Ghazal 222, Verse 2x


bayaabaan-e fanaa hai ba((d-e .sa;hraa-e :talab ;Gaalib
pasiinah-tausan-e himmat to sail-e ;xaanah-e zii;N hai

1) the desert of oblivion is after the desert/wilderness of searching, Ghalib
2) the sweat-steed of courage, then, is the torrent/stream of the 'saddle-house'


fanaa : 'Mortality, frailty, corruption, decay, perdition, destruction, death; —adj. Passed away, departed, deceased, defunct; non-existent, extinct'. (Platts p.784)


.sa;hraa : 'A desert, waste, wilderness; a jungle, forest; a plain'. (Platts p.743)


:talab : 'Search, quest; wish, desire; inquiry, request, demand, application, solicitation; sending for, summons; an object of quest, or of desire'. (Platts p.753)


sail : 'A flowing; a flow of water, a torrent, a current'. (Platts p.712)

Gyan Chand:

On the road of the mystical path, after searching comes the stage of oblivion. The horse of courage, after much effort and exertion, traversed the desert of searching. The sign of this effort is his sweat. This itself, having become a torrent, destroyed the 'saddle-house' [;xaanah-e ziin]. The rider remains in the 'saddle-house', as if the intensity of ardor brought him to the stage of oblivion. They call the curve of the saddle the 'saddle-house'. (390)


DESERT: {3,1}

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

A noun compound like 'sweat-steed' is rare in Urdu, but common in Persian; for more examples, see {129,6x}. There's no room for an i.zaafat , so it can't be 'the sweat of the steed'; rather, it's a steed consisting of, or identified with, sweat. Let's face it, that's a pretty distracting and unappetizing image. Since its grossness gets in the way of poetic effectiveness, it fits my (subjective, exploratory) category of 'grotesquerie'.

One of the metaphors for achieving a state of mystical beyondness and self-lessness is that of having one's (preferably desert-located) 'house' swept away in a 'torrent' or 'flood'; for a classic example, see {15,10}. The permutation imagined in the present verse seems to be that the mystical seeker, after exhausting and overheating himself while traversing the desert/wilderness of 'searching', is finally swept out of the saddle by a 'torrent, flood'-- not of insight or Divine love, but of his own sweat. (Such a notion is perfectly in accord with Ghalib's penchant for insisting on 'indepencence' at all costs.)

But basically, this is a verse of wordplay. The beautifully exploited term 'house of the saddle' [;xaanah-e zii;N] is perfectly placed to unite the two images of the horse and the (flooded-out) house; and in classic mushairah-verse style, it's positioned at the last possible moment, in 'punch-word' position, at the end of the second line. Without it, how could the verse fail to fall apart?