Ghazal 219, Verse 7


hu))ii jin se tavaqqu(( ;xastagii kii daad paane kii
vuh ham se bhii ziyaadah ;xastah-e te;G-e sitam nikle

1) {those / the one} from whom we hoped/expected to find justice/understanding about woundedness

2a) they/he turned out to be even more wounded by the sword of tyranny than we
2b) they/he, even more wounded by the sword of tyranny than we, 'emerged'


tavaqqu(( rakhnaa : 'To entertain or have hope, to hope; to expect, to look (for), to desire'. (Platts p.343)


daad paanaa : 'To obtain justice or redress, to obtain a hearing for (one's) complaint'. (Platts p.499)


;xastah : 'Wounded, hurt; broken; infirm; sick, sorrowful; --fragile, brittle'. (Platts p.490)


By 'tyranny' is meant the tyranny of the heavens. (250)

== Nazm page 250

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'Those people whom we had considered to be the means of getting our tasks accomplished-- when we scrutinized them out closely, then those people were seen to be even greater complainers about the cruelty of the heavens than we'. (308)

Bekhud Mohani:

That is, we hoped that the beloved would have mercy on the state of our heart. But we learned that she herself is dying with love over someone. (451)


SWORD: {1,3}

What group of people (or single honored person) might be envisioned in the first line? If those to whom the speaker turns are, say, fellow lovers, then it seems that they are feebler and more vulnerable than he is himself, and the beloved's cruelty has rendered them even less able to cope. If they are some kind of judges offering 'justice', then perhaps the cruel beloved's power has made itself felt even to the point of corrupting the mechanisms of justice itself. If 'they' are the beloved herself, addressed in the honorific plural, then presumably she herself would have fallen in love and become a fellow-sufferer. Somehow none of these possibilities are very thrilling. Why would an audience have said vaah vaah when they heard this verse? If we paraphrased it into prose, what would we lose?

Perhaps, as Nazm suggests, it is to be read more generally: the 'sword of tyranny' is that of the cruel heavens, which rain down disasters indiscriminately on us all. (For an example, see {14,8}.) On that reading, the verse becomes a cosmically operative account of the human condition. Not only are we humans unable to shelter each other (or ourselves) from the calamities that rain down on us-- in our wretchedness we're not even able to offer each other (effective) sympathy and comfort. On this reading, the verse's nearest cousin is {215,8}.

One further way of energizing the verse is to read nikle not as the more general 'turned out to be' (2a), but as the more visual and specific 'emerged' (2b); on such possibilities see {219,1}. Perhaps the speaker was watching those others as they 'emerged', faint and stumbling, on the verge of collapse, from some particular place where they had undergone an ordeal (the beloved's house? some kind of darbar or court? life itself?). As he watched them 'emerge' he realized, surely with compassion, that however much he'd felt himself in need of their sympathy and succor, they were even more in need of his. The compassion, or whatever other tone we choose, is left for us in the audience to infuse into the verse, from our own hearts and minds and experience of life. Perhaps the verse, on this reading, reminds us to show chivalry and generosity of spirit to our fellow captives in the antechamber of death. As I write this, Bob Dylan has just sung, 'We all wear the same thorny crown'.