Ghazal 335x, Verse 1


futaadagii me;N qadam ustuvaar rakhte hai;N
bah rang-e jaadah sar-e kuu-e yaar rakhte hai;N

1) in fallenness, we keep a strong/stable/level footstep/venture
2) in the mode of a path, we keep an aim/desire/'head' toward the street of the friend/beloved


futaadagii : 'A fallen state; humility, vileness'. (Steingass p.906)


qadam rakhnaa : 'To set foot (on), plant the foot (on); to step (into); to engage or embark (in), take part (in), venture (on)'. (Platts p.789)


sar : 'Head, top, pinnacle, tip, end, point; front, face; origin, beginning; head, chief; intention, end, aim; inclination, will, desire, love'. (Platts p.649)


ustuvaar : 'Strong, powerful; stable, firm; even, level, equal; straight'. (Platts p.50)


In falenness, our footstep is extremely strong and firm; and like the path, we aim for the street of the friend/beloved. That is, the way the path lies fallen weakly on the dust, but is aiming for the street of the friend/beloved or has arrived there, in the same way we too, like the path, aim for the street of the friend/beloved, and our weakness is full of firmness/strength.

== Asi, p. 178


The path too is [habitually] fallen, and does not turn its face away from the direction of the halting-place. Then how would he, having fallen, turn his face away from the direction of the street of the friend/beloved?

== Zamin, p. 259

Gyan Chand:

sar-e kuu-e yaar rakhnaa = to aim for the street of the friend/beloved. A road [habitually] lies fallen, but but goes and meets with the street of the friend/beloved. We too, in the matter of weakness and humility/lowness, stand firm [;saabit-qadam hai;N]. We too aim for the street of the friend/beloved-- how can any 'fallen' person arrive there?

== Gyan Chand, p. 288


ROAD: {10,12}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

The first line presents us with an outright paradox: the speaker is in a state of 'fallenness', but he maintains a 'strong, stable, level' footstep. Gyan Chand describes him as 'standing firm' [;saabit-qadam] in his lowness. As so often, we are then, under mushairah performance conditions, left to wonder for as long a time is can conveniently be managed.

For a change, the second line actually does resolve the paradox: we are like a path, which is as helplessly 'fallen' as it's possible to be, but also aims (or 'heads'-- what a lucky English idiom!) strongly, constantly, firmly, levelly, toward the beloved's street. We only belatedly recognize the idiomatic use of qadam rakhnaa (see the definition above).

It's clever, isn't it? And unlike some of his wildly extravagant flourishes, it actually works.