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0601,
1
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{601,1}

dahr bhii miir :turfah maqtal hai
jo hai so ko))ii dam ko fai.sal hai

1) the universe itself, Mir, is an extraordinary/rare/novel killing-ground
2) whoever/whatever is, has a decree/judgement/lordship for a few moments/breaths

 

Notes:

:turfah : 'Novel, rare, strange, extraordinary, wonderful; —a pleasing rarity; a novelty, a strange thing, a wonder'. (Platts p.752)

 

maqtal : 'Place of slaughter, or of execution; —place of death'. (Platts p.1054)

 

fai.sal : 'Separation, division; —decision, determination, adjudication, judicial sentence, judgment, decree'. (Platts p.785)

S. R. Faruqi:

Apparently there's nothing in the verse, but if we pay attention to the word fai.sal , then a whole world of meaning comes into view. It's an abundantly meaningful word, and for the present these meanings will be useful to us: (1) cutting; (2) a cutter; (3) a distinction between truth and falsehood ([from the dictionary] shams ul-lu;Gaat ); (4) to separate, to divide (Platts); (5) (with honaa ) to be traversed, to be complete/full ([from the dictionary] nuur ul-lu;Gaat ).

The word dam is also interesting; in the meaning of 'the blade of a sword', it forms a zila with maqtal . Also among its meanings are 'breath', 'moment', 'blow' (thus 'air'). Taking advantage of the latter meaning, Dard has well said,

;thahr jaa ;Tuk baat kii baat ay .sabaa
ko))ii dam me;N ham bhii hote hai;N havaa

[just pause for a word or two, oh breeze
in a few moments/breaths, even/also we are wind/vanished]

To call the age or the world a maqtal is a superb theme, because everything in any case comes to an end. And its rareness is in the fact that all decisions, all divisions, all accounts, are over in the space of a breath. In the first line the addressee too is superb, because in it there's an air of talking to oneself, and also of two people in conversation.

In dahr bhii there's a touch of sarcasm. For example, we say aap bhii ((ajab aadmii hai;N ; here bhii is is for forceful speech; it doesn't mean that some other person is a strange man and the addressee too is a strange man.

It's also interesting that by saying jo hai he has referred to both people and affairs, and declared that upon both will be fai.sal .

Now let's consider some additional points. Note that ko can be a time indicator-- that is, it expresses an interval. For example, we say mai;N chand din ko vahaa;N gayaa thaa or vuh ek raat ko yahaa;N ;Thahraa thaa . And one meaning of fai.sal is 'ruler'. Thus one more meaning of the second line is that whoever is here becomes a ruler only for a brief interval, then his time is over. That is, the age is a killing-ground for rulers-- today they came, tomorrow they went.

He's composed a fine verse-- apparently it's an extremely commonplace idea, but if one thinks, then there are meanings upon meanings.

FWP:

SETS == BHI
MOTIFS
NAMES
TERMS == PEN-NAME

In this ghazal, Mir has chosen to include his pen-name in the opening-verse, and to omit it from the final verse. This is uncommon, but not terribly rare; it seems to have no special meaning.

In the first line, the juxtaposition of :turfah and maqtal works brilliantly. The former is the kind of expression you'd use for a wonder, a rarity, something to be gazed at in delight and astonishment; it contains no overtones of fear or horror. And then to apply it (and no other adjective whatsoever) to a 'killing-ground' is deeply jarring. It calls into question the tone of the second line-- we of course expect it to be melancholy, but perhaps it's just part of the fascinating strangeness, something to contemplate and marvel at?

Note for grammar fans: SRF has here emphasized the special, colloquial, exclamatory use of bhii ; for more on this, see my Urdu script and grammar notes, section 19,4. For other such examples, see {601,8} and especially {611,1}. He's also pointed out that ko can be a time expression, appearing in places where we'd expect ke liye . Along those same lines, here ko))ii dam is an idiomatic expression ('a few breaths/moments'), which is why the ko))ii is not in the oblique.