kuchh mauj-e hava pechaa;N ay miir na:zar aa))ii
shaayad kih bahaar aa))ii zanjiir na:zar aa))ii

1) somewhat of a wave of breeze, twisting/twisted, oh Mir, came into view
2) perhaps spring has come; a chain came into view



pechaan : 'Turning, twisting, winding, coiling, &c.; —twisted, coiled, &c.'. (Platts p.297)

S. R. Faruqi:

On the theme of madness, Mir has suggested in a number of his verses that the speaker is in prison and gets no direct information about the outside world. For example, see




Shah Nasir, using the refrain basant and changing the rhyme-words, has composed several superb ghazals. It's hard to imagine that he wouldn't have been composing a 'reply' to the present opening-verse of Mir's. This opening-verse is after all so interesting that a poet could hardly resist composing a 'reply'. Thus Shah Nasir says,

mauj-e .sabaa bhii .suurat-e zanjiir hai na.siir
kyaa mausam-e bahaar kii laa))ii ;xabar basant

[even/also the wave of the spring breeze is like a chain, Nasir
how Basant has brought information about the season of spring!]

Shah Nasir's verse is out of the ordinary, but still Mir's opening-verse is on a higher level. Some of it is due to the excellence of the word kuchh , for no one was more skilled than Mir in the art of giving new life and new power to small words like this.

On such occasions Rilke comes to mind, who said that in poetry even tiny little words like 'the' and 'a' acquire a new value. Here, in Mir's verse kuchh has several meanings: (1) the wave of breeze is kuchh twisting (a little bit twisting). (2) It seems as though the wave of breeze is twisting. (3) Oh Mir, does the wave of breeze look somewhat twisting? (It should be kept in mind that if we removed the word kuchh , then the interrogative possibility would not remain.)

In the second line, because of the word 'perhaps', the state of affairs can be seen that is in {1200,1} and in Shah Nasir's verse-- that the speaker gets no information directly about the outside world; rather, he can feel, or learn about, its changes through external effects and signs. But this is not all. In the present verse, there are some rare/excellent aspects; Shah Nasir derived advantage from some of them, too.

The first point is that a wave of havaa is a staple of poetry, and with regard to mauj we can also suppose that sometimes it will be 'twisting', sometimes straight or less twisting. But neither the breeze nor the wave can be seen, nor can its twistingness. Thus if the speaker is saying that to him the wave of the breeze looks twisting, then (1) he is telling a lie; or (2) his mind is disordered, and this disorder of the mind causes him to consider that he sees the wave of breeze and its twistingness. It's clear that the first possibility is inappropriate. Thus the second possibility is correct-- that the speaker has already gone mad, and he considers imaginary or unreal things to be actual and real.

The second point is that in the first line the addressee can be himself (that is, the speaker says to himself, 'Oh Mir, somewhat...'), or else the speaker and Mir are two separate individuals. Now in this case the situation becomes one in which in some prison, or some chamber, two people are confined. One is Mir, who has no awareness of anything. Or he has been confined in some corner, from which he cannot see the external world. The other person too is mad, but he can learn of conditions outside. In the grip of madness, he feels that he is seeing a wave of breeze that is somewhat twisting. He calls out-- either happily, or fearfully-- to Mir, and says that perhaps the spring has come, etc.

Now from this, two or three aspects emerge. (1) In the spring madness increases, or returns. But in the spring flowers bloom, and the garden too is luxuriant. For the speaker, the meaning of spring is only that because of the increase in madness, chains will be put on him. That is, for him springtime and chains have the same meaning. This 'semiotic identity' of springtime and madness arouses pity, it arouses fear, and somewhere on some very distant level it also creates a strong sense of joy. In the speaker's own tone, because of the intensity of madness, fear, ardor, and an emotional turbulence are all present.

(2) Because of the ambiguity of the speaker's identity, it's also possible that one person might have spoken the first line, and Mir (who had been addressed in the first line) might have spoken in reply. In this case, the tone of the second line will be adjudged to have a prevalence of ardor.

Sauda composed in this same ground a ghazal of eleven verses, and used the rhyme-word zanjiir in three verses; but all three verses are devoid of 'meaning-creation':

saudaa kii mire jis ko tadbiir na:zar aa))ii
shamshiir ke jauhar kii zanjiir na:zar aa))ii

[for my madness, the prescription that came into view
a chain came into view, of the temperedness of a sword]

hai gardish-e chashm us kii ;halqah dar-e ma;hshar kaa
mauj-e ;xa:t-e peshaanii zanjiir na:zar aatii

[the going-around of her eye is the circle of the door of Doomsday
the wave of the lines of her forehead, came into view as a chain]

us zulf ko jab dekhaa mai;N haath me;N saudaa ke
biphre hu))e haathii kii zanjiir na:zar aatii

[when I saw that curl, in the hand of madness
it came into view as the chain of a wild elephant]

In his opening-verse and the second verse, Sauda made a slight attempt at 'theme-creation', but in his closing-verse he abandoned even that. From this it's clear how difficult it is to come up with a theme if the rhyme is shopworn, and how much more innately gifted and clever a poet Mir is when compared to Sauda.

Well, in the present opening-verse Mir had the advantage of his pen-name. Now let's look at a verse from the second divan in which there is a similar theme and the rhyme-word is zanjiir , but the idea is absolutely novel/unique and has filled the verse with meaning:


Mus'hafi rejected the zanjiir na:zar aa))ii ground; though indeed, he tested his strength on zanjiir kyaa nikaalii . He brought our a new theme, but it is unpleasurable and fruitless:

bal de ke lef ;xarmaa majnuu;N ke paa))o;N baa;Ndhe
sustii ne :taala((o;N kii zanjiir kyaa nikaalii

[having given a twist to date-palm bark, they bound the feet of Majnun
what a chain of fates weakness has devised!]

In the meter of the present ghazal, Mir has composed numerous verses. Apart from Iqbal, no one has used it with such 'flowingness' as Mir, and in this ghazal he has achieved a supremely masterful harmoniousness and flowingness. To compare this ghazal with Sauda's, and to read them both aloud, is sufficient to establish the proof.



This ghazal is unusual for including the poet's pen-name in the opening-verse as well as the closing-verse; see 'pen-name' in the 'Terms' index for other examples.

Should we really imagine that there are two different speakers? The idea seems tenuous. Nothing in the verse signals it, and nothing gives a clue as to who the other speaker might be. Occam's Razor would readily cut through the possibility.

Instead, the two lines seem to be additionally unified by the affinity between the 'twisted, coiled' path of the breeze, and a 'chain'. Once we recognize that the speaker (whether he's Mir himself, or someone else in the same situation) seems to be mad, and to be imprisoned in some dark cell, it's hard to put a limit on what he might imagine. Since the twisting or twisted breeze can't be seen in the first place, once the speaker imagines that he can see it, what's to stop him from imagining it as a 'chain'? Perhaps because he himself is chained up in spring, as SRF suggests; or perhaps, more suggestively, because springtime itself has such a ruthlessly coercive force ('April is the cruellest month...').

Or, of course, an actual 'chain' could be experienced by the madman as 'somewhat of' a particularly twisting kind of spring breeze. Compare Ghalib's contempt for chains, as compared to the beloved's twisting curls: