ab faa))idah suraa;G se bulbul ke baa;G-baa;N
i:traaf-e baa;G ho;Nge pa;Re musht-e par kahii;N

1) now there is benefit from the signs/traces of the Nightingale, oh Gardener
2) all around the garden they will be lying fallen, fistfuls of feathers, somewhere



suraa;G : 'Sign, mark, footstep, trace, track, clue; search, inquiry; spying'. (Platts p.650)


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


kahii;N : 'Somewhere; anywhere; wherever, whithersoever; —ever, anyhow, by any chance; ever-so-much, far, greatly; —may be, perhaps, peradventure'. (Platts p.808)

S. R. Faruqi:

The way that Qa'im versified the theme of the Nightingale's feathers-- Mir has not been able to reach that level:

ma.sraf hai sab yih baalish-e .saiyaad kaa tire
bulbul nah bharyo ;xuun se tuu baal-o-par kahii;N

[all this of yours is for the use of the Hunter's pillow
Nightingale, don't by any means fill your wings and feathers with blood]

The truth is that Qa'im's theme is not only new, but in fact-- because of its terrifyingness, and its unemotional flatness of expression-- in a class by itself. While reading this verse, the military officers of Nazi Germany come to mind, who had their prisoners skinned and made lampshades out of their skin.

Compared to it, Mir's verse looks light. But in Mir's verse there are depths that are not present in Qa'im's verse. And Mir's verse is so deceptive that its points are revealed only after much reflection; otherwise, in the verse there's seemingly nothing more than a single 'mood'.

First of all, reflect on why the gardener is looking for the Nightingale. Clearly, so that he would capture the Nightingale. But why has the gardener so much delayed this task that the Nightingale is on the verge of death? That is, why didn't the gardener come sooner? Then, there's also the point that it's not the task of the gardener to capture the Nightingale, it's the task of the Hunter.

It's not that capturing the Nightingale is a task that the gardener would never do, but usually the gardener is considered to be a flower-picker and the Hunter to be the captor of the Nightingale. Here, the gardener has been presented in the role of the Hunter. Now reflect on the fact that there's no mention of the Nightingale's corpse, only the mention of a single 'handful of feathers'. The final question is, in the verse, who is the speaker?

In the light of these points, the following possibilities are created:

(1) Between the Nightingale and the gardener there's a relationship of rivalry; both love the rose-- although their goals and motivations can be different. That is, the Nightingale has an unselfish passion for the rose, and the gardener has a selfish intention: 'When the rose blooms, then I'll make a bouquet, I'll arrange some beautiful thing'.

(2) The gardener doesn't want the Nightingale to remain in the garden. He wants to search for him and throw him out.

(3) But the Nightingale's passion was so sincere that he couldn't bear the fire of passion for very long. While the gardener wandered around searching for him, he had already sacrificed his life.

(4) The spring is over, the gardener wants to capture if not the rose, then at least the rose's lover (the Nightingale), to satisfy his inner-self. But when the spring was over, then the Nightingale's lifespan too was finished. Thus how will the gardener now capture the Nightingale? Only some feathers have remained as a memorial to him.

(5) The Nightingale was imprisoned somewhere; he got out somehow and came into the garden. The gardener wants to capture him, so as to put him in the cage for a second time. But while enduring the grief of separation, the Nightingale had become so feeble, or upon arriving back in the garden he had become so happy, that his breath left him. So now where is the Nightingale, that the gardener would be able to catch him?

(6) Because of living in captivity, or because of the shock of passion, the Nightingale became so wasted-away that he was nothing but a handful of feathers. Now, when he no longer exists, his corpse will not be found, only a fistful of feathers will be found. Or, having been freed from captivity, the Nightingale somehow fluttered his wings enough to reach the wall of the garden, and there his breath left him. Thus now not the Nightingale, but only a single fistful of feathers, will be found near the wall.

(7) The speaker of the verse is some person who is a friend of the Nightingale's, and is also acquainted with the affairs of the garden. Or again, he is some commentator, who keeps offering an explanation of the affairs of the garden; or again, he is someone from among the ordinary people who stroll in the garden. These possibilities for the speaker are the same for Qa'im's verse too.



SRF takes the verse to describe only a 'single' fistful of feathers, but the grammar of the verse clearly shows that several 'fistfuls of feathers' will be lying fallen [ho;Nge pa;Re] around the garden 'on all sides' or 'in all directions' [i:traaf], which also shows the plural-ness. Of course, what was originally a single fistful of feathers could then be blown around by the wind, so that the plural-ness would be that of the individual, separately blown-around feathers.

That 'now' at the beginning of the first line slides by so innocently on first reading (or, remember, on first hearing-- under mushairah performance conditions). Only in retrospect does it hit us so powerfully. What kind of a 'now' is it? Now that the Nightingale is dying? Now that the rose is dead? Now that autumn has come? Previously, before 'now', no such advantage for the gardener existed: either the Nightingale's feathers were still intact, or else the rich greenery of spring made a few scattered feathers impossible to see.

Compare the Nightingale's being reduced to a fistful of feathers in


And then, how can we not think of the absence of the Nightingale in the brilliant


which envisions a springtime without the Nightingale-- a prospect even more sinister than his absence in the present autumnal-feeling verse. But in both cases, the Nightingale's desired presence, or haunted absence, is located all over the garden, in all directions, in every corner. Roses are often plural, but the Nightingale is almost always singular. Yet his solitary, singular presence, or absence, is imagined as pervading the whole garden.