Ghazal 220, Verse 3x


vus((at-e mashrab niyaaz-e kulfat-e va;hshat asad
yak-bayaabaa;N saayah-e baal-e humaa ho jaa))iye

1) the amplitude/ease of drinking is the gift/offering of the trouble/vexation of wildness/madness, Asad
2) let one become a 'whole-desertful' shadow/shade of the wing of the Huma


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


niyaaz : 'Petition, supplication, prayer; —inclination, wish, eager desire, longing; need, necessity; indigence, poverty; —a gift, present; —an offering, a thing dedicated'. (Platts p.1164)


va;hshat : '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)

Gyan Chand:

The amplitude/ease of drinking is only in supplication to the wildness of passion. In the madness of passion, run all around in the wilderness, and obtain the kingship. Who will be a more ample drinker than a lover? Thanks to the amplitude of vision and the sovereignty of the heart, the lover is not less than a king. (387)


DESERT: {3,1}
MADNESS: {14,3}
WINE: {49,1}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices.

The verse is not without its pleasures, and chief among them is the striking and imaginatively elegant imagery of the second line. There's a sort of abstract imperative, apparently directed to any listener, or any lover, or to the speaker himself. That person should himself become a 'shadow of the wing of the Huma'. If the shadow of the Huma's wing falls on you, then you're destined to become a king. But if you yourself become such a shadow, does that mean that you're the very embodiment of a royal destiny? Or might it mean that you have the power to confer such a destiny on others? Perhaps it means that you soar so high that you transcend such minor desires as kingship, and your mystical flight is so powerful that it provides shade and auspiciousness to everything it passes over?

But above all, what you should become is a 'whole-desertful' of the shadow of the wing of the Huma. On the idiomatic subtleties of yak-bayaabaa;N , see {11,1}. The contrast between the 'whole desert', a treeless and radically sunny place, and the 'shadow' or 'shade', is piquant in itself. (Surely 'a desertful of shade' is of the same imaginative order as 'a desertful of roses'.)

When we look for the connection with the first line, however, the structural problematicalness of the verse looms larger. In this respect, if we analyze all the possibilities of all those i.zaafat constructions in the first line, and those three extremely multivalent nouns (see the definitions above), the verse becomes almost unresolvably complex-- and not all that rewarding. In principle, the verse can be seen as having all the problems of {220,1}-- and then some. It's really impossible to come to any satisfying resolution of the question of why and how the injunction in the second line is warranted.

No doubt something involving drinking and madness is at the heart of it, but what exactly? Anybody can generate a number of possibilities-- but none of them really glows in the dark or gives the verse that excellent 'got it!' quality. At the heart of the problem is the multivalence of niyaaz . Is the verse talking about a 'gift' or 'offering'? And if so, is it a gift 'of' something in the sense of something that's given by somebody ('her gift of chocolate'), or something given by someone ('the gift of the students to their teacher') or something equational ('the gift that is kulfat ')? Or is the verse referring to a 'prayer' or 'petition', which would generate a similar set of possibilities of its own? Or is the reference to a 'longing' or a 'necessity', which would have a third range of possibilities? Needless to say, when any of these possibilities is combined with the multivalence of the rest of the line, the permutations spiral out of control.

So we might as well just enjoy the verse as one of imagery and mood. After all, it's not as though Ghalib even meant for us to read it.