Ghazal 214, Verse 2


((aalam ;Gubaar-e va;hshat-e majnuu;N hai sar-ba-sar
kab tak ;xayaal-e :turrah-e lail;aa kare ko))ii

1) the world is the dust of the desert/wildness/madness of Majnun from end/'head' to end/'head'
2) how long would anyone give thought to the curl-crest of Laila?!


va;hshat : 'A desert, solitude, dreary place; --loneliness, solitariness, dreariness; --sadness, grief, care; --wildness, fierceness, ferocity, savageness; barbarity, barbarism; --timidity, fear, fright, dread, terror, horror; --distraction, madness'. (Platts p.1183)


:turrah : 'Hair, or a fringe of hair, on the forehead; a forelock; a curl, ringlet; an ornament worn in the turban; an ornamental tassel, or border, &c.; a plume of feathers, a crest; a nosegay; (met.) the best, or the cream (of a thing)'. (Platts p.752)


That is, the world is the appearance of a mirage; how long would we consider it to be the wave of a sea? (242)

== Nazm page 242

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the existence of the world is the appearance of a mirage-- how long will we be deceived and consider it to be the wave of a sea? (300)

Bekhud Mohani:

The world has become, from end to end, the dust of the madness of Majnun. In such a situation, not to pay attention to it and to think about the curls of Laila is a good thing. (434)


An early analysis of this verse from 'A Ghazal by Ghalib', in The Secret Mirror, 1981.


CURLS: {14,6}
DESERT: {3,1}
MADNESS: {14,3}

The inshaa))iyah structure of the second line, especially through its clever, witty use of kab tak and ko))ii , opens up several bizarre and enjoyable possibilities. The fact that Laila's 'curl-crest' can be either a sort of top-knot or crest-jewel, or else her curls themselves, adds to the possible range of imagery. The presence of ko))ii enables the line to be read either as referring either to Majnun himself in a sort of generalized awe-struck way ('How can anyone do such things?'), or to anybody at all. Nor do we know the relationship between the two lines: we can't tell whether the world's state is simply an observed fact (flatly reported in the first line), or is to be ascribed to Majnun's meditation on the curl-crest of Laila. Here are some of the complex rhetorical possibilities:

==The inquiring question: An observer notices that Majnun's obsession has already turned the world into a dust-storm, and inquires: 'What's going on here? How strange and interesting! How does he do it? How much longer will he continue with it? If his madness continues, what will he do to the world next?'

==The rhetorical question: how long would/could Majnun, or anybody else, go on doing such a thing?! Because:
=it's amazing that he's been able to keep it up so long, and that he's achieves such powerful effects!
=he ought to stop at once-- by thinking of Laila's curls to the point of madness, Majnun has already reduced the whole world to a desert or wilderness!
=he ought to stop at once-- by thinking of Laila's long, dark, tangled curls, Majnun has covered the world with a dark, swirling dust-storm!

==The negative rhetorical question (with a petulant effect): how long can Majnun, or anybody else, be expected to go on doing such a thing? Naturally, he would stop! The implication is that Laila's curl-crest might not be thought of (or taken care of, or protected) much longer, either by Majnun or by anybody else. Here are some possible reasons:
=the world is wildness; Laila's curl-crest is delicate and vulnerable
=the world is madness; meditation on Laila's curl-crest requires focused, sane thought
=the world is dust from end to end; Laila's distinctive curl-crest would be invisible
=the world is itself an illusion of Majnun's; Laila's curl-crest thus has an even more contingent existence

As Faruqi observes, the wordplay of sar-ba-sar , literally 'head to head', is also a treat. And at the heart of the whole verse is a brilliant evocation of the word va;hshat , with its multiple senses-- 'desert', 'wildness', 'madness', etc.-- every one of which is richly appropriate.

Compare the rhetorical structure of this verse to that of {214,6} and {214,9}.

Compare also Mir's meditation on lovers and the cosmic dust they kick up: G{1419,1}.