The Rubaiyat : Quatrain X









With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan scarce is known,
And pity Sultan Mahmud on his Throne.










This is the tenth quatrain of Fitzgerald's The Rubaiyat. As unlike all previous quatrains, this one picks up from where the previous quatrain left. In the ninth quatrain the poet implores to come with him and ignore the glories of past and leave them behind. This quatrain details as to where they are going! With Khayyam, we go to place where a strip of green herbage is grown that divides the desert from the sown village lands. This spot marks the start of the desert. Beyond this point, the name of the slave and of the sultan is unknown. The distinction between them ends and no class system exists that could differentiate between a slave and a king. And we pity the Sultan Mahmud (of Ghazni) who barely maintains control on his throne. Mahmud of Ghazni though a powerful ruler was plagued by countless insurrections in his vast empire and undertook countless raids to enemy territory for plunder and loot.(he is said to raid India seventeen times). The poet says we sympathize with with Mahmud for he is unable to live peacefully even though he is a mighty king. The underlying theme is of living in simple and uncomplicated ways. Living where the complex and rigid social structures are not there, where ideas like ownership and settlement have not taken root. To a place on the margins of the kingdom, where the villages end and where the desert begins and where the names of kings are unknown. We will live the life simply away from the complicated ways of the civilization.

Translation - Fir Mujhe Deeda-e-Tar Yaad Aaya (Ghalib)

fir mujhe deeda-e-tar yaad aaya
dil jigar tashna-e-fariyaad aaya

dam liya tha na qayaamat ne hanoz
fir tera waqt-e-safar yaad aaya

saadgee haay tamanna, yaanee
fir wo nai_rang-e-nazar yaad aaya

uzr-e-waamaandagee 'ei hasarat-e-dil
naala karta tha jigar yaad aaya

zindgee yon bhee guzar hi jaatee
kyon tera raahguzar yaad aaya ?

kya hee rizwaan se ladaayee hogee
ghar tera khuld mein gar yaad aaya

aah woh jurat-e-fariyaad kahaan
dil se tang aake jigar yaad aaya

fir tere kooche ko jaata hai khayaal
dil-e-gumgashta magar yaad aaya

koee weeraanee-see-weeraanee hai
dasht ko dekh ke ghar yaad aaya

maine majnoon pe ladakpan mein 'Asad'
sang uthaaya tha ki sar yaad aaya

Meaning of difficult words -
deeda-e-tar = wet eyes
tashna (or tishna ) = thirsty
hanoz = yet/still
nai_rang = trick, magic
uzr = excuse
waamaandagee = tiredness
rizwaan = doorkeeper of paradise
khuld = heaven/paradise
jurat = courage/valor
koocha = a narrow street/lane
gumgashta = missing
dasht = desert
sang = stone

Line 1/2 - The poet says I remembered the wet eyes again, as my heart and liver have become thirsty due to all the lament and bemoaning. Ghalib says my eyes keep shedding those blood tears and I can't  help but remembering those wet eyes again as my heart and liver have become empty of blood and are thirsty now and yet they want to keep up this tearful lamentation.

Line 3/4 - The poet says that the calamity had yet barely paused, I again recalled the times I spent with you before you took leave. Here the calamity being his beloved taking leave. He says hardly a moment had passed from the doomsday, the calamity had yet to take a breath (such a minute moment had only passed), that my mind again wandered to the times we spend together!

Line 5/6 - The poet says - look at the simpleness and mundaneness of the desire, of this yearning! And then the deceitful look came into my mind. The exact interpretation is unclear but can be regarded as see the worldliness and un-sophistication of the desires of the heart! It knows no trick. But then I recalled that trickery, the illusion came to my mind. Ghalib says that he can not do away with his thoughts of her, even though he knows his grasp of her is just a deception. She was nowhere within his reach.

Line 7/8 - The poet says excuse us of tiredness, O the desires of the heart. I was lamenting when I remembered about my liver. Ghalib again with the heart-liver-eyes analogy says, the desires of the heart, those yearning of love have been abandoned due to the exhaustion. I gave up those longings due to fatigue for I could have continued wailing but then I recalled the condition of my liver. The reasoning being that he can keep continuously weeping blood-tears, but the strain that this puts on the blood-producing liver and blood-pumping heart is hard to keep up. So I am no more lamenting to give rest to my tired liver.

Line 9/10 - The poet says my life would have passed by anyways, why did I bring your footpath in my thoughts. Ghalib in the very end of his life seemingly dejected, ponders that he could have passed his life (in any other way), had he not wasted it fooling around in her lanes. I could have got on with my life anyhow, I could have done something worthwhile with it. It was not like I could not have done, without hanging around her house. Why did her thought had to come to my mind? Why did I keep going there?

Line 11/12 - The poet says, I wonder if there will be fight with the Rizwaan? If your home comes to my mind in the paradise. The exact interpretation is again unclear. One could be that the poet says I marvel at the fight that is going to happen between him and the Rizwaan (the gatekeeper of heaven) if in paradise he recalls his beloved and brags praise at his beloved's home. His praise of her house would not go down well with the Rizwaan and we both could get into an argument (and possibly a fight)

Line 13/14 - The poet says Oh, where is that courage to bear so much lament now. I fed up with my heart, I remember the liver! Ghalib says where is endless capacity of lament now that he earlier had. Where has the capacity to bemoan gone? I am sick of this heart that can no longer lament, its is tired now. I remember the times when liver was active. I recall the times when my liver was alive to produce all that blood that my heart can pump and my eyes can shed in lament! Now the liver is no more and so my heart does not have much strength to lament anymore.

Line 15/16 - The poet says - my thoughts goes to your locality again! but then I (stop) as I remember my heart that I lost in those lanes. Ghalib says my thoughts repeatedly goes off in the direction of the Beloved's street, and as if to halt his thoughts, he recalls that that he lost his heart on those streets. The use of 'magar' is open to interpretations here. As if to stop his thoughts from racing in those direction, my still missing heart that I lost there! Instead of him recalling his beloved, on the contrary he remembers he is still missing his heart. In a sense, it conveys rejection from his beloved and his heart should have been restored to him, but it is still not!

Line 17/18 - There is this desolate desolateness! I see endless upon endless barrenness everywhere my eyes can see. On seeing this desert, I am reminded of my own home. The poet says that on seeing this never-ending expanse of desert, it reminds me of my own home for my home is also desolate. The imagery, the juxtaposition of ideas and emotions and the masterful play of words is absolutely brilliant. Here the ceaseless wasteland conjures images of home! It can also be interpreted as the poet always used to lament about the emptiness of his home and his existence as a perfect example of desolateness, but when he sees the desert, he remembers his home and the luxurious life he has compared to the bleakness of this desert.

Line 19/20 - The poet says I, Asad - in my childishness had raised stone from the ground to throw at Majnu, and then I remembered my own head!. Majnu is his life time was said to be a deranged lover who would be needlessly troubled by cohorts of stone-throwing boys who made fun of his insanity. The poet says I too childishly, had pick up a stone to throw at him, when I realized about my own head (and what will be my state in case a rock hit me like ones we are throwing at Majnu). The realization that the state of Majnu is not different from his!. The pain that will inflict on Majnu head will be felt on his head as well for he is no different from that crazy and nearly lunatic lover.

Photo Of The Day

Cave besides Loch Ard Gorge

Mackenzie Falls, Grampians National Park, Victoria