miir-e gum-kardah-chaman zamzamah-pardaaz hai ek
jis kii lai daam se taa gosh-e gul aavaaz hai ek

1a) Mir of the lost garden is 'one' melody-performer
1b) oh Mir, there is 'one' melody-performer of the lost garden

2) whose tune, from the net/snare to the ear of the rose, is 'one' voice



zamzamah : 'Singing, chanting, intoning; chant; modulation; hum, a low murmuring sound'. (Platts p.617)


pardaaz : 'Performing, accomplishing, finishing, completing'. (Platts p.246)


ek : 'One, single, sole, alone, only, a, an; the same, identical; only one; a certain one; single of its kind, unique, singular, preƫminent, excellent'. (Platts p.113)


aavaaz : 'Sound, noise; voice, tone; whisper; echo; shout, call, cry; report, fame'. (Platts p.101)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse the abundance of meaning [ka;srat ul-ma((nii] rests on the multivalence of the words in themselves, on grammar and usage, and on the arrangement of the words. There won't be many verses in which so many ways of creating an abundance of meaning have been used with such success and subtlety. I've said 'subtlety' because because apparently the verse seems entirely simple, there's no tumult and grandiosity. Now let's consider the verse.

If miir-e gum-kardah-chaman is considered as one construction, then the meaning becomes 'that Mir who has lost the garden'. But if we separate 'Mir' and consider 'lost garden' to be a construction, then 'Mir' becomes a vocative, and the meaning becomes, 'oh Mir, there is 'one' melody-performer of the lost garden' [ay miir , ek gum-kardah-chaman zamzamah-pardaaz hai]. If we accept the former meaning, then ek comes to have two meanings: (1) only one; that is, a number; (2) uncommon, as in this peerless opening-verse by Bal Mukund Huzur that some people have erroneously attributed to Mir:

yih jo chashm-e pur-aab hai;N dono;N
ek ;xaanah ;xaraab hai;N dono;N

[these eyes that are water-filled, both
they are uncommon/'one' house-wreckers, both]

Now the meaning has become that 'Mir of the lost garden' is a strange, uncommon kind of melody-performer.

If we accept the second reading, then zamzamah-pardaaz becomes not adjectival but active: that is, the meaning has become 'oh Mir, the 'one' of the lost garden is absorbed in melody-performing'.

Now let's consider gum kardah chaman . The meaning is, 'he who has lost the garden, he by whom the garden has become lost'. As yet there's no indication about, after his having lost the garden, where that bird is now. From the second line we learn that he's in a net/snare. Thus there can be two reasons for his garden-lostness. One is that he's in a net, thus the garden has been lost by him, or he has been lost by the garden.

But another reason is also possible: that while flying along, he ended up very far away-- so much so that he forgot the path, or became very tired. In this state he has either himself become ready to be captured, because he's forgotten the way, he can't go back home, so he prefers capture to a helpless death. Or again, having become worn out with fatigue, he's alighted somewhere to catch his breath, and in such an exhausted condition has been captured. In the words of Asghar Gondvi,

jahaa;N baazuu sima;Tte hai;N vahii;N .saiyaad hotaa hai

[where the wings are folded, right there the Hunter usually is]

But one meaning of gum kardah chaman can also be gum-kardah-e chaman -- that is, 'he whom the garden has lost'. Now the meaning emerges that the garden itself has lost this bird-- that is, that the garden didn't accept him, it didn't keep him with itself. With regard to this reading the bird becomes such a wretched creature that his own homeland didn't accept him. That homeland that was the home of shelter and stability-- for this bird it proved more unkind than a foreign land.

Now we'll consider zamzamah pardaaz . For [the Persian verb] pardaa;xtan , between seven and sixteen meanings have been recorded. The following are the ones fruitful for our purposes: 1) to sing; 2) to prepare, decorate, polish; 3) to set in order. Thus the bird of the lost garden is singing his melody; or is presenting it in a very finely arranged way; or is ordering and perfecting it.

In all these cases, the second line has two meanings: 1) His tune is such that from the net/snare to the ear of the rose, a single voice spreads out. That is, his song is very powerful. 2) His tune is absolutely uniform. But if the tune is absolutely uniform, then what kind of a 'melody-performer' is he? Thus it seems that on this reading the line conveys 'irony' [:tanz ya((nii 'irony'].

