galuu-giir hii ho ga))ii yaavah-go))ii
rahaa mai;N ;xamoshii ko aavaaz kartaa

1) it became only/emphatically throat-seizing, the babbling/nonsense
2) I kept on {calling out / giving voice} to Silence



galuu : 'The neck, throat, gullet, windpipe; —the voice: ... — galuu-gir , adj. & s.m. Seizing by the throat; seizing or affecting the throat'. (Platts p.913)


yaavah-go))ii : 'Talking nonsense; absurdity, nonsense, babble'. (Platts p.1248)


aavaaz karnaa : , 'To call (to) = aavaaz denaa , q.v.: — aavaaz karnaa ( - kii ), To bring forth a sound or report (from), cause to sound; to fire off (a gun, &c.)'. (Platts p.101)


aavaaz denaa : 'To call out (to), shout (to), to hail; —v.n. To give forth a sound; to answer a call'. (Platts p.101)

S. R. Faruqi:

yaavah-go))ii = nonsense, babbling

On one interpretation, this verse is an elegy [mar;siyah] for the failure of expression, and the failure of the attempt to give to inner experience an external form. On another interpretation, this is an elegy for expression itself, since expression is useless and fruitless. By 'silence' can be meant that inner experience and feeling that is imprisoned in the depths of the spirit, and the poet wants to give voice to it-- that is, he wants to express it.

He kept on trying to 'give voice' to it (that is, to give it the form of a voice), but whatever emerged from his mouth was only yaavah-go))ii (that is, vain nonsense). In the sense that in comparison to the intensity and breadth and complexity of experience, those words that he was able to use were so weak and unreal that they seemed to be merely yaavah-go))ii . But from much speaking the throat closes up, and the voice no longer emerges. Thus at length his yaavah-go))ii caused his throat to seize up, and in the attempt to give to silence the form of a voice, he lost his voice itself.

For another interpretation, the idiomatic meaning of aavaaz karnaa ('to call out') comes into play. He used to consider that expression was without effect; thus he kept calling out to Silence. That is, he knew that he was doing yaavah-go))ii , that his expression was achieving nothing. For this reason he kept calling out to Silence-- that is, he kept trying to adopt silence. His wish for silence was fulfilled-- but in such a way that his yaavah-go))ii caused his throat to close up.

What can be more melancholy about expression, than that the result the attempt at expression would be silence! Or that the ineffectiveness of expression would be known, but that we would still be compelled to expression, and even if we would adopt silence, then it wouldn't be because of a conscious decision that our expression is only yaavah-go))ii , but rather because the fatigue of yaavah-go))ii itself has closed up our throat!

Ghalib had said [in an unpublished verse], for perhaps just such an occasion:


But Ghalib's verse is so abstract that the human melancholy of expression isn't manifest on a bodily level. Mir's action is on a bodily level. Then, Ghalib has not yet been compelled into expression; he is praying that he would be spared from entanglement and breaking.

By contrast, Mir is at the final stage, where prayer has already proved useless, and now there's either the attempt to make silence into a voice, or the attempt to make the voice silent. Ghalib had composed this verse in his youth; at that time, this very prayer was suitable. Mir's verse is one of maturity, when failure has already been completed. In Ghalib's prayer are the intensity and hopefulness of youth; on Mir's side the sense of defeatedness felt in later years.



The real, smashing, desperate effect of this brilliant verse is that final aavaaz kartaa -- which, as so often, it reserved for the last possible moment in the verse's unfolding. The semantic possibilities are laid out by Platts (see the definitions above). For aavaaz karnaa can be equated with the common idiom aavaaz denaa , to 'give voice', to 'call out to' someone. Thus the speaker can 'call out to' Silence. We imagine that he's begging Silence to come to him, but nothing in the verse limits the possibilities of what he might want to say to Silence.

Alternatively, aavaaz karnaa can mean 'to give a voice to' something, to cause it to make a sound or to resound. The ultimate paradoxical thing that one might 'cause to sound' is surely silence. What is the 'sound of silence'? (My generation have been told the answer over and over by Simon and Garfunkel, but we can't apply that to Mir.) It may be impossible to give a sound or voice to silence, but since when does that kind of problem ever stop the mad lover from trying?

One might be tempted to suspect that Mir's use of the complex aavaaz karnaa instead of the simple aavaaz denaa is not such a creative choice, because after all, given the refrain, it's compulsory. But it really doesn't make sense to think of great poets as helplessly bound by tight constraints, or as dictated to by the requirements of rhyme and refrain. Such rules of the poetic game are at least as suggestive and stimulating as they are confining. One might as well think of great chess players as 'bound' and 'constrained' by the rules of chess. Great Ustads, like great chess players, welcome and savor the rules of the game, and turn them to account with seeming ease. For how else would they be able to show us the full measure of their mastery?

SRF reads the first line as a cause or earlier condition, and the second line as an effect or later condition. But it's an 'A,B' verse, with no indication of how to connect the two lines. So we could also read the second line as the cause or earlier condition (I kept on calling out to Silence, or yelling about silence) and the first line as the result or later condition (eventually all that stupid babbling caused me to lose my voice).