Ghazal 130, Verse 1

{130,1}*

.sad jalvah ruu bah ruu hai jo mizhgaa;N u;Thaa))iye
:taaqat kahaa;N kih diid kaa i;hsaa;N u;Thaa))iye

1) a hundred glories/manifestations are face to face [with you], if you would lift your eyelashes
2) where is the strength, that you would lift [the burden of] the beneficence of sight/vision?

Notes:

jalvah : 'Manifestation, publicity, conspicuousness; splendour, lustre, effulgence'. (Platts p.387)

 

diid : 'Seeing, sight, vision; show, spectacle'. (Platts p.556)

 

i;hsaan : 'Beneficence, benefaction, benevolent action, benefit, favour, kindness, good offices, obligation conferred'. (Platts p.29)

Nazm:

For the poet, a refined/sensitive [naazuk] mind and temperament are special traits, and accordingly the always create refined/sensitive themes. The meaning is that our refined/sensitive mind can't enture to lift [the burden of] the kindness of the gaze. We only enjoy the promenade and spectacle of the world if we keep our eyes closed. (139)

== Nazm page 139

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The meaning is that the colorful spectacles of His power are visible. Who has the strength to see all these moods and understand them? Looking and looking, a man becomes tired, and the marvels of His power are not finished. (194)

Bekhud Mohani:

That is, what patience do we have for the world's glories/appearances, which appear like mirages, that we should look at them? Having closed our eyes, we are seeing the glory/appearance of the True Beloved in the manifestation-place of the heart.

[Or:] It's an expression merely of temperamentalness [naazuk-mizaajii]. There's no lack of glories/appearances. It takes only the length of time necessary to lift the eyelashes. But now the heart doesn't have any more strength for the worship of glories/appearances. (259)

FWP:

SETS
GAZE: {10,12}
INDEPENDENCE: {9,1}

Ghalib originally composed a ghazal of ten verses (Raza p. 238); he chose to include four verses (Hamid p. 107) in his published divan. More on this topic: S. R. Faruqi's choices.

This is one of a surprising number of verses enjoining a prickly independence and refusal of all indebtedness. In English we have the idea of bearing a 'burden' of gratitude, or being placed under a 'weight' of obligation. Here the metaphor is the same, though the grammar of the verse doesn't spell it out: who has the strength to 'lift' this burden of obligation? The burden is the favor that 'sight' would do for you; it's a favor for which you could make no return, so you would remain indebted, which would be humiliating and unacceptable. And of course, the ground of the present ghazal makes this concluding syllable and word pattern very convenient, so it appears again in {130,3}, with the metaphor of lifting a burden spelled out much more explicitly. A similar use of i;hsaa;N appears in {44,1}: it's a kindness that remains 'on' the eyes like collyrium.

As so often, the relationship between the two lines is left for us to decide. The commentators spell out a few of the many possibilities. Is the first line an offer of vain, transitory, worldly temptations, as Bekhud Mohani maintains, so that it must be refused? Or does it evoke the glories of the True Beloved, as Bekhud Dihlavi asserts, so that it must be welcomed even though we can't do it justice? Or is the nature of the sight in the first line irrelevant, as Nazm implies, since the poet/lover will stubbornly keep his eyes closed at all times, for fear of an unbearable indebtedness?

The first line speaks of, and apparently recommends, lifting the lightest, easiest thing in the world: one's own eyelashes. The second line speaks of lifting something that, whether light or heavy, desired or unwanted, is beyond one's strength. Unsurprisingly, both lines are in inshaa))iyah modes: we get two subjunctives (though technically the verbs are polite imperatives) and one question. This makes the verse extremely flexible, and highly responsive to our own reading. It's one of those verses in which tone makes all the difference; and tone is exactly what we have to supply for ourselves.