Let's move on further. Whatever meanings might be accepted for zamzamah pardaaz , the second line seems to bear a third interpretation as well. The bird's tune is such that from the net/snare to the ear of the rose it makes itself heard by everybody-- that is, at least by the net/snare and the ear of the rose-- equally (that is, bearing a single identical effect). That is, the effect it has in the trapping-ground is the effect it has in the garden as well. It's not the case that (for example) in the trapping-ground it would seem sorrowful and melancholy, but to the garden-dwellers is would seem full of joy.

But flowers are considered to be unable to hear. Because of the similitude between petals and ears, flowers are considered to have ears; but since flowers don't 'give ear' to (pay no attention to) the laments and sighs of the Nightingale, they're said to be deaf. Thus if this aspect is adopted, then the meaning emerges that no one is hearing the complaint of the bird of the lost garden-- his tune is like the same voice, from the ear of the rose to the net/snare. That is, it has no existence, since for a flower a voice has no existence. And since his tune is the same from the ear of the rose to the net/snare, seemingly there's no hearer of his sighing and lamenting.

Moreover, ek aavaaz can also mean that in his tune there's no melody, there's just a plain and uncolorful voice. In such a case zamzamah pardaaz again becomes the bearer of a tone of sarcasm/irony. The poor thing is trying to do zamzamah pardaazii , or is considering himself a zamzamah pardaaz ; but in truth, because of the helplessness of captivity, or of his worn-outness, or the grief and sorrow of captivity, only a tuneless kind of whistle is coming from his mouth. If he were free, and were in his own garden, then it would be a different matter. Now there's just a single sound/cry that is echoing in every direction. In short, from whichever aspect we look, on whichever word we focus our attention, we see a treasury of meaning.

Nisar Ahmad Faruqi has written that in the second line lai should be read not as a noun meaning 'tune, melody', but rather as a verb, a shortened form of le kar . In this case, the prose form of the line will be like this: us kii aavaaz gosh-e gul se le ( kar ) daam tak ek ( hii ) hai . In this reading, besides the [defective] 'joining' [of the word order], the omission of kar seems unpleasant; but to consider it to be one possible reading is entirely proper. Though indeed, we can't call it a single reading, because in that case many of those aspects of the meaning that I have described above will be weakened.



This ghazal is one of only a handful for which SRF has chosen to comment on every single verse; he obviously considers it exceptionally superb. It's also unusual for having the poet's pen-name present in the opening-verse, and absent from the last verse (so that the ghazal has no formal 'closing-verse').

Could there ever be a better example of the power of ek ? This little word is a magnificent multivalence-creator all by itself (see the definition above). The present ghazal, by incorporating ek into its refrain, guarantees that all the verses will have at least one chance to make use of it. The opening-verse of course has two chances, and does it ever take advantage of them! Just try inserting those manifold possible definitions in various combinations into the two available slots, and you'll see how wildly fruitful the possibilities become. That's why I haven't even tried to translate ek , but have merely left it as 'one'.

Since izafats in traditional divans aren't shown (or at least theoretically shouldn't be shown), where the meter permits (as it does in the present case) we can read the first line either with an izafat after Mir (1a), or without one (1b).

Compare the poignant but much less complex {840,5}:

bulbul qafas me;N is lab-o-lahjah pah yih fi;Gaa;N
aavaaz ek ho rahii hai gulsitaa;N talak

[the Nightingale in the cage-- in addition to such a melody, such a lament!
the voice is becoming 'one' as far as the garden]

Compare also another, though far less haunting, case of someone described as gum-kardah-chaman :


And here's a melancholy example of a later stage of lamentation, in {364,1}:

naalah-e qaid-e qafas se chuu;T ab ik dam nahii;N
gosh-e gul se lagte the jaa ke so vuh mausam nahii;N

[now there's not a single breath/moment of release for the lament of cage-captivity
for it's not that season when it used to go and attach itself to the ear of the rose]

Among the people who misattribute to Mir the Bal Mukund Huzur verse cited by SRF is Hali, in muqaddamah-e shi((r-o-shaa((irii , p. 171. For more on the problems of verses misattributed to Mir, see {1015,1}.