Ghazal 209, Verse 3


vuh neshtar sahii par dil me;N jab utar jaave
nigaah-e naaz ko phir kyuu;N nah aashnaa kahiye

1) it is a lancet, {no doubt / indeed}; but when it would go down into the heart
2) why would one not, then, call the glance/gaze of coquetry a friend/beloved?


neshtar is a variant form of nashtar


nigaah : 'Look, glance, sight, view, regard; consideration; —look, aspect (of); —watching, observation, attention'. (Platts p.1150)


jaave is an archaic form of jaa))e (GRAMMAR).


aashnaa : 'Acquaintance; friend; associate; intimate friend, familiar; lover, sweetheart; paramour; mistress, concubine'. (Platts p.57)


dil me;N utar jaanaa and dil-nishiin ho jaana and dil ko lag jaanaa -- the meaning of all these idioms is that the heart accepted something, and believed it. (237)

== Nazm page 237

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, we admit that the glance of coquetry too is a lancet. But when it would go down into the heart-- that is, would become seated in the heart-- and the heart would accept it, then what objection is there to calling the glance of coquetry a friend/beloved? (295)

Bekhud Mohani:

Granted that the glance of coquetry is a lancet, but when it has gone down into the heart-- that is, when the heart has liked it-- then it's not a stranger, it's not an enemy, it's one's own. (422)


GAZE: {10,12}

The first line begins with a concession: well, no doubt it's a lancet, agreed that it's a lancet. (On the idiomatic senses of sahii , see {9,4}.) However, some sort of qualification is to be provided: 'but when it would go down into the heart...'. We're left with the incomplete grammar of enjambment, and under mushairah performance conditions we'll have to wait before being allowed to hear the completion of the thought in the second line.

While we wait, we of course keep turning over the first line in our minds, and we notice one thing: this quasi-lancet is certainly more deadly and wicked than any normal lancet. For more on the lancet and the concept of 'bleeding', see {166,2}. The idea that a lancet would be inserted deep into the heart sounds like murder, not medical practice. Perhaps the second line will give us a sinister scenario like that of {14,3}. And the first line is set up in a way that makes this guess quite plausible-- 'well, no doubt it's a lancet, but it's used as a dagger, it kills and doesn't cure'.

When we finally hear the second line, we learn at once that the 'lancet' in question is in fact a 'glance/gaze of coquetry'. Why is it called a lancet? Obviously, we realize, because it's sharp and pierces the flesh. Then we receive another quasi-definition for it: why shouldn't this 'glance of coquetry' that is a 'lancet' also be called a 'friend/beloved'? The connection is easy to see: as the commentators explain, a loved one is idiomatically said to be 'seated in the heart' or to have 'gone down into the heart'.

There's the small pleasure of solving the little riddle ('why is a coquettish glance like a lancet?'), but the larger metaphorical equations are more unsettling-- and, as so often, entirely unresolvable. If the 'glance of coquetry' is a lancet, then it's a lancet that's being misused as a murder weapon (by being thrust deep into the heart, rather than merely opening a vein just beneath the skin). So perhaps this kind of sinister behavior should be seen as the quality of the 'glance of coquetry' as well?

The 'glance of coquetry' may be called a 'friend/beloved' because it's the role of a friend/beloved to penetrate into the heart-- but does that mean that the glance/friend/beloved would 'penetrate' the heart the way a 'lancet'-dagger would? Would the 'glance of coquetry' that is a 'friend/beloved' stab the lover to death? Maybe so-- and maybe that would even be the ultimate favor (see {19,4} for a case in point). Perhaps the 'glance of coquetry' can be an ordinary lancet too-- a beneficial medical tool, that relieves too much passion or 'congestion' in the blood. Perhaps that's why only when it would penetrate fatally into the heart, would it be called a 'friend/beloved'.

The verse leaves us, in short, with a sort of triptych: 'lancet in the heart' equals 'glance of coquetry' equals 'friend/beloved'. What exactly we make of the conjoined metaphors is, as so often, up to us.

On the idiomatically flexible use of kahiye , see {209,1}.