dii aag rang-e gul ne vaa;N ai .sabaa chaman ko
yaa;N ham jale qafas me;N sun ;haal aashiyaa;N kaa

1) there, the color/style of the rose set fire, oh spring-breeze, to the garden
2) here, we 'burned' in the cage, having heard the condition/state of the nest



jalnaa : 'To burn; to be burnt; to be on fire; to be kindled, be lighted; to be scorched, be singed; to be inflamed, to be consumed; to be touched, moved, or affected (with pity, &c.); to feel pain, sorrow, anguish, &c.; to burn or be consumed with love, or jealousy, or envy, &c'. (Platts p.387)

S. R. Faruqi:

The image of fire being set in the garden by the color of the rose, Mir has used with peerless 'dramaticness' in this verse from the fourth divan:


Having read the present verse, it's natural to think of Ghalib's widely famous verse:


The psychologically penetrating insight, the mixture of sarcasm and sympathy, and the subtlety of 'implication' in Ghalib's verse, it will be fruitless to search for in Mir's. But Mir's verse too is not devoid of fine points. The mischievousness of the 'color' of the rose (that is, the 'color' of the beloved) has set fire to the whole garden. It's clear that the nest too had burnt up, but the cruel playfulness [sitam-:zariifii] is that the rose for whose sake the nest had been made in the garden, the rose thanks to whom the garden was the garden-- that very one destroyed the garden.

This is what they call 'world-burning beauty'! The 'implication' of the rose has created this meaning; otherwise, the metaphorical meaning was simple: that spring came to the garden and everywhere red flowers bloomed, as if a fire had started. The address to the spring-breeze too is very fine. Because fire is started and spread only by means of the wind. The wordplay of 'set fire' and 'burned' is also very fine.

Another meaning is that it's not necessary that in reality fire would have started in the garden-- rather, the scene would be the widespread illumination from the lamp of the rose. In this case, having heard the condition of the nest, the meaning of 'burning' will be that light has spread in every direction, but because we are not there, the nest is dark. Another point worth considering is that there, the color of the rose burned the garden; and here, the mention of it 'burned' us. He's composed a fine verse.



What does it mean to 'burn' [jalnaa]? The various meanings (see the definition above) open a wide variety of physical and emotional reactions on the speaker's part. Which ones are invoked will depend on what we take to be 'the condition of the nest'; and this is left for us to decide.

We might assume that the nest has been destroyed, burnt to ashes by the raging conflagration of a real fire in the garden. In this case, the bird-speaker might react by 1) suffering and 'burning' with grief and sympathy over the terrible fate of the nest, which might have his family in it; 2) 'burning' with envy at this supremely desirable consummation of a lover's destiny, which was attained by others but not by the speaker himself; 3) literally 'burning' to ashes in flames of ardor and longing (for if the rose's color can start a literal fire, surely the lover's passion can do so too).

Alternatively, we might assume that the fire is metaphorical, so that the nest hasn't really been burned to ashes. Rather, the nest is most fortunate to be in the garden, suffused with the blazing red radiance of the rose. In this case, the bird-speaker might react with either envy (of the transfiguring experience of those in the nest) or grief (that he himself isn't in the nest to participate in this radiant joy).

SRF says that the metaphorical meaning ('the rose's color/style is a fire') is simple and straightforward when compared to the power of 'implication' [kinaayah] to set things going more vigorously ('the rose's color/style burned up the garden'). I wonder whether the 'implication' is really the key to what's going on here. What can 'implication' do here that metaphor cannot? If the rose's color metaphorically 'is' a fire, wouldn't it then have a fire's power to burn things down? And since the verse explicitly says that the rose's color did set fire to the garden, is this really an 'implication'? Such questions-- of literal versus metaphorical meanings, and of how we can best analyze and discuss them-- cut right to the heart of ghazal poetics. They always make my head spin with the oscillation back and forth between the two. Reading Mir offers many occasions to think about such issues.