maanind-e sham((-e majlis shab ashk-baar paayaa
al-qi.s.sah miir ko ham be-i;xtiyaar paayaa

1) like the candle of the gathering, last night, we found him tear-shedding
2) in short, we found Mir powerless/helpless



qi.s.sah : 'A tale, story, narration; a romance; a fable; —a thing, affair, business, matter, theme; a case; matter or subject of dispute; a dispute, quarrel'. (Platts p.792)


i;xtiyaar : 'Choice, election; preference; option, will, pleasure, discretion; disposal, management, control, power, authority; right; privilege'. (Platts p.30)


be-i;xtiyaar : 'Without choice, involuntary, constrained, forced, compelled; without self-possession, control, or authority; —involuntarily, against (one's) will, in spite of oneself, perforce'. (Platts p.201)

S. R. Faruqi:

Here, how full of meaning is the word al-qi.s.sah ! In the first line he's said a superficial kind of thing, the line is apparently so weak that it doesn't seem possible for the result to be a good verse. But by saying 'in short', he has made it clear that the details of Mir's powerlessness and helplessness are such that-- how can they be set forth? Between the first and the second lines he has left a great deal unspoken; with only one word he has put aside all discussion. [See also


In the second line the word be-i;xtiyaar is also very meaningful. The way the candle of the gathering has no control over its weeping, it burns and weeps-- in the same way Mir had no control over his burning and weeping. If the word 'powerless' were not there, then the meaningfulness of the first line would become very little, and the connection of both lines would become weak.

To keep complete 'connection' [rab:t] between both lines is a very difficult and important art; for this reason early writers have given [in Arabic] 'connection between the two lines' a fundamental importance. Often, when praising some poet or some poem, it was considered enough just to say [in Persian] 'it is connected' [marbuu:t ast]. Mir has made [in his tazkirah nikaat ul-shu((araa ] this very objection against the poets of the Deccan: 'their poetry is not connected'. Qa'im, in his own tazkirah [called ma;xzan-e nikaat ], has disputed this objection.

In the present verse, the first line presents a scene, that like the candle of the gathering, Mir too was tear-shedding. It's obvious that the fundamental thing is the similitude with the candle. Now if there would be nothing in the second line from which the quality of the candle's tear-shedding would become clear, or it would become clear in what way the candle is tear-shedding, then the connection of both lines will remain small. Tabataba'i rightly declared 'joining one line to another' to be a very great art.



Unusually (but not all that unusually), the poet here includes his pen-name in the opening-verse as well as the closing-verse.

SRF here introduces 'connection' [rab:t], an extremely important term in ghazal poetics.

'Mir' was shedding tears the way a candle does. The candle's burning and the resultant 'weeping' itself constitutes the status quo-- it's normal, it requires no explanation, it's understood to be the essence and purpose of the candle's life. The candle has no say in the matter, but is created and lit (and thus caused to weep) by others who probably don't care at all about its welfare. When the candle stops burning and weeping, it's only because it's burnt out and 'dead'. The same is, by analogy, true of Mir's own weeping. This quality of matter-of-fact ordinariness helps to explain why Mir's condition requires no special discussion and can easily be conveyed summarily ('in short'). This ho-hum quality adds a further dimension of pleasure to the imagery of the verse.

Compare the similar use, and positioning, of al-qi.s.sah in


For an unusual case in which the burning, weeping candle really may (perhaps) have sympathizers, see Ghalib's