Ghazal 323x, Verse 6


jo chaahiye nahii;N vuh mirii qadr-o-manzilat
mai;N yuusuf-e bah qiimat-e avval ;xariidah huu;N

1) it is not what is needed/proper, that esteem and rank of mine!
2) I am a Joseph who has been bought at 'the first price'


qadr : 'Greatness, dignity, honour, rank, power; importance, consequence; worth, merit; estimation, appreciation, account; value, price'. (Platts p.788)


manzilat : 'A step; station, post of honour, dignity, rank, condition'. (Platts p.1076)

Gyan Chand:

qiimat-e avval-e yuusuf , or baazaar-e avval-e yuusuf , is an idiom. Having pulled Hazrat Joseph out of the well, his brothers sold him into the hands of some Egyptian merchant for some counterfeit silver coins. According to various traditions, these silver coins numbered seventeen, or eighteen, or twenty. The second time, in Egypt, Joseph was sold into the hands of Zulaikha. By qiimat-e avval-e yuusuf is meant an extremely small price. Ghalib says, 'I, like Joseph, am very costly/valuable, but I have been sold for a very small price'. That is, I have not been esteemed according to my rank/position.

== Gyan Chand, p. 514



For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

The first line, here as in so many verses, is carefully kept vague and uninterpretable, to maximize (under mushairah performance conditions) the interval of suspense.

The second line plays enjoyably on an idiom. As Gyan Chand notes, qiimat-e avval-e yuusuf is a colloquial way of saying that something has a very low price. Ghalib almost always uses idioms in a twofold way, and here too we find that the verse brings in the literal meaning of the expression-- for the speaker claims that he himself is a Joseph-like figure (or even literally is Joseph), so that other aspects of Joseph's life at once come to mind.

For Joseph was favored by God, so that despite various vicissitudes his life was one of great worldly success and achievement. Religiously speaking, he is also considered to be a Prophet. In short, he had every kind of merit, and his merit was recognized. After that initial 'first price' sale, for the rest of his life he was never less than powerful and revered. By contrast, the speaker implies that he too has all kinds of merit, but his merit is not recognized; he is perpetually valued at that bargain-basement 'first price'.

Compare {60,7}, a verse about how the poet himself is 'sold' along with his wares.