Ghazal 212, Verse 6x


naqsh-e ((ibrat dar na:zar yaa naqd-e ((ishrat dar bi.saa:t
do-jahaa;N vus((at bah qadr-e yak fa.zaa-e ;xandah hai

1) with the imprint of warning in view, or with the coin of sociability on the table
2) a two-worlds extensiveness is in proportion/greatness/fate as the expanse of a single smile/laugh


((ishrat : 'Social or familiar intercourse, pleasant and familiar conversation, society; pleasure, enjoyment, mirth'. (Platts p.761)


bisaa:t : 'Anything that is spread out; surface, expanse, expansion; carpet; bedding; chess-cloth or chess-board, dice-board; —goods, wares, &c.'. (Platts p.154)


vus((at : 'Latitude; amplitude; spaciousness; capacity; space, extent; space covered, area; dimensions; bulk; —convenience, ease; opportunity, leisure'. (Platts p.1192)


qadr : 'Greatness, dignity, honour, rank, power; importance, consequence; worth, merit; estimation, appreciation, account; value, price; —measure; degree; quantity; magnitude; bulk, size; portion, part; —whatever is fixed or ordained of God, divine providence, fate, destiny'. (Platts p.788)


fa.zaa : 'Width, spaciousness, openness, extensiveness (of ground, &c.); an open area, a court, a yard; a spacious tract, a wide expanse of land, a plain'. (Platts p.782)


The situation is that the imprints of warning are in view, and the coin of sociability is on the table. So to speak, the breadth of two worlds is in proportion to the scope of a single smile/laugh.

== Asi, p. 262


That is, those people who consider the world and all its extent to be laughable-- their gaze is a treasury of admonition, and on their spread a shop of luxury and comfort has been opened (that is, despite considering them utterly objectionable, one cannot remove them from the personality). So to speak, the extent of their laughter (to wave away the deceptiveness of the world in laughter) is such an expanse that the luxury and comfort of both worlds become contained in it.

== Zamin, p. 377

Gyan Chand:

If in a man's hand is the coin of pleasure, then so what? The imprint of warning too is in view, because of which pleasure becomes extremely compressed and brief. That which we consider to be a very large world of pleasure, with many occasions for enjoyment, is as brief as a single laugh. A laugh, with regard to both time and space, is brief. A subtle meaning of 'two worlds' can also be that the pleasure of this life and this world, and after it admonitory outcome in the next world-- both together are not more than a laugh. If you laugh, there is pleasure; when laughter is over, and pleasure is over, then-- nothing but warning.

== Gyan Chand, p. 381



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

On the possibilities of the idiomatic do-jahaa;N construction, see {18,2}. As Gyan Chand observes, it's obviously tempting to consider the two parallel clauses in the first line to represent the two worlds of the second line. Then he somehow manages to reach a final moralistic conclusion that all this is really nothing but warning or admonition: ya((nii ((ibrat hii ((ibrat . But this is clearly in violation of the verse's own logic.

For the first line begins by setting up a moralistic view of life, and then juxtaposes it in a grammatically and semantically parallel way to the pursuit of worldly pleasures. This carefully balanced structure is just what invites us to consider, in the second line, that these alternatives may well represent the 'two worlds'-- the 'two worlds' that have exactly the 'extensiveness' of the 'expanse' of a laugh/smile (see the definitions above). Moreover, the 'two worlds' can even be imagined as the two lips that together can form a smile, as in {4,10x}.

In addition to creating an enjoyable wordplay (which is reinforced by the 'spread' in the first line), the emphasis on spaciousness surely invites our attention not only to the brevity of the laugh/smile that Gyan Chand insists on, but also to its breadth and duration. After all, the ghazal world isn't exactly a stranger to astonishing micro- and macro-conflations: see {152,2} for a fine example.

Perhaps the absurdity of the two worlds (and/or the idea of having to choose between them) provokes a smile/laugh as wide and enduring as the universe itself? Or perhaps humans are directly involved in shaping their own worlds, as in Edna St. Vincent Millay's famous poem 'Renascence':

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,
No higher than the soul is high.

In her lines, the size of the world is dependent very explicitly (too explicitly in fact for any real poetic subtlety) on the activity of the human heart and soul. Similarly, in the present verse, not only the extent of the two worlds and the smile/laugh (exceedingly small and brief, or mysteriously wide and enduring?), but also the direction of causality (do the two worlds evoke the smile/laugh, or does the smile/laugh evoke the two worlds?), are left for the reader to decide.