ek sab aag ek sab paanii
diidah-o-dil ((a;zaab hai;N dono;N

1) one all fire, one all water
2) eye and heart are torments, both



((a;zaab : 'Punishment, chastisement; pain, torture, torment; martyrdom (met.) difficulty, painful or troublesome affair or event, distressing affair'. (Platts p.759)

S. R. Faruqi:

Apparently it seems that in the verse the [device of] 'collecting and scattering' [laff-o-nashr ; on this rhetorical term see Platts p. 958] is out of order-- that is, in the first line 'fire' is related to the heart, and 'water' is related to the eye. The idea is entirely correct. But this order of 'collecting and scattering' is also possible. That is, we can suppose that on the basis of the redness of blood, or the heat of passion, in the eyes, he has called the eye entirely fire. Ghalib has a verse:


(About this verse [Nazm] Tabataba'i has written that we haven't learned of any reason for the hot gaze. The truth is that Tabataba'i is, as usual, objecting for the sake of objecting. Otherwise, the reason is clear: that because of the heat of passion, fire is raining down from the eyes.) For further discussion of this verse, see tafhiim-e ;Gaalib .

In any case, in Mir's verse it's entirely possible that because of the redness of blood in the eyes, or because of the heat of passion, he might have called them 'entirely fire'. And because of the heart's turning to water through the intensity of grief, he might have called it 'all water'. In this way the operation of 'collecting and scattering' can be seen in the verse. The wordplay of 'one' and 'all' is enjoyable, too.

Because of the heart and eye being fire and water (or water and fire), both of them are torments, but by not explaining why the state of the heart and eye is such, Mir has made use of excellent eloquence. Because in this way a series of possibilities again begins. Derrida's idea sometimes seems correct, that it's impossible to tell where in the text is the center of meaning.

[See also {869,5}.]



The verse offers the simplest possible first line, without even a verb, without any way to tell what's being described. It has such strong internal parallelism, yet symmetrically balances two items that are perfectly opposite to each other. The internal parallelism of the first line inclines us to look for parallelism in the second line. We find it at once, of course-- but it's backwards! In the set A B / C D, rather than 'A is to C, as B is to D', we have 'A is to D, as B is to C'. What a brilliant way to generate complexity out of the simplest possible means! Nothing in the whole ghazal world could possibly be shorter or simpler than that first line-- and yet we have to work for our enjoyment, and untangle the verse first.

Mir is very capable of such deliberate 'backwards' parallelism. Here's another example, from the first divan itself, in which the parallelism is decidedly and unambiguously backwards: {266,3}:

muu ko ((aba;s hai taab kalii yuu;N hii tang hai
us kaa dahan hai vahm-o-gumaan-o-kamar ;xayaal

[a hair is uselessly strong; a bud is vainly narrow/compressed
her mouth is an illusion and a suspicion; and her waist, a thought/fancy]

Unlike the case of {266,3}, in the present verse we can also maintain, if we wish, that the parallelism is not necessarily reversed. SRF points out that thanks to the powerful and complex network of ghazal conventions, the eye can indeed be imagined as 'all fire', and the heart as 'all water'.

Or else we can imagine a state of confusion-- the lover is so crazed that he can no longer distinguish exactly what's happening to him; or he finds opposites merging; or the various parts of his body are just one confused blur of 'torment'.

Then the wordplay of 'one' and 'all' of course culminates in the final perfect presence of 'both'.