Ghazal 177, Verse 4


((ishq kii raah me;N hai char;x-e mukaukab kii vuh chaal
sust-ruu jaise ko))ii aabilah-paa hotaa hai

1) on/in the road of passion, the star-marked sphere has that gait--
2) {slack/weak/sluggish}-moving, just as [habitually] is some blister-footed one


sust : 'Indisposed, heavy, languid; feeble, weak; dejected, downcast; unbraced, relaxed, lax, slack, loose; sluggish, inactive, slow, dull, depressed (as a market, &c.); indolent, slothful, idle, lazy, dilatory, tardy, negligent, remiss'. (Platts p.660)


By saying mukaukab -- that is, 'star-possessing'-- he has made manifest the sphere's being blister-footed, and he's given for the stars the simile of blisters. (199)

== Nazm page 199

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, on the road of passion the starry sky moves the way someone with blistered feet moves, very slowly and with difficulty. By calling the sky the 'starry sphere' he has established its being blister-footed. (257)

Bekhud Mohani:

On the road of passion the starry sky moves slowly, like a person on whose feet there would be blisters. between the stars and blisters there is a simile. (348)



To the lover, who walks painfully 'on the road of passion', the nights of separation-- and they're the only kind of nights he really knows-- seem to go on forever (as witness their immeasurableness in {97,2}). The night sky in its slow turning seems to creep along sluggishly, feebly, painfully, the way a person with blistered feet walks. And why is its movement like that? The 'objective correlative', the hinge on which the two lines pivot, is the equation of the stars with blisters. After all, they look white, as blisters often do; they are round and small and numerous, as blisters often are. The heavenly sphere is above us; if it moved, its 'feet' would be visible from below-- the soles of its feet, in fact, which are the most plausible places for blisters. It may sound a little strange for the stars to have feet, but after all, they have eyes (see {14,8} for proof), so why not feet as well?

Although the verse doesn't develop the kind of excessive physical vividness about the blisters that {39,3} itself does, I'd still put it in the 'grotesquerie' category (for more on this, see {39,3}). To look up at the stars and see them as blisters on the feet of the night sky-- who needs it? The worst of it is that, as in {69,1}, to imagine blisters on feet is to imagine their bursting-- and do we really want to envision a rain of the fluid from burst blisters coming down on us from the celestial sphere?

Of course, the reply can be made that the lover thinks of everything in the light of his own situation, and since he himself constantly has blistered feet from his barefoot wandering in the desert, that's the only way he can account for his own endless nights: that they are dragged out by the extreme slowness of the heavenly sphere's blister-footed movement. Which is true, but it doesn't really get rid of the problem. For if we don't link the stars and the blisters tightly together, the verse's structure has no connection, no raison d'etre: why then would the stars move like a blister-footed person rather than like a dammed-up river, or like a child's top that is losing momentum, or like any other slow thing in the world?