Kave Kave SaKHt janiha-e-tanhai na pooch
Subh karna sham ka, lana hai j u-e-shir ka
Kave kave = Poet uses Kave as acronym for both kahish (Trouble) and kavish (labor) sakkht jan = diehard. Poet has used plural, Sakhtjaniha, because he experienced death-pain several times during a single night of Tanhai (loneliness/separation). Ju-e-sheer= brook of milk. This refers to a famous love story of Shirin and Farhad. Farhad was a labor who fell in love with a princess, Shirin. A marriage condition (or a ruse?) was put to him by a chamberlain: Bring a brook of milk from a hill/mountain called Koh-e-be-sutun (a mountain without pillar) to Shirin’s palace. Farhad took up this challenge and dug out a brook in this rocky terrain by laboring day and night and made milk flow through it. Farhad is also known as koh-kun = a rock digger because of this incident.
In this she’r Ghalib has alluded that his night of separation and its loneliness were so intense that it was like digging a brook of milk. The beauty of this she’r is that as usual Ghalib remains in confinement of a single thought without wavering out side the premise of the thought or subject. Since he wants to describe his labor of love he uses a love story from past, not anything else. Night will turn in a day as law of nature but Ghalib makes us believe that he turned his wretched night of loneliness into day by his own hard labor. He says: Subh karna sham ka; he doesn’t say: subh hona sham ka.
Please ponder on color combination of this she’r. Subh=day, opposite Sham=night/evening/darkness. When night turns into a day, black becomes white. He uses milk (white) as a symbol of day. Also appreciate how much he is able to stuff in just two small lines. By just saying “na pooch” (don’t ask) he told us all about the inquiries from foes and friends.
Translation of she’r: Please don’t ask me: how were trouble, labor, and several diehard deaths of my nigh of loneliness? Know that it was like digging a brook of milk. In Urdu, “Lana hai ju-e-sheer ka” has become an idiom for an impossible task