paayaa nah dil bahaayaa hu))aa sail-e ashk kaa
mai;N panjah-e mizhah se samundar bilo chukaa

1) I didn't find the heart that was [in a state of having been] floated away by the flood of tears
2) with the hand/claw of the eyelashes, I had already churned the sea



panjah : 'The hand with the fingers extended; claw, paw (of a tiger, &c.); clutch, grasp, possession, power'. (Platts p.271)


bilonaa : 'To shake, &c.; to churn'. (Platts p.166)

S. R. Faruqi:

Mir had a special penchant for images of the sea and the wave-filled river. This is a bit strange, because he never saw the sea, and perhaps never even saw a river broader than the Ghaghra. Thus it's entirely the special feature of the accomplishment of his imaginative power and the receptiveness of his temperament that in ghazals, masnavis, shikar-namahs-- in every genre of poetry he has versified the image of the sea and the roiling waves more than have other poets. Other poets will be brought into the discussion at appropriate points.

At the moment, in the present verse, look at the image of churning the sea with the 'hand' of the eyelashes, and that of the heart having been floated away on a flood of tears. In a flood of tears, the heart floated away. Then the flood of tears assumed the form of a sea. In this sea, the eyelashes were like fingers/claws, by means of which the heart was being groped for. To churn the ocean with eyelashes is an extraordinary hardship, and also an extraordinary effort, and also the limit case of an ineffective task. Both have come together, the typhoon of tears and the helplessness of the heart, and what an excellent image of the vain effort of the searcher they have captured!

For images of the wave-filled river, Mir's masnavi daryaa-e ((ishq is worth examining. For example, look at these individual verses:

aab kaisaa kih ba;hr thaa ;za;x;xaar

[how was it water? --for the ocean was raging
swift and turbulent and dark and depth-filled]

mauj har ek kamand-e shauq thii aah
lip;Tii us ko bah rang-e maar-e siyaah

[every single wave was a noose of ardor, ah!
it entwined him/her like a black serpent]

kashish-e ((ishq aa;xir us mah ko
le ga))ii khe;Nchtii hu))ii tah ko

[the tugging of passion finally, pulling,
drew that moon down into the depth]

In the present verse bilonaa is another meaningful word. In our mythology, the purpose of churning the ocean was to obtain nectar [amrit]. But before the nectar, poison emerged, which Shiv-ji drank up. Here, if we suppose the purpose of the churning of the sea was the recovery of the heart (like the nectar), then effortlessly the meaning emerges that the heart was not obtained, but poison was certainly obtained.

For further imagery of the sea, compare also


[See also {552,9}; {950,9}.]



Here's a verse of sheer hyperbolic virtuosity. Everything, as SRF observes, is carried to the max and then almost beyond. How extravagantly, how impossibly much one must weep, for the tears to form a sea-- and a sea so turbulent that it entirely carries off the heart! And then, how grimly determined must one be, to resolve to churn (or 'comb', another sense of panjah ) through this fathomless sea with one's tiny eyelashes, searching for it! And then, how deep and roiling the sea must be, that could render such determination fruitless! And then, how frustrated must be the speaker, who with this little bilo chukaa passes off this whole eyelash-search as something almost perfunctory, something that's so over, something that's only a prelude to whatever form of search or other action he's impatiently planning next.

This verse of Ghalib's is a kind of inversion of Mir's use of the sea, but in its extravagance and grandiosity it seems to catch something of the same mood: