Ghazal 120, Verse 3

{120,3}*

nah niklaa aa;Nkh se terii ik aa;Nsuu us jaraa;hat par
kiyaa siine me;N jis ne ;xuu;N-chakaa;N mizhgaan-e sozan ko

1) not a single tear fell from your eye, over that wound
2) [the wound] that, in the stitching/breast, made the eyelashes of the needle blood-dripping

Notes:

Nazm:

By 'needle' is meant the 'needle of grief', the place of which is inside the breast. And if we don't take 'needle' as this metaphor, then the verse will become commonplace [((aamiyaanah], the way unintelligent poets versify unreal [;Gair-vaaqi((ii] things. Here, if in place of 'breast' [siinah] you consider it to be 'stitching' [siinaa], then there's no need of a metaphor. (128)

== Nazm page 128

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, having heard the state of those wounds, not even a single teardrop fell from your eye-- the wounds in my heart that caused blood to flow from the eyes of the needle of grief. (181-82)

Bekhud Mohani:

How pitiless you are! You're human, yet you didn't weep over a wound over which the eye of the needle, which is soulless, wept blood. (242)

FWP:

SETS == MUSHAIRAH; WORDPLAY
EYES {3,1}

What a clever, enjoyable verse of wordplay! And in classic mushairah-verse style, it not only refuses to yield its full meaning until the very last moment, but actually misdirects the reader or hearer, making it a (rather free) form of iihaam . For the first line speaks of what is obviously a grievous wound, then the second line seems at first simply to locate it: it's found, naturally, 'in the breast' [siine me;N], where the lover's mortal wound must always be.

Not until we hear, at the last possible moment, the word 'needle' [sozan], do we realize that we need to go back and revise our reading. And not substitutionally revise, but expand into two separate readings. For the best part of the verse is siine me;N , which is the oblique of both siinah , 'breast, chest', and siinaa , 'to stitch, to sew'. Since both nouns look the same in the oblique, they aren't even homonyms as they normally are, but must be undecideably both present at once, like the properties of light. And since both nouns would yield a completely, equally, fine and appropriate meaning in that position in that sentence, neither can be at all preferred over the other.

For more such instances of what we might call (only loosely iihaam -like) 'double activation', see {13,1}; {16,4}; {27,10x}; {62,10}; {120,6}; {156,2x}; {166,7x}; {167,6}; {169,14x}; {170,4}; {172,3}, triple; {180,7}; {183,6}, triple; {217,2}

Either 'in the breast' (where the wound is located), or 'in stitching' (while the process of sewing up the wound was under way), the wound made the eyelashes of the needle 'blood-dripping'. It did this either by (1) bleeding so grievously that the needle's eye became physically saturated with blood; or by (2) offering such a melancholy sight that the eye of the needle actually wept tears of deep emotion and compassion-- the proverbial 'tears of blood' such as lovers constantly weep-- at the sight of it.

Equipping the needle not only with an 'eye'-- which it always has, in Urdu just as primally as in English-- is supplemented by equipping the needle's eye with 'eyelashes', which it normally doesn't have in Urdu any more than in English. That might seem at first glance (so to speak) to work in favor of the 'pathetic fallacy' meaning (2); but the matter is not so simple. The polish-marks on a mirror can seek to be metallic 'eyelashes' too, as in {17,4}, in response to the beloved's radiance, but without any such quivering, emotional anthropomorphism.

Nazm seems, if I interpret him correctly, to be endorsing a reading even more metaphorical than (2), by insisting that not a real needle at all, but only a 'needle of grief' should be understood. Since the 'grief' could only be the wounded lover's, this doesn't make much sense: why should he weep self-pityingly over his own wound? Nazm does (sporadically ) reject actual 'objective correlatives' on what seem to be 'natural poetry' grounds; within the world of ghazal poetics, however, this risks turning verses into mush.

This verse has two beautiful cousins {97,11} and {97,12} whose greater glory of metaphor might seem to overshadow it; but if they have glory, this one has wit.