kyaa bulbul-e asiir hai be-baal-o-par kih ham
gul kab rakhe hai ;Tuk;Re jigar is qadar kih ham

1) is it the captive Nightingale who is without wing and feather, or [is it] we?
2) when does the rose maintain a torn-to-pieces liver, to the extent that we [do]?



S. R. Faruqi:

In this 'ground', Qa'im and Sauda too have ghazals; it's possible that it might be the 'pattern' [:tar;h] of some mushairah. All three poets have sustained a difficult refrain with great excellence and success. But unlike other formally identical [ham-:tara;h] ghazals by Mir and Sauda, in this case it appears that both have deliberately avoided each other's rhymes and themes. Only the rhyme darbadar is common to both. And where the rest of Mir's verses are better than Sauda's, in this case too Mir's verse outweighs his (as is clear from the discussion of the verse).

Right from the opening-verse itself, a forceful arc of power has been established: he has declared himself to be different from-- or rather, better than-- the lover (the Nightingale) and the beloved (the rose). And by calling the beloved (the rose) exhausted and liver-wounded, he has brought her into the ranks of lovers and established her there. It's an entirely fresh theme.

Although indeed, Qa'im Chandpuri has adopted the same principle and composed a good opening-verse; but in his verse there's no abundance of meaning:

kab sham((a yaa;N talak ga))ii sar se gu;zar kih ham
rakhtaa hai kab patang yih soz-e jigar kih ham

[when has a candle burnt itself out to such an extent as we?
when does a Moth have this liver-burning that we do?]

The insha'iyah style of both Mir's lines has created depths of beauty and meaning. Some aspects of the meaning are worth considering. (1) Is the Nightingale, even in captivity, as wingless and featherless as we are? (2) Is this wingless and featherless creature a captive Nightingale, or is it us? (3) Oh captive Nightingale, are you wingless and featherless, or are we? (That is, although the Nightingale is a captive, he's not wingless and featherless. We are not a captive, but are worse off than that, because we are free but cannot fly.)

Then, the second line: (1) Would the rose's liver have been made into pieces as much as ours? ( ;Tuk;Re meaning defeated and wounded). (2) As if the rose's liver would have been made into as many pieces as ours has been! (3) With rakhnaa in the sense of 'keeping in custody, keeping in one's possession: The rose wouldn't at all maintain in its possession a liver that it has torn into as many pieces, as we have torn ours into! Every petal of a flower is in principle separate; thus it's very fine to say about a flower that its liver has been torn to pieces. This meaning of rakhnaa will become even clearer in the light of this [unpublished] verse of Ghalib's:


In that verse, dil-e pur-;Gubaar rakhte hai;N means that our heart is full of dust, or that we keep our heart filled with dust.



SRF observes that in this verse the rose has been brought into the ranks of lovers, since she too has a (literal and metaphorical) lacerated liver, and other such miseries of the life of passion. This imagery of the rose-petals as bits and pieces of the torn-up liver can't help but recall a verse in which Ghalib uses almost the same idea: