kis kii masjid kaise mai;xaane kahaa;N ke shai;x-o-shaab
ek gardish me;N tirii chashm-e syah ke sab ;xaraab

1) whose mosque, what kind of a wine-house, what sort of venerable-elder and youth?!
2) in a single/particular/unique/excellent revolving of your black eye-- all ruined/wrecked/drunk!



;xaraab : 'Ruined, spoiled, depopulated, wasted, deserted, desolate; abandoned, lost, miserable, wretched; bad, worthless, vitiated, corrupt, reprobate, noxious, vicious, depraved, profligate'. (Platts p.487)


iihaam : 'Causing a blunder, deceiving, misleading, puzzling; exciting suspicion; omission, neglect; ambiguity, amphibology; insinuation'. (Steingass p.134)

S. R. Faruqi:

shai;x = old man
shaab = youth

The opening-verse is powerful, but there's no excellence in the theme. Atish too had this style: he used to compose verses of great pomp and circumstance, but nothing emerged from them.

Here the word siyah has accomplished something, because someone who would be extremely intoxicated is called siyah mast . And someone exhausted in the final stage of drunkenness is called ;xaraab . Here in the word ;xaraab there's an iham.



This sort of list-like, urgently interrogative first line is a wonderful way to create perplexity and suspense. Mir has used the device often, especially in longer meters. But perhaps the most similar case is the delightful


A discussion of iham: SRF says that the word ;xaraab contains an iham. But I find that perplexing. On the strict definition advocated by Mir (a word with one common meaning and one obscure one, such that the reader thinks the poet intends the common one but he actually intends the rare one), I can't see how that would really happen. I assume that SRF means for us to consider 'ruined, wrecked' to be the common meaning (see the definition above), and the idiomatic 'exhausted by drunkenness' to be the rare one. But by the time we get to the word ;xaraab , we've already heard every other word in the whole verse; so why wouldn't we think of the idiomatic 'drunken' meaning first, and the general 'ruined' meaning second? After all, we've already had 'wine-house' in the first line, 'venerable-elder and youth' to go with it in a very common theme (as SRF points out), and siyah , and gardish too very often refers to the 'going around' of the wine-glasses in a gathering (see for example {1220,1}). So why would we not at once think of the idiomatic meaning, just as prominently as the common meaning? And obviously, the verse makes fruitful use of both meanings, rather than replacing one with the other. To my mind, this is (multivalent) 'meaning-creation', not a real case of iham.

This kind of problem points up the complexities of the term iihaam . Mir himself doesn't seem to have stuck to his own definition, because a number of verses that he cites in his tazkirah as iihaam are really riddles. And in my view, the central idea of iham as 'misdirection' implies that the reader must be FIRST misdirected, and then induced to recover and reinterpret. If the iham word is the last word in the verse, how can any such 'misdirection' occur?

In this project I am looking for many kinds of such 'misdirection', whether or not they are formally 'iham'. In the 'Terms' page there's a list of both mine and many 'official' ones identified by SRF. Here are a few particularly noteworthy examples:

= {107,1}, with a very straightforward 'textbook' kind of iham.
= [313,8}, discussing a verse of Abru's where we can't, and don't need to, choose between meanings.
= {736,1}, with the great credo that covers iham and almost everything else.
= {774,6}, described by SRF as containing two iham examples, both of them somewhat unpersuasive.
= {1098,2}, a quasi-iham case.
= {1139,1}, with two related meanings, no way to choose between them (and no need).
= {1577,3}, in which SRF finds what to me seems a very dubious iham.
= {1579,4}, another uncertain case.
= {1807x}, another quasi-iham case.
= {1836,8}, in which SRF describes a process of misdirection but doesn't apply the term.
= {1853x,2}, another such case.

There are many verses in which SRF points out an iham; I have marked only a handful in the 'Terms' list. To find more, use the search function to look for 'iham'.