kab talak yuu;N lohuu piite haath u;Thaa kar jaan se
vuh kamar kaulii me;N bhar lii ham ne kal ;xanjar samet

1) how long would we have 'drunk blood' {like this / for no reason}, having abandoned/'lifted the hand from' our life,
2) we took that waist into an embrace, yesterday, along with the dagger



lohuu piinaa : 'To drink the blood (of); to worry or plague to death'. (Platts p.971)


haath u;Thaanaa : 'To withdraw the hand (from); to keep the hands off; to leave off, cease, desist (from), refrain (from), keep (from); to abandon, forego, relinquish, renounce, resign'. (Platts p.1215)


kaulii : 'Bosom; lap; embrace, grasp of the arms; armful, as much (of anything) as can be grasped in the fold of the arms'. (Platts p.864)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse's qalandar-like style and wit-- both are so full of enjoyment that attention can be diverted only with difficulty to its additional excellences. The first point is that he hasn't mentioned the beloved, he's only said 'that waist'-- that is, he hasn't said that he's mentioning the beloved's waist. As if to say only 'that waist' is enough. He has so lost himself in the beloved, and is so absorbed in his own passion, that he's confident that if he merely says 'that waist' then everyone will understand that it's the beloved who's being mentioned.

The second point is that this event happened yesterday, and today we are present, alive, to describe it. That is, to place a hand on the beloved's waist proved not to be as dangerous as we used to think it. We were ready to wash our hands of life, but perhaps our rakish courage pleased the beloved as well-- she didn't give us any harsh punishment.

Then, by saying 'along with the dagger' he has also created an implication of the beloved's murderousness and readiness to kill. That is, first of all the beloved doesn't make herself available through her own nature; and even if she's available, then how would she permit such a liberty that anyone would put a hand on her waist? And secondly, she keeps a dagger at her waist-- that is, the beloved is a soldier's son, or wrathful of temperament and quarrelsome.

And let's keep on looking. The meaning of jaan se haath u;Thaa lenaa is not merely that putting a hand on the beloved's waist was an act of great courage. It also means that the beloved's waist is nonexistent and illusory; thus if we want to obtain some nonexistent thing, then we ourselves will be forced to become nonexistent.

Then, in the verse there's also an expression of pathos [dard-angezii] ( kab talak yuu;N lohuu piite ). The image in the second line is also very vivid and active-- waist and dagger, we took hold of everything and drew it into our embrace.

Aftab ud-Daulah 'Qalaq' has made a good try at giving this theme his own coloration, but the idea has remained one-dimensional:

kab tak umiid-e qatl yih jii me;N hai chal ke aaj
jallaad kii kamar me;N qalaq haath ;Daal de

[how long this hope of murder? it's in my inner-self to go today and
on the waist of the executioner, Qalaq, put a hand]

Mir himself has versified the qalandar-like aspect of this theme in the first divan [{83,6}]:

thaa shab kase kasaa))e te;G-e kashiidah kaf me;N
par mai;N ne bhii ba;Gal me;N be-i;xtiyaar khe;Nchaa

[last night the drawn sword was held tightly in the hand
but I too, uncontrollably, drew it into my side]

In the present verse, haath u;Thaa kar jaan se is connected to the second line. But it can also be connected to the first line. That is, it's also possible for the prose reading of the first line to be: kab talak jaan se haath u;Thaa kar yuu;N lohuu piite .

[See also {921,6}.]



SRF is sure that the lover isn't dead, since he's lived to tell us about his wild venture. But we know very well that the dead lover can go right on speaking, so this can easily be a verse of that kind. The contrafactualness of lohuu piite suggests strongly that the speaker's continuing to 'drink blood' is something that's not happening, which accords with the idea that he's now well out of such a wretched life.

And to take the waist, 'along with the dagger', into one's embrace surely suggests a possible self-impalement: perhaps the beloved was seeking to fend off the importunate lover with her dagger drawn, and he took advantage of the situation to achieve a doubly desirable embrace of both her and death together.

The word- and meaning-play of jaan se haath u;Thaanaa is a tour de force. Not only is the phrase a 'midpoint' one, as SRF observes, that can be read either with the clause before it or with the clause after it, but even on the most literal level it contrives to suggest that the lover perhaps (metaphorically) 'takes his hand away from his life' because he (literally) needs to use both hands in embracing at once the beloved's waist and her dagger.

Even the little multivalent yuu;N makes a fine contribution, because both senses-- 'like this' and 'for no reason'-- work beautifully in the context of the verse.

The kamikaze lover, daring to do a mad, forbidden deed, and impaling himself in the process-- what a magnificently romantic end! Not a grotesque vision of blood and gore and disembowelment, but more like the kind of graceful death scene when Richard Burton makes similar use of a dagger in 'Cleopatra'. Perhaps because, in both cases, the emphasis is not on the physicality of the dagger-wound, but on the mystical/erotic associations of such a death. When the Moth flies into the candle flame, we don't think of the smell of burning moth-flesh.