bulbul ko muvaa paayaa kal phulo;N kii duukaa;N par
us mur;G ke bhii jii me;N kyaa shauq chaman kaa thaa

1) we found the Nightingale dead yesterday, at the flower-shop
2) in the inner-self of even/also that bird, what ardor for the garden was there?!



S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse a whole story has been versified with such excellence that it's beyond praise. A whole depiction of the non-access of the lover (or human being) is present in this verse. By not having presented the reason for the Nightingale's being found dead, he has created several implications.

For example, the Nightingale was frail and emaciated, because he was in a cage. In some way he became free from the cage, but he didn't have enough strength to reach the garden, thus he went to the flower-shop to see the glory of the rose. After arriving there, he gave up his life, because he couldn't endure even the hardship of getting from the cage to the flower-shop.

Or perhaps the Nightingale saw the flower-picker-- how he had broken off all the flowers, and was taking them to his shop with the intention of selling them. Becoming anxious, he followed behind the flower-picker; and having arrived at the shop, in an excess of grief he put an end to his life.

Or it's possible that he would have come to the shop every day and kept on lamenting, and one day in this very grief his life would have departed.

Or it's possible that the Nightingale might have wanted to offer himself for sale in the shop instead of the flowers: 'Let the flowers not be sold, let us be sold; let the garden remain populated!'.

The Nightingale's death at the flower-shop is a flight of the imagination that is not of Ghalib's sky-seizing kind, but in uniqueness it is not less than Ghalib's. The word 'yesterday' further reinforces the dramatic narration of events and the realism, as though this is an immediate matter that took place only yesterday, it's a thing that confronts us directly. By alluding to the realism of everyday life, Mir has bestowed on the verse the dignity of common human melancholy. The insha'iyah mode of the second line is also fine. He's composed a peerless verse.

[See also {1504,3}.]



The Nightingale might have died of any of a number of kinds of grief and despair, whether for himself (unable to reach the garden for which he longed), for the flowers (cut off from the garden and dying in a shop), or for the garden itself (despoiled of the glory of its beautiful inhabitants). He might have spent (much of) his life in the shop, or might have arrived there and promptly died. He might have been brooding over some sort of scheme of rescue or revenge, or he might have succumbed to the passivity of hopelessness. Perhaps he wasn't actually 'in' the flower-shop, but only 'at' it in the sense of outside it, trying desperately to break in and join his beloved roses.

The Nightingale's dying in or near the flower-shop thus forms a kind of 'gesture'. We can see the aftermath of it (in the form of his body), and we can speculate at length about its meaning; but the verse is cleverly organized to make sure that we can never establish or disprove any of our speculations.

In fact, thanks to the 'kya' effect, the second line joins us in our speculations. It can be an affirmative exclamation ('What ardor for the garden he had!'), or a straightforward question ('Did he have ardor for the garden?'), or a negative rhetorical question ('What ardor did he have for the garden?! -- why, none at all, of course; he preferred to remain beside the rose in her cruel imprisonment).

And of course, if we read bhii as 'even', the suggestion is that some other (surely human) party or parties (probably including the speaker) would feel this emotion more naturally or more strongly. While if we read it as 'also', then the Nightingale is counted on equal terms along with the other, presumably human, party or parties in a common state of helpless longing for the garden. For after all, why were 'we' there to find the Nightingale dead at the flower-shop yesterday? (Since no other subject is given in the verse, 'we' and 'I' are the best choices.) Why did we ourselves go to the flower-shop? Might it not have been on an errand similar to the Nightingale's?

Compare another ambiguous but powerful 'gesture' on the Nightingale's part [{716,1}]:

le rang-e be-;sabaatii yih gulsitaa;N banayaa
bulbul ne kyaa samajh kar yaa;N aashiyaa;N banaayaa

[having taken the color/style of impermanence, [someone] made this garden
what was the Nightingale thinking, when he made a nest here?]