Ghazal 326x, Verse 4


sipand-aahangii-e hastii-o-sa((ii-e naalah-farsaa))ii
;Gubaar-aaluudah hai;N juu;N durd-e sham((a-e kushtah taqriire;N

1) the wild-rue-harmony of existence-- and the effort at wearing out lament!
2) they are 'dust'-stained, like the sediment of an extinguished/'killed' candle-- speeches/narratives


sipand : 'Wild rue'. (Platts p.635)


aahang : 'Design, purpose, intention; method, manner; sound, concord, melody; one of the Persian tunes or modulations in music'. (Platts p.111)


sa((ii : 'Endeavour, attempt; exertion, effort; enterprise, essay; purpose'. (Platts p.661)


farsaa))ii : 'Wearing, rubbing; obliterating, effacing; worn, obliterated, old (used as last member of compounds).' (Platts p.778)


;Gubaar : 'Dust; clouds of dust; a dust-storm; vapour, fog, mist, mistiness; impurity, foulness; (met.) vexation, soreness, ill-feeling, rancour, spite; affliction, grief; perplexity'. (Platts p.769)


durd : 'Sediment, dregs, lees'. (Platts p.511)


taqriir : 'Speaking, discoursing; relating; explaining; confirming; speech, discourse, statement, declaration, assertion, relation, recital, narrative, account, detail; exposition'. (Platts p.330)


sipand-aahangii-e hastii = For the instability of existence to be, like wild rue, obliterated in a single lament. The effort to wear away laments is a proof of oblivion. The 'why and wherefore' and conversation (speeches) of the members of such a doomed and unstable gathering-- if they too would not be dust-stained (a cause for sorrow) like the smoke of an extinguished candle, then what would they be? The gist is that existence is a place of oblivion. To discuss and investigate it is a cause of grief and trouble.

== Zamin, p. 262

Gyan Chand:

Existence is wild-rue-harmonied-- that is, it has an intention like that of wild rue. When wild rue is put in a fire, then in a single instant it would crackle/snap [cha;Ta;xnaa] and be finished off. Existence is as brief as the crackling/snapping of wild rue in a fire. In such a brief interval, what attempt to lament could be made? And it would hardly be successful!

When a candle is extinguished, then its smoke is stained with dust/soot. From it, blackness can fall/collect on something. Capability in speech too has become dust-stained in this way. If dust would go into the throat, then it's difficult to speak. The brevity of life, and the threat of death at every moment too, in a figurative sense will fill up the heart with the dust of sorrow. In this way, because life is brief, it is not possible to raise the voice in either speech or lament.

== Gyan Chand, p. 294


CANDLE: {39,1}

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

What exactly is the sipand-aahangii of existence meant to evoke? At a minimum, extreme brevity. Beyond that, perhaps a hope of repelling the evil eye through the burning of wild rue; on this Persian custom see {15,9}. Beyond that, possibly even a particular crackling/snapping sound, as Gyan Chand seems to suggest. In any case, something that would contrast powerfully with the 'effort to wear out lament'-- which could only be a long, sad, dubious, exhausting process.

When we're allowed (under mushairah performance conditions) to hear the second line, it presents a completely separate scenario. We learn that 'speeches' are 'dust-stained'-- like the 'sediment' of an extinguished candle. The word durd normally refers to the 'dregs' or 'lees' of wine left at the bottom of a wine-glass (see {100,8} and {232,2}). But the only kind of 'dust' that could be left by (the smoke of) an extinguished candle would be soot.

And the invocation of soot can't help but suggest collyrium, which is made from the soot generated by lamp-smoke. In the ghazal world, collyrium has another notable quality as well: it is a natural enemy of the voice. (For discussion of this improbable trait, see {44,1}.) Gyan Chand feels that speeches are 'dust-stained' because the heart is filled with the 'dust' of sorrow. But it's also possible that they are soot-stained, and that the soot, the raw material of collyrium, has weakened their powers.

Of course, their powers aren't very great in any case. The speeches and stories we invent for outselves are caught between the extreme brevity of life, and the unfathomable length of time it would take to 'wear out' lament-- to get past it, to move beyond it. No wonder our narratives are tattered, dusty, stained with soot and sorrow..