kal thii shab-e va.sl ik adaa par
us kii ga))e hote ham to mar raat

1) yesterday was the night of 'union'-- at a single/particular/unique/excellent coquetry
2) of hers, we would have died, last night



S. R. Faruqi:

These verses [the five verses {183,12} through {183,16}] are a 'verse-set' [qi:ta((h band]. Mirza Ali Lutf, the author of gulshan-e hind , has expressed it very finely in a verse:

yih bhii hai nayii chhe;R kih u;Th va.sl me;N sau baar
puuchhe hai kih kitnii rahii shab kuchh nahii;N ma((luum

[this too is a new kind of teasing, that in 'union' she gets up a hundred times,
and asks, 'how much remains of the night-- I don't know at all!']

Apparently it seems that for the theme that Mirza Ali Lutf expressed in a single verse, Mir was obliged to compose a verse-set of a number of verses. But in truth, in Mir's verse-set there are many refinements and subtleties, on the basis of which this verse-set has become a superior example of 'erotic' [faasiqaanah] and playful [ibtihaajii] poetry.

First of all, look at the supreme idiom pusht-e chashm-e naazuk karnaa [in {183,14}]. Only three or four poets have made use of it, and no one at all has placed it within an episode the way Mir has.

In thii .sub;h jo mu;Nh ko khol detaa [in {183,15}] the jo is a conditional; that is, it's used to mean 'if'. And here thii is for confirmation; that is, morning would certainly have come. This is a usage particular to Urdu; it will be hard to find a trace of it in any other language. Through adopting this structure, infinite dramatic force is created in the poetry. For example, 'His cruelty and oppression was at such a level that if anybody opened his mouth, then-- it was all over, his head was in a state of having been cut off!' [ko))ii mu;Nh kholtaa to bas us kii gardan ka;Tii hu))ii thii] (that is, it was at once cut off).

Another beauty of the meaning is that to open the mouth is the same as for dawn to come; and the lover's chief goal is that the night would not be finished. In this way the permissibility of hiding the face in the curls [in {183,16}] emerges. But not only this-- in fact, the curls spread out over the face have themselves become a metaphor for night. That is, the beloved's curls spread out over her face are themselves a metaphor on the part of the beloved that there's still some of the night left. That is, the beloved too wants it not to be dawn; otherwise she wouldn't have covered her face with her curls.

Then, how excellently the pen-name has been used [in {183,16}], so that it is a form of address, and also does the work of a pen-name! This too is Mir's special style.

For the beloved to come and sleep at our house, and in this way for our sleeping fortune to awaken [in {183,13}], is also fine. In baham pahu;Nchnaa is a suggestion that this occasion has been obtained after great effort and difficulty; it's not a thing that happens every day.

The present verse is an 'enmeshed' [mu((aqqad] verse-- that is, a verse in which if the last word of the first line is joined to the beginning of the second line then the meaning appears. Nowadays some people consider it a 'fault' [((aib], although from it a kind of 'entanglement of words' [ta((qiid-e laf:zii] is created, and the elders have not considered 'entanglement of words' to be a fault. For further discussion on this, see:


In this verse-set the theme is not particularly deep, but the sequentialness of the expression and the flowingness of the words are beyond praise. Although the refrain was rather awkward [be-;Dhab], and the rhyme too was nothing very inspiring [shiguftah], he has used them with complete success. The 'affair-evocationi' [mu((aamilah-bandii] too is extremely fine.

One aspect of the theme of this verse, Mir has versified well in a ruba'i. The enjoyable thing is that there's 'affair-evocation'-- but not of an 'affair' itself, only of the longing for it:

va.sf apne dilo;N ke kis se kahye saare
us sho;x kii tamkii;N ne to jii hii maare
baalo;N me;N chhupaa mu;Nh nah kabhuu yuu;N puuchhaa
kah'h miir ga))ii raat kyuu;Nkar baare

[to whom would I tell the whole description of my heart?
the grandeur/dignity of that mischievous one has slain my inner-self
having hidden her face in her hair she never once asked,
'tell me, Mir, how did the night pass?', finally]



Really it's a brilliant verse-set; its five verses have a remarkably tight unity and narrative sequence.