Ghazal 176, Verse 6


dil-o-jigar me;N par-afshaa;N jo ek maujah-e ;xuu;N hai
ham apne za((m me;N samjhe hu))e the us ko dam aage

1a) since a single/particular/unique/excellent wave of blood is wing-fluttering in heart and liver
1b) the single/particular/unique/excellent wave of blood that is wing-fluttering in heart and liver--

2) we in our presumption/arrogance, formerly [were in a state of having] considered it [to be] a breath


zu((m , za((m : 'Thinking, presuming, speaking from belief; --self-assertion; presumption, assurance, arrogance; pride, vanity'. (Platts p.616)


He says, that which we had formerly considered a breath, is the wing-fluttering of a wave of blood. That is, grief has made the heart and liver into blood. People of [poetic] temperament will say, how will the breath go into the liver, and it's not as if the heart is a lung [riyah]! And in Persian they call the lung shush , and in Urdu phaphe;Raa . But no poet has used any of these three words, because they are uneloquent [;Gair fa.sii;h]. It's a strange chance: when the Urdu word seems uneloquent, then at that time the poet takes a word from Persian or Arabic-- here, the Arabic and Persian words too are not worthy of being taken! (198)

== Nazm page 198

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, that which we were considering a breath is the wing-fluttering of a wave of blood. The meaning is that grief has turned the heart and liver to blood. (256)

Bekhud Mohani:

[Disagreeing with Nazm:] This meaning does not emerge from the words. Mirza says, we in our presumption-- that is, error-- had considered it to be breath. In reality, it turned out to be a wave of blood. That is, what we had considered to be breath turned out in reality to be the wing-fluttering of a single wave of blood. That is, the inflow and outflow of breath is based on the movement of blood; the moment this is shut down, life has reached its end. Thus in reality the movement of blood and man's life have been established as one single thing. (347)


JIGAR: {2,1}

In his high metaphorical mode, Ghalib has 'wing-fluttering' verses (see {6,2}); and 'wave of blood' verses (see {46,5}). Here the two are juxtaposed most strikingly, as a 'wave of blood' is seen to be 'wing-fluttering'. But that's not the end of the remarkable play of metaphors, for this wing-fluttering blood-wave both is and is not identified with the lover's 'breath'. Moreover, it's ek wave-- and is that little word a limiting condition ('single', 'particular'), or a form of specially lavish praise ('excellent', 'unique')?

In any case, in the past the 'wave of blood' was identified with the speaker's breath: he 'used to think' the two things were the same, so it's clear that he doesn't think this any more. And we can tell that even in the past his belief was in error: it was a mere 'assumption' or 'belief' on his part, and maybe even a sign of 'arrogance' or 'pride', as we see from the meanings of the unusual word za((m . (In English, 'presumption' too can have both these senses.) In fact this is the only appearance of za((m in the divan, so it surely deserves some credit as a 'fresh word'.

In the present, the identification is clearly rejected ('formerly', the speaker 'used to have' this 'presumption'). As in the previous verse, {176,5}, the clever use and positioning of jo in the first line gives two possible readings. Why is this former 'presumption' now rejected? Because the speaker used to think he was alive, and now he realizes that he is really only a kind of zombie, sustained by blood-waves instead of breaths? Because he used to think his grief was endurable (or at least that he was enduring it), and now realizes that it has instead destroyed him irrevocably? (The idea that someone's heart and/or liver turned to blood has something like the colloquial force of 'he ate his heart out' in English.) There's also the question of tone: is the speaker reporting ruefully, sorrowfully, bitterly, humorously, detachedly? Only the reader can/must decide.

This verse also has a kind of visual playfulness. Look at the words it offers us in the second line: ham and za((m and dam . They all rhyme, and they also all evoke the missing word that hovers just overhead and shapes the mood of the verse: ;Gam . A slightly skewed dot in za((m could even put it right there on the page; but we hardly need that. We know it's there.

On samajhnaa as 'to consider', see {90,3}.