Ghazal 214, Verse 13x


va;hshat kahaa;N kih be-;xvudii inshaa kare ko))ii
hastii ko laf:z-e ma((nii-e ((anqaa kare ko))ii

1) where is the wildness/madness-- [such] that someone would write/compose self-lessness?!

2a) [such that] someone would make 'existence' a word with the meaning of 'Anqa'?
2b) let someone make 'existence' a word with the meaning of 'Anqa'!


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)


inshaa : 'Writing, composition; the belle-lettres; elegance of style; style, diction'. (Platts p.93)


Where did such wildness come from, such that someone would create self-lessness, and would prove existence to be nonexistent? (262-63)


That is, where is such wildness ('oblivion in the Divine'), such that someone would pass beyond himself and consider his existence to be self-less? (The word hastii and its meaning are the Anqa, which has no existence.) (381)

Gyan Chand:

Now where is that wildness/madness, that we would cause our own existence to be forgotten and would become immersed in self-lessness? It's better to obliterate existence. laf:z-e ma((nii-e ((anqaa = a word that expresses the meaning/understanding [mafhuum] of nonexistence.

== Gyan Chand, p. 383


BEKHUDI: {21,6}

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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

Since this is an opening-verse of a ghazal with a long and semantically meaningful refrain, the two lines can exploit the obvious possibilities of their parallel clauses. Both lines are certainly inshaa))iyah . But is the second line to be read as parallel to the clause in the first line that begins with kih , as in (2a)? If so, it describes another action, in addition to the composing of self-lessness, that one might perform in madness: one might also 'compose' existence as having the meaning of the Anqa, the bird whose essence is nonexistence. Or is the second line to be taken as independent, as in (2b)? In that case, it would be the expression of a wish or hope that someone would treat existence in this way. In a verse so abstract, perhaps it doesn't make that much difference, but it's good to keep our analytical tools as sharp as possible.

In either case, another intriguing ambiguity remains. What is the attitude of the speaker toward the action(s) he's envisioning? It's easy to think of several possibilities:

=Nostalgically, he laments the old days when he used to achieve amazing feats of madness that are now, in his worn-down condition, no longer possible; compare {85,8}, with its 'where are the snows of yester-year?' mood.

=Wistfully, he imagines an ultimate, ideal degree of wildness or madness that is perhaps beyond human capabilities-- one that would get all this tediousness of life over with in a crazily, unimaginably total way.

=Authorially, he thoughtfully sketches out a kind of supreme technical feat of literary creativity-- if only one had the wild, fierce, daring expressive power to write oneself out of existence!

=Scornfully, he pours contempt on commonplace literary activities, surely including his own-- they lack the requisite wildness and power, for if they can't achieve this single magnificent feat, of what real use are they?

As so often, we readers are left to create the tone for ourselves-- and in fact to imagine it afresh, every time we recite the verse.