tuu ho aur dunyaa ho saaqii mai;N huu;N mastii ho mudaam
par ba:t-e .sahbaa nikaale u;R chale rang-e sharaab

1) may you be, and may the world be, Saqi; may I be, may intoxication be always/'wine'!
2) may the 'wine-duck' bring out wings; may the color/mood/style of wine fly around!



mudaam : 'Continuous; continual, lasting; perpetual; eternal; —continually; perpetually; always; eternally; —s.f. Wine; spirits'. (Platts p.1014)


rang u;R chalnaa : 'To lose colour, to fade; to change colour, become pale (from emotion, or fear, &c.), to be afraid'. (Platts p.601)

S. R. Faruqi:

The theme of the 'wine-duck' being in motion, and the 'wave of wine' flying aloft, Ghalib too has well versified:


But Ghalib has versified only the wine-drinking and enjoyment aspects of the theme. Mir's verse is an enchantment of mood and meaning. First of all, notice that contrary to the usual practice, he has made the Saqi a worldling. And the speaker has said, 'Saqi, keep on giving the people of the world wine to drink, or remain absorbed in transactions with them, or keep on increasing the glory of the wine-house; I don't need you'.

That is, I don't want the intermediary or means of the Saqi; I want direct, independent intoxication. I don't want for people to be in the gathering, for the Saqi to serve them glasses of wine, for me to receive a glass in my turn, and for my intoxication to turn to a hangover [;xumaar] while I wait for my next turn. I want perpetual intoxication, and to see the wine-duck flapping its wings and flying aloft.

The wine-drinking vessel that was in the shape of a duck used to be called a 'wine-duck'. It was often placed in a 'wine-basin' [;hau.z-e sharaab], and the vessel floated around on the surface of the basin. Mir wants to attain such a state of intoxication that the wine-duck would take flight (the way when wine gurgles out of the bottle they assume it to be a wave, in the same way the wine-duck would become intoxicated and begin to fly). Or else in intoxication and drunkenness I would be so wavering and swaying that the wine-duck would, instead of swimming, seem to be in flight.

But not even this would be enough: the 'color of wine' too should take flight-- that is, the color of wine should spread out in every direction. This too has two aspects. Either the wine should turn into flame, or it should turn into a wave, and it should fly away, and its color should spread in every direction; or again, that I should attain such intoxication that in every direction I should see wine and more wine.

Over all, this verse is about pleasure [nishaa:tiyah]; but its Sufistic meanings, especially the theme of direct and unmediated attainment of the Divine, are also entirely clear. One meaning of mudaam is 'wine' as well; thus it too is a zila with 'Saqi', 'wine-duck', 'intoxication', etc. Miraji's nazm aabgiine ke us paar kii ek shaam comes to mind (from tiin rang , pp. 147-148):

mirii aazurdah pattii ! mai;N tujhe yuu;N noch kar gulzaar kar duu;Ngaa
kih har ;xuushah chamak u;T;The _ ba:t-e mai tairtii jaa))e
ba:t-e mai tairtii jaa))e , mai;N andhaa to nahii;N huu;N , haa;N
ba:t-e mai tairtii jaa))e

[my downcast leaf! I will pinch you like this and make you into a garden
so that every 'bravo!' would suddenly flash. Let the wine-duck go on swimming
let the wine-duck go on swimming, I am after all not blind, indeed
let the wine-duck go on swimming]

It's clear that Miraji's remarkable nazm is extremely complex, and works on a number of levels at the same time. But in both poets' verses there's a vision of direct experience, and of forgetting or abandoning oneself by means of direct experience. And the casualness with which Mir has told off the Saqi enables us to guess that he is fully aware of the situation.

Then, pay some further attention to the structure of the first line. Apparently both parts of it are subjunctive [du((aa))iyah], That is, 'oh Saqi, may you be and may the world be, but may I be and may perpetual intoxication be. But since in the second part the word 'and' has been omitted, its meaning can also be in the present tense: 'now I am in the state of perpetual intoxication'. If we adopt this reading, then the second line, instead of being in the subjunctive, becomes imperative [amariyah]. He's composed an uncommon verse.

[See also {907,1}; {920,2}.]



The expression rang u;R chalnaa , 'for the color to fly away', is a common idiomatic expression, and it's usually used for pallor-- 'for the face to become pale' (that is, for color to flee from the face). For an excellent example of this usage, explicated as such by SRF, see {74,2}. As SRF notes, and as is clear from the definition above, this is generally an indication of fear or grief or some other kind of agitation. Similarly, what does it mean for the wine-duck to 'bring out wings'? Would it then (undesirably) fly away? The second line might thus present an ominous possibility of some kind.

But an alternative reading too is suggested by SRF, who proposes that we might take rang u;R chalnaa to mean 'to spread out in every direction'. This is certainly possible, and he suggests a similar alternative reading in {74,2} as well, something like 'to fly around' rather than 'to fly away'. Thus the 'color of wine' might (desirably) 'fly around, spreading itself in every direction'. Similarly, the wine-duck might use its new wings to (desirably) fly around the room, heightening the general intoxication and joy. A cheerfully expansive reading for the second line is thus also quite possible. Compare


in which the idea of color flying away/around is treated with a similar degree of ambiguity.

The verbs in the verse all appear to be future subjunctives, thus referring to things that might or might not happen. For semantic reasons I've translated them as hopes or wishes ('may you be') rather than mere flatly stated possibilities ('you might be'). Of course, it happens that here the subjunctive is identical in form to the intimate imperative ('be!'), but since issuing commands about things one can't control is futile, it can't be said to make much difference either way.

So this seems really to be a special kind of 'A,B' verse that I call a 'list' verse; it consists of four 'wishes' in the first line and two 'wishes' in the second. Are those wishes sincerely meant, or are they sarcastic? Are they literally meant, or metaphorical (that is, expressing how things might or should appear to someone sufficiently drunk)? Do the four in the first line go together in two pairs, or are they all separate?

SRF has brought out some of the possibilities, and a mix-and-match strategy can surely bring out more. And then, what is the relationship between the two lines? Do they describe different aspects of a single situation (an evocation of transcendent intoxication), or two different situations (the first imagining 'ordinary' intoxication, the second imagining an unmediated state that can dispense with wine entirely)?

Compare Ghalib's tuu ho aur line, which is a similar tour de force of ambiguity:


Note for grammar fans: The first-person future subjunctive huu;N (or ho;N ) occurs so rarely that it does look odd; in the real world what we find is ho jaa))uu;N .