Ghazal 228, Verse 5


chhi;Rke hai shabnam aa))inah-e barg-e gul par aab
ai ((andaliib vaqt-e vidaa((-e bahaar hai

1) dew sprinkles, on the mirror of the rose-leaf, water
2) oh Nightingale, it's the time of the leave-taking of the springtime


chhi;Rke hai is an archaic form of, here, chhi;Raktii hai (GRAMMAR)


In Iran, the custom is to sprinkle water on a mirror at the time of departure on a journey. (256)

== Nazm page 256

Bekhud Dihlavi:

In this verse Mirza Sahib has expressed a custom of Iran. There it's the convention that when someone travels, then they put a mirror on the traveler's back and sprinkle water on that mirror. The meaning is that he would be vouchsafed to come back in health and safety, in honor and respect. (313)

Bekhud Mohani:

Apparently this verse seems to be the result of the working of artifice and abstraction. But the reality is contrary to this. The poet, when drops of dew were on the flowers (which is a common mood of springtime), has expressed it in such a manner that in appreciation of it, the eyes of the 'people of the heart' will begin to see the loving scene of the departure of a dear friend, a dearly loved one....

To say this to the Nightingale, too, creates a vision of an extraordinary scene: that this time is the time of the leave-taking of the springtime. The Nightingale is expressing the multitude of ardors and absorbedness in the beauty of the beloved-- such that the time of leave-taking has come, and he doesn't even know it. Then to say that the dew is sprinkling water on the mirror of the rose-leaf is saying clearly that you aren't the only well-wisher of the rose, there are others too. (465)


Compare {187,2}. (267, 280)


MIRROR: {8,3}

More commonly the Nightingale is a bulbul . There are only three instances in the divan in which he's an ((andaliib : the first two are this verse, and {187,2}. Both are in the same meter, and in both the Nightingale is addressed, and is in the same position in the same line. So perhaps it's merely a case of metrical convenience. (Both bulbul and ((andaliib are from the Arabic, so there's not much to choose between them along those lines.)

In fact, this verse and {187,2} are strikingly close in other ways as well. They're both based on the idea of the leave-taking [vidaa((] of the spring, imagined in customary styles of human leave-taking. But this verse seems more richly, juicily, melancholy and sentimental: it's a formal leave-taking ceremony, an evocation of mood. There's no depiction of what's to come after the ceremony is over.

By contrast {187,2} feels more bleak: the rose's opening of its embrace is a well-established evocation of its imminent death, and what could be more chilling than that second line? It invites the Nightingale not even to mourn, but simply to 'move on', since springtime itself has done just that.

The third ((andaliib verse, coming soon, is {228,8}: it too is vocative, and the name is in the same position in its line. This final verse evokes not the overwhelming departure, but the overwhelming arrival, of the springtime.

Was it really a custom in Iran to sprinkle water on a mirror when someone was departing? The answer hardly matters. What's relevant is that it's a custom in Ghalib's ghazal world. See the discussion of the 'paper robes' in {1,1}.