Ghazal 189, Verse 8


mun;ha.sir marne pah ho jis kii umiid
naa-umiidii us kii dekhaa chaahiye

1) he whose hope would be {dependent on / restricted to} dying--
2) his hopelessness ought to be seen!


mun;ha.sir : 'Restrained; restricted; confined; surrounded, encompassed, besieged, beleaguered, hemmed in; —contained, comprehended; —limited; defined; —dependent, resting (on)'. (Platts p.1073)


[1850, to Haqir:] I owe you the answer to a letter, but what can I do, I'm feeling very grief-stricken and melancholy. Now living in this city displeases me, and so many obstacles and barriers have accumulated that I can't leave it. In short, my sorrow and misery are such that now I live only on the hope of dying [marne kii tavaqqu(( par jiitaa huu;N]. Alas! -- {189,8}.

==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 3, p. 1090
==another trans.: Russell and Islam, p.72


[1859, to Navab Yusuf Mirza:] Brother! Even before this I considered that these possessions had been murdered, and that the one and a quarter lakh [=125,000] of gold rupees that has been given in addition to the amount agreed upon is the blood-price of the possessions in Delhi. The day before yesterday I sent the sheet with the complete list of possessions, along with the letter addressed to Nazir-ji ['the Manager']. Well, this shot too missed its mark. Maulana Ghalib, may God have mercy upon him, very finely says, {189,8}.

==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 2, p. 779
==another trans.: Russell and Islam, p. 223 [with more background information]
==another trans.: Daud Rahbar, p. 225. Daud Rahbar identifies Nazir-ji as "the addressee's maternal uncle, Husain Mirza. He had been the manager of the Delhi real estate holdings of the Kings of Avadh. His family had also owned property in Delhi which had been confiscated by the British in the aftermath of the Muslim [sic] uprising of 1857 and which the family had petitioned to have restored to them." (pp. 577-78)


[1866?, to Surur:] His Excellency has come up with a new way to entrap me. He has scattered the seed of seeing [the Indo- Persian prose romance] buustaan-e ;xayaal . How could I have the strength to fly? What the hell [balaa se]-- if I become entrapped, then I would pick up the seeds that have fallen to the ground under the net! Sir, the truth is that the 'griefs of {livelihood / the world}' [;Gamhaa-e rozgaar] have surrounded me [see {20,7}]. I can't take a breath, they have made me so oppressed. I've thought over everything in a hundred ways, but the heart has found no comfort at all. Now I think two things: one is that as long as I live I'll continue to weep like this; the other is that finally, one day or another, I'll die. This is the short and the long of it, in my heart. The result of it, is peace. Alas: {189,8}. [This passage is full of uncapturable rhymed prose effects.]

==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 2, pp. 620-21


Perhaps nobody would have expressed the extremity of despair beyond this, or with such excellence as this.

Urdu text:  Yadgar-e Ghalib, p.126


That is, if the hope would be attained by dying, then what of it? (211)

== Nazm page 211

Bekhud Mohani:

The limit of hopelessness would be that the fulfillment of a man's hope would depend on his death....

[Disagreeing with Nazm:] Oh Lord, what connection does this meaning have with the verse? The worthy commentator has not been pleased to take a glance at the word 'dependent'. Some people say, 'he whose hope is this-- what will his hopelessness be?'. That is, it is somewhat greater. The reply to this is that when the words are looked at, they are beautiful; but alas that there's no meaning in them. (370)


Compare {95,6}. (225, 289)



On the grammar of dekhaa chaahiye , see {1,3}.

The comparison with {95,6} suggested by Arshi is absolutely perfect. The present verse seems less complex and subtle than {95,6}, but the similarities are very strong.

Depending on where we place the emphasis in the first line, here are some possible readings:

=If this (that is, dying) is his hope, then that person's current state-- of hopelessness and general despair-- must be so extreme that it would be worth seeing.

=If his only hope for achieving some (unspecified) goal depends on his dying, then how utterly, hopelessly miserable he must be to find himself still alive, and as yet unable to die!

=If he hopes for nothing else but death, then what must be his despair of life itself, and how awful his misery at being unable to die!

=If this is his hope, then if we ever had a chance to see his hopelessness, his despair-- what a sight that would be!

=If this is someone's wretched situation even toward hope, then his hopelessness would be uniquely terrible and worth seeing (in a way that nobody else's would be).

Of the three letters in which this verse is quoted, the first two are undoubtedly grim. But the third one, with its amusing imagery of a bird being caught by the alluring bait of a Persian romance, and its wittily rhymed prose, is much more cheerful. It reminds us that Ghalib often quotes his own poetry not just to saturate the letter with its emotional content, but also to show off its literary effects.

Note for meter fans: In {95,6} Ghalib scans ummiid normally, with a tashdiid ; in the present verse, he scans it without one; this is permissible, for metrical convenience.

Inside Akbar's elaborate tomb, his simple grave-chamber: