dekh to dil kih jaa;N se u;Thtaa hai
yih dhuvaa;N saa kahaa;N se u;Thtaa hai

1) look-- does it rise from the heart, or the life?
2) this smoke-like thing-- from where does it rise?



kih : 'Who? what? which? wherefore? why? ... —who, which, that, as, whoever ... —conj. That, in order that, to the end that, so that, for that, in that, because, for; if; and; or; whether; namely, to wit, saying, thus, as follows ... ; lest; when; but even; .... (In some cases kih is untranslatable but idiomatically indispensable; and in some cases it might be omitted without violence to the idiom.)'. (Platts p.866)


jaan : 'The breath of life, vitality; life, spirit, soul, mind; self; animation, vigour, energy, force, stamina; the best part, the essence (of a thing); that which imparts life, or beauty, &c. (to a thing), ornament, grace, beauty'. (Platts p.372)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this 'ground', Mus'hafi has composed a 'double-ghazal'. In one ghazal there are nine verses; in the other, seven. In Mir's ghazal there are nine verses. It's possible that they might both have composed ghazals of nine verses for a musha'irah, and then Mus'hafi might have composed an additional seven-verse ghazal as a 'reply' to Mir. Among Mus'hafi's sixteen verses there are proofs of his quickness of invention, but not one of his verses is of the same rank as Mir's verses that I have included in this intikhab.

The theme of the opening-verse, Mir has repeated like this in the second divan:


This verse is taken directly from [the Persian of] Sa'ir Mashhadi, but it has its own pleasure as well; thus it will be discussed in its place. For the moment, let's concentrate on the present verse. The first point is that both lines are insha'iyah, and there's perhaps a 'dramaticness' in their tone. Amazement, urgency, elegance/pride, a delicate sarcasm-- all are present in the tone.

Then, the ambiguity of the speaker and the addressee is fine. It's possible that the addressee of the verse might be the speaker himself; that is, the speaker is saying to himself, 'What are you dreaming about, what are you absorbed in-- look, smoke is rising, find out from where it's rising! Is your heart burning, or is your life burning?'. With regard to this reading, look at the following verse in this very ghazal [{472,2}]:

gor kis dil-jale kii hai yih falak
shu((lah ik .sub;h yaa;N se u;Tthaa hai

[of which heart-burned one is it the grave, this sky?
a single flame, at dawn, rises from here]

And see as well


The second reading is that the lover (the speaker) is saying to the beloved, 'Just take a look, will you-- I'm burning up! Just think about that, and find out whether this flame is coming from my heart (that is, from my sighs), or from my life (that is, my self, my spirit).' The third reading is that some other person is saying to the beloved, 'Just take a look, will you-- what has happened to your lover? Is this smoke from his sighs (his heart), or is his very life burning up?'.

In any case, the pleasure of yih and saa is beyond expression, because these words allude at once to the distance (that is, the beloved is somewhere far off) and to the ambiguity of the situation-- that the beloved and the lover, or the speaker and the lover and the beloved, are all near each other, and as yet the smoke has not entirely surrounded them, but rather just a little wispy thing is rising.

To fill very small words with meaning to such an extent is the least of Mir's marvels/charms. It's a verse of powerful 'mood', but an aspect of meaning too is evident. It's a verse of Mir's special style-- for it has 'mood', meaning, and ambiguity in its tone (but no sense of self-pity), and the speaker too is ambiguous. It's an uncommon verse.

Mus'hafi has done no justice at all to the rhyme-word kahaa;N :

jam((a rakhte nahii;N nahii;N ma((luum
;xarch apnaa kahaa;N se u;Thtaa hai

[we do not keep a fund; there's no telling
from where our expenditure arises]



It's hard to avoid initially reading the first line as 'Look at the heart!-- for it rises from the life!' Of course, it's not entirely clear what this might mean (that the heart is taking its leave as the lover dies, perhaps?); but we're hardly surprised to find a piquant but unclear first line in a classical ghazal verse. If this verse was indeed used for an actual mushairah performance, as SRF suggests, then it was guaranteed to actively mislead its hearers.

The wonderfully potent little pronoun kih is the pivotal point here. Among its numerous and idiomatically flexible meanings (see the definition above), 'or' is far from the most prominent-- both in Platts' Dictionary and in modern usage. In the first line kih looks to be, as it most often is, a clause-introducer conveying something like 'since' or 'thus' -- and sure enough it's followed by a clause. The first line is end-stopped as usual, and seems to have all its grammatical parts in good order, and offers not the smallest hint that it is incomplete (as opposed to a bit unclear) and thus will require an imported subject (as opposed to merely a bit of clarification).

For since the actual subject of the first line, 'this smoke-like [thing]', is presented only in the second line, no hearer of the first line could possibly divine it. Only after hearing the second line do we realize that we need to read kih as 'or'. Hearing the second line thus entirely overturns our whole grammatical understanding of the first line (rather than merely refining or tweaking it, as is the case in most verses).

SRF praises the saa , and indeed it's a fine little touch. When a heart burns, or a life burns, what rises up from the flames? It might look more or less like smoke-- but is it in fact smoke? The speaker is not sure. It's like the first ominous awareness-- 'I think I smell smoke! I think I see a little wisp coming from somewhere! Quick, figure out where it's coming from!'

SRF maintains that the tone of the verse contains not only the very plausible 'amazement' and 'urgency', but also 'elegance/pride' [ifti;xaar] and a 'delicate sarcasm' [;xafiif-saa :tanz]; he later adds that it contains not a trace of 'self-pity' [xvud-tara;hmii]. But since he himself has made it clear that the ambiguous speaker might not even be the lover, but could be some other person entirely, this seems to be a case in which his claim to intuit an integral, baked-in 'tone' of a verse looks rather unsubstantiable. For discussion of the 'tone' problem, see {724,2}.