kuchh nah dekhaa phir bah juz ik shu((lah-e pur-pech-o-taab
sham((a tak to ham ne dekhaa thaa kih parvaanah gayaa

1) we saw nothing then except for a single/particular/unique/excellent flame full of twistingness/agitation
2) as far as the candle, well, we had seen that the Moth went



pech-o-taab : 'Twisting and twining; convolution, twisting knots, folds; contortions; restlessness, anxiety, agitation, perplexity, disquietude, distraction, distress; vexation, anger, indignation'. (Platts p.297)

S. R. Faruqi:

The flame's being full of twistingness/agitation shows the heat of the fire, and also shows that there was so much heat in the Moth's heart that the flame that arose from his burning up was also restless and uneasy. The 'twistingness' also gestures toward the turmoil of emotions in the Moth's heart (through its sense of 'to be restless, to roll on hot coals'). If the candle and the Moth would be taken as metaphors for the beloved and the lover, then the meaning emerges that the moment he confronted the beloved, the lover's existence was erased and and became only a burning flame. He's composed a fine verse.

The dramatic style of the expression is very fine. He's left a number of things unspoken (for example, he's expressed only one part of the scene-- he hasn't stated that the Moth was burnt by the candle-flame, he's only mentioned the situation of his coming near the candle). The terseness of the expression has created intensity-- so much so that he hasn't even made clear why the Moth had gone near the candle. While Ghalib has spelled out the situation:


In the present verse the dramatic tone has become somewhat more effective also because the event that happened later (the Moth's burning up) he has presented first, and the event that happened first (the Moth's going toward the candle) he has placed later. The style of narrating events too is Mir's alone-- as if two people would be talking between themselves, or some eyewitness would be describing to someone else the sequence of events. This same 'mood' of narration is also present in


Qa'im Chandpuri has versified Mir's theme straightforwardly, but he wasn't able to find a 'reply' [javaab] for Mir's first line. In Mir's verse the image is very fast-moving and visual, and the style is very dramatic. This dramaticness has been reinforced in the second line; in the second line the word to has extreme power. Qa'im has placed this word in the first line, and has derived advantage from that, but his verse is devoid of the image:

sham((a tak jaate to dekhaa thaa ham us ko qaa))im
phir nah ma((luum hu))ii kuchh ;xabar-e parvaanah

[going as far as the candle, well, we had seen him, Qa'im
then, no information came about the Moth]

Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rind too has sought to sustain this theme:

aur mai;N raaz-e niyaaz-e ((ishq se vaaqif nahii;N
yih to dekhaa hai sar-e parvaanah hai aur paa-e sham((a

[with the secret of the submissiveness of passion, I am not further acquainted--
I have seen this: there is the head of the Moth, and the foot of the candle]

Rind's second line is superb. But over-elaboration has entered into his first line; therefore his verse has remained weaker even than Qa'im's. Nevertheless, the dramaticness and mysterious style of the second line is very fine.



The Moth's fiery end occurs offstage, leaving us to invent or construe it in relation to a twisting, agitated flame. The pech-o-taab itself can be physical and/or emotional (see the definition above), and the flame is ik , with its multivalent possibilities. There's also a question of timing: did the speaker see the actual flame of the Moth's burning, or did he only manage to see the aftermath, in which the candle was unusually agitated, and its flame unusually hectic? As SRF observes, the elliptical style of expression enhances the 'dramaticness' of the scene. We're left with a romantic sense of unresolved (and unresolvable) emotions.

The Moth's vanishing is a kind of 'gesture'-- its potency enhanced by the fact that not only is the gesture non-verbal and thus ultimately uninterpretable, but we also aren't even able to see it being made.

The mysteriousness and power of this verse remind me of


In that verse too, the real fate of the vanished lover remains dramatically unknowable.