daa;G aa;Nkho;N se khil rahe hai;N sab
haath dastah hu))aa hai nargis kaa

1) the scars/wounds, like eyes, are all opening/blooming/expanding
2) the hand has become a handful/bouquet of narcissus



khilnaa : 'To open, expand (as a flower), to blow, bloom, flower; to open, crack, burst, swell (as a wall, or plaster, or parched grain, &c.; cf. khiil ); to break out, show itself or its effects (as intoxicating liquor, &c.); --to be set off (by), to show to advantage (on, - par ), to look well or becoming (as a dress or a person, or one colour upon another); --to expand or swell (with pleasure), to be exhilarated, be delighted; to rejoice, laugh'. (Platts p.878)


khulnaa : 'To open, come open or undone; to open, expand, blow (as a flower; com. khilnaa ); to open out, unravel; to be opened (as a knot, or a road for traffic, &c.); to be disentangled, be unravelled; to be untied or unfastened; to be uncovered, be unfolded, be exposed, be laid bare; to be laid or cut open, be dissected, be analyzed;--to be expanded, be widened or enlarged; to be developed'. (Platts p.879)

S. R. Faruqi:

In former times it was the custom that to lessen the wildness of passion (or any wildness caused by madness) they used to make wounds on the body. It was also the practice of lovers that in order to prove their passion to be sincere, they used to wound their hands; see


Now these wounds have bloomed-- that is, from age they have become diminished; it's obvious that from blooming their shape is like that of eyes; thus the whole hand seems to be a bouquet of narcissi. For eyes too 'to open/bloom' is used; this is an additional cause of affinity. The affinity of 'hand' and 'handful' is obvious. 'To bloom' also means 'for perfume to be spread'; in this regard there's also an affinity between 'narcissus' and 'are blooming'.

All these affinities Ghalib has used better than Mir, but it's possible that Mir's verse might have suggested this idea to him. Ghalib's verse [from a qa.siidah] is:

vaaqa((ii dil par bhalaa lagtaa thaa daa;G
za;xm lekin daa;G se bahtar khulaa

[truly, the scar/wound looked fine on the heart
but the wound opened/appeared better than the scar]

He calls the 'wound' a rose', and 'for a wound to bloom', that is, for a wound to be healed, is also an idiom.

The wordplay of 'hand' with 'handful' Mir has also used once more in the first divan itself:


But it's clear that in {420,7} there's not the pleasure that's found in 'hand' and 'handful'. (The verse has other excellences, which will be described in their place.) In the second divan Mir has composed this theme in a very explicit style [{1044,10}]:

gul khaa))e hai;N afraa:t se mai;N ((ishq me;N us ke
ab haath miraa dekho to phuulo;N kii cha;Rii hai

[I've {'eaten roses' / scarred my hand} a great deal, in passion for her
now if you look at my hand, then it's an embroidery of flowers]

[See also {483,3}; {1341,1}.]



About khilnaa and khulnaa : One of the fascinations, but also frustrations, of verses like the present one is the relationship of khilnaa , 'to bloom', and khulnaa , 'to open'. In Urdu script they normally look identical (since the diacritics that would distinguish them are rarely used), and their meanings are intertwined and partially overlap; see the definitions above. (Another striking example: {617,3}.) In a verse full of eyes and flowers, of course they are both always being at least implicitly invoked. In SRF's description above of idiomatic uses, I'm not at all sure that I've figured out in every case which one he had in mind.

This verse is also an example of what I call 'grotesquerie'. The idea that wounds are like eyes is rather off-putting in itself, and the idea of a hand covered with such 'eyes' is pretty revolting. Of course this is just a subjective reaction, and not relevant to the tradition at all. But still, I want to gather such verses together, for my own further thought and study. On the idea of self-wounding as practiced by lovers, see {1341,1}.