Ghazal 152, Verse 5

{152,5}*

na:z:zaarah kyaa ;hariif ho us barq-e ;husn kaa
josh-e bahaar jalve ko jis ke naqaab hai

1a) as if sight would {withstand / be equal to} that lightning of beauty!
1b) would sight {withstand / be equal to} that lightning of beauty?

2) for whose glory/appearance the turmoil of spring is a veil

Notes:

;hariif : 'A fellow-worker (in one's craft or ordinary occupation), an associate, a partner, a mate; —a rival, opponent, adversary, antagonist; an enemy'. (Platts p.477)

Nazm:

That is, that True Beloved for whom the manifestation of the physical world is a cloak-- how can sight behold Him? When the gaze falls, it will fall only on a veil; that is, the moment it looks, it will see only bodies. The turmoil of spring is a metaphor for the manifestation of the world, and he has called it a veil because just as a veil covers a face, in the same way the spectacle of the physical world, according to the Sufis, prevents the gaze from reaching to the world of the divine. (163-64)

== Nazm page 163; Nazm page 164

Bekhud Mohani:

To see that lightning of beauty is impossible, the glory/appearance of which itself has become a veil for its face. That is, a person remains caught up in its airs and graces, and can't see it completely. (294)

Arshi:

Compare {53,2}, {158,7}, {214,7}. (196, 262, 277, 307)

Faruqi:

Little attention has been paid to 'the lightning of beauty'. Between barq and jalvah there's of course wordplay, but if he hadn't said barq-e ;husn then spring's being a veil would not have been proved. Because when the gaze is lifted, it will fall on the spring itself. How can it be known that even behind the spring there's someone for whom the spring is acting as a veil? Thus by saying 'lightning of beauty' he has indicated that its splendor keeps glittering and flickering like lightning, so that it can be seen even behind the curtain of spring. That lightning is so delicate that the spring, which itself is delicate, acts as a veil for it. And its glory/appearance is so extensive and powerful that not merely the spring, but rather the 'turmoil of spring', is a veil for it. And that glory/appearance is so radiant that it flashes out even behind a veil. Thus the word 'lightning' is not merely conventional, but rather a multi-layered metaphor. (1989: 284) [2006: 308]

FWP:

SETS
GAZE: {10,12}
SPRINGTIME: {13,2}
VEIL: {6,1}

Does the spring veil the appearance, or make the appearance possible? On the former reading, the veil is there to thwart our curiosity and prevent us from seeing what is behind it; in this case the veil is a vexation and we try furiously to see what is behind it. But it's also possible that the veil is there for our protection, and that without it we'd be instantly blinded and dazzled, our senses shriveled to ashes. (Here we of course think of Hazrat Musa on Mount Tur.) Thus on this reading, only the veil makes it possible for the veiled one to appear before us at all. (And of course, the two readings are not mutually exclusive.)

The 'turmoil of spring' is itself an amazing intoxicant (see for example {152,2}), capable of driving people half-mad with delight and desire. One could wish sometimes to interpose a veil between oneself and that rush of intense emotion, when 'spring is springing'. And the Reality for whom the full flowering, the commotion in the blood, the whole rush of spring is only a 'veil', an interposition, a protection-- well, we've been given some kind of notion how powerful that Reality must be. Which is in fact the thought that the verse seems to express. The first line of the verse, after all, either rejects out of hand (1a), or seriously questions (1b), the ability of sight to see such a 'lightning of beauty' at all.