Ghazal 177, Verse 7


naalah jaataa thaa pare ((arsh se meraa aur ab
lab tak aataa hai jo aisaa hii rasaa hotaa hai

1) my lament used to go beyond the heavens, and now
2) the one that comes as far as the lip-- only/emphatically such a one is [habitually] attaining/capable


rasaa : 'Arriving, attaining; causing to arrive (used as last member of compounds); quick of apprehension, acute, sharp, penetrating, skilful, capable, clever; --mixing or mingling (with); amiable; well-received, welcome'. (Platts p.591)


In this verse 'my' is unnecessary, and is useless. If in place of this word there were the word 'formerly' [pahle], then the beauty/elegance of the contrast with 'now' in the verse would have been greater. And the author here indeed intends a contrast-- that is, formerly there was such turmoil and commotion that the lament went as far as the heavens, and now there's such weakness and failure that it comes with difficulty as far as the lip. (199)

== Nazm page 199

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, once [yaa to] there was such a mood that my lament passed through the seven celestial spheres and arrived at the Gate of Responsiveness; now [yaa ab] through weakness and inability my condition is such that the lament that is extremely attaining/capable comes as far as the lip. Otherwise a commonplace lament becomes lost in the breast itself and remains there. (257-58)

Bekhud Mohani:

[Disagreeing with Nazm:] In this verse 'my' is not redundant. From not saying 'my', the verse becomes somewhat vitiated. By saying 'my' he has created force. That is, not anyone else's lament-- it is my lament through which the importance of a lament is manifest. The verb 'used to go' itself tells us that it's the state of a former time; to say 'formerly' was not necessary. To say 'my' was better than to say 'formerly'. (349)


SKY {15,7}

The obvious reading is the one that the commentators offer: formerly the lover's laments were very powerful, and reached to the highest heavens and even beyond; while now, presumably because of his extreme weakness, even the strongest and most (relatively, or purportedly) 'successful' of his laments can barely reach as far as his lips. But the first line doesn't end, as it easily could have, in 'but now' [par ab], which would have helped to lock that reading into place. Instead, it ends in 'and now' [aur ab], which pointedly refuses to contrast the two situations in any other way than temporally. We also notice that he first line doesn't attribute to that wild, showy, beyond-the-heavens lament any special success.

Moreover, the word rasaa also gives a strong hint of another reading. The speaker's laments used to be wild and fierce, he used to roar and rage and create a turmoil that was audible throughout the cosmos. By now, however, he has learned better: in fact the most successful, the most 'reaching', 'attaining', 'penetrating', etc. (see the definition above) kind of lament is not the noisiest-- rather, it's the quiet, subtle kind that (only?) reaches to the lip. Is this because mystical insight has taught him that there's no need to shout in order to be heard by God? Is it because the beloved hates it when he yells and screams? Is it because whispered laments succeed in relieving his heart, without splitting his eardrums-- and that makes them as 'successful' as any laments can possibly be? As so often, it's left for us to decide on the kind of advantage-- if in fact it really is an advantage-- that makes whispered laments so particularly 'successful'.

As a possible case in point, consider {5,3}, in which the lover speaks of a former state in which his fiery sights burned the wings of the imaginary bird, and a present state in which he's 'beyond' even that.