paidaa hai kih pinhaa;N thii aatish-nafasii merii
mai;N .zab:t nah kartaa to sab shahr yih jal jaataa

1a) it is manifest/clear that my fire-breathed-ness was hidden
1b) it is [now] manifest, that which was hidden-- my fire-breathed-ness

2) if I had not exercised restraint, then this whole city would have burned



paidaa : 'Born, created, generated, produced; invented, discovered, manifested, manifest, exhibited; procured, acquired, earned, gained'. (Platts p.298)

S. R. Faruqi:

The opposition between paidaa and pinhaa;N is here very fine. The device [.san((at] of 'opposition' [ta.zaad] is not created simply by juxtaposing two opposed words (as many people think). The requirement of this device is that of the two opposed words, one word should have a meaning that would confirm the meaning of the other-- as in the second line of Ghalib's


In the present verse of Mir's too, there's just the same effect. Where Mir has used the device of 'opposition', he's used it very finely.

One aspect of the theme of this verse, Shahryar too has versified very well:

ay shahr tiraa naam-o-nishaa;N bhii nahii;N hotaa
jo ;haadi;se hone the agar ho ga))e hotaa

[oh city, not even a trace of you would have existed
if the events that were to happen, had happened]

Asghar Ali Khan 'Nasim' Dihlavi has composed this theme, and greatly lowered it:

;xauf-e ;xudaa thaa varnah zamaane ko phuu;Nktaa
mai;N karte karte aah-e sharar-baar rah gayaa

[I feared the Lord, otherwise I would have blown away the age
I paused, while heaving spark-scattering sighs]



Thanks to the versatility of kih , the first line generates two enjoyably different readings. In (1a) the kih enables the claim of being 'manifest' to be made about a whole clause ('that my fire-breathedness was hidden'); that is, it's now manifestly clear that this was the case, because otherwise the whole city would have burned. In (1b) the kih connects two predicate adjectives: that [thing] is [now] manifest, which [formerly] was hidden (then the rest of the line identifies the thing). Thus it's very important that the speaker controlled himself, since his fire-breathedness is now so manifest in the real world that it can wreak an all too real destruction.

Of course, it's always possible to read the 'this city' as the lover's body. But there's no reason it shouldn't be a real city (or at least, a city as real as any city in the ghazal world). When Ghalib threatens a city, he uses tears and a flood: compare