Ghazal 108, Verse 1


tere tausan ko .sabaa baa;Ndhte hai;N
ham bhii ma.zmuu;N kii havaa baa;Ndhte hai;N

1) we versify/'bind' your steed as the breeze

2a) even/also we {boast of / invent} a theme
2b) even/also we versify/'bind' the wind/love/desire of a theme


.sabaa : ''The east wind, or an easterly wind'; a gentle and pleasant breeze; the morning breeze; the zephyr'. (Platts p.742)


baa;Ndhnaa : 'To fasten together, put together, join, connect, conglomerate, unite, gather, pack, set... e.g. ma.zmuun baa;Ndhnaa...; to build, construct (dam, bridge, &c.); to compose (verses)'. (Platts p.127)


havaa : 'Air, atmosphere, ether, the space between heaven and earth; --air, wind, gentle gale; --a gas; --flight; ...rumour, report; --credit, good name; --affection, favour, love, mind, desire, passionate fondness; lust, carnal desire'. (Platts p. 1239)


havaa baa;Ndhnaa : 'To make a name; --to boast, brag; --to invent; to romance'. (Platts p.1239)


That is, giving for the steed the simile of the breeze, we {boast of / invent} elegance of expression. (112)

== Nazm page 112

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, having given for your steed the simile of the breeze, we {boast of / invent} our theme-writing. Otherwise, your steed is swifter than the breeze. (163)

Bekhud Mohani:

By calling your steed the breeze, its honor is not increased. Rather, in that way we establish the coin of our elegance of expression. (215)



Ghalib originally composed a ghazal of seven verses (Raza pp. 335-36); he chose to include all seven verses from it in his published divan. He also included in the divan version a single verse from another, formally identical ghazal (Raza p. 335) from the same year (1821); that verse he inserted as {108,2}. For more on this second ghazal, see {108,9x}.

Because of its refrain, this whole ghazal plays on the verb baa;Ndhnaa, literally 'to bind' (see the definition above), which counts among its numerous derived meanings that of 'to compose', as in to compose verses. For another such striking example, see {29}, which has the refrain of baa;Ndhaa . When poets versify/'bind' something, they incorporate it both into poetic language (usually through metaphor or simile) and into a metrical line of verse. The only verses that don't use this poetic meaning at all are {108,7} and {108,8}.

And then, in the present verse, look at all the secondary wordplay as well! People 'tie' (or 'bind') a horse with a tether-- but the lover also 'ties' the addressee's horse in the sense of 'binding' or incorporating it into a verse. The horse is versified or 'bound' as the breeze-- and who can bind the breeze?

Then there are the two words for breeze, .sabaa in the first line and havaa in the second. The word havaa, with its related meanings of wind and love and desire, is surely the pivot around which the verse turns. (For very similar patterns of wordplay, see the next verse, {108,2}.)

The idiomatic sense of havaa baa;Ndhnaa works perfectly for poetic purposes: the speaker boasts of his poetic theme, he invents his poetic theme. But if the words are read literally, he also versifies/'binds' the wind, or the desire, of a theme. And is it the desire 'of' a theme in the sense of 'the desire belonging to a theme', or in the sense of the poet's desire 'for' a theme?

Thus the juxtaposition of havaa baa;Ndhnaa becomes so complex and enjoyable-- who can 'bind' the wind, or love, or desire? who can versify the wind, or love, or desire? And yet that's exactly what the poet does: he invents his themes, and he boasts of them. And if the poet is Ghalib, doesn't he have a right to?