Ghazal 108, Verse 10x


;husn-e afsurdah-diliihaa rangii;N
shauq ko paa bah ;hinaa baa;Ndhte hai;N

1) the beauty of down-heartednesses is colorful/adorned/varied
2) we/they versify/bind 'ardor/yearning' as a foot with henna


afsurdah-dil : 'Fainthearted, low-spirited, dejected'. (Platts p.62)


rangii;N : 'Coloured, painted ... ; of various or many colours, variegated; fine, showy, gandy; adorned, ornamented; elegant, ornate, flowery, florid (as language or style); figurative, allegorical, metaphorical; gay, lively, jovial; fond of gaiety, addicted to pleasure'. (Platts p.602)

Gyan Chand:

There are two Persian idioms. paa dar ;hinaa bastan = to hold aloof the foot from moving. paa dar ;hinaa daashtan = for the foot to become wounded. In the second sense, passion has been called 'wounded-footed'. Whichever meaning might be adopted, in the down-heartedness of passion colorfulness is created. In down-heartedness there's a certain kind of beauty; and that, through the connection with henna, is colorful. (269)



Raza p. 234. S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is from a different,unpublished, ham-:tar;h ghazal from the same year, and is included for comparison. In the unpublished ghazal, this was the second verse.

On the literary use of baa;Ndhnaa as 'to versify', see {108,1}. For more on henna, see {18,4}.

Gyan Chand speaks of downheartedness as afsurdah-dilii , which of course is what comes naturally. Why the awkwardly pluralized abstraction, afsurdah-dilii-haa ? 'Downheartednesses' is as cumbersome in Urdu as it is in English. Yet Ghalib is fond of such pluralized abstractions: for more about them see {1,2}. Sometimes they do seem pretty much unmotivated.

In this case, we could consider that there are different kinds of beautiful (?) effects that downheartedness can have, and thus in a sense different kinds of downheartedness. Here are some:

=a hennaed foot makes one reluctant to walk much at all, and that's how a melancholy person feels

=a hennaed foot causes one to walk slowly and haltingly, and that's how a melancholy person walks

=a hennaed foot is decorated in fancy and variegated patterns, and melancholy shows itself in a variety of different forms

=a hennaed foot looks as though it has blood on it, and the feet of the melancholy person may be (literally or metaphorically) blood-stained from wandering in thorny deserts

=ardor is metaphorically 'bound' by being incorporated into a verse, and literally 'bound' because its hennaed feet make it unable to walk properly

No matter how we slice and dice it, though, there remains the limiting and radical dissimilarity: a hennaed foot is a characteristic only of the beautiful beloved's, while ardor or yearning is a characteristic only of the passionate lover's. Thus the metaphorical possibilities run into an abrupt and substantial barrier that prevents their going deep enough to be truly fascinating. Maybe that's one reason Ghalib chose not to publish this verse.