nuqtah-e ;xaal se tiraa abruu
bait ik inti;xaab kii sii hai

1) because of the dot/point of the beauty-spot, your eyebrows
2) are like a verse of a single/particular/unique/excellent 'selection'



;xaal : 'A black mole on the face (regarded as ornamental); a spot, patch (natural); an artificial spot (made of kaajal , &c., for ornament, or to ward off the effects of the malignant eye)'. (Platts p.485)


inti;xaab : 'Extraction; extract; selection; election, choice'. (Platts p.86)


tilak : 'An ornament or other mark between the eyes or rising between the brows; a sectarial mark or marks made with coloured eye-earths, sandal wood, or unguents upon the forehead and between the eyebrows'. (Platts p.334)



On the special status of this ghazal, see {485,1}.

In Persian, bait is the term used for what in Urdu is called a shi((r , a single two-line verse of a ghazal. As SRF explains below, ghazal lovers tended to make collections of their favorite verses. They would usually keep a personal 'notebook' [bayaa.z], and might eventually formalize it into an intikhab (a selection from the work of a single poet), or a ta;zkirah (an anthology of the work of a number of poets).

The charm of this verse is its elegant literary wordplay. It conflates the beloved's dark eyebrows set off by her light complexion, with the dark lines of a verse, beautifully calligraphed on the white page. And then finally it compares the beauty-spot on the beloved's face (which is carefully placed to set off her features to best advantage) to the small dot that was often used to mark, for future reference, a particularly excellent verse. The beloved's eyebrows will form part of something indescribably fine-- something that is 'like' (though not exactly the same as) a 'single/particular/unique/excellent' (thanks to the wonders of ik ) kind of intikhab. Not a bad amount of expression for a verse only eleven words long. This verse deserves a 'dot' of its own.

Normally the beauty-spot would be positioned more on the cheek, maybe near the corner of the mouth, rather than between the eyebrows. Unless, of course, we imagine the beloved as wearing a Hindu-style ;Tikaa , or tilak (see the definition above)-- which is placed exactly there, between the eyebrows (or slightly above that point). How literally did Mir intend us to take the positioning of the dot in his simile? We'll never know. For more on the ;xaal , see G{85,3}.

Note for grammar fans: In the first line, since abruu in the singular refers to both eyebrows collectively, it has to be pluralized in English-- especially in the case of this verse, where two separate eyebrow 'lines' have to be imagined. Compare the usage of chashm , 'eye(s)', in {485,8}.

S. R. Faruqi:

[Further thoughts, not from SSA (2015)]: Ghazals in Urdu are written generally with the two lines of a verse opposite each other in the same line. The reader customarily puts a dot between the two lines of a verse to indicate approval, sometimes with the view of compiling an intikhab. Since the two eyebrows are configured like two lines, each of them is imagined to be a line of verse.