kab lu:tf-e zabaanii kuchh us ;Gunchah-dahan kaa thaa
barso;N mile par ham se .sarfah hii su;xan kaa thaa

1) when was there any verbal/'tongued' pleasure from that bud-mouthed one?

2a) upon meeting for years, with/from us there was only/emphatically economy/miserliness of speech
2b) we/she met for years, but with/from us there was only/emphatically economy/miserliness of speech



lu:tf : 'Delicacy; refinement; elegance, grace, beauty; the beauty or best (of a thing); taste; pleasantness; gratification, pleasure, enjoyment; —piquancy, point, wit; —courtesy, kindness, benignity, grace, favour, graciousness, generosity, benevolence, gentleness, amenity'. (Platts p.957)


.sarfah : 'Expending, expense, expenditure; economy; utility, profit; addition, surplus, excess, redundance, profusion'. (Platts p.744)

S. R. Faruqi:

.sarfah = miserliness

In both lines there are numerous aspects. For lu:tf-e zabaanii there are a number of meanings. One is 'the pleasure of the tongue'-- that is, 'the pleasure of conversation', or 'the pleasure that would be obtained by means of the tongue' (for example, by kissing). Then, there's 'the pleasure that would be obtained verbally'-- that is, 'the pleasure that would be verbal, not derived from action'; or 'the pleasure that would be obtained only by the tongue'. Then, we can read lu:tf-e zabaanii with or without the i.zaafat , For the meaning of lu:tf , both 'pleasure' and 'favor' are appropriate.

For kab , the special foregrounded meaning can be 'was there ever, on any occasion, any pleasure from that bud-mouthed one?'-- that is, 'Isn't it true that instead of a tongue she was endowed with a bud? Oh well, what do we know? Despite keeping on meeting us for years together, she was miserly even with her conversation.' The second interpretation is, 'As if she ever gave us the pleasure of the tongue (that is, kissing)!' The third interpretation is, 'As if she ever gave us verbal favor (that is, common courtesy)!' That is, we weren't even considered worthy that kind words would be addressed to us.

The fourth interpretation is that the beloved's favors are of two kinds, some that are bestowed with the tongue, others that are vouchsafed with the gaze. We didn't even know that the beloved shows favor with the tongue. We haven't even managed to converse with her. Perhaps she might have favored us with a glance, but we are deprived of the tongue.

In 'bud-mouthed' there are two kinds of wordplay. One of them is on the surface: that the beloved's mouth is delicate and narrow like a bud. The second is that a bud doesn't speak, its lips remain compressed. Since the beloved's paucity of speech and paucity of sociableness is a theme of poetry, to call her 'bud-mouthed' (that is, someone whose mouth remains shut like a bud) is very fine.

Now please look at the second line. The meaning of barso;N mile par is 'upon keeping on meeting for years'. But if par is taken with the meaning of 'but', then the interpretation becomes, 'she/we met for years, but'. If we keep all these aspects before us, then the meaning of the verse becomes that we and the beloved met for years, but the beloved never opened up to us, she kept being miserly of speech. What fine 'pleasure of the tongue' there was! Or, how fine the pleasure of her tongue was! Or, what verbal graciousness there was, that she never even opened her lips to converse with us! Or, in addition to conversing with her, were there other kinds of pleasures? How would we know? We met her for years, but she didn't even speak properly to us. Or, people say that there's a great deal of pleasure in her conversation, but we don't know, she never spoke to us. Or, was her favor conveyed somewhat through the tongue (that is, by means of speech) as well? We don't know, because in speaking to us she was always miserly. Or, what kind of pleasure was that verbal pleasure, since it wasn't even expressed!

Another aspect is that ham se .sarfah hii su;xan kaa thaa can also mean that the miserliness in speaking was on our side. Perhaps because in her presence we were unable even to speak-- due to the imposingness of beauty, or out of respect, or through being entranced. Some years passed in meeting her, but the occasion for conversation didn't come.

The final point is that the account of meeting her for years brings the verse to the level of everyday speech, and marks this special quality of Mir's-- when he makes the events and circumstances of passion a part of everyday life, and endows them with his own kind of reality. Or rather, the final point is that if .sarfah would be taken in the sense of 'expenditure', then the interpretation emerges that we kept meeting her for years, but only the 'income and expenditure' [jam((a ;xarch] of speech took place-- there was plenty of talk, but our goal was not achieved. He's composed a fine verse.



And really, it is a fine verse! As I went along translating SRF's commentary, I was proud of myself for having already seen most of those possibilities. But the reading that the miserliness of speech could be on the lover's part rather than the beloved's-- that stunned and delighted me, because somehow it had never occurred to me at all. Why didn't it, since it's the kind of thing I love to look for, and do often find? I don't know. I mention this just to remind myself (and you, dear reader) to be alert, and not to forget the full tool-kit of analytical possibilities when approaching a deceptively 'simple' verse like this. Just because you see three possibilities, that's no proof that there aren't four! Or five, or 'n'.