gar ;zauq-e sair hai to aavaarah is chaman me;N
maanind-e ((andaliib-e gum-kardah-aashiyaa;N ho

1) if you have a relish for strolling, wandering/wanderer, in this garden
2) be like a Nightingale who has lost his nest



aavaarah : 'Separated from one's family ... ; without house and home; wandering, roving; astray; abandoned, lost; dissolute; —s.m. Wanderer; vagabond; profligate'. (Platts p.101)

S. R. Faruqi:

The theme of the verse is entirely new, although there's no special depth in it. The simile in the second line is very fine-- that the way a Nightingale would forget the road to his nest, and wander here and there in the garden, searching tree after tree and branch after branch, you too should become like this. Then you can go and stroll through the whole garden.

The question is, what is the meaning of the verse? The obvious meaning is that the garden is some real garden, and the purport is that it's not easy to sift through every particle of even a small place like the garden. People wander casually around, taking a superficial stroll. If you truly want to see, then you should look at every tree, every branch, every nook, as if you are a Nightingale who has lost his nest. Its obvious that in looking in this way, the gaze will fall on everything, and many things will come into view, the existence of which will not even have been suspected.

But if we take 'garden' to mean 'the garden of existence', then the meaning becomes very broad. If you truly want to take a stroll through that garden, then don't make a house. Rather, become like that Nightingale whose nest has become lost. In this there's also the point that the Nightingale whose nest has become lost will not pause for long on any one tree or branch; rather, he will keep moving from here to there. Thus if you want to take a stroll through the world, then don't stop in one place-- don't pause for long in any place at all.

Now the next point is created: that in his search for his nest, the 'Nightingale who has lost his nest' will be obliged, in his search for his nest, to look at different kinds of nests; and in search of his nook he will be obliged to look at different kinds of nooks. Somewhere there will be a scene of separation; somewhere else, of union; here a scene of death, there one of life. In this way you too will be able to see every kind of scene and every sort of situation.

But the matter doesn't end here. The person who would only be casually diverting himself will have one style of looking, and the person in search of his own lost home will have another style of looking. The pain/sympathy that will be in his heart, will not be in the heart of someone who is only seeking amusement or recreation. In this context the meaningfulness of the word aavaarah comes to the fore, since aavaaragii is the claim of passion, and passion is the symbol of pain/sympathy.

The question can arise, of what is special about the Nightingale in particular. Any bird who had lost his nest would have sufficed for the simile. It appears that Mir Sahib too has been affected by Firaq Sahib's disease-- that he has chosen words merely with regard to filling up the metrical line, and has paid no attention to their weakness. But in truth such is not the case. The first point is that there's an affinity between 'garden' and 'Nightingale'. Then, by 'garden' was meant 'garden of existence'; thus he wrote 'garden'. The second (or rather, third) point is that between 'Nightingale' and 'wandering/wanderer' there's an affinity. (As was mentioned above, wandering is the characteristic of passion, and the Nightingale is the exemplary wanderer.)

In the second line, some nouns will be objected to by people of a 'classical temperament' as being 'improper breaking' [shikast-e naa-ravaa] . Our classical poets had no concept of 'improper breaking', nor did our classical metrical theorists mention any defect called 'improper breaking'. Even in a melodious poet like Iqbal there is 'improper breaking' (from baal-e jibriil , p. 52):

daryaa kii tah me;N * chashm-e gard-aab * so ga))ii hai
saa;hil se lag ke * mauj-e be-taab * so ga))ii hai

[in the depth of the river the eye of the whirlpool has gone to sleep
against the shore, the restless wave has gone to sleep]



What might it mean for a Nightingale to have 'lost his nest'? At the most literal extreme, SRF notes that the Nightingale might have forgotten the road to his nest. This puts the hapless Nightingale in the same category as people who forget where they parked their car, and who keep circling the parking lot hoping for it to appear. This category is one of conspicuous, even amusing ineptitude in the case of people-- and how much more so would it be in the case of birds, those extraordinary long-distance navigators! I submit that the idea that the Nightingale would simply 'forget' where in the garden his nest was, is implausibly un-bird-like. It would deprive the Nightingale of his melancholy dignity. Thus SRF's whole line of reasoning about how the Nightingale trying to find his nest will scrutinize every grain of sand, and get to know the detailed condition of the garden, etc., does not seem very convincing.

It's far more plausible that the Nightingale would already know that his nest was lost and gone forever. Perhaps lightning has struck it-- there are plenty of ghazal verses with this idea. Perhaps a hawk has attacked the nest. Perhaps a cat-- but no, there don't seem to be cats in the gardens of the ghazal world. In any case, the Nightingale might pace the garden, endlessly moving here and there, unseeing, absorbed in his inner suffering. But he certainly won't be enjoying the sights and sounds and scents of the garden, or thinking about building a new nest. He will be detached, unmoored-- as Woody Guthrie sang, 'Got no more home in this world any more'. The speaker would thus be urging the listener to remain aloof and distrustful in this world, as if already scarred by some incurable wound and always expecting another blow. Or else he might be urging him to become numbed and indifferent-- he might as well wander haphazardly along, fearlessly, heedlessly, having nothing left to lose.

The placing of aavaarah is also effective. It can be adverbial ('wandering'), a description of how the listener might wish to move through the garden. Or it can be a noun ('wanderer'), in which case it can mean '[as] a wanderer', or else it could be a vocative: 'oh wanderer!'

Compare another, and far more haunting, verse about someone who is described as gum-kardah-chaman :


Note for meter fans: This meter, = = - / = - = = // = = - / = - = = , consisting as it does of the pattern 'foot A, foot B , foot A, foot B', has a natural kind of quasi-caesura in the middle. Usually this quasi-caesura marks a semantic break, as it does in the first line-- but not always, and not in any compulsory way. In the second line, an izafat construction is made to extend across the quasi-caesura, so that the quasi-caesura can be said to 'break' its unity. SRF is rejecting the strictures of purist critics who go around retrospectively enumerating things like this and declaring them to be 'flaws'. For in fact, who cares? Plainly Mir didn't feel any aversion toward this kind of 'breaking', and it's far more valuable to enter his poetic world than to do absurd nit-picking about his metrical choices.