Ghazal 129, Verse 3x

{129,3x}

juz dil suraa;G-e dard bah dil-;xuftagaa;N nah puuchh
aa))iinah ((ar.z kar ;xa:t-o-;xaal-e bayaa;N nah puuchh

1) apart from [possession of] a heart, signs/traces of pain in/on the sleeping-hearted ones-- don't ask!
2) {offer / having offered} a mirror-- the 'down [on the cheek] and beauty-spot' of expression-- don't ask!

Notes:

suraa;G : 'Sign, mark, footstep, trace, track, clue; search, inquiry'. (Platts p.650)

 

;xuftah : 'Sleeping, asleep; put to sleep'. (Platts p.491)

 

;xa:t:t : 'A line, a streak, or stripe, a mark; lineament; —writing, character, handwriting, chirography; a letter, epistle; —down on the face, incipient beard, &c.; beard; moustaches'. (Platts pp.490-91)

 

;xaal : 'A black mole on the face (regarded as ornamental); a spot, patch (natural); an artificial spot (made of kaajal , &c., for ornament, or to ward off the effects of the malignant eye)'. (Platts p.485)

 

bayaa;N : 'Declaration, assertion, affirmation; explanation, exposition, description, relation, disclosure, unfolding, circumstantial indication or evidence; perspicuity, clearness'. (Platts p.205)

Asi:

Those in whose hearts pain has settled itself-- ask about their situation from your own heart. Don't make use of their 'down [on the cheek] and beauty-spot' of expression; rather, make use of your own mirror. Only a mirror can perform this task. By 'mirror' is meant the addressee's heart. (204-05)

Zamin:

He says, 'Ask about the pain of the heart from heart-possessors, in whose hearts the fire of passion is radiant. Before you they will display hearts in which the pain of passion would become a mirror. What's the point of asking those whose hearts are asleep; they aren't at all acquainted with the relish of the pain of passion. Even if they tell you an oral tale [zabaanii daastaan], what good will it do? It will be an imaginary and suppositional picture. (308)

Gyan Chand:

The 'sleeping-hearted' are those people who are devoid of emotions. Stone-hearted or dead-hearted people can be found to have a heart, but no trace of pain can be found in it. If such people would be asked about their longings and feelings, then they have no ability to give a detailed reply. Place a mirror before them in which their personality would be visible, and then they would be able to know about themselves. Don't expect from them excellence of expression. This is possible for those with a heart full of pain-- that they express the state of their heart in a very moving manner. The meaning of 'sleeping-hearted' was not taken from any dictionary; it is suppositional [qiyaasii].

== Gyan Chand, pp. 316-17

FWP:

SETS == DISRUPTION; INEXPRESSIBILITY; POETRY
MIRROR: {8,3}

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

On the downy cheek and the beauty spot, see {85,3}.

Gyan Chand takes the 'sleeping-hearted' [dil-;xuftah] to be the classic 'people of the world' (as in {5,6}), those who have 'stony' and 'dead' hearts and are forever debarred from the lover's great twin pursuits of passion and poetry. But those 'sleeping' hearts might be capable of waking up. The analogy would be to the concept of having a (miserable) 'sleeping fortune' [ba;xt-e ;xuftah] as opposed to an (excellent) 'awakened' one [bedaar ba;xt]. It's quite possible for one's 'sleeping' fortune to awaken (though perhaps not the lover's, as we see in {84,1}). So those 'sleeping-hearted' ones might simply be too drowsy to look into the mirror, and thus they can't really appreciate the wonders of passion and poetry. Perhaps the very act of showing them the mirror is meant to begin the process of awakening them?

But then, the listener is enjoined to hold up before the 'sleeping-hearted' ones a mirror, through which they would presumably see their own faces. In the ghazal world the 'down on the cheek' (or, with excellent wordplay, the 'writing') and the 'beauty-spot' are invariably those of the beloved. So are the 'sleeping-hearted' ones not ready as yet for the dazzling vision of the beloved? For a thought along these lines about the sequential interconnection of pain, passion, and poetry, see for example {214,12}.

Or might the 'sleeping-hearted' ones even be the beautiful beloveds themselves, whom the lover would desperately seek to awaken into sympathy or compassion? The verse would then be almost a sneer against the negligence and indifference of the beloveds. You can show them a mirror, but that's about it. (They probably won't even bother to thank you for holding the mirror.) Along these lines consider the sarcastic-feeling {91,2}.

But this verse is also one of those intriguing ones in which Ghalib disrupts his own metaphor. Almost all the way through the second line, we are led to take seriously the 'looking in the mirror' idea: the addressee is to provide a mirror, and the 'down on the cheek' and the 'beauty-spot' (which form a stylized alliterative pair in Urdu, ;xa:t-o-;xaal ) are just what we expect the sleeping-hearted ones to see-- or not to see-- on their own faces; either way the imagery can work very well with the first line (since we know they won't see any traces of pain).

Then suddenly, at the last possible moment (and remember the delay in access imposed by mushairah style)-- that bayaa;N bursts into the verse, disrupts the metaphor, and shifts the whole complex of imagery to the domain of poetry. Before that sudden irruption, nothing in the verse gave us any hint at all of what was coming. Now we have to reframe and reimagine the verse entirely, and on the shortest possible notice. To be ambushed like that-- it's vexing, but also thrilling. The sleeping-hearted ones' reaction to the mirror-- would it be fancy poetic language instead of signs/traces? Would it be no poetic language at all? Would it be such fancy poetic language that it would be beyond words ('I can't describe it, don't even ask!'). As so often, Ghalib has left us to decide for ourselves.