Ghazal 347x, Verse 3


zulf-e ;xayaal naazuk-o-i:zhaar be-qaraar
yaa rab bayaan shaanah-kash-e guft-guu nah ho

1a) the curl of thought/imagination, sensitive; and statement/declaration, restless
1b) the curl of thought/imagination-- sensitive and statement-restless

2) oh Lord, may expression/disclosure not be a comb-wielder of discussion/dispute!


;xayaal : 'Thought, opinion, surmise, suspicion, conception, idea, notion, fancy, imagination, conceit. whim, chimera; consideration; regard, deference; apprehension; care, concern'. (Platts p.498)


naazuk : 'Thin, slender, slim, delicate, tender, fragile; fine; light; brittle; nice; neat; elegant; genteel; subtle; — facetious; gracious; keen; sensitive, touchy, testy'. (Platts p.1114)


i:zhaar : 'Manifestation, revelation, disclosure, demonstration, publication, display, declaration; statement'. (Platts p.60)


bayaan : 'Declaration, assertion, affirmation; explanation, exposition, description, relation, disclosure, unfolding, circumstantial indication or evidence; perspicuity, clearness'. (Platts p.205)


guft-guu : 'Conversation, discourse, dialogue, common talk, chitchat; altercation, dispute, debate, expostulation, controversy, contention squabble'. (Platts p.910)


The curl of thought is extremely sensitive, and the power of statement is restless. May expression not, by means of conversation, not be a comb-puller in this curl! That is, my thoughts are extremely sensitive, they cannot become bearers of expression, although the necessity of statement is restless.

== Asi, p. 196


He has made 'curl' a metaphor for thought; and a 'comb', for conversation. For conversation arranges/settles thought, and expands it. He says that the heart is restless for the statement of thought, but my thought is extremely sensitive. May it not be that I wouldn't be able to express it in words, and the meaning would remain tangled! This doubt has increased the restlessness. To restrain the emotions is no easy task. Feeling anxious, he prays, 'Oh Lord, you yourself give me enough spirit for restraint and endurance, so that I would be able to refrain from bringing my thoughts into the field of statement, and would remain protected from being mocked for composing difficult, convoluted poetry!'

This is the very same thought that Ghalib has versified in this famous quatrain: [cited and discussed in {141,1}].

== Zamin, p. 289

Gyan Chand:

The meaning of i:zhaar be-qaraar should not be taken to be that 'statement is restless'; rather, it should be considered a construction, and it too should be taken as a quality of the 'curl of thought'.... The curl of thought is sensitive, and also wants to manifest itself before others. Oh Lord, if only I would be able not to manifest it in conversation, through the expression of a verse! May it not happen that it would be broken and disordered!

shaanah-kash-e guft-guu = by means of discussion, to comb; that is, to analyze thought. My thought is very sensitive and subtle-- if only no attempt would be made to arrange it and express it in words! The meaning will become wounded! By 'conversation' can also be meant, may other people not converse about my expression; that is, may they not bring it under discussion and analyze it.

== Gyan Chand, p. 306


CURLS: {14,6}

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

The obvious reading of the first line is the parallelism of (1a)-- 'A [is] B, and C [is] D'. Gyan Chand's reading, (1b), has the form 'A [is] B and C-D'; this is more tortuous and grammatically contrived, but has the advantage of removing one more agent-- the semi-personified 'statement'-- from a very crowded verse (and perhaps it's easier to imagine a restless 'curl' than a restless 'statement').

As so often, the second line gives us no way to choose between the two readings. Instead, to the pair of ;xayaal and i:zhaar it adds the additional pair of bayaan and guft-guu . All four of these are broad-spectrum words with a wide range of possible meanings (see the definitions above). If we try to thread them together, the line of least resistance is something like 'may expression not become a comb-wielder of discussion (on the sensitive, restless curl of thought)'.

But we're still left with the complex, ambiguous image of the 'comb-wielding'. There are several possible readings:

=Expression might deliberately seek to comb out all the 'discussion, dispute' and controversialness from the 'curl of thought'.

=Expression might unavoidably smooth out and arrange the 'curl of thought' in some tendentious or disputable way, in the very process of expressing it.

=Expression might 'comb out' and open up the 'curl of thought' to others, who would then discuss and interpret it freely and perhaps badly, according to their own tastes.

Moreover, the 'curl of thought' might be 'sensitive' and vulnerable ('delicate, fragile'), so that the combing might damage it. But it also might be 'touchy, testy' (see the definition above), so that any attempt to comb it might arouse it to acts of resistance or even (who knows?) revenge.