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0277,
8
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{277,8}

ho ((aashiqo;N me;N us ke to aa))o miir .saa;hib
gardan ko apnii muu se baariik-tar karo tum

1) having become [one] among her lovers, then come, Mir Sahib
2) make your neck more thin/delicate/subtle than a hair

 

Notes:

baariik : 'Fine, thin, slender, slight, slim, delicate; minute, nice, subtle'. (Platts p.121)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse and the next [{277,9}] are a verse-set [qi:ta((-band]. Despite its apparent simplicity, this verse-set has in it a number of points. First of all look at its informal, conversational style of expression-- that the first line just somehow was possible; and its commonplaceness seems better, through its apparent present situation, than this one:

da((v;aa hai ((aashiqii kaa to aa))o miir .saa;hib

[if you claim to be a lover, then come, Mir Sahib]

But in fact the first line of the present verse is very much better, because in it the beloved is singled out, that not every garden-variety beloved has such glory. If you claim to feel passion for this special beloved who is our beloved, well then come.

Now he has expressed the condition of passion for her: make your neck even thinner than a hair. That is, the lover is normally emaciated in any case, but here there's the special condition that he must melt away and emaciate himself to such an extent that his neck would become thinner than even a hair. This condition is necessary because when the lover comes before the beloved, he will at once recognize that he too is among those who are about to die-- that is, that his neck has already grown so thin that now only something like a sinew remains. Now one sword-stroke from the beloved will finish him off.

In the next verse [{277,9}], the scene has changed: there's the mood of the slaughter-ground. The speaker bends his neck so that the beloved's sword would fall on it and the thread of life would be cut off. If the speaker's neck wouldn't be thinner than a hair, then it's possible that he might turn aside and flee. Since his neck has already become extremely thin, cutting through it will take no time or trouble.

But there's also one particular interesting implication. Why did the speaker even impose on Mir the condition that he must make his neck thin? The situation in fact seems to be the passion of 'Mir' (that is, the addressee) is doubtful/ambiguous. If he would endure difficulty after difficulty, and make his neck thin and his body emaciated until it almost melts away, then it would be established that in fact he wants to die. Otherwise, why would he have incurred so many difficulties? It's as if by making his neck thin he he intends to achieve the same task that Ghalib wanted to achieve by carrying a sword and shroud:

G{19,4}.

Dr. Abd ul-Rashid has said that gardan az muu baariik-tar is an idiom. He has not explained its meaning, but has noted a verse from an ode of Sauda's:

;Daal dii;N ro))ii;N-tan us hangaam-e maidaa;N me;N sipar
muu se baariik apnii gardan ko bataavii;N sar-kashaa;N

[on that occasion of battle, the brazen-bodied heroes emplaced their shields
the high-headed ones described their necks as thinner than a hair]

When I looked in the dih;xudaa [dictionary], then I learned that the meaning of gardan az muu baariik-tar is 'in the acceptance of an order, for there to be no aversion or refusal; to be submissive; to be tractable'. And as a warrant [sanad] he has written this extremely excellent [Persian] verse of Sa'ib's:

'In my gentle dust there's no high-headedness at all,
My neck is thinner than the hair-width of her waist.'

In the light of the above, one meaning of Mir's verse can be, 'oh Mir, adopt complete obedience and readiness to give up your life. Renounce every kind of egotism and arrogance.' Now this verse-set becomes even more excellent.

FWP:

SETS == GROTESQUERIE; IDIOMS
MOTIFS
NAMES
TERMS == PEN-NAME; VERSE-SET

These two verses constitute an officially marked verse-set. They occur at the end of the ghazal, and the poet's pen-name appears not in the last verse of the ghazal, but in the first verse of the verse-set (which is the penultimate verse of the ghazal). This arrangement is not at all uncommon; for other examples, see 'pen-name' on the 'Terms' page.

Rather than being addressed by someone who doubts his courage, 'Mir' might be addressed by a concerned 'neighbor' who wants to warn him, before it's too late, of what he's getting himself into; perhaps even now he might change his mind. 'Mir Sahib' is often the address used by such 'neighbors'. Or else, 'Mir' could be addressing himself, and contemplating the fate that now awaits him.

The idea that the lover should make his neck thinner than a hair-- well of course, in the ghazal world anything goes, but I can't say that the image is an attractive one. By contrast, the idea that the beloved has a waist so thin that it basically doesn't exist (an image evoked by Sa'ib's verse) is amusing, and enables the poor lover to tease her a bit, as does the similar idea that her mouth is vanishingly small. So why can't the morbid lover's hair-thin neck be equally amusing? Maybe it can, and I just need to work on my poetic sensibility a bit more; but provisionally, to my mind it still seems a bit distasteful and grotesque.

Thus I appreciate SRF's digging up of the suitable idiomatic use: 'to make one's neck thinner than a hair' can mean 'to become extremely submissive'. That definitely does add to the verse's appeal, by giving the second line both a literal meaning and an idiomatic one (which after all is how Ghalib and Mir usually use idioms).

However, the second and final verse of the verse-set, {277,9}, very particularly invokes the literal vision of the sword-stroke through the (hair-thin?!) neck.