Ghazal 194, Verse 2


sirishk-e sar bah .sa;hraa daadah nuur ul-((ain-e daaman hai
dil-e be-dast-o-paa uftaadah bar-;xvurdaar-e bistar hai

1) the teardrop {of the one with the given-to-the-desert head / with the given-to-the-desert head} is the light of the eye of the garment-hem
2) the heart {of the hand-and-foot-less fallen one / that has fallen hand-and-footless} is the glory/boast/servant of the bedding


be-dast-o-paa : 'Without hands and feet'; without power or authority; without resources; helpless'. (Platts p.203)


uftaadah : 'Fallen, lying flat or horizontally; lying waste or untilled (land); poor, wretched, helpless'. (Platts p.61)


bar : 'Breast, bosom, chest... ; --fruit'. (Platts p.143)


bar-;xvurdaar : 'Happy, enjoying long life and prosperity; receiving a daily allowance; glorying, boasting'. (Steingass p. 172)


bar-;xvurdaar : 'Prosperous, successful, happy, enjoying long life and prosperity; blessed with a family of sons; --male issue, son, child'. (Platts p.143)


The tear is the pupil of the eye of the garment-hem, and the bedding is the desired object of the invalid; that is, the tear always remains in the garment-hem; and from the sick heart's always remaining fallen on the bedding, it has acquired affection for the bedding. (217)

== Nazm page 217

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, every one of my tears is the pupil of the eye of the garment-hem; and my sick heart has become the cherished offspring of the bedding. The meaning is that because of excess of weeping, the garment-hem has acquired affection for the tear; and the bedding of sorrow has come to have heartfelt affection for the sick heart. (277)

Bekhud Mohani:

The tear, which always keeps desert-wandering in the wilderness of the garment-hem, is the pupil of the eye of the garment-hem; and my heart, sorrowful and oppressed, is the cherished one of the coquetry of the bedding. That is, I always remain sick and always weep; the tears keep falling on the garment-hem, and the oppressed heart can't move from the bedding-- as if for the tears the garment-hem, and for the heart the bedding, are the embrace of a mother.... Saying 'light of the eyes' is also because the glance goes afar off; thus its being lowered with the force of the tears makes this desert-wanderer the light of the eye of the garment-hem. (383)


'Desert' and 'garment-hem' indeed have a wordplay, because they say 'the outskirts of the desert' [daaman-e .sa;hraa], but... in this verse there's no cause to suppose that 'garment-hem' is a metaphor for 'desert'....

The weeping person's intention or thought was that he would weep so many tears that they would become a stream of tears and reach to the desert. Or the tears would have emerged so forcefully that it would be as if their intention would reach to the desert. But they came only to the garment-hem and stayed there. Their coming to the garment-hem and staying there can be that in reality the tears didn't have enough strength to reach to the desert. Or else that the garment-hem was so wide that the tears got lost in the midst of it. In both cases, the poet's tone can be called sarcastic; and this sarcasm is directed toward himself. The tears remained only in the garment-hem, as though they were very dear to the garment-hem....

In Urdu they use bar-;xvurdaar to mean 'offspring' or 'dear son'. But in Persian this meaning doesn't exist.... bar-;xvurdaar-e bistar is a Persian construction. According to Ghalib's point of view, to suppose that in this construction the Urdu meaning is present will be entirely incorrect.... Ghalib's opinion was that if a Persian word would come to have an Urdu meaning, then it shouldn't be in a [Persian] construction.... Thus keeping in view Ghalib's normal practice, in this verse the term ought to be considered to have its Persian meaning alone.

In various Persian dictionaries [the meanings include:] (1) happy and prosperous; (2) having a long life; (3) receiving a daily stipend; (4) proud and boastful; (5) household goods, utensils, etc.; (6) one whose desires have been fulfilled and whose needs have been satisfied; (7) obtaining advantage from, receiving from, somebody (Steingass, shams ul-lu;Gaat , bahaar-e ((ajam ).... For the verse under discussion, the most suitable meanings are (3) and (7)....

But neither should the Urdu meaning of bar-;xvurdaar be neglected. A son is also called a 'light of the eyes'. Thus between nuur ul-((ain and bar-;xvurdaar [as son] there's the pleasure of a .zil((a . Ghalib's mischievousness has taken advantage of the word daadah [as daadaa , 'paternal grandfather'] as another .zil((a as well....

Both lines are divided into two parts, and the first parts of both lines are metrically identical, and internally rhymed ( daadah , uftaadah ); in this way an attractive parallelism arises in the verse....

The teardrop emerges from the eye, and there is water in it. In this regard to call the tear the 'light of the eye' gives extra pleasure. One of the special features of the heart is 'fallenness' [uftaadagii]; in this regard, to call the heart 'hand-and-footless' is also not devoid of pleasure. (1989: 316-19) [2006: 345-48]



The two lines are intriguingly parallel, in ways that help the reader put them together. As an extra treat, the first line has daadah , and the second line has -taadah , in the same metrical position: one that spans the midpoint of the line. The effect is to give the verse a particularly rich sense of internal rhyme.

The body wordplay is obvious: 'teardrop'; 'head'; 'eyes'; 'heart'; 'hand and foot'; 'breast' [bar]; there's also almost another 'head' [sar] in 'teardrop', for sirishk was also sometimes pronounced sarashk , and whether or not the aural rhyme existed, the visual wordplay would remain intact. Other forms of wordplay are pointed out by Faruqi.

I can't see much going on in the verse besides the wordplay. The most promising place to look would be the paradoxical 'teardrop' of the 'desert'-devoted head. But not much can be done with it, because in order for the tears to constantly fall on the garment-hem, as the logic of the verse requires, the eyes can't be aimed off into the distance, gazing toward the desert. So we're reduced to a 'desert' that exists only in a 'head', and thus works only as a generalized metaphor for madness or grief. We can always invoke {17,2}, but then the second line absolutely refuses to offer us any connection: it's concerned only with the lover's helplessness and the devotion of the bedding. So complex, interlocked wordplay remains the verse's stock in trade-- and not such a bad one, either, for a poem two lines long.

Compare the very different attitude of the bedding toward the lover in the previous verse, {194,1}.