Ghazal 108, Verse 8

{108,8}

saadah purkaar hai;N ;xuubaa;N ;Gaalib
ham se paimaan-e vafaa baa;Ndhte hai;N

1) artless-skilful are the lovely ones, Ghalib
2) they make/'bind' promises of faithfulness-- to us

Notes:

saadah : 'Plain, unadorned; ... pure, unmixed, simple; ... candid, sincere, artless, guileless, open, frank'. (Platts p.623)

 

purkaar : 'Skilful, efficient, full of workmanship, well-executed'. (Platts p.234)

Nazm:

ham ought to be read in a special tone, which will give rise to the meaning, 'not somebody else, but us'. And this is the reason for saying 'artless', that they think [jaante hai;N] that we will be taken in by their deceit. And he's said 'skilful' because they seek to create a deceit. ;xuubaan is the plural of ;xuub , and nowadays in Urdu to make the plural of every word with alif nuun is not proper. In this connection, it is very prominent in the idiom of the Dakan, and these people make the plural of every word in this way. (113-14)

== Nazm page 113; Nazm page 114

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The word ham ought to be read with emphasis-- that is, they deceive us, not somebody else! He says, this is there foolishness, that they think [jaante hai;N] that we will be taken in by their deceit. (164)

Bekhud Mohani:

At the same time how simple, and how tricky, the beautiful ones are, that they make promises of faithfulness to one as experienced as we! (216)

FWP:

SETS == STRESS-SHIFTING
VOWS: {20,2}

Perhaps, as the commentators generally agree, the beautiful ones may be 'artless' because they think their 'skilful' tricks (of falsely promising faithfulness) will work on the likes of us, the veteran lover.

But equally possibly, the beautiful ones may be 'skilful' because they pretend to be 'artless' in promising us faithfulness. Perhaps they are clever because they don't really expect us to believe them, but they know that we must keep up appearances, so they will thus effectively put us off for the present. Or perhaps they are clever because they know we will believe them-- their making promises of faithfulness 'to us' can just as well be a sign of cleverness as of simplicity, since the verse gives us no way of deciding.

Are they skilful in their artlessness, or artless in their skilfulness? Are they simple in their cleverness, or clever in their simplicity? Or clever in their (show of) 'simplicity', or simple in their (show of) 'cleverness'? We can't tell from the verse itself how many levels of (accidental or deliberate) fakery and (self-)deception are involved.

Similarly, the commentators are convinced, following Nazm, that the emphasis in the second line must be on 'to us'. But this is because they all recognize only one reading. The emphasis could equally well fall on 'promises' (promises that we do, or don't, know that they won't fulfill); or on 'faithfulness' (a quality that we do, or don't, know that they entirely lack).

For an even more complex exploration of saadagii -o-purkaarii , see {4,4}.