thii laag us kii te;G ko ham se so ((ishq ne
dono;N ko ma((rake me;N gale se milaa diyaa

1) her sword had an attachment/enmity/intrigue/'laag' with us-- thus passion
2) caused both, in the arena/battlefield, to {embrace / 'meet with the neck'}



laag : 'Harmonious relation; affinity; correlation; bearing; appositeness, adaptedness (of time, or place, or of means with an end, or of appearances with a fact or truth, &c.); relevancy; consistency, concurrence, correspondence, reciprocal suitableness or agreeableness; (in Math.) ratio; —attachment, affection, love; —an application, or a direction (of the mind), aiming; aim; attention; exertion, endeavour, attempt; —touching, reaching, attaining (to), approach; cost, expenditure; —hitting, striking; fixing; —an attack of ill-fortune, a calamitous occurrence, a blow, stroke; enmity, animosity, hostility, rancour, spite, grudge; rivalry, competition; —narcotic quality (of a substance); —intrigue, plot; a secret; —trick, legerdemain, sleight of hand, jugglery; a charm, spell, fascination; —catch, hold, support, basis, ground; a prop'. (Platts p.946)


ma((rakah : 'A place, or scene, of battle or fight; field of battle; battle-ground; an ampitheatre (for gladiators or prize-fighters); —strife, fight'. (Platts p.1048)

S. R. Faruqi:

The word laag has two meanings: 'love, relationship' and 'enmity'. Ghalib took a fine advantage of both meanings:


But the second meaning is so prominent that the commentators have ignored the first meaning ('love, relationship'). Mir, displaying the accomplishment of his art, has taken equal advantage of both meanings. With regard to 'love, relationship' the meaning is that her sword loved us, therefore when passion heated up the arena (that is, when it did its work), then it brought us both into an embrace (that is, caused me to be finished off). Here, how beautiful too is the use of gale se milaa diyaa ! The sword falls on the neck and cuts the neck-- to construe this as gale se milnaa is a high order of creativity.

Then if laag would be taken in the sense of 'love', there are two further points as well. One is that on the pretext of love or friendship her sword fell on our neck and severed it; and the other is the very claim of her love itself was for our neck to be severed. Because for a lover, the supreme thing will be that he would be slain by the beloved's hand.

There's also the point that the very task of a sword is to cut the neck-- from loving such a thing, what else will be the result? As Sa'di has said [in Persian],

'A scorpion's stinging is not because of any malice,
It's a claim made by his very nature.'

In the same way, if you passionately love a sword, then your neck will definitely be severed. It's a fine verse.

Dagh has made Mir's theme lighter, but has versified it trimly:

is :tara;h dushman-e jaa;N se nahii;N miltaa ko))ii
kyaa lipa;T kar tire ;xanjar se galuu miltaa hai

[does anyone meet a mortal enemy like this?!
how the neck hugs and embraces your dagger!]

[See also {1223,3}; {1768,4}.]



How could there be a richer example of a multivalent word than that laag in the first line? I've reproduced Platts's whole definition above, just in order to savor it. Is there a single one of those possibilities that couldn't be imagined, in one way or another, as existing between the beloved's sword and the lover? SRF focuses on the two biggest and most obviously apposite (and opposite) ones, but I don't see why the rest shouldn't be enjoyed as well. For another such splendidly multivalent use of laag , see


And gale se milnaa too -- it's quite normally and legitimately translated as 'to embrace', but it literally means 'to meet with the neck', which of course is spectacularly well suited to the idea of 'embracing' a sword. Intriguingly, we used to have a related expression in English that can be found in the King James Bible, as for example in Genesis 45:14:

'And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.'

To 'fall on the neck of' someone seems to be a particularly passionate, surrendering, almost helpless kind of embrace; and it gives a further fillip to the idea of gale se milnaa .

Moreover, whose 'passion' was it that caused this deadly embrace? That of the lover? That of the sword? Or was it some semi-personified 'Passion' itself that arranged the encounter? Needless to say, we're left to decide for ourselves.

Compare Ghalib's own brilliant use of wordplay to evoke the wild emotion felt by (or at least attributed to) the sword: