Ghazal 113, Verse 10x


dil-o-diin-o-;xirad taaraaj-e naaz-e jalvah-pairaa))ii
hu))aa hai jauhar-e aa))iinah ;xail-e mor ;xirman me;N

1) heart and religion and sagacity-- plunder of/for the coquetry of {glory/appearance}-adorning
2) the polish-lines of the mirror have become a cavalry/troop of ants in the harvest


taaraaj : 'Plunder, pillage, devastation'. (Platts p.304)


pairaa))ii : 'Adorning, decorating (used as the last member of compounds)'. (Platts p.298)


jauhar : 'A gem, jewel; a pearl; essence, matter, substance, constituent, material part (opp. to accident), absolute or essential property; skill, knowledge, accomplishment, art; excellence, worth, merit, virtue; secret nature; defects, vices; — the diversified wavy marks, streaks, or grain of a well-tempered sword'. (Platts p.399)


;xail : 'Imagining, thinking; horses; horsemen, cavalry; a tribe (esp. of horsemen)'. (Steingass p.493)


mor : 'An ant'. (Platts p.1088)


morchah : 'A little ant... ; — rust; — a line of intrenchment; a fortification'. (Platts p.1089)


zang : ''Blackness, darkness' ... ; rust; canker'. (Platts p.618)


jalvah-pairaa))ii here has the meaning of 'adornment', but this is not really a correct meaning.

The meaning is that at the time when the beloved placed a mirror before her and became absorbed in adornment, the lover's heart and religion and sagacity went away, among the loot. The looters were the polish-marks of the mirror, which became an army of ants and looted the harvest of heart and religion and sagacity. He has used as a simile for the polish-marks on the mirror, an army of ants. Verdigris/rust [zang] is called morchah ; from this he created the simile. (242)

Gyan Chand:

The beloved looked in the mirror and adorned herself; and after that, with coquetry she showed her glory/appearance. From this our heart, religious sect [ma;zhab], and wisdom all became destroyed. The way if some troop of ants would enter into a heap of grain and destroy it-- this is the way it has happened, through glory-adornment, to the harvest of heart and religion and sagacity. The one responsible for this glory-adornment is the mirror; so to speak, the polish-lines of the mirror are an army of ants. Polish-lines are usually in the form of sand-grains and tiny points [nuq:te], and they can be likened to ants.

== Gyan Chand, p. 269


JAUHAR: {5,4}
MIRROR: {8,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

ABOUT THE UNPUBLISHED VERSES ADDED BY FWP: Why include in this website so many verses of lesser literary merit, verses that Ghalib did not choose to include in his published divan, and that an excellent judge like Faruqi has not selected as worthy of note?

One reason: To open up the substantial universe of Ghalib's unpublished verses to wider knowledge (since very few readers of the published divan even know that these verses exist).

Another reason: Because such verses show us aspects of Ghalib's creative process over time. Above all, they show us the extravagant, hyperbolic quality of his poetic imagination, his ability to yoke together radically diverse images in provocative (though sometimes over-the-top) ways.

Another reason: Because such verses show us how the commentators have grappled with some very difficult and obscure verses. The present verse strikes me as a particularly intriguing case in point. Of the three commentators, Asi simply omits the verse (as he does many other verses). Zamin explains the verse entirely through wordplay: the word morchah means 'a little ant', and also the 'rust' or verdigris that can appear on a metal mirror, and also a military 'fortification' (see the definition above). By contrast, Gyan Chand explains the verse entirely through the physical similarity between ants and the polish-lines on a metal mirror. But since only the beloved looks into the mirror, on either reading it's hard to envision the mirror's 'ants' as being able to consume the 'harvest' of the lover's heart and so on; the beloved must become an intermediary, which disrupts the imagery. Both Zamin and Gyan Chand do their gallant best, and it's really the structural weakness of the verse itself that causes their readings to fall short.

A final reason: because such verses are often 'bad' in very thought-provoking ways. They show us the young Ghalib's wild, uncontrolled imaginative power-- and also enable us to see the limits of verses based only on this power, or only on extravagant wordplay. They encourage us to imagine, and define, and justify, what we mean by 'bad' verses as opposed to 'good' ones.

'Mirror' is probably Ghalib's single most favored metaphor (in frequency of occurrence). And it's often combined, as here, with jauhar , which among a variety of other things ('essence', 'excellence', etc.; see the definition above) can refer to the polish-lines on a metal mirror or the temper-lines on a fine sword. In the present ghazal's opening-verse (which is not on the website), the stitches that close up the lover's wound become the jauhar , the temper-lines, of the beloved's sword. Also in the present ghazal, in {113,6} the jauhar , the mirror's polish-lines, not only become 'wing-fluttering', but also resemble dust-motes. If polish-lines as dust-mote birds with fluttering wings can go into the published divan, why not polish-lines as ants? The reason must go deeper than mere extravange of imagery, and I want to encourage you, dear reader-- and also myself-- to wrestle with such questions. More jauhar examples: {5,4}.

Additional grist for the analytical mill: What is the problem with {1,7x}? Why is {76,3x} so flagrantly annoying?

These 'harvester ants' specialize in grains and seeds: