gul yaadgaar-e chahrah-e ;xuubaa;N hai be-;xabar
mur;G-e chaman nishaa;N hai kisuu ;xvush-zabaan kaa

1) the rose is a memorial of the face of beautiful ones, {oh unknowing one / unknowingly}
2) the bird of the garden is a token/trace of some sweet-tongued one



S. R. Faruqi:

The connection of this verse with




is obvious. This theme-- that whatever flower blooms, blooms in exchange for some beautiful one's turning to dust-- Mir has expressed in other places as well. Ghalib and Nasikh will have borrowed it particularly from Mir. From the first divan [{549,8}]:

har qit((ah-e chaman par ;Tuk gaa;R kar na:zar kar
big;Rii;N hazaar shakle;N tab phuul yih banaa))e

[on every section of the garden just plant a gaze
a thousand forms were ruined; then these flowers were made]

From the second divan [{664,4}]:

hai;N musta;hiil ;xaak se ajzaa-e nau-;xa:taa;N
kyaa sahl hai zamii;N se nikalnaa nabaat kaa

[they are transformed from/by the dust, the limbs of newly-downy-cheeked ones--
how simple is it, the emergence of vegetation from the ground?!]

Nasikh's verse:

ho ga))e dafn hazaaro;N hii gul-andaam us me;N
is li))e ;xaak se hote hai;N gulistaa;N paidaa

[all the thousands of rose-bodied ones became buried in it--
for this reason, gardens are born from the dust]

Ghalib's verse:


On {664,4} and Nasikh's and Ghalib's verses, I've given my thoughts in detail in tafhiim-e ;Gaalib [2006; pp. 186-188]:

The first point is that both of Ghalib's lines are insha'iyah. Mir's second line [of {664,4}] is insha'iyah. Both of Nasikh's lines are informative [;xabariyah]. The general rule is that compared to the informative, the insha'iyah is better. Thus Nasikh's verse is entirely devoid of this excellence, Mir's verse has it in one line, and Ghalib's verse has this excellence in both lines. In Mir's verse is a subtle wordplay: because down on the cheek [;xa:t] is considered to be green, between it and nabaat there's an excellent affinity. In Ghalib's verse there's no wordplay. In Nasikh's verse, there's wordplay between 'rose-bodied' and 'garden' [literally, 'rose-place'], but there's nothing especially superior about it, and no beauty of meaning is created in the verse through that wordplay.

In Nasikh's verse there's such an effort to create clarity that the result is slackness. Nothing has been left out so as to generate thought or 'meaning-creation'. The rule that gardens are born from the dust is meaningless, because gardens are in fact born only from the dust; gardens don't grow in the ocean or the sky. And if gardens grow from the dust because rose-bodied ones are buried in them, then in the ocean too thousands of rose-bodied ones are buried, so why don't gardens grow from the ocean? Then, what is meant by 'became buried'? Are rose-bodied ones not being buried in the dust now too? Then, in hazaaro;N hii , what's the need for the hii ? It's obvious that the word hii has been used only to fill up the meter.

In Mir's verse [{664,4}], if the meaning of musta;hiil would be known, then the verse is no longer difficult, but the ambiguity remains. Consider kyaa sahl hai . The point is that when the limbs of the newly-downy-cheeked ones entirely melt into the dust, then greenery grows up. When a person-- and that too a young, beautiful person-- has mingled with the dust, then greenery raises up its head. In kyaa sahl hai is the suggestion that human life is of so little value, and is thrown away to such an extent, that when a young and beautiful person would melt into the dust, then somewhere grass grows. That is, the value of a single section of grass is expressed in the form of the bodies and lives of countless beautiful people. By saying mustahiil ;xaak se instead of ho ga))e dafn us me;N , Mir has alluded to a mysterious action through which a living organism gradually dissolves and becomes non-living; that is, becomes dust. (Keep in mind this instrumental point, that the bones and flesh of the dead body make extremely fine compost/fertilizer. It's possible that Mir might have known this, or might only have intuited it.) When this organic dust is absorbed into 'dead' dust, then a different type of living organism (vegetation) comes into being. In this way this verse also becomes a metaphor for the cycle of death and life. The word nikalnaa is a metaphor for growing, and also for emerging into manifestness from the hidden [;Gaib].

