Ghazal 321x, Verse 7


mai;N be-hunar kih jauhar-e aa((iinah thaa aba;s
paa-e nigaah-e ;xalq me;N ;xaar-e ;xaliidah huu;N

1) I, without skill-- I who was the polish-lines on a mirror, in vain--
2) in the 'foot of the gaze' of the people/creatures, am a [having-]pierced thorn


hunar : 'Excellence in any art; art, skill; attainment; accomplishment; ingenuity; cleverness; knowledge, science'. (Platts p.1237)


((aba;s : 'Trifling, frivolous; vain, idle, absurd, nugatory, profitless, bootless; — in vain, uselessly, bootlessly, idly, absurdly. (Platts p.758)


I, without skill, was like the polish-lines on a mirror, but people didn't understand it. And today in the world's 'foot of the gaze' I am seeming to be a single thorn.

== Asi, p. 174


'Without skill ' is sarcastic-- entirely without skill, and also entirely polish-lines? And felt by the people too? To give a thorn as a simile for the polish-lines of a mirror, and then to pierce that thorn into the 'foot of the gaze' of the people, is an extremely eloquent theme.

== Zamin, p. 255

Gyan Chand:

The polish-lines of a mirror have a similitude to a thorn. But one cannot call the polish-lines 'without skill'. I too, like the polish-lines on a mirror, was worthy of respect, but I was not able to use my polish-lines, and was considered to be without skill. For this reason I lodge/pierce in people's 'foot of the gaze' like a thorn. That is, people are not pleased to see me.

== Gyan Chand, p. 282


GAZE: {10,12}
JAUHAR: {5,4}
MIRROR: {8,3}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}. See also the overview index.

For discussion of 'foot of' expressions, see {152,3}. On the nature of the jauhar , see {5,4}

Polish-lines on a metal mirror (on these see {5,4}) are fine things; the scrubbing and abrasion that produces them may cause pain to the mirror, but it keeps the mirror shiny and free from verdigris, so that in fact it's necessary to the mirror's very existence. The speaker claims that he used to 'be' these polish-lines on the mirror, but 'in vain, futilely'. Perhaps he used to scold and admonish people, but they failed to appreciate his efforts?

Now, by contrast, he is a 'thorn in the foot of the gaze' of people-- apparently, of people in general. Thorns of course look like larger versions of the tiny polish-lines on the mirror. We know what a 'thorn in the foot' is like-- it's painful, dysfunctional, unignorable; it can only be removed by a process that causes more pain. Perhaps the speaker has found a way to get to people that is more effective than his efforts at 'polishing' and admonition? Whatever he's doing now, perhaps he considers it some kind of success?

But a 'thorn in the foot of the gaze' is a cleverly conflated and mixed metaphor. So it's also possible that after his failed attempts at 'polishing', the speaker gave up his reformist (?) ambitions. Now he ruefully observes that he's notorious, and that people are annoyed simply by the sight of him. So that when he calls himself 'without skill', he could be referring to his maladroit social behavior.

It's so unusual in the ghazal world for the lover to undertake to 'polish' others-- it's hard to know what to make of this verse. The mad lover is the kind of person who's always himself being polished by others. So perhaps this verse is just a vehicle for the word- and meaning-play of polish-marks and thorns, and for deploying the mashup 'thorn in the foot of the gaze'.