Ghazal 132, Verse 3

{132,3}*

;xayaal-e marg kab taskii;N dil-e aazurdah ko ba;xshe
mire daam-e tamannaa me;N hai ik .said-e zabuu;N vuh bhii

1) when would the thought of death bestow comfort on the sorrowful/vexed heart?!
2) in my net of longing, a single weak/inferior/unworthy prey-- even/also that

Notes:

taskiin : 'Consolation, comfort, mitigation, rest, assurance, peace (of mind)'. (Platts p.324)

 

aazurdah : 'Afflicted... sad, dispirited, sorrowful; vexed... displeased, dissatisfied; weary'. (Platts p.45)

 

zabuu;N : 'Weak, infirm, helpless; vile, evil, ill, bad, wicked, faulty; unfortunate, unlucky'. (Platts p.615)

Nazm:

ba;xshiidan is a Persian verb; from it, in Urdu ba;xshnaa has been made.... but to use such a word is considered somewhat devoid of eloquence [;Gair-fa.sii;h]. (142)

== Nazm page 142

Bekhud Mohani:

To people who are melancholy, whose hearts have been extinguished, the thought of death-- that is, the hope for death-- cannot give comfort. That too is one inferior prey in my longing-net. That is, the cure for an extinguished heart is death. Merely the thought of death cannot give it comfort. (264)

Faruqi:

The meaning of .said is not only 'prey', but also an animal that is hunted. That is, it's not necessary for it to come into the net.... Now please consider the refrain. The point of vuh bhii is that the net of longing is full of animals that are emaciated and moribund, and the thought of death too is one emaciated animal among them. It's clear that the reason for their emaciation is either that they've been in captivity for a long time (the longings have been lying around in the heart for many days), or that they were moribund in the first place (the longings didn't have the strength to emerge, that is, to be fulfilled)....

From such attenuated longings, what comfort would the heart have? My heart spread the net of longing, many longings were captured in it, but they are like weak/inferior prey.... Thousands of longings like the 'thought of death' are in the net of longing, so what hope can there be from the longing for death? That is, how can it be comforting that death will come? No longing of mine is being fulfilled [nikalnaa]-- what hope is there that the longing for death will be fulfilled? Especially when it's like a weak/inferior prey-- that is, such an attenuated animal that it wouldn't be able to emerge [nikalnaa] from the net?...

He's composed a fine verse. On the foundation of just such verses, Ghalib's pan of the balance-scale seems to weigh more heavily than Mir's.

== (1989: 252-53) [2006: 274-75]

FWP:

SETS == BHI; EXCLAMATION; MULTIVALENT WORDS ( nikalnaa )

'When?' asks the first line. And at once we realize the answer is 'Never!' Such a resonant, powerful, even scornful rhetorical question adds great exclamatory energy to the verse. And its verb is ba;xshnaa , 'to bestow', which is used for gifts from superiors to inferiors. (The king may 'bestow' something on you, but you cannot 'bestow' something on him.) Thus when we learn in the second line that the thought of death is zabuu;N , the adjective works perfectly-- the 'thought of death' is too weak and inferior to be able to 'bestow' anything on anybody.

Then of course, the 'thought of death' is only one single [ek] prey, out of many that are in the speaker's 'net of longing'. And the vuh bhii cleverly keeps open both possibilities: 'that too' (death is just one more in a long series of similar, and similarly unfulfilled, longings); and 'even that' (death is in a class by itself, yet somehow even it is a disappointment).

Faruqi also makes an enjoyable point about the confinement of the longings in the net. When longings are fulfilled, they are idiomatically said to 'emerge' [nikalnaa], meaning to appear in the world, to come true. For an example of this use (and of further wordplay with the verb as well), see {219,1}. The 'thought of death' is just one more trapped, confined, non-emergent longing, destined never to see the light of day. To have one's prey trapped in one's net, which normally is a good thing, turns out in this case to be a disaster, since the trapped longings can never be fulfilled unless they 'emerge' from the net.

Such a witty turnaround! We expect that the 'prey' in a hunter's 'net' would be something desirable-- something captured with difficulty and borne home in triumph. But here, the hunter is like a disgusted fisherman with a netful of small, weak, worthless fish. Even if one of them is said to be Moby Dick, plainly it's of no more use than the others. The hunter's sorrowful/vexed [aazurdah] heart can't be appeased by such trifling prey. He seeks, in his endless longing, to pursue far bigger game-- but what? Death itself, as opposed to the mere 'thought of death'? Something beyond death? Something beyond thought?