Ghazal 105, Verse 2


hai;N zavaal-aamaadah ajzaa aafiriinish ke tamaam
mihr-e garduu;N hai chiraa;G-e rahguzaar-e baad yaa;N

1) they are inclined/ready to fall/fail, all the parts of creation

2a) the sun of the celestial-sphere is a lamp in the wind's pathway, here
2b) a lamp in the wind's pathway is the sun of the celestial-sphere, here


zavaal : 'Decline, wane, decay; fall; cessation; defect, deficiency, failure; harm, loss, injury'. (Platts p.618)


aamaadah : 'Prepared, ready, alert; disposed (to)'. (Platts p.79)


garduun : 'A wheel; the heavens, the firmament, the celestial globe or sphere; chance, fortune'. (Platts p.903)


'Here' refers to the sun, in the sense that it too is one of the parts of the world and all the parts of the world are moving toward an arrival at decline. He has used the simile of 'a lamp in the wind’s pathway', which is an entirely new simile.

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, p. 127


'Wind' is a metaphor for the changes in the times. He has given a familiar simile for something unfamiliar. And then the cause for similitude is movement; for this reason the metaphor is extremely rare/novel/fine [badii((]. (110)

== Nazm page 110

Bekhud Mohani:

All the parts of creation are inclined toward decay. Although the sun is a very splendid and magnificent creation, and is connected with the cultivation of all life, even it can have as an illustration, that it's as if a lamp were placed in the face of the wind, and there would be constant fear of its being extinguished. (212)


Everything is set to decline. Destruction and death is inherent to everything. Even the high and mighty sun is in truth nothing but a mere lamp set in the pathway of wind, that is likely to be blown out any moment. (Naim 1970, 46)


Because of its unparalleled excellence of metaphor and imagery, this verse shines even within the poetry of Ghalib-- although in the divan of Ghalib there is such radiance of metaphor and imagery that it resembles what the sun would create in a field of dew [as in {10,5}].... [Although it can be seen from glimpses in his letters that Ghalib knew a lot about Sufism, this verse is founded not on Sufism, but on the discoveries of modern astronomy.]

[Another point is that the flexibility of the i.zaafat constructions in chiraa;G-e rahguzaar-e baad could suggest an additional reading.] Thus its prose could be: that lamp of the pathway of which the name is 'wind'.... Now the interpretation emerges that the sun in the sky here is like that lamp of the pathway that they call 'wind'. Having called the sun 'inclined toward decay', to give an illustration for it as a lamp of the pathway, and the lamp of the pathway itself as the wind, is an extremely refined and subtle and suitable metaphor for being death-bound.

But the question might arise as to why he can give for a lamp the simile of wind. Apparently between wind and a lamp there's no affinity. But Ghalib's own verse is: {49,8}; it's clear that the 'wave of rose' and the wind are one single substance. The wind has made the pathway into a lamp-display [chiraa;Gaa;N]; thus the wind and the lamp have an affinity. In answer, it can be said that he gives the lamp as a simile for the rose; thus from the 'wave of rose' a 'lamp-display' is possible. But what's the affinity between merely the word 'wind' and the lamp? Here again Ghalib's creative knowledge comes into use. [The concept of the 'solar wind' is very appropriate here.].... Another affinity is that the flame of a lamp, under the influence of the wind, flares up-- as if the wind itself had become fire, to brighten the lamp and keep it alight....

Another point is worth considering. The phrase mihr-e garduu;N [can be read as] 'revolving sun'. The sun rotates on its axis. This constant rotation causes its flames to flare up. As quickly as the flames burn, so quickly does the sun become extinguished as well. [The meaning of aafiriinish as something which is brought into being from nothingness is also suggestive here. The very process that makes the sun burn, makes it burn out and revert to nothingness.].... Thus creation in its own nature is moving toward decay.

One final point: [instead of 'the sun is a lamp', the second line can be read as 'the lamp is the sun'.].... Now the interpretation emerges that here, the illustration [mi;saal] for the lamp of the wind's pathway is the sun in the sky. A lamp burning in the wind flares up. Thus the illusion can be created that the lamp's light is increasing. But in reality its situation is like that of the sun, which even as it burns more perfectly is moving toward decay....

This verse is a masterpiece of vividness, structure, and style [rang sang ;Dhang]. Not even a poet like Ghalib was easily able to create its equal.

== (1989: 154-57) [2006: 176-79]


ROAD: {10,12}
SKY {15,7}
SUN: {10,5}

The lyrical beauty and power of the imagery are irresistible. Though the verse sounds so much more flowing in Urdu, even in English its starkness can make it at least a bit evocative.

What does it mean to be a lamp in the wind's road or pathway? Most conspicuously, a lamp in or on the wind's pathway is always in danger of being blown out, and surely can't expect to burn for very long. Thus Faruqi's invocation of what I call 'symmetry': in Urdu grammar, if A is B, then equally B is A. So instead of the mighty sun itself being (metaphorically) a lamp in the wind's pathway (2a), it is equally possible that a mere lamp in the wind's pathway is what acts as the sun (2b). Our little world 'here' is so frail and transient that what we take for the sun itself, our cosmic source of light and life, is actually a flickering, doomed lamp.

The lamp may be on the road or pathway of the wind only by happenstance, in the sense that the wind passes by wherever the lamp happens to be. But in a dark night, a light on the pathway can also be a valuable help to the wanderer. Perhaps the sun has deliberately placed itself (or has been placed) beside the wind's roadway, in order to illumine it, to guide or assist the wind. This would make the sun a collaborator in its own extinction, and perhaps also in that of other created things like the rose (which loses its petals to the wind). It would add a measure of choice, of self-sacrifice, to the idea that everything in creation is disposed toward decay/decline. It would pick up on the meaning of aamaadah as 'prepared for, alert for'.

Needless to say, all this doomedness takes place 'here' [yaa;N], so we can always imagine a decay-proof, incorruptible realm of mystical possibility that lies before, after, and beyond this one.

For another gorgeous example of 'lamps in the wind's path', see {101,6}. For more on chiraa;Gaa;N generally, see {5,5}.

For a bleaker, less elegant treatment of the same idea, see {394x,3}.

Here's my long-ago attempt at translation (1985).