Ghazal 186, Verse 2


achchhaa hai sar-angusht-e ;hinaa))ii kaa ta.savvur
dil me;N na:zar aatii to hai ik buu;Nd lahuu kii

1) It's good, the imagining of the hennaed fingertip
2) in the heart comes into view, {indeed / at least}, a single/particular/unique/excellent drop of blood


ta.savvur : 'Imaging or picturing (a thing) to the mind; imagination, fancy; reflection, contemplation, meditation; forming an idea; idea, conception, perception, apprehension. (Platts p.326)


The word to that is in the second line produces the meaning that because of continually weeping blood from the eyes, in the heart not a single drop of blood remained. Thus he considers the image of the beloved's hennaed finger a lucky break, for because of it a drop of blood can be seen in the heart.

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, pp. 160-61


For the fingertip to become red with henna and turn into a drop of blood-- what a good simile it is!.... The beauty of the fingertip was seen through the eye; another excellence in this simile is that the fingertip that would become equal to a drop of blood-- how delicate that fingertip must be! And implication is always more eloquent than explication.... The redness of the drop, and the form of the drop, both come together to make a cause of similitude.... Most importantly, this is a new simile; no one has versified it before.

Then, look at the author's splendid skill/experience [shaan-e mashshaaqii], that having found a new thing, he doesn't emphasize it.... How the word to has revealed the situation of speech-- that is, this verse is spoken by one whose blood has already dried up, and he is comforting his heart with an imaginary thing! (207)

== Nazm page 207; Nazm page 208

Bekhud Mohani:

Compare {48,6}. (109)

From this verse the conclusion necessarily emerges that although from constantly enduring the sufferings of passion not a trace of blood remains in the body, and we have no strength left at all, still the image of her, the memory of her, can't by any means be erased from the heart. (366)


HENNA: {18,4}

Nazm observes that the beloved's hennaed fingertip could resemble, in color and shape, a drop of blood. (For more about henna, see {18,4}.) Or else her imagined fingertip might poke or prod the heart, somehow contriving to elicit one last barely-surviving drop of blood. Or else the very thought itself (of her fingertip) might goad or stimulate the heart and elicit that last blood-drop. As so often, we can't tell whether the 'hennaed fingertip' and the 'drop of blood' are the same thing, or different. And since the whole experience is one of 'imagining' anyway, it hardly matters.

Moreover, it might not be a mere 'single' or 'last' drop of blood, but a 'particular' or 'unique' or 'excellent' one instead (or in addition). The semantic versatility of that little ik is a powerful tool that Ghalib loves to use. Here, as usual, he's careful not to dilute its ambiguity by adding any other description at all.

Note for translation fans: In the second line, how to translate that colloquial, vital, but elusive to ? Positioned where it is, it's not part of an implied 'when-then' or 'if-then' structure. It qualifies na:zar aatii hai -- but how, exactly? It's easy to feel its force in Urdu, but impossible to find a really satisfying counterpart expression for it in English.