a hopeless longing for vision, a hopeless reenactment of what once was a miraculous ritual of insight.

If we decide that Jamshid's wine was indeed pressed from grapes, then the wine in the second line is some other wine, perhaps some intangible mystical wine of pure divine vision and transcendance. Or perhaps it is the wine of poetry, which has an intoxication like that of opium (see {33,4}). In either case, the lament is for the neglect of such non-physical wine-- we humans prefer wine that intoxicates our bodies, rather than our minds or spirits. Especially when it has a lingering flavor of magic, of supernatural powers. Marvelous powers, but alas! so long gone. Even so, we'd rather go on seeking for flavor in the dregs, than turn in any other direction. Is this stubbornness good or bad? Naturally, Ghalib being Ghalib as usual, it's impossible to say.

The only other verse in the divan that talks about 'lees' is also a complex one: {232,2}.