bistaraa thaa chaman me;N juu;N bulbul
naalah sar-maayah-e tavakkul thaa

1) the bedding/abode was in the garden, like the Nightingale,
2) the lament was the wealth/capital of trust/resignation



bistaraa : 'Bed, bedding (particularly of a soldier, faqiir , traveller, &c., which is rolled up in the morning); the abode or resting place of a faqiir '. (Platts p.155)


sar-maayah : 'Principal sum, capital, stock in trade; fund, funds, assets, means, resources; materials'. (Platts p.655)


tavakkul : 'Trusting (to), depending (upon); trust in God; faith, reliance; resignation (to the Divine will)'. (Platts p.343)

S. R. Faruqi:

If after 'in the garden' a break is imposed, then the meaning emerges that I had spread my bedding in the garden, and like the Nightingale the thing in which I trusted was only my lament. If no break is imposed, then the first line becomes a complete sentence, and the meaning emerges that like the Nightingale I too spread my bedding in the garden.

The image of spreading one's bedding in the garden is in any case very fine. The term tavakkul is used for the kind of trust in which patience/endurance [.sabr] would be included. The one whose whole property of trust would be only a lament (which is habitually without effect)-- his helplessness would be worth seeing.



The flexibility of juu;N bulbul , which is placed both semantically and in word-order context in a way that makes it work with either the clause before it or the clause after it, is what I call, for want of a better term, a 'midpoints' usage. Ghalib does it from time to time, but Mir does it very often. Sometimes, as in this case, it yields two distinct readings that convey different information; in other cases, it makes only a smaller difference. But the very fact of the undecideability between the two meanings keeps the mind restless, moving, stirred up, not finished with the verse. Such midpoint structures, which are generally adverbial (or sometimes adjectival) in nature, are another strikingly effective way to generate complex meanings within apparently 'simple' two-line poems.

SRF finds the verse's idea of spreading one's bedding in the garden very fine in itself, and no doubt it is enjoyable. But to my mind the chief charm is the wonderfully perverse idea of sar-maayah-e tavakkul , because these two are such unlikely words to be yoked together. The domain of sar-maayah is one of wealth, property, worldly resources, capital in the sense even of 'capitalism'; while tavakkul conveys just the opposite: resignation, patience, piety, an acceptance and endurance of whatever God sends (see the definitions above). The idea of a 'worldly-richness of unworldliness' is only a little more paradoxical.

And then this strange convergence is equated with a 'lament'. But of course, the Nightingale's powerful presence can't help but turn the lament into something musical, something beautiful, something that belongs in the garden. Might the speaker be learning from the Nightingale, or joining him as a fellow-singer? Will the speaker's lament bring him what the Nightingale's lament does? The Nightingale, preoccupied with his passion for the rose, doesn't give a damn about worldly wealth, and probably doesn't pay much heed to anything like tavakkul either. So how is the speaker's behavior like his? How does it all hang together? Is it chiefly a verse of 'mood'?

It's also such an abstract verse; there's no grammatical indication that the speaker is referring to his own bedding or his own lament. It could apply to all lovers-- or even, in its wonderfully dualistic perversity, to all human beings.