Ghazal 154, Verse 1

{154,1}

garm-e faryaad rakhaa shakl-e nihaalii ne mujhe
tab amaa;N hijr me;N dii bard-e liyaalii ne mujhe

1) it made me eager/'hot' to lament, the form/shape of the {young plant / bedding}
2) then it gave me ease/security in separation, the coldness of the nights

Notes:

nihaalii : 'A young plant; --a quilt; a mattress, or bedding (stuffed with cotton); a cushion; --a species of small carpet (with a short pile)'. (Platts p.1162)

 

bard : 'Cold, coldness, frigidity'. (Platts p.146)

 

liyaalii is the plural of lail , 'night'. (Steingass p.1134)

Ghalib:

[1866:] [After some difficulties in traveling] I stayed in a smallish house in the sarai of Muradabad. Hungry and thirsty, I wrapped myself in a blanket and lay there. I passed the time till morning reciting this verse of mine: {154,1}.
==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 3, p.1221

Nazm:

That is, having seen the form of the bedding, I became eager to lament: 'alas, that this form would be near me, and would not be my beloved!' And after my having become 'hot' to lament, the coldness of the night of separation saved my life. (166)

== Nazm page 166

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, having seen the form of the bedding, I became absorbed in lamentation: 'alas, that this form would be near me, and would not be my beloved!' My being 'hot' to lament saved my life from the cold of the night of separation; otherwise, I would have died. (222)

Bekhud Mohani:

The meaning is that if the lover doesn't have the beloved, he can't get to sleep. (298)

FWP:

SETS == OPPOSITES; WORDPLAY

How often in Urdu would we ever expect to find bard-e liyaalii to express the coldness of the nights? Is this kind of thing just a metrical convenience, or a display of erudition-- or am I missing some kind of wordplay? The only wordplay I see in the verse is the excellent use of tab , which means 'then' but also of course 'heat' ( since it's equivalent to tap ).

The piquant thing in the verse is the nihaalii . The first meaning is 'a young plant'-- are we to imagine the beloved's lovely sinuous form as that of a rose, or perhaps a vine or creeper (as is so common in Sanskrit poetry)? If so, then perhaps the lover's passionate lamentation generates so much heat that only (the thought of?) the coldness of the nights-- a sign of winter, when the life of a 'young plant' would be over and it would have been killed by frost-- enables him to achieve a measure of calm.

The commentators prefer the second meaning, which seems to be some kind of quilt, mattress, or bedding. But it's hard to tell what there is about its 'form, shape' [shakl] that is so erotic. Is it just because it's bedding, and thus associated with bed? Or is there some way that it might be decorated or folded-- in the shape, say, of a bedroll-- that would suggest a human form? And why exactly would the coldness of the nights bring peace? Because then the lover needs to be wrapped in the quilts, bedding, etc., that evoke the beloved's form or presence? Or, on the contrary, because the agitated lover becomes so 'hot' to lament that he flings off the quilts, bedding, etc. (so that he's in 'separation' from them, in a way), and then the night air cools him down?