.sa;hn me;N mere ai gul-e mah-taab
kyuu;N shiguufah tuu khilne kaa laayaa

1) in my courtyard, oh 'rose of moonlight',
2) why did you 'bring a bud into bloom'?



.sa;hn : 'A court, court-yard, area, square; a level or plain tract (of ground); a lawn'. (Platts p.743)


gul-e maah-taab : 'The shadow falling in moonlight from the leaves of trees; a rose blooming at night (in India)'. (Steingass p.1093)


shiguufah : 'A bud, blossom; flower; (colloq.) a fabrication'. (Platts p.732)


shiguufah laanaa : 'To bud, blossom; to put forth young shoots; —to produce something new and wonderful'. (Platts p.732)

S. R. Faruqi:

gul-e mah-taab = moonlight that is sifted through the trees and falls on the ground

This verse too is a peerless example of the beauty and effectiveness of wordplay. The image of gul-e mah-taab too-- hardly a single poet of ours would have used it. A white Hindustani flower with very large thick blossoms that blooms on a thick bush is called gul-e chaa;Ndnii and also gul-e mah-taab . In this way gul-e mah-taab has a double meaningfulness. Then, shiguufah khilnaa or gul khilnaa (meaning for something astonishing or desirable or distressing to happen) is also an idiom.

In the moonlight, madness increases. Thus the moonlight that comes sifted through the trees, which is called gul-e mah-taab -- to describe it as doing shiguufah khilaanaa is very fine. Then, shiguufah laanaa meaning 'for a bud to become apparent' too is very beautiful. The blooming of the gul-e mah-taab itself, he has interpreted as shiguufah . There are other idioms with which the second line has an affinity-- for example, ii;N gul-e diigar shiguft and shiguufah chho;Rnaa and shiguufah phuulnaa also come to mind.

Then, consider the meaningfulness of .sa;hn . The speaker is closed up within his house, or has been imprisoned, so that in madness he wouldn't suddenly leave the house. But in the house is a courtyard, and in a courtyard trees are usually planted. Sifted by this tree, moonlight comes into the courtyard, and the equipment for madness is available. It's possible that when he sees the gul-e mah-taab , the 'roses' (that is, wounds) inflicted on his breast might come to his mind, or might pain him afresh.

Or the gul-e mah-taab might be not the' moonlight-related rose' [chaa;Ndnii-vaalaa gul], but in its true sense the 'rose moonlight' [gul chaa;Ndnii]. When he saw the gul-e chaa;Ndnii , then through mental turmoil he remembered the moonlight, then the moon (and the moon-like face)-- and then madness. It's hardly a verse-- it's an enchanted world [:tilismaat]!

In the first divan Mir has versified this theme in a rather light and obvious way [{446,7}]:

us mah ke jalve se kuchh taa miir yaad deve
ab ke gharo;N me;N ham ne sab chaa;Ndnii hai bo))ii

[from the radiance/appearance of that moon, Miir, so that it would be a reminder,
this time, in the houses we have everywhere sown moonlight]

On the theme of moonlight, Nasikh too has composed a very fine verse:

kyaa shab-e mah-taab me;N be-yaar jaa))uu;N baa;G ko
saare patto;N ko banaa detii hai ;xanjar chaandnii

[as if I would go on a moonlit night, without the beloved, to the garden!
the moonlight makes all the leaves into daggers]

Those people who call Nasikh an unenjoyable, prosy, and flat poet should hide their faces and reflect on this verse. Nasikh is not a very great poet, but he's also not a commonplace poet. He has many high-level and interesting verses.

[See also {544,1}; {1746,1}.]



For discussion of textual problems in this ghazal, see {757,1}. I have used the text as given in the kulliyat.

In this verse the wordplay is so heavily based on interlocking idioms that it's hard for non-native speakers to experience its charms to the fullest.

A personal anecdote: The nature of this verse reminds me that once many years ago in Karachi I was asked by a friend's father whether I preferred Mir or Ghalib. I chose Ghalib. He explained somewhat condescendingly that my choice was inevitable, because I was a foreigner. Foreigners, he said, always preferred Ghalib, because they could enjoy how he was twisting and torturing the language. But in the case of Mir, foreigners could never be deeply enough steeped in the actual idioms of colloquial speech to appreciate Mir's achievement. He then smiled pityingly at me (because I could never experience the superior glories of Mir), and I smiled pityingly at him (because he had no idea of the superior glories of Ghalib). Really all that can be said is that we are lucky to have them both, since juxtaposing selected verses of theirs is one of the most riveting, mind-stretching, and unpredictably thrilling activities possible in the glorious world of the Urdu ghazal.