chashm-e kam se dekh mat qumrii to us ;xvush-qad ko ;Tuk
aah bhii sarv-e gulistaan-e shikast-e rang hai

1) don't look with a belittling eye, oh Ring-dove, on that beautiful-statured one, {please / a bit}
2) even/also the sigh is a cypress of the garden of the breaking/defeat of color/style/pleasure



qumrii : ' 'of a dully or dusky white colour,' ... A turtle-dove; a ring-dove'. (Platts p.795)


shikast : 'Breaking, breakage, fracture; a breach; defeat, rout; deficiency, loss, damage; —adj. (contrac. of shikastah ), Broken; odd, uneven, unpaired'. (Platts p.730)


rang : 'Colour, colouring matter, pigment, paint, dye; colour, tint, hue, complexion; beauty, bloom; expression, countenance, appearance, aspect; fashion, style; character, ... ; sport, entertainment, amusement, merriment, pleasure, enjoyment'. (Platts p.601)

S. R. Faruqi:

chashm-e kam se dekhnaa = to look with disdain

This verse is a good example of 'thought-binding'. By 'thought-binding' is meant a construction in which there's a great deal of abstraction, but because the theme is extremely far-fetched the 'proof' would not be very powerful. Or again, one where the theme would be very rare/unusual, but would not be able to become part of the 'general matrix'; or would not be able to enter into that 'interlocking system' that is the guarantor/underwriter of the life of any theme.

For example, in the present verse the sigh has been construed, because of its length and straightness, as a cypress. That is, a sigh is straight and long, and a cypress too is straight and long. The Ring-dove is imagined as the lover of the cypress. The theme is that a sigh too is a cypress, but the Ring-dove looks on that cypress with disdain. At this, the speaker says, 'oh Ring-dove, don't look upon the sigh with disdain, because it too is a cypress of the garden of the breaking/defeat of color'. (That is, it too is the same kind of creature with which you are in love.) And in trouble and sorrow, color flies away ( shikast-e rang ). Thus if we assume shikast-e rang to be a garden, then we can assume a sigh to be the cypress of that garden.

Ghalib, Nasikh, Atish, Asghar Ali Khan Nasim-- in the poetry of all of them, themes of this kind are abundant. Especially in Ghalib in Urdu, and in Bedil in Persian, such abstraction is very common. Bedil at all times made it the foundation of his poetry, but in Ghalib's earliest poetry abstraction often becomes so convoluted and subtle that theme, or connection between the lines, disappears. Ghalib himself has [in an unpublished verse] construed this lack of connection as 'intoxication of speech':


We can call the present verse a good example of 'thought-binding' in Urdu. But the verse also has the weaknesses that almost always appear in 'thought-binding'. A serious/ambitious poet ignores these weaknesses, for the sake of freshness of theme and surprisingness of thought. For example, with regard to the present verse, consider these points:

(1) A sigh is invisible, and a cypress visible. The similarities between these two (length and straightness) are secondary, not primary. Thus for a sigh, the metaphor of a cypress is not very successful.

(2) But if a sigh would be taken as a cypress, then it will also be necessary that the Ring-dove has become its lover, because it's universally agreed that the Ring-dove's beloved is the cypress. Thus there's no basis for the idea-- not is there any proof for it in the verse-- that the Ring-dove looks down on the sigh. If the sigh too is a cypress, then the Ring-dove will certainly be its lover. And if the sigh is not a cypress, then the metaphor that has been established in (1) will be destroyed.

(3) Or even if we agree that the sigh too is a cypress, but the Ring-dove looks down on it, then there's the difficulty that in the verse there's no proof that the Ring-dove looks down on the cypress.

(4) The connection between the shikast-e rang and the sigh is obvious. To call the shikast-e rang a garden is a superb example of abstract thought. But this metaphor is also devoid of proof. Since the theme is new, a proof is needed for it-- and that too, a proof worthy of acceptance in poetry. Writing about Zauq, Muhammad Husain Azad said something worth a lakh of rupees: that when Zauq presented a proof, of fire emerging from stone, that was historically established, the objectors said 'In poetry the warrant [sanad] of a verse is needed. History is of no use in poetry' [aab-e ;hayaat p. 437].

The conclusion is that poetic proof is one thing, logical proof is another thing. Even if it would be logically proved that shikast-e rang is a garden, it would still not be at all necessary for poetics to accept it. This is exactly the reason that many themes of 'thought-binding' have not been able to become common; that is, have not been able to be included in the 'matrix' of themes.

If we look at it from one perspective, then this verse too presents an example of the same kind of 'correspondence' that we saw in


In this respect this verse comes to bear a quite different rank and value. But this sigh, because of the conventional theme of cypress and Ring-dove, has not been able entirely to establish that correspondence that was desired, and has become dominated by 'thought-binding'. The verse is nevertheless worth reading and remembering.

In the first divan itself Mir has composed a similar theme, in an extremely simple style [{585,5}]:

baa;G-o-bahaar hai vuh mai;N kisht-e za((faraa;N huu;N
jo lu:tf ik udhar hai to yaa;N bhii ik samaa;N hai

[she is a flourishing garden; I am a 'field of saffron'
that which is a single/particular/unique/excellent pleasure there, is even/also here, just the same]

Azad Bilgrami has, in ;Gazalaan ul-hind , recorded a [Persian] verse of Shafiq Aurangabadi:

'This is not a box-tree that has grown up in the garden,
It is a sigh that the garden has heaved, in memory of someone.'



Ring-doves are conspicuously bland-looking birds (see the definition above); they are often of an ashy-greyish color with brownish details; they produce drab, repetitive, 'monotonous cooing songs'. Thus they might well be said to represent the shikast-e rang -- they lack 'color' and 'style' and 'merriment'. The sigh too suffers from this lack, since it has no color or style, and definitely no merriment. Of course this kind of play with rang is secondary, since the primary imagery, as SRF explains, is based on stature; but still, why not notice and enjoy everything that's there?

In {582,5} (cited above), the relevance of the 'field of saffron' completely eluded me. So I asked SRF, of course. He replied (May 2017),

One is supposed to burst out in spontaneous laughter at the sight of a field of saffron (flowers). It is supposed to be extremely exhilarating. The lover is a field of saffron because people laugh at him and jeer at him all the time.

Note for translation fans: This verse also shows how sometimes SRF thinks in English. The terms 'general matrix' [((umuumii jaal] and 'interlocking system' [baa-ham-digar paivast ni:zaam] are among the cases in which he supplies not only the Urdu but also his own English counterpart phrase. In the course of SSA there are a fair number of cases like this (such as his supplying 'correspondence' for mu:taabaqat ). Usually I just use his preferred translation and move on. But the two cases of 'general matrix' and 'interlocking system' seem so clearly to have originated in English and then been translated into Urdu, that I am just mentioning them for general interest. Should they be considered 'loan translations' or 'calques'? Or, since the English and the Urdu are presented together as equivalents, is it merely a case of apposition? Never mind, after a while these possibilities become Byzantine, and there are more fruitful things to do with one's time.