Ghazal 201, Verse 1


diyaa hai dil agar us ko bashar hai kyaa kahiye
hu))aa raqiib to ho naamah-bar hai kyaa kahiye

1) if he's given his heart to her-- he's human, 'what can you say?!'
2) if he became a Rival, then so be it-- he's a Messenger, 'what can you say?!'


bashar : 'Man, human being; mankind, mortals'. (Platts p.157)


[1853, to Haqir:] Brother, here the King has established a mushairah in the Fort, on the 15th and the 29th. His Majesty fixes one pattern line for Persian, and one for Rekhtah. This time, when the mushairah of the 30th of Jumadi us-Sani [April 9, 1853] took place, the pattern line for... Rekhtah was ;xumaar-e ((ishq hame;N kis qadar hai kyaa kahiye , na:zar hai kyaa kahiye , ;xabar hai kyaa kahiye . I wrote one ghazal in Persian and one in Rekhtah according to the pattern [{201}], and another in Rekhtah in which I brought out a different aspect [.suurat] of the pattern [{209}]. I am writing out all three ghazals for you. Read them, and show them to Miyan Taftah too.

==Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 3, pp. 1124-28
==another trans: Russell and Islam, pp. 83-84


When the Messenger saw the beloved, he too became a Rival. Hearing this state of affairs, he is saying the verse. In short, an expression of praise of the beloved necessarily emerges. That is, he wrote his heart-burning and recourse-seeking in a letter that was sent off. But having seen her, the Messenger lost his own heart; now he too has become a Rival. Her heart-deceiving beauty necessarily emerges. (224)

== Nazm page 224

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'If the Messenger too has become infatuated with her heart-attracting beauty, and out of his humanness has given his heart to our beloved, in this he's done no wrong. He ought not to be blamed. Our beloved's heart-attracting beauty in itself is of such fierceness that whoever sees it becomes our Rival; in this deed the Messenger has done no wrong.' He's written an extraordinarily attractive closing-verse. (282)

Bekhud Mohani:

If the Messenger became a lover of the beloved, it's no cause for astonishment-- after all, he's only human. If he lost his heart, then what of it? If he at length became our Rival, then so what? He's our Messenger, why should we be angry with him? From this verse the meaning also emerges that the beloved is so beautiful that whoever sees her helplessly loses his heart. (393-94)


This ghazal was first printed in the Dihli Urdu Akhbar of 27 April 1853, with other ghazals from the mushairah. (330)


SPEAKING: {14,4}

The rhyming elements of this whole ghazal set up what often becomes the 'inexpressibility trope', an exclamation about how something can't be described, or a claim that nothing can be said about it, or a kind of colloquial 'don't even ask!' sense (accompanied by rolling one's eyes). The extremely expressive and idiomatic kyaa kahiye can do this and other tricks as well, as we see in the course of the ghazal. Just to show that he can turn it all on and off at will, Ghalib also gives us {201,3}, {201,5}, {201,6}, which have been engineered to strip out the secondary effects and integrate the refrain with perfect matter-of-factness into the grammar of the line. For examples of the flexible uses of kahiye itself, see {209}.

In this verse there's all that, plus a kind of idiomatic shrug of the shoulders, so full of implication -- as well as the readings that the commentators have brought out. There's also a nice wordplay and meaning-play-- the job of the Messenger is to carry and present words, so 'what can you say?' has an enjoyable affinity with his task.