mire saliiqe se merii nibhii mu;habbat me;N
tamaam ((umr mai;N naa-kaamiyo;N se kaam liyaa

1) through my adroitness/skill, my [idea, project] succeeded, in love
2) my whole life long, I {made use of / 'took work from'} failures/disapplintments/'non-workingnesses'



saliiqah : 'Nature, natural disposition or constitution; genius; taste; good disposition; method, knack, way; knowledge, skill, dexterity, address'. (Platts p.671)


nibhnaa : 'To be accomplished, or performed, or effected; to succeed; —to serve, do, pass; to live, subsist, eke out a livelihood; to last, continue, endure'. (Platts p.1121)


naa-kaamii : 'Disappointment; unsuccessfulness; discontent'. (Platts p.1111)


kaam lenaa : 'To make use (of, - se ), to use'. (Platts p.804)

S. R. Faruqi:

Between naa-kaam and kaam liyaa , the wordplay is obvious. In the first line, the word saliiqah is very fine, because if some important task would be accomplished through some minor thing, they say falaa;N ko kaam karne kaa saliiqah hai . Then kaam liyaa is also very fine, because the verse hasn't made it clear whether the speaker has considered failure to be success, and in this way upheld his task; or showed endurance/patience in the face of failures. Nor is mu;habbat me;N nibhnaa devoid of pleasure, because here too he hasn't made it clear whether it succeeded with regard to the beloved, or merely to life, or to himself.

It's a very eloquent [balii;G] verse. In the tone there's dignity, and also a kind of trickiness. Muhammad Hasan Askari has very well written about this verse that 'Mir searches in negation for affirmation. With him, there will be defeat/loss, but there won't be defeatedness [shikast-;xvurdagii]. His sorrow becomes the excuse for a new search.'

The word saliiqah also means 'habit, relationship'. Here this meaning too has an affinity. Mir has used the word very well, with equal subtlety and cleverness, in another verse from the first divan


[See also {484,7}.]



For more verses that play with the possibilities of kaam , see {7,1}. Remember that kaam means not only 'work' but also 'desire'; here that latter meaning is invoked in naa-kaamii (see the definition above), which can mean both 'unsuccess' (a failure to get 'work' done) and 'disappointment' (a failure to get 'desire' achieved).

A lifetime of success made from non-successes-- it's sort of a quasi-paradox, like claiming to squeeze orange juice from non-oranges. What was the project or idea [baat] in the first place, that the speaker claims to have so adroitly achieved? As usual, we're left to decide for ourselves. It's all too possible that his 'adriotness' is merely verbal and/or self-deceptive: that he has (re)defined 'failure' in love as 'success' (since after all in the ghazal world the lover's deepest desire is to rush headlong to his doom). But there are plenty of other possibilities to intrigue and challenge our imaginations.

Note for grammar fans: In the first line, the feminine forms in merii nibhii are explained by a colloquially omitted baat . In the second line, ne has been omitted, which in Mir's day was still permissible.