mai;N ne kyaa is ;Gazal ko sahl kiyaa
qaafiye hii the us ke uu;T pa;Taa;Ng

1a) as if I made this ghazal simple!
1b) how simple I made this ghazal!
1c) did I make this ghazal simple?

2) its very rhyme-words were-- a jumble!



S. R. Faruqi:

Beyond all doubt, to compose such a ghazal in this 'ground', and that too in a 'short meter', is an uncommon feat, and a proof of the young Mir's accomplishment in poetry. In the old days people used to reach [the English word] 'perfection' [kamaal] from a young age, and the method of education was a good one, such that almost everybody could reach a level of 'perfection'.

Though indeed, after 'perfection' the second stage, [the English word] 'wisdom' [;hikmat], had to be attained, and that level was not vouchsafed without God-given talent. This is the level of maturity and practicedness that not only Mir, but all the poets of the classical era (that is, all those poets whose era was up to the end of the nineteenth century, such as Dagh, Jalal, Amir Minai, etc.) attained from early in their lives.

And in their poetry we don't see what we call, following English criticism, 'development'. It's another thing entirely that in the work of great poets like Mir and Ghalib, Anis and Dard and Sauda, along with 'perfection', 'wisdom' can be seen as well, while in the work of people of lesser rank 'wisdom' is very little, or is entirely lacking.

In the present ghazal there's a flourishingness [shiguftagii], an egotism [anaaniyat], a rakishness [baa;Nkepan], along with mastery of expression and also some dignity of tone. All these qualities are found in the best verses of Zafar Iqbal's 'anti-ghazal' as well. Like all kinds of the principles of the ghazal, the principles of the 'anti-ghazal' too are found in their full clarity in Mir's poetry. But the present ghazal is so replete that it has the authority of a 'tour de force'-- especially if it's kept in mind that in most of its verses there's a 'perfection' of 'meaning-creation' as well.

It's not surprising that many poets have turned aside from this path. Mus'hafi changed the meter and composed a ghazal, and used a number of Mir's rhyme words, but there's neither that flourishingness nor that meaning-creation. For example, look at the rhymes saa;Ng and thaa;Ng in Mus'hafi's ghazal, and compare them with Mir's:

bahruup hai yih jahaa;N kih jis me;N
har roz nayaa bane hai ik saa;Ng

[it's a shape-shifter, this world, in which
every day a new spectacle is created]

dillii me;N pa;Re;N nah kyuu;N-ke ;Daake
choro;N kii har ek ghar me;N hai thaa;Ng

[why wouldn't there be dacoits in Delhi?
in every single house is a den of thieves]

It's hardly necessary to say that Mus'hafi did nothing more than simply versify the rhyme words.

Indeed, Yaganah has used both Mir's 'ground' and his meter-- and in truth, his courage is praiseworthy! It's a pity that in Yaganah's verse the flourishingness, the cheerfulness, and the heart-pleasing rakishness are not to be found. Then, there's also the fact that Yaganah was always in search of themes, but he wasn't able to bring all the possibilities of those themes into the field of action. In his verse there's extremely little 'meaning-creation'. Nevertheless, it's beyond doubt that Yaganah achieved what Mus'hafi was unable to do:

ek or ek do kase samjhaa))e;N
un ke mur;Ge kii hai vuhii ik ;Taa;Ng

[over to one side, a few miscellaneous people might explain/persuade--
their rooster has exactly that same single leg]

bol baalaa rahe yagaanah kaa
naam baaje jagat ke chaaro;N daa;Ng

[may good fortune remain to Yaganah!
may his name resound, in all four quarters of the world]

The final point is that the present verse of Mir's can also mean that 'I have not been able to make this ghazal simple, because its rhyme words were such a jumble that it was beyond anyone's power'. That is, this too is a kind of boastfulness-- that he has made the difficult simple and showed it to us, and then has said that he wasn't able to make it simple.



I'm grateful to Mehr Farooqi for providing (Aug. 2014) a definition of uu;T pa;Taa;Ng : 'It means things that don't match or don't hang together; mostly used as a derogatory remark or a humorous one. It's still used, but not as often as it was in my childhood.'

SRF himself provides the translation of kamaal as 'perfection', so I've used it; but my own preference is for 'accomplishment'. He also glosses ;hikmat as 'wisdom', and speaks of 'development'.

The first Yaganah verse seems to refer to a few carping enemies who might slander him, but who are 'tarred with the same brush', so that it's 'the pot calling the kettle black'. From this small excerpt we can't tell exactly what conflict he's referring to; but he notoriously accused the Urdu literary world of 'Ghalib-worship', and thus assured himself of a steady stream of detractors.

How cleverly Mir has used the 'kya effect' in the first line! As SRF notes, no matter how we read the first line, the effect is still rakish and cheerfully boastful.