Ghazal 351x, Verse 1


;xalq hai .saf;hah-e ((ibrat se sabaq naa-;xvaa;Ndah
varnah hai char;x-o-zamii;N yak varaq-e gardaa;Ndah

1) humanity/creation is [in a state of] not-having-read a lesson from the page of instruction
2) otherwise, sky-and-earth is a single turned-over page


;xalq : 'Creating; — creation; mankind; people'. (Platts p.493)


char;x : 'A wheel (as of a water-mill, or of a well, &c.); a potter's wheel; a lathe; the celestial globe or orb, the sphere of the heavens, the heavens, the sky; — circular motion; turn; — fortune, chance'. (Platts p.430)


What can be done?! For creatures do not take a lesson from the page of instruction, and don't keep their eyes on the end of existence. Otherwise, the truth is that existence is nothing; the sky and earth have no existence; rather, the sky and earth are in reality a page that has been turned. This way the earth, that way the sky-- that is, the state of existence is revolving, and no style/color has fixity or stability. To call sky and earth a single turned-over page is a new idea-- on this side something, and on that side something else.

== Asi, pp. 206-207


For sky and earth to be a turned-over page-- it's clear that both keep being turned over. He says that those who live on earth see everything (in the age) overturned, but they obtain no instruction from it.

== Zamin, p. 311

Gyan Chand:

That page will be varaq-gardaa;Ndah that has already been turned over; thus it now has no benefit. The people of the world have not read/learned the lesson of instruction. People of an earlier time read this sky and earth, and what did they obtain from it, that now the present generation will obtain? Earth and sky have no more status than thrown-away paper.

== Gyan Chand, p. 320


SKY {15,7}
WRITING: {7,3}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

As Asi observes, 'To call sky and earth a single turned-over page is a new idea-- on this side something, and on that side something else'. It's also a rather hard thing to visualize. For the char;x is well established as a sphere or wheel, also suggesting the 'wheel of fortune' (see the definition above). And to construe both earth and sky not as two pages between which we live, but as explicitly 'a single page', makes the task almost hopeless.

But perhaps it doesn't matter, for the grammar of the verse makes it clear that the page has already been turned. That is, it's already too late for any lessons that we could have learned from the world as we know it. Earth and sky, the second line tells us, are already gone-- we just don't realize it (yet). Presumably the lesson we should have learned is that life is inconceivably, immeasurably short and unstable (since the world we see around us is in fact already gone).

So what is the implication of that 'lesson'? Should we redouble our efforts at piety? Should we retire to a desert hermitage? Should we eat, drink, and be merry? Maybe we should just concentrate on poetry. As so often, we're left to decide for ourselves.

Compare {81,2}, another ominous verse about the turning of pages.