Ghazal 164, Verse 8

{164,8}

phir usii be-vafaa pah marte hai;N
phir vuhii zindagii hamaarii hai

1) again we die over only/emphatically that faithless one
2) again only/emphatically that life is ours

Notes:

Nazm:

That is, the one over whom we're dying-- upon seeing that one, we live. (177)

== Nazm page 177

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, again passion for that faithless one has been born for a second time. That is, the one over whom we previously used to die-- again we are passing the days of our live in that same way, the way they used to be spent. (238)

Bekhud Mohani:

We again give our life over that faithless one, and what previously happened to us is again happening to us.

[Or:] Again we are the lover of that faithless one, and again she is our life. (319)

FWP:

SETS
LIFE/DEATH: {7,2}

Almost the only commentary needed for this verse is a reference to the classic paradox of the lover's life-in-death and death-in-life. Ghalib himself put it as clearly as it could possibly be put, in {219,8}: in love there's 'no difference between death and life', because we only 'live' through seeing the one over whom we 'die'.

The meaning of kisii par marnaa is not 'to die for someone' in the sense of sacrificing one's life (as in {164,7}), but is more like the idiomatic uses of 'I'm dying for her to notice me' or 'I'm dying for a drink'. I've tried to reflect this distinction by using 'die over' instead of 'die for'.

What kind of a 'life' is it, that's based on dying? And what kind of 'dying' is it, that goes on and on, and recurs again [phir] or repeatedly? Whichever line we look at, we're bounced off a kind of reflective surface of paradox-- back toward the other line, which is equally opaque. Meaning becomes a kind of tennis ball, being volleyed back and forth with no escape in sight.

In particular, it's possible to read the second line, with its impenetrable simplicity, in several ways: (1) we've fallen in love again, so again our life consists of constantly, metaphorically 'dying for' that faithless one; (2) again and again we die over her, and again and again we find ourselves (magically? mystically?) revived, with that very same life restored to us; (3) we keep dying over her, and that very process of perpetually dying now constitutes our 'life'.

In its extreme structural simplicity this verse is reminiscent of {164,5}, though it's not quite as radical of course.

Compare Mir's take on the paradoxical life-in-death of the lover: M{1069,8}