ruu-o-;xaal-o-zulf hii hai;N sunbul-o-sabzah-o-gul
aa;Nkhe;N ho;N to yih chaman aa))iinah-e nairang hai

1a) only/emphatically face and beauty-spot and curls are hyacinth and greenery and rose
1b) hyacinth and greenery and rose are only/emphatically face and beauty-spot and curls

2) if there would be eyes, then this garden is a mirror of fascination/wonder/deceit



sunbul : 'A plant of sweet odour, spikenard (to which the Persians compare the locks of a mistress); —the hyacinth; maiden-hair'. (Platts p.680)


nairang : 'Fascination, bewitching arts, wiles; magic, sorcery; deception; —deceit; trick; pretence; evasion; —freak; —a wonderful performance, a miracle; anything new or strange'. (Platts p.1166)

S. R. Faruqi:

Here too [as in {602,1}], a verse of Ghalib's comes to mind:


The harmony of Ghalib's verse is so complex and beautiful, and his verse has so much 'flowingness', that in comparison to it Mir's verse seems lightweight. But it's impossible to deny that the coalescence of the various senses, and as a result of this coalescence the kind of illusionary vision of reality that we see in Ghalib's verse, finds its beginning from Mir.

In Mir's first line the arrangement is disordered-- that is, face = rose, beauty-spot = greenery, and curls = hyacinth. It's also possible that the theme of this verse might be that of


or again, like that of this verse from the first divan [{549,8}]:

har qit((ah-e chaman par ;Tuk gaa;R kar na:zar kar
big;Rii;N hazaar shakle;N tab phuul yih banaa))e

[on every section of the garden just plant a gaze
a thousand forms were ruined; then these flowers were made]

This theme began with Khusrau, and Nasikh, Ghalib, and many other poets profited from Khusrau or Mir. Mir, in the fifth divan [{1663,2}]:

the nau-;xa:to;N kii ;xaak se ajzaa jo baraabar
ho sabzah nikalte hai;N tah-e ;xaak se ab tak

[they were parts of the dust of downy-cheeked youths, who continually
having become greenery, emerge from beneath the dust, until now]

But in the present verse the theme of 'correspondence'-- that rose = face, face = rose-- is entirely new. In the opening-verse of this ghazal too there's the same idea of correspondence, but there the tons isn't so revelatory. Nor does the opening-verse have the clever zila of ruu-o-;xaal-o-zulf with aa;Nkhe;N , or that of ruu with aa))iinah . Through nairang , the mind is led toward ne rang (for there to be no color). While in the first line so many things are mentioned, all are worthy of attention in regard to their color. In this way an ironic tension is created that is very enjoyable.

In the burhaan-e qaa:ti(( a number of meanings have been noted for nairang . Among them, the following are of use to us: (1) magic and magicianship; (2) sorrow and the expression of sorrow; (3) an enchantment; (4) the substance of everything; (5) the outline of a picture. It's obvious that in the light of the first three meanings the world and everything present in it are an illusion and insubstantial and amazing like magic, but in reality, unreal.

In the light of the fourth meaning, the correspondence mentioned in the first line is in reality the same thing-- the source and essence and foundational substance of everything. In the light of the final meaning, if the hyacinth and greenery and rose are initial sketches or drawings that are afterwards filled in with color, then the real aspect (curls and beauty-spot and face) finally becomes manifest. It's hardly a verse-- it's a particularly fine and special enchantment.

About this [synesthesia] Bijnori writes:

Baudelaire writes that in a poetic 'mood' a time also comes when all the senses become to an extreme degree receptive to effects and powerful, the eyes begin to see as far as the veil of the eternity before time, in tumultuous places the ears begin to hear the lightest of light voices and entirely ignore the tumult. Disturbance of ideas takes place, and all the things in the world on many occasions change from their own forms into into other forms, and in the thoughts an unresolvable, disengaged alienation comes to exist; voices seem to be colorful and in colors melodies come to exist.

Bijnori has made a somewhat fanciful construction of Baudelaire's world-famous sonnet 'Correspondences'. But basically his idea is correct. Mir's verses will have remained before him; otherwise he would also have felt that the fountainhead of Ghalib's ideas was in Mir's poetry. And if Baudelaire had known that an Eastern poet too was acquainted with this heightening of the senses and could express it-- which was if on the one hand psychedelic, then on the other hand revelatory-- then some new directions could have developed in his poetry.

In Baudelaire's above-mentioned sonnet, consider this stanza [as translated by Richard Howard]:

Like long-held echoes, blending somewhere else
into one deep and shadowy unison
as limitless as darkness and as day
the sounds, the scents, the colors correspond.

Look at one other attraction of these 'correspondences', in Baudelaire's poem 'To A Malabar Girl', in which he says [as translated by Richard Howard] that

when evening's scarlet mantle falls, you stretch
your limbs out on the matting -- and you dream
what do you dream? There must be hummingbirds
and bright hibiscus lovely as yourself...

It's clear that in these poems Baudelaire too is seeing with those same eyes about which Mir has said that aa;Nkhe;N ho;N to yih chaman aa))iinah-e nairang hai .

[See also: {602,6}.]



Are we talking about the beloved's features, and likening them to flowers in a garden (1a), or are we talking about the flowers in a garden, and likening them to the features of a beautiful beloved (1b)? The nature of Urdu grammar, and of Mir's poetic cleverness, makes it impossible to tell. For the second line works to reinforce the ambiguity (and why are we not surprised?). If he/she/they (perhaps, but not necessarily, the addressee) would have the eyes to see it, the 'garden' of this world is a mirror of fascination and trickery-- either because its essence is a transcendent beloved who can be seen in or through flowers (as in 1a), or because its verdure consists of flowers that are actually features of an irresistibly beautiful beloved (as in 1b).

As SRF notes, the arrangement of the terms in the first line is reversed: A1 , B1 , C1 are C2 , B2 , A2. Should this particular arrangement be taken as a kind of mirror image? It's not clear; it's just a possibility to play with.

Above all, this verse is an exploration of the excellent subtleties of the multivalent word nairang (see the definition above). Platts gives its more common modern meanings, and SRF adds other, rarer ones. But the core of its wonderful ambiguity is the two meaning-clusters that center on 'wonder, marvel' and 'deceit, trick'. The verse opens-- and of course, leaves open in our minds-- the question of the extent to which the 'wonders' of the world around us are (also? instead? ultimately?) 'deceits'.