Ghazal 115, Verse 1

{115,1}*

dil hii to hai nah sang-o-;xisht dard se bhar nah aa))e kyuu;N
ro))e;Nge ham hazaar baar ko))ii hame;N sataa))e kyuu;N

1) it's only/emphatically a heart after all, not stone and brick-- why wouldn't it fill up with pain?
2) we will weep a thousand times-- why would anyone torment us?

Notes:

hii : 'Just, very, exactly, indeed, truly, only, alone, merely, solely, altogether, outright'. (Platts p.1243)

 

kyuu;N : 'Why? wherefore? how? what? well?'. (Platts p.890)

Ghalib:

[1861:] This city [of Delhi] is very much devastated. Neither people remain, nor buildings. I will tell the booksellers, and if they find any portion [risaalah] from my poetry or prose, it will be bought and presented before Your Excellency. dil hii to hai nah sang-o-;xisht -- a friend has in his possession some remnants of my poetry that have survived from the devastation. I will get him to write out this ghazal, and will send it in the morning.
==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum, vol. 4 p. 1498

Nazm:

It's as if there's some tyranny-oppressed one, and the beloved says to him, 'If we practice tyranny, then don't moan and groan!' [and this is his reply]. And the word 'anyone' proves that in anger, he doesn't consider her worthy of being directly addressed. (123)

== Nazm page 123

Bekhud Mohani:

When you address somebody directly and scold him, he dislikes it more. And if you say it in an oblique way, then in addition to his understanding that he is the one addressed, it doesn't seem as bad to him. This too is a secret of human nature. (232)

Josh:

And this [indirection] is completely in accord with colloquial speech. In such situations, that's exactly how people always do talk. (218)

Arshi:

This ghazal too was published in the Dihlii urduu a;xbaar, volume 15 number 7, February 13, 1853... with this introduction: A mu;xammas by Janab Sahib-e Alam Murshidzadah Bahadur Mirza Nur ud-Din with the pen-name 'Shahi' of whom the noble qualities have been recorded in previous newspapers: Inquiry has brought word that at the command of the servants of His Majesty, Janab Najm ud-Daulah Asadullah Khan 'Ghalib' of enchanting speech had written a ghazal this week. And that ghazal had been composed for the sake of 'joining lines', which here would be difficult, or rather impossible. The esteemed Sahib-e Alam Bahadur, with very slight reflection or hesitation, with extreme speed, prepared the mu;xammas and recited it. His Majesty caused the mu;xammas to be read five times, and was very much delighted. (240-41)

FWP:

SETS == A,B; HI

This is one of only a very few ghazals of which Faruqi has included every single verse in his own selection.

It's such a swingy, bouncy ghazal! You can easily hear, and feel, and see, how in this verse the lines break both rhythmically and semantically right down the middle. Most of the lines in this ghazal do so (except for 5b and 9a). This meter is unusually long, and is the 'foot A / foot B // foot A / foot B' kind; both these qualities incline it to fall easily into two halves. Thus for obvious formal reasons it lends itself very well to internal rhyme, including the fancy triple kind found in {115,3} and {116,3}.

Note for meter fans: this is one of those meters made of two symmetrical halves with a kind of quasi-caesura in the middle, in which an extra short 'cheat-syllable' (as I call it) is permitted at the end of the first half. In this verse, the cheat-syllable is present in both lines. Other such cheat-syllables occur in both lines of {115,3}, the first line of {115,7}, both lines of {115,8}, and the first line of {115,9}.

The refrain of this ghazal, kyuu;N , usually means just a plain 'why?'. But it has a penumbra of other interrogative possibilities: see the definition above. These are particularly invoked in {115,4}, {115,5}, and {115,7}.

The commentators are determined to bring the beloved in, and that's undoubtedly a perfectly good way to read the verse. It can be the middle part of a quarrel; it can be direct address (to the beloved) posing as indirect address. It can be the kind of thing you mutter to yourself-- but loudly enough for the other party to hear you.

But of course, it can be a lot of other things too, since there's no reference to any such context (or any context at all) in the verse itself. The first line begins by offering the ambiguities of dil hii to hai . It might be a a dismissive hii (after all, it's nothing but a heart!); but it could equally well be an emphatic or even cautionary hii (after all, it's most emphatically a heart ). Naturally, there's no way of telling. Here are two readings that result:

=after all, it's only a heart!-- something weak and helpless, not strong and durable like stone and brick. Naturally it would fill up with pain, being the pathetic, vulnerable, passion-wracked thing that it is. (For another such use of the phrase, see {151,2}.)

=after all, it's a heart ! -- something uniquely intense and mystically attuned, not dull and soulless like stone and brick. Naturally it would experience the travails of passion; what else is the meaning of its special destiny, its power to be sensitive and empathic [narm]?

Then when we consider the two halves of the second line, another two possibilities open up:

= (A, then B): we're already planning to weep a thousand times-- why would anybody torment us? There's no need for anybody even to take the trouble, since the same result is already guaranteed anyway.

= (B, then A): why would anybody torment us?-- if they do, they'll be sorry! We'll weep a thousandfold, we'll weep up such a storm that they'll rue the day they tormented us! (In this regard, consider {111,16}.)

Naturally (since this is Ghalib), either reading of the first line works excellently with either reading of the second line. We are free-- or else, depending on your point of view, forced-- to mix and match them on our own.

The anecdote Arshi tells is about how this ghazal was used as a sort of skeleton for the addition of extra lines to create a mu;xammas , a longer poem in five-line stanzas. The story seems to claim that the ghazal was composed especially to make this sort of transformation difficult; but since the main point of the story is to glorify a royal relative, that claim can be taken with a salt-dish full of salt.