Ghazal 103, Verse 4x


dil ko i:zhaar-e su;xan andaaz-e fat;h al-baab hai
yaa;N .sariir-e ;xaamah ;Gair az-i.s:tikaak-e dar nahii;N

1) to the heart, the expression of poetry is a style/measure of opening/conquering a gateway
2) here, the scratching of the pen is not other than the forcing-open of a door


i:zhaar : 'Manifestation, revelation, disclosure, demonstration, publication, display'. (Platts p.60)


andaaz : 'Measure, measurement; quantity; weighing, weight; degree, amount; valuing, valuation, value; rough estimate; conjecture, guess; proportion, symmetry; elegance, grace; mode, manner, style, fashion, pattern'. (Platts p.90)


fa:t;h : 'An opening, aperture; a beginning, start; —victory, conquest, triumph'. (Platts p.776)


baab : 'Door, gate; chapter, section, division (of a book), head, heading; subject, affair'. (Platts p.117)


i.s:tikaak : 'Striking; clashing, tossing to and fro'. (Steingass p.68)


.sariir : 'Creaking; grating (as of a door on rusty hinges); scratching sound (of a pen)'. (Platts p.744)


When we express poetry/speech-- that is, when we write verses-- then for our heart an opening is created, as if the sound that comes from our pen at the time of writing is the sound that comes whena door or a door-panel is opened. So how is it possible for 'the gate not to be conquered'?

== Asi, p. 186


The meaning is that poetry/speech that emerges from the mouth-- its sound has a similitude with that of an opening door. The purpose was only to versify .xariir , i.s:tikaak , fat;h ul-baab ; otherwise, this 'verse' is no verse at all. [A discussion of the young Ghalib's undesirable cultivation of obscurity.]

== Zamin, pp. 265-266

Gyan Chand:

i.s:tikaak is for noise to be created by two harsh things clashing together. The i.s:tikaak of a door is the sound of a stiff door opening. The sound of the sliding of the pen is the sound of door-panels opening. That is, through poetry our individuality opens and comes before us, or our 'closed' [unsuccessful] tasks/projects begin to 'open' [succeed].

== Gyan Chand, p. 300


WRITING: {7,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

What does it mean to compose poetry? To the heart, it's a way of opening a gate or door-- perhaps even a rather forceful way. How violent is the process? It's not quite clear. The unusual word istikaak deserves some 'fresh word' credit in its own right. It can mean 'striking' or 'clashing' (see the definition above)-- perhaps of the door rattling and groaning against the door-frame, but also with some possible suggestion of someone banging on the door. This martial possibility is enhanced by the meaning of fat;h as not only 'opening' but also 'conquering'. Perhaps composing poetry requires the poet to force his way through some barrier. What kind of a gateway is it? Where does it take him? Who or what is behind it? As so often, we're left to decide for ourselves.

But the main emphasis is on the sound of the the creaking or groaning of the rusty metal door-hinges as they reluctantly give way. This is the sound that's equated with the scratching of the pen. In fact just such sound effects are already precisely and most enjoyably built into the word .sariir (see the definition above).

And all that takes place 'here'. Does that mean 'here' on earth, among us humans? Or 'here' among poets? Or 'here' among some special group of poets who have the right 'style/manner'? Or perhaps simply 'here' where Ghalib himself sits writing? The verse gives us no information about how many poets can pull off this remarkable door-opening feat.

Compare {169,13}, in which the 'scratching of the pen' is, more melodiously, the 'voice of an angel'.