Ghazal 196, Verse 1


faryaad kii ko))ii lai nahii;N hai
naalah paaband-e nai nahii;N hai

1) there's no melody/tune for a complaint
2) a lament is not bound by the reed-flute


paa-band honaa : 'To be clogged or fettered, &c.; to be bound (by), be ruled or guided (by), to observe, follow, conform (to)'. (Platts p.213)


That is, only the utterance that's from the heart creates an effect; and in verbal devices and ornamentation there's no attraction. (221)

== Nazm page 221

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, for a lament there's no need of any melody. That is, in uncontrollableness there's no place for ornamentation. The lament of the heart is not bound by the flute. The meaning is that the effect that's in the sigh of the heart is not present in artificial complaint and lamentation. (278)

Bekhud Mohani:

As if the beloved or someone else has said, 'You don't even know how to weep'. In answer to this he says, 'Sir, one who weeps, will weep in whatever way the tears come to him. This is not a song, in which there would be rules of measure and tune, and need for an instrument.'

[Or:] The author has with great beauty given the lament preference over melodies. That is, a lament is a natural thing. It's free from man-made rules. Thus there's no need for a flute....

[Disagreeing with Nazm:] It's true that an utterance that's from the heart will have an effect. But no connection between it and this verse is apparent. (386)


MUSIC: {10,3}

I'm glad Bekhud Mohani took aim at Nazm, because he's perfectly right. What Nazm says is the classic, fundamentalist 'natural-poetry' doctrine, and this verse certainly doesn't support any such reading. In fact an obvious and powerful pleasure of this gnomic verse is that we can't tell how to read it. Does the verse imply that complaints and laments are worse than music, or better than music, or can't we tell?

=If they are worse, then the verse could be the lover's rueful apology for the tunelessness and roughness of his complaints-- 'I really can't help it, laments are simply like that, they pay no attention to musical rules, they don't follow any flute' (on reed-flutes see {10,3}).

=If they are better, then the verse could be the lover's proud boast of superior authenticity-- 'Musicians try to charm you by following their melodic rules, they are helplessly bound to their flutes-- but I don't give a damn about them, I have my own sources of authority, I have more important things on my mind!'

=If we can't tell, the verse could be a simple, neutral observation-- 'I've noticed that complaints don't have tunes, and laments don't follow musical rules'. (With the further implied question, what do we make of that observation?)

Compare this excessively toneless verse to one that's also somewhat enigmatic in its tone, but is far more powerful: {71,1}.

Note for meter fans: Every time I read this verse and come to the second line, my instincts scream in protest, and only by an effort of will can I bring myself to accept it. It's a fairly rare meter, and this is the only time in the divan that Ghalib uses it. It's flexible in a highly unusual way: the third and fourth syllables, normally both short, may be replaced at will by one long syllable. The first line of the verse is in the more common form of the meter, with the two short syllables. The second line of the verse is in the equally permissible but less common variant form, with one long syllable instead. Of all the lines in the ghazal, the only other ones that are in the variant form with the one long syllable are the second lines of {196,3} and {196,7}.