Ghazal 110, Verse 1

{110,1}*

daa))im pa;Raa hu))aa tire dar par nahii;N huu;N mai;N
;xaak aisii zindagii pah kih patthar nahii;N huu;N mai;N

1a) I am not perpetually lying/fallen at your door
1b) am I not perpetually lying/fallen at your door?

2) {woe to / 'dust upon'} such a life!-- {in that / since} I am not a stone

Notes:

daa))im : 'Continuing, lasting; continuing always, continual, &c. ... — continually, always, perpetually'. (Platts p.505)

Ghalib:

[1866, to Navab Qalb-e Ali Khan:] When the King of Delhi retained me as a servant, and gave me a title, and assigned me the duty of writing chronograms for the Sultans of the House of Timur, then I wrote a ghazal in a fresh style [:tarz-e taazah]. [He quotes all the verses in order, but omits the closing-verse, {110,8}.] (Arshi p. 237)

==text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 3, pp. 1226-27

Nazm:

That is, it would have been better for this life not to exist-- for perhaps I could have been your doorsill. And the allusion to this idea is that I always remain lying like a stone, but am far from your door. I am not a stone, that I would be pleased to remain lying like this. (114-15)

== Nazm page 114; Nazm page 115

Bekhud Mohani:

If only I were of stone, so that I could become a doorsill and remain always lying at your door! That is, that stone is more fortunate than I, for it always kisses her feet.

[Or:] Don't I always remain lying at your door? That is, I always remain at the door, and cannot obtain access to the inner chamber of coquetry. Woe to such a life! I am a human, not a stone, that to remain lying on your doorsill would be enough. (217)

Faruqi:

This verse is outwardly as simple, as inwardly it is full of meaning. As many meanings as have been mentioned [by commentators] up till now, all are interesting and appropriate: (1) Curses upon me, that I am not a stone. If I were a stone, then I could have been vouchsafed the blessing of lying always at your door. (2) Look-- am I not always lying at your door? Curses upon me-- I am not a stone, that I should be trampled beneath everyone's feet! (3) People make me the target of taunts and reproaches: 'Why don't you go and fall at the beloved's door, and lie there?'. I am a human, I am not a stone. If I were a stone, then I could endure these taunts and reproaches, and perhaps it would also become possible to arrive at your door. (4) I have access only up to the door-- that is only as much as the doorsill-stone has. But I am a human, I ought to have had entree into the sacred precincts of coquetry. Curses upon this life-- that despite being a human, I am living like a doorsill-stone!

All right, now please look-- the following points can also emerge. Reading (4) has been expressed by Bekhud Mohani. This enjoyable meaning has been obtained through attention to the word 'door'. Most commentators have kept making the word 'stone' the center of attention. A third word that has a right to attention and investigation is 'perpetually'. And daa))im means 'perpetual, permanent, that which would not be obliterated'. With regard to this latter meaning, it is a quality of God. If we connect the word daa))im to the word 'life', then what aspect develops? [It suggests some resemblance to Divine eternity.] In comparison to a human, stone has much more duration/stability.... If only I were a being made of stone, then for hundreds of years I could have the auspicious fortune of remaining lying at your door. And then, in stone is the excellence that when it falls, then it remains lying there. It doesn't have to move and get up, the way a human does. If instead of this human life I had come into the world with the life of a stone, then it would have been better.

[If we turn our attention to the word 'life', then further possibilities arise, about human life versus the 'life' of a stone.] In the word daa))im there's also another possibility, and it's related to 'life'. If I had been made from stone, then compared to human life I would have been much more durable. Thus within me the spark of passion would have had a much longer interval of life, and in this way I would have had a longer period of longing. Besides longing, what else is there in the world for which one would live?.... In the course of the discussion, I also want to call attention to the wordplay of 'dust' and 'stone'. This point too has escaped the eye of most of the commentators.

== (1989: 162-63) [2006: 184-85]

FWP:

SETS == GENERATORS; KIH; STRESS-SHIFTING

Is lying always at the beloved's door something the lover fails to achieve (1a) or achieves (1b)? Is it something desirable (as the lover's supreme goal), or undesirable (as a sign of neglect and rejection)? Does the lover wish (1) to be a stone doorsill for the beloved; or (2) to have a stony heart himself; or (3) simply to express his human suffering (since he's not made of stone)? Here are only a few of the possible permutations, in this wonderfully 'simple-clever' (see {108,8}) and superbly 'stress-shifting' verse:

=Am I not perpetually lying at your door? (I am, of course.) 'Dust upon such a life', in which I'm not a stone! (What I want is to be a stone, and to be your doorsill.)

=Am I not perpetually lying at your door? (I am, of course.) 'Dust upon' such a life, because after all I'm not made of stone! (What I want is better treatment from you.)

=I'm not perpetually lying at your door. (Sometimes I'm driven or forced away, and have to return later.) 'Dust upon such a life', in which I'm not a stone! (What I want is to be a stone, and to be your doorsill.)

=I'm not perpetually lying at your door. (Sometimes my restlessness overpowers me, and forces me to wander.) 'Dust upon' such a life-- after all, I'm not made of stone! (What I want is better treatment from you.) See the next verse, {110,2}, for a similar thought about restlessness and constant movement.

As Faruqi, alone among the commentators, points out, the wordplay of 'dust' and 'stone' is also powerfully effective and enjoyable-- especially since the primary meaning of 'dust [be] upon such a life' [;xaak aisii zindagii pah] is as a form of malediction or curse. A person lying on a doorsill, or acting as a doorsill, is down in the dust by definition. In addition, a life that is not 'stone' is cursed to be 'dust'. Could there be a bleaker summary of human choices?

For more verses of 'stone' wordplay, see {62,5}.