Nasikh's verse is devoid of all these dimensions.... For the beautiful ones, Nasikh has used the superficial and conventional gul-andaam . Mir, saying nau-;xa:taa;N , has given a 'proof' of youthfulness and early age, and has also created an affinity with nabaat .

[For SRF's discussion of Ghalib's verse, see G{111,1}.]

This is not the occasion to expand upon the discussion, but it's necessary to mention one further point: that Ghalib's insha'iyah style of speech has lifted his verse to a very high level. In his second line the ambiguity too is very subtle. In Ghalib's and Nasikh's verses an additional point is that flowers can grow up from the dust only of the rose-bodied (that is, beautiful) ones. Where beautiful ones wouldn't be buried, there flowers won't grow up.

But in the present verse [{128,8}], Mir's imagination has taken a different path, which Ghalib and Nasikh have not reached. That is, in the second line Mir has encompassed the garden bird too-- that if the garden bird has a beautiful voice, then it's because some sweet-tongued one (poet, singer) has died and turned to dust, and from his dust the garden bird's dough has been leavened. In 'sweet-tongued' there's also the point that the garden bird might have been created from the dust of some other sweet-tongued bird. That is, both kinds of things are possible: that the dust of some man would have proved effective, or of some bird. If he had said 'of sweet expression' [;xvush-bayaa;N] then this possibility wouldn't have arisen.

It's possible that a ray from this [Persian] verse of Khusrau's might shine on all these verses:

'Oh flower, you who have sprung up from the earth,
In what state are those faces that have been buried in the dust of oblivion?'

Expressions like be-;xabar and so on are usually padding; but in Mir's verse be-;xabar is incalculably powerful, because it seeks to make people attentive to something of which they are usually ignorant-- that is, that this isn't a flower, it's a memorial of the faces of beautiful ones. In both lines, by using eloquent words like 'memorial' and 'token' he has also suggested that possibly this flower and this garden bird might not have arisen from the dust of beautiful ones and sweet-tongued ones, but rather might be their memorials and tokens. That is, beautiful people and people of beautiful expression (or sweet-tongued birds) have now left the world; these flowers and these gardens are their memorials.

Memorials and tokens have two meanings. One is that when we see flowers, then we remember the beautiful ones; and when we see garden birds we remember the sweet-tongued ones. The other is that the flowers had a relationship with the beautiful ones; and the garden birds, with the sweet-tongued ones. Now, after the departure of the beautiful ones and the sweet-tongued ones, when we see the flowers and the garden bird, then through the association with them we also remember the beautiful ones and the sweet-tongued ones.

Now one more meaning of be-;xabar becomes manifest-- that is, 'oh ignorant one, you consider these things to be lifeless or petty, although they are the memorials of valuable and admirable and lovable things (or rather, living and animated people) like the beautiful ones and the sweet-tongued ones. Another meaning too of be-;xabar is that we might consider it to be a quality of the rose; that is, the rose itself is ignorant of this, but the spiritual truth is that the rose is not merely a rose, but rather is also a memorial of the faces of the beautiful ones. He's composed a fine verse.

[See also {602,2}.]



Really, SRF has said everything that needs to be said about this lovely, melancholy verse.

I'd only like to add a point in defense of {664,4}. SRF apparently reads kyaa sahl hai as 'how simple it is!', and thus derives the idea that the verse devalues human life and treates it as of little account. But of course, as he would undoubtedly agree, kyaa sahl hai can also be read as an indignant exclamation 'as if it's simple!' (implying that it's not at all simple, and thus conveying a sense of the mysterious value and potency of human life); or else as 'is it simple?' (thus asking a thoughtful question about the whole matter).