Ghazal 108, Verse 6

{108,6}

;Gala:tiihaa-e ma.zaamii;N mat puuchh
log naale ko rasaa baa;Ndhte hai;N

1) the errors/fallacies of themes-- don't ask!
2) people versify/'bind' laments as 'access-obtaining'

Notes:

;Gala:tii : 'A mistake, an error; inaccuracy; miscalculation; fallacy; misstatement; misapprehension, misconception; an oversight, a slip'. (Platts p.772)

 

naalah : 'Complaint, plaint, lamentation, moan, groan; weeping'. (Platts p.1117)

 

rasaa: 'Arriving, attaining;... quick of apprehension, acute, sharp, penetrating, skilful, capable, clever; --mixing or mingling (with); amiable; well-received, welcome'. (Platts p.591)

Nazm:

That is, we have learned by experience that a lament never attains access [rasaa))ii]. This is the apparent meaning, and there is an iihaam of the meaning that if it had been 'arrived/successful' [rasaa], then who would have 'bound' [baa;Ndhnaa] it? Its being 'bound' is itself a proof of its laggingness and non-access [naarasaa))ii]. (113)

== Nazm page 113

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, people-- that is, poets-- versify a lament as 'successful', and are even convinced of its success. This is an error of their themes. Our experience is that a lament never attains success. But if a lament were successful, then till Doomsday it wouldn't be able to be 'bound'/versified. Its being 'bound' is proof of its non-access. (164)

Bekhud Mohani:

A person who has always been unsuccessful, and in whose heart the idea has settled that prayer is not answered, and that laments are ineffective-- he is surprised at the state of the people of the world: these people call laments 'successful', and what greater error than this can there be? (216)

FWP:

SETS == HUMOR; INEXPRESSIBILITY; POETRY

The veteran Ustad rolls his eyes, as he shares a gossip session with his colleagues. 'What awful mistakes my pupils make in their themes!' the Ustad groans. 'Why, the things they say, the nonsense they babble-- it's indescribable. You don't want to know-- just don't even ask!'

But of course, after a suitable period of suspense in the mushairah, he goes on to tell us anyway. Can you imagine-- the fools actually versify laments as 'successful', as 'access-obtaining'!

Here is a light and amusing treatment of what otherwise might be a mournful theme: the ineffectiveness of laments in moving the beloved's heart, or even reaching her ears. It's presented not as a wretched emotional experience of prolonged suffering, but as a technical flaw in a poet's versification. The word baa;Ndhnaa would suffice in itself to establish the literary context; for more on this, see {108,1}. But the addition of the common literary term 'theme' [ma.zmuun] entirely clinches the matter. The unsuccessfulness of laments is so universal and inescapable a truth that to ignore it is not an accidental error in some particular thought or expression, but a deeper problem of impossible wrongness, like declaring that the sky is orange, or omitting a syllable from a meter.

To present the theme in this way displaces it from melancholy into humor, and from despairing personal confession into a finicky technical objection, the professional stock in trade of the Ustad. It also underlines the radicalness and irrevocableness of the laments' failure, in a way that no amount of hand-wringing could.

Nazm's iihaam argument is somehow not very compelling. (Bekhud Dihlavi often follows Nazm in cases like this, so he's not necessarily an independent witness.) I can see what Nazm means, but it feels weak and forced. He presents a similar argument in {108,4}-- that the very fact of being bound tells us something about the weakness of what is bound-- but there I think it works better with the grammar and vocabulary of the verse.

In this verse, the real pleasure comes from the 'shop talk' quality of the first line, which leads us to expect in the second line some technical reference, something about meter or idiom. Then in the second line we instead (or in addition?) find a mixture of blood and tears, disguised as (or diluted into?) mere ink, and made amusingly pedantic. Or perhaps the lover's despair is so deep that it's beyond blood and tears. Perhaps he so accepts his despair that the seemingly technical argument is the only one he now notices. The verse is genuinely amusing, but also manages to be, in its implications, unrelievedly bleak.