lete karva;T hil ga))e jo kaan ke motii tire
sharm se sar dar garebaa;N .sub;h ke taare hu))e

1) while you were turning over, when your ear-pearls swayed/quivered,
2) through shame, the dawn stars hid their heads in their collars



S. R. Faruqi:

This verse's subtle sensual implications, and the images in both lines, are irresistible in their delicacy and beauty. When the beloved, wearing pearl earrings in her ears, turns over, then the cloudy glow of her cheeks falls on the pearls, and the milky glow of the pearls becomes a bit brighter.

The beholder of this scene can be someone who is sleeping with her in the bed, or it can be someone who is viewing it from afar. The 'implication' of the season too is subtle-- that it's the hot season, so that people are sleeping under the sky on the open roof, or in the courtyard. Both these ideas are proved by the mention in the second line of the dawn stars' shame. It's obvious that the stars will feel shame only when they see the beloved's cheeks and the glow of her ear-pearls. And for them to see this is possible only when the beloved would be sleeping under the open sky, as is commonly done nowadays too in the hot season.

Keeping all this in mind, among the possibilities mentioned above, the second possibility seems more powerful: that the beholder has seen the sleeping girl from afar. The light, light glow of the false dawn is spreading, and the speaker either has not slept during the night, or he couldn't get to sleep properly. It's obvious that the speaker of the verse too is a member of the household (for example, it could be the girl's female cousin) who in the half-light of dawn sees from her bed the girl turning over and the glow of her pearl earrings. In the dawn light, since the glow of the stars has begun to diminish, it's a very fine 'cause' [ta((liil] to say that the stars, seeing the glow of her pearl earrings, feel shame.

To say that the stars sar dar garebaa;N hu))e in order to hide their faces is very fresh, because in it shame, the covering of the face, and vanishing-- all these are suggested. Then, to call the sky the 'collar' of the stars too has an affinity, for the way that a person hides his face in his collar, in the same way the stars too hide in the sky. Moreover, to a person whom one wants to shame one says, ;zaraa garebaan me;N mu;Nh ;Daal kar dekho . Thus there's also an affinity between sar dar garebaa;N and sharmindagii . The meaning of sar bah garebaa;N honaa is 'to hesitate, to vacillate', as in Ghalib's line naa:tiqah sar bah garebaa;N hai use kyaa kahye . Thus in sar dar garebaa;N is a suggestion that the stars are sar bah garebaa;N , are anxious and perplexed-- that is, seeing the beauty of the beloved's pearl earrings they become agitated/disturbed.

It should also be kept in mind that the beloved, whose cheeks and pearl earrings together are glowing with color like this, has a complexion not white but rather of a golden, tawny color, as we have already discussed to some extent in




[A critical discussion of the ways in which various Urdu and Persian dictionaries have treated sar dar garebaa;N honaa and related expressions.]

A final point about Mir's verse is that the morning star is also very bright, and also sets very quickly. This fact even further reinforces the 'elegance in assigning a cause' for the morning stars' hiding themselves in shame. But the verse is so delicate/subtle that even after saying all this, I haven't been able to express its magic. Well, I can only recite to you this verse from the fifth divan [{1543,5}]:

gir pa;Re;Nge ;Tuu;T kar ak;sar sitaare char;x se
hil gayaa jo .sub;h ko gauhar kisii ke kaan kaa

[a number of stars will break and fall down from the heavenly sphere
if at dawn the pearl in someone's ear would sway]

Despite the similarity of the theme, the verse doesn't have the same quality, because there's no special pleasure/refinement in the images. Though indeed, the subtlety and eloquence of the kisii is worthy of praise.



The idea that this verse is spoken to a half-asleep girl by a female cousin, or some other random relative who has been sleeping nearby, doesn't really commend itself. It's hard to imagine that family members waking up together in a summer's dawn, yawning and getting their bedding together, would begin the day by saying that kind of extravagant, erotically charged thing to each other. It's much easier to suspend our disbelief in the case of a lover than in the case of a female cousin or other relative.

For of course it's just the kind of hyperbolic conceit that would occur to a lover, or at least to some erotically responsive observer. And such a person would probably be located not at a distance but close by, therefore probably in bed with the addressee. For the verse is specifically not about the glitter of diamonds, which would be visible in the dim pre-dawn at a distance, but about the glow of pearls, and that too of their subtle change in color through shifting proximity to the beloved's cheeks. (Or to her long black curls, which would intermittently conceal the pearl earrings as she turned over, and would thus create the effect of twinkling stars.) Even if we imagine that her cheeks shine like headlights, the pearls will change color only a bit in response-- so that the change would be visible only to someone close at hand. And that person would then say something erotically complimentary to his awakening beloved.