Ghazal 197, Verse 3x

{197,3x}

agar nah hove rag-e ;xvaab .sarf-e shiiraazah
tamaam daftar-e rab:t-e mizaaj darham hai

1) if the vein of sleep/dream would not be used/expended as a binding-thread
2) the whole account-book of the connection/'binding' of the temperament is jumbled/confused

Notes:

;xvaab : 'Sleep; dream, vision'. (Platts p.494)

 

.sarf : 'Turning; changing, converting; change, conversion; shifting or vicissitude (of fortune); passing, using, employing; use, employment; expending; expenditure'. (Platts p.744)

 

daftar : 'A roll, scroll, list; an index; a bundle of papers or written documents tied together in a cloth; a record, register, journal, book, volume, account-book'. (Platts p.519)

 

rab:t : 'Binding, connecting, uniting; connexion, bond, relation, dependence; consistency, fixity; friendship, intercourse; familiarity, practice, habit, use'. (Platts p.586)

 

dar-ham : 'Intermixed, intertwined, entangled, intricate, confused, confounded, jumbled, higgledy-piddledy; — afflicted; vexed, angry'. (Platts p.514)

Asi:

If the vein of sleep would not keep acting as a binding-thread for the signatures [ajzaa] of the temperament, then all the record-books of the temperament would become jumbled and defective-- that is, the temperament would be destroyed. According to the principles of medicine [:tibb], if sleep is ruined, an alteration in the personality takes place. This is correct, but I don't understand whether this is a verse, or a medical prescription. (296)

Gyan Chand:

The rag-e ;xvaab is the vein in a person which, if it would be pressed, unconsciousness would come over the person. The poet always gives to suffering and death, preference over peace and signs of life. He says that if the 'vein of unconsciousness' would not intervene and render a person unconscious, then the whole account-book of the temperament would become topsy-turvy. That is, in the state of consciousness a person's temperament remains anxious/disordered and distracted. What brings the whole body under the sway of a single condition is the vein of unconsciousness.

Asi considered the rag-e ;xvaab to have only the meaning of sleep, and wrote the meaning that through sleep a person's temperament becomes better, but in this way the verse becomes a medical prescription.

== Gyan Chand, p. 434

FWP:

SETS == WORDPLAY
DREAMS: {3,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

On the shiiraazah and book-binding technology, see {10,12}.


Asi here reveals one of the weaknesses of the 'natural poetry' approach: if a verse is basically to be equated with its prose meaning, then a commentator can say disdainfully, as Asi does, 'I don't understand whether this is a verse, or a medical prescription'. Let's help him out here: it's a verse. No medical prescription would analogize a 'vein of sleep' to a 'binding-thread', and then go on to muster an enjoyable set of imagery from the world of book-making and account-keeping: .sarf , shiiraazah , daftar , rab:t , dar-ham .

Moreover, the verse praises sleep in a far more heartfelt, existential way than any medical prescription could match. It reminds me of Macbeth's similar praise in Act II, Scene 2, of 'innocent sleep'-- which comes just when he feels that such sleep has abandoned him forever:

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.

But even more to the point, the verse may not be as much about sleep, as about dreams. Are our lives not held together by our dreams, our sleep, our inner visions? Is this not true in a much deeper sense than the simple medical one?

Compare the gorgeous {10,12}, in which the 'binding-thread' is not our rag-e ;xvaab , but our gaze.