tufang us kii chalii aavaaz par lek
ga))ii hai miir golii kaan par se

1) her blowgun fired at the sound/voice, but
2) the pellet has gone, Mir, 'right past the ear'



tufang : 'A tube through which a thing is blown or propelled; a musket; pea-shooter; pop-gun'. (Platts p.329)

S. R. Faruqi:

The expression kaan par se golii nikal jaanaa means 'to escape from difficulty by a hair's breadth'. As usual, Mir has used the idiom in a dictionary sense and created a 'reversed metaphor'; and with supreme wit he has also versified the theme of the beloved's eloquence/sharpness.

In the third divan too, he has well versified the theme of the beloved's quickness and vigilance:


The present verse is superior to that one because of the 'reversed metaphor'. Then, there's also an interesting affinity between the pea-shooter's firing at the sound/voice, and the pellet's emerging from the ear-- that the beloved's ear took in the sound, and the pellet passed through the lover/speaker's ear.

A third point is that in the present verse the economy of words too is worthy of praise. In the first line there are only seven words, but a whole story has been told-- at night, the beloved's lurking in ambush, her admirable marksmanship, the lover/speaker's stealing away silently from the hunting-ground, but at the crackling of a leaf or the sound of a footstep her pellet flying-- in short, it's the depiction of a whole scene.

The theme of a gun or blowgun in the hands of the beloved has been used by other people as well. For example, Atish:

apnii shikaar-gaah-e jahaa;N me;N hai aarzuu
ham saamne ho;N aur tumhaarii rafal chale

[in the hunting-ground of the world, our longing is
that we would be before you, and your rifle would fire]

Bahadur Shah Zafar:

((aashiq ko jab dikhaa))ii firangii pisar ne top
paayaa nah kuchh vuh kahne kih bas fair ho ga))ii

[when the European boy showed a gun to the lover
he hadn't managed to say anything-- when it fired]

In Mir's case, along with wit and good humor, the skill in using an idiom as a metaphor lifts his verse far above those of Atish and Zafar. How difficult it is to sustain the theme of a gun or rifle can be guessed from the fact that despite Mir's example, later poets have not been able to use it successfully.



There are some interesting technical questions about this ghazal in relation to the previous one; for discussion, see {501,1}.

The beloved's blow-gun has narrowly missed the lover; the pellet has 'gone right past his ear'. In English we might say that he escaped 'by the skin of his teeth'. But the wordplay with 'voice' is the real delight.

Here's another verse by Atish that I can't help mentioning:

ham-paayah hai do-naalii banduuq se vuh biinii
chharro;N kaa kaam ruu-e qaatil ke ;xaal karte

[it's equal to a double-barreled shotgun, that nose
if only the beauty-spots on the murderer's face had done the work of birdshot!]

This amusing verse was suggested to me years ago by SRF for use in Nets of Awareness (Chapter 7, p. 95).