gul kii jafaa bhii jaanii dekhii vafaa-e bulbul
yak musht par pa;Re hai;N gulshan me;N jaa-e bulbul

1) we knew even/also the cruelty of the rose, we saw the faithfulness of the Nightingale
2) {all at once / a single handful of} feathers have fallen in the garden, in place of the Nightingale



musht : 'The fist; —a blow with the clenched fist; —a handful; —a few'. (Platts p.1038)


yak-musht : 'adv. In a lump; in the mass or gross; in one payment, all at once'. (Platts p.1038)

S. R. Faruqi:

The opening-verse is by way of introduction, but even in it there's a point. In the first line are two sentences, and both are 'informative' [;xabariyah]. But they can also be read as insha'iyah/interrogative. (That is, 'Have you known the cruelty of the rose?' and 'Have you seen the faithfulness of the Nightingale?') This ambiguity has made the line very beautiful.

In the second line he's also brought a 'proof' of the faithfulness of the Nightingale: that even after death, the Nightingale's body remained only in the garden. Or he died somewhere else, but the attractive power of ardor lifted up his dust and brought it into the garden. Even in commonplace verses, Mir usually includes something or other worth noticing.

[See also {553,4}.]



The second line in fact provides the proof of both the claims in the first line. The rose's cruelty is proved by her causing her lover to drop dead; the Nightingale's faithfulness is proved by his doing so.

But the heart of the verse is the sinister doubleness of yak musht , which literally means 'a fistful, a few' and idiomatically means 'all at once' (see the definition above). The Nightingale collapses into 'a fistful of' feathers, or he collapses 'all at once' into feathers-- both work so evocatively that it's hard not to read them both at the same time. Compare the Nightingale's being reduced (more unexplainedly) to fistfuls of feathers in


Does par pa;Re count as sound effects? Like the rhyming pair of jafaa and vafaa , it seems rather secondary here. We know how much more Mir can do when he puts his mind to it.

Note for grammar fans: Another charm of the verse is pa;Re hai;N , which can be read either as a present perfect, 'have fallen', or as an adverbial participial form, short for pa;Re hu))e hai;N , 'are [in a state of having] fallen'. Of course the first reading feels more immediate, to go with 'all at once', while the second feels more lonesome and desolate (who knows how long the little handful of feathers has been lying there, alone and unmourned?). But I doubt if Mir gave a thought to this particular nuance.