miir un niim-baaz aa;Nkho;N me;N
saarii mastii sharaab kii sii hai

1) Mir, in those/these half-open eyes

2a) is all intoxication, like that of wine
2b) all the intoxication is like that of wine



S. R. Faruqi:

About this verse too [as for {485,3}], I will copy the discussion from shi((r ;Gair-shi((r aur na;sr . Here, the basic matter is one of the affinity of words. For example, consider this verse:

hai chashm niim-baaz ((ajab ;xvaab-e naaz hai
fitnah to so rahaa hai dar-e fitnah baaz hai

[the eye is half-open-- it's an extraordinary sleep of coquetry
mischief is sleeping; the door of mischief is open]

They say that Nasikh had composed the first line, and Khvajah Vazir extemporaneously 'added a line' [mi.sra(( lagaanaa] to it. With regard to affinity, there's nothing special about either Mir's simile or Nasikh and Vazir's metaphor. Also, eyes have often been called glasses of wine, and also 'mischief'. But in the second verse by calling the eyelids the 'door of mischief'-- to speak of the home-owner not being present but the door of the house being open-- a perfectly insightful image has been created.

Similarly, in Mir's present verse the real excellence is not in the simile, but rather in the word 'Mir'. For example, if the pen-name were removed from this line and the line was framed like this:

terii un niim-baaz aa;Nkho;N me;N
aaj un niim-baaz aa;Nkho;N me;N
haa))e un niim-baaz aa;Nkho;N me;N

and so on, then the poetry at once disappears, because in truth it's from the use of the word 'Mir' that this verse has become an image of revelation and amazement. Through saying 'Mir! In those half-open eyes', the image is created of some person who has suddenly felt, 'Oh my! -- the secret of those half-open eyes is that all their intoxication is like that of wine!'. Thus either this verse expresses the state of revelation felt in the presence of the beloved, or else it is a thought whispered to oneself in solitude, after being in her presence-- a thought in which there's a melancholy sense of longing. Or else it represents a sudden feeling-- that some person on some occasion felt that the mood like that of intoxication which had overtaken him, was because of those half-open eyes.

If instead of un we read in , then it can also be said that this verse is one of admonition-- 'Mir, don't look in that direction, these half-open eyes have an intoxication like that of wine; if you look at them you'll lose your awareness'. (Or, 'their intoxication has an effect like that of wine; wine is forbidden-- why do you look in her direction and incur the suspicion of having the intoxication of wine flowing in your veins and arteries?').

The final situation is, 'Oh Mir! Don't be deceived by those half-open eyes. This is not real intoxication, but rather a wine-imitating, artificial, and lesser rank of intoxication.' (There's also an anxiety in the heart-- might the beloved not have drunk wine with the Rival?) In addition, the word saarii too supports the effect of amazement and revelation.

In the light of this analysis we can say that although the beauty of Nasikh and Vazir's verse too is created by its image [paikar], their verse is of a lesser rank than Mir's, because although Mir's verse too is indebted to its image, (in the language of I. A. Richards) the 'mental events' connected to the feelings created by its image are more varied, so that in Mir's intermeshed words there is more creative life. Thus it's clear that Mir's verse is better. In the light of this analysis the principle of assigning value to images also becomes established: that to the extent that an image is sensory, and the more of the five senses it activates, to that extent it will be good.

Up to this point, the discussion was drawn from shi((r ;Gair-shi((r aur na;sr . Now I want to add this much: that Mir's verse becomes an image of amazement and revelation and affects all our senses. Through this means, the imagination is spurred onward. In this apparently simple and conventional verse there's an abundance of 'mood' and meaning.



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

What fascinates me is SRF's observation that the key to the verse is the power of that initial, vocative 'Mir', such that without it the verse would be far less hypnotically compelling and seductive. I can't see why this should be the case, and yet it does somehow seem to be so. What excellent food for thought! Is the effect semantic, is it phonetic, is it rhythmic, or some combination of them all?

Part of it is, I think, a rhythmic effect that includes not only 'Mir' but niim-baaz as well, and is generated by a skilful collaboration with the meter. The (extremely short) meter goes like this: = - = = / - = - = / = = . And here's the pattern: MII-r UN NII-m BAA-z AA;N-KHO;N ME;N . 'Mir', 'niim' , and 'baaz' all have the same structure: a long syllable containing a long vowel, followed by a consonantal short syllable. The reciter can hardly help prolonging those long vowels, before the words must finally be cut off by their stubby little consonants. The sensuous lingeringness of niim-baaz in particular would not be easy to replicate with any other arrangement of words. As the tongue lingers over it, the mind seems to caress it too.

In the case of niim-baaz , those 'half-open eyes' (or of course 'these', if you prefer) also have a considerable power of ambiguity, since they are liminal in so many ways. The beloved seems to be poised between sleep and wakefulness, between unconsciousness and awareness. Perhaps she even maintains that poise deliberately (is she faking half-sleep?), or for long periods (does she habitually keep her eyes half-shut, for the sultry and sensuous effect?).

It's also possible that she herself is intoxicated, so that the wine-like intoxication can be seen literally 'in' her own eyes, rather than being created 'in' the observer of the eyes who then starts to feel his own head spin. Or she could be intoxicated not exactly by wine, but by something else (some mischievous plans? some erotic reverie?), so that the intoxication in her eyes is only 'like' that of wine.

SRF notes that 'the word saarii too supports the effect of amazement and revelation'. It does, and it also makes us feel how substantial an amount of the 'intoxication' there must be-- 'all' the intoxication, from eyes only 'half' open.