yih te;G hai yih :tasht hai yih ham hai;N kushtanii
khele hai kaun aisii :tara;h jaan par kih ham

1) this is the sword; this is the basin; this is ourself, to be slain
2) who plays with his life in such a way as we [do]?



:tasht : 'A large basin (of tinned copper, or of brass, &c., used for washing the hands, &c.)'. (Platts p.752)


kushtanii : 'Fit to be killed, deserving or worthy of death; to be killed, destined for slaughter'. (Platts p.836)


khelnaa : 'To play, sport, gambol, frisk, frolic; to amuse or divert oneself;—to play at; to gamble; to play a part or character, to act, perform'. (Platts p.886)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse neither the meaning nor the theme has any subtlety; nevertheless this verse is extremely beautiful and successful, because its arrangement [usluub] is entirely fresh. The dramatic style of the first line, its use three times of the demonstrative pronoun, the insha'iyah structure of the second line-- they all bestow a special power on the refrain.

In this same ghazal there's one more verse as well with them of dying; its theme too is new, but because in the first line no groundwork is established for the claim of the Nightingale, the verse has become a bit weak-- though the refrain is indeed very enjoyably done [{276,3}]:

jiite hai;N to dikhaa de;Nge da((vaa-e ((andaliib
gul bin ;xizaa;N me;N ab ke vuh rahtii hai mar kih ham

[if we live, then we will show the claim of the Nightingale
without the rose, this time, in the autumn-- is he dying, or we?]



[See also {352,2}; {946,3}.]



The first line, in its very plain-spokenness and common-sense quality, is nothing if not dramatic. It's almost anti-poetry, anti-verbosity. What need for further words? The few words offered are entirely practical, even urgent: 'Here's the sword, here's the basin for cleaning up afterwards, here's me-- that's all you need, so get on with it!'.

Then, what about the second line? Surely the speaker must say it to himself, since if spoken aloud to the beloved (or the Executioner) it can only sound both redundant and boastful-- it would be occupying time and space that the 'shut up and get on with it!' force of the first line has already worked to abolish.

But of course, khelnaa is a piquant verb to choose for such a line, with its possibilities of both 'to amuse oneself' and 'to wager'. Luckily for us, 'to play' has the same range in English (so to speak, both 'to gambol' and 'to gamble'). So perhaps the lover himself is on the edge between the two senses. Is he describing the casual fun he's having, while he toys with his trivial little life; or is he describing the desperate existential wager he's making? Either way, it sounds like a form of Russian roulette.