Ghazal 172, Verse 6x


saaz-e iimaa-e fanaa hai ((aalam-e piirii asad
qaamat-e ;xam se hai ;haa.sil sho;xii-e abruu mujhe

1) a maker/making of allusion to oblivion/death, is the state of old age, Asad
2) through the bent stature is obtained the mischievousness of an eyebrow, to/for me


saaz : 'Making, effecting, preparing; feigning;-- maker;... concord, harmony; a musical instrument'. (Platts p.625)


iimaa : 'Sign, nod, beck, hint, suggestion, indirect reference or allusion; emblem, symptom'. (Platts p.115)


fanaa : 'Vanishing, passing away, being ended and finished; being old, frail; annihilation, mortality; frailty, transientness, fleetingness'. (Steingass p.939)


That is, the bent stature, which has the similitude of an eyebrow. From it the suggestion is created, 'Now go along!'. The word 'mischievousness' is entirely for padding, and is inappropriate!

== Zamin, p. 341

Gyan Chand:

Like a finger, an eyebrow too is used for gesturing. The beloved's eyebrow, out of mischievousness, makes to me a gesture of oblivion/death. In old age, the bentness of my stature is like the beloved's eyebrow. So to speak, this too is gesturing me toward oblivion. saaz-e iimaa = equipment for a gesture.

== Gyan Chand, p. 348



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself.For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

We can be sure that if the bent back of old age resembles a 'mischievous' eyebrow, the eyebrow can only be that of the beloved. What other eyebrow would the lover ever even notice, much less care enough about to use it in a metaphor? It's also possible that when the beloved sees his bent back, she then gestures to him by means of a raised eyebrow.

In either case, the 'mischievousness' of the eyebrow-lifting gesture lies in its ambiguity. What does her raised eyebrow mean? Does it show surprise (that what's-his-name is still around)? Does it hint that she is paying special attention, and will deal with him later? Does it show displeasure (since it's high time for him to leave the field)? Does it suggest that she might finally be ready to finish him off (as he longs for her to do)? In any case, Zamin is surely wrong to condemn the sho;xii as mere 'padding'.

'Natural poetry' fans should note that when Ghalib composed this seemingly personal 'old-age' verse, he was something like twenty years old. More such examples: {85,8}. For more on the problems of 'natural poetry' readings, see {66,1}.

For a truly brilliant use of the bent-back image, see Mir's M{17,8}.