Ghazal 109, Verse 7x


bah rang-e sabzah ((aziizaan-e bad-zabaa;N yak-dast
hazaar te;G-e bah zahr-aab-daadah rakhte hai;N

1) with the color/aspect of greenery/greenness, the dear/worthy/admired ones of bad tongue/speech {altogether / 'in a single hand'}
2) keep a thousand swords dipped in 'poison-water'


((aziiz : 'Dear, worthy, precious, highly esteemed, greatly valued, honoured, respected, beloved;—a great man; a worthy or pious personage, a saint; one beloved, a dear friend; a relation, relative'. (Platts p.761)


yak-dast : 'Entire; uniform, even (cloth); —homogeneous; —what can be lifted with one hand; —adv. Altogether'. (Platts p.1251)


zahr : 'Poison, venom, virus; (met.) anything bitter or disagreeable; gall and worm-wood'. (Platts p.619)


zahr-aab : 'Dirty, stagnant, or envenomed water; rennet for curdling cheese; water in which fruits have been macerated, their bitterness being left behind'. (Steingass p.630)


aab : 'Water; water or lustre (in gems); temper (of steel, &c.); edge or sharpness (of a sword, &c.); sparkle, lustre; splendour; elegance; dignity, honour, character, reputation'. (Platts p.1)





Gyan Chand:

The 'esteemed ones of bad speech' are the same advice-givers who are saying all kinds of bitter and cutting things. In verdure, there are thousands of swords. The esteemed ones who speak badly also have thousands of swords-- and not ordinary ones either, but ones quenched [during forging] in poison-water. Poison-water is an insult and a reproach. Poison is conventionally green. Thus a sword quenched in poison-water will be green, and will have a similitude with greenery. (275)

== Gyan Chand, p. x


SPEAKING: {14,4}
SWORD: {1,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

At the heart of this verse, as of so many, is wordplay involving the spectacularly protean little word aab . For discussion and more examples, see {193,2}. Here's how it pulls the wordplay together:

=as water: 'greenery' (verdant foliage) requires water; 'tongues' require water; 'swords' require water in their forging

=as sharpness or shiningness or temperedness: all qualities of a 'sword' (or many swords), carried in 'one hand'

=as an element in 'poison-water': this water can be 'dirty' (like the nasty tongues) or 'stagnant' (stagnant water turns green) or 'envenomed' (poison is easily mixed into water); according to Gyan Chand, poison is also thought to be 'green'

Gyan Chand suggests that the swords were quenched [bujhnaa] in poison-water during the forging process, and that this has turned them green. Such a color-change doesn't sound likely. But swords could certainly be dipped in a poisonous liquid, to make any small scratch from them deadly (think of Hamlet). A striking way to describe a poisonous tongue, isn't it? It doubles the sarcastic effect of ((aziizaan in the first line.

Compare {217,2}, another verse about swords and 'poison-water'.