kahye la:taafat us tan-e naazuk kii miir kyaa
shaayad yih lu:tf hogaa kisuu jaan-e paak me;N

1) how will/would you speak of the refinement/subtlety of that delicate body, Mir!
2) perhaps there would/will be this [kind of] pleasure/elegance in some pure spirit/life/essence



la:taafat : 'Slimness, slenderness, delicateness; fineness, thinness, tenuity, subtility; neatness, elegance, grace, beauty; purity; delicacy, point; deliciousness, exquisiteness'. (Platts p.957)


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)


jaan : 'The breath of life, vitality; life, spirit, soul, mind; self; animation, vigour, energy, force, stamina; the best part, the essence (of a thing); that which imparts life, or beauty, &c. (to a thing)'. (Platts p.372)

S. R. Faruqi:

For several verses of this kind on the theme of body and spirit, see




As I've already said, on this theme Mir has always brought out one new aspect after another. Here too, some aspects are entirely fresh. Both lines are insha'iyah. The second line has two meanings: (1) perhaps that pleasure might be in some pure spirit; (1) perhaps such pleasure might or might not be in some pure spirit-- it cannot be in any body. The wordplay of lu:tf and la:taafat is also fine.

The use of jaan-e paak in the sense of 'spirit, soul' is neither in bahaar-e ((ajam nor in farhang-e aanand-raj , although Sa'adi has versified it [in Persian] in the Gulistan:

'When the jaan-e paak would have a desire to go,
Then to die on a throne, or on the bare ground-- what does it matter?'

In the urduu lu;Gaat of the Taraqqi Urdu Board, Karachi, a verse by Mir Hasan has been cited and jaan-e paak has been said to refer to the Prophet of God. Mir Hasan's verse contains a very remote possibility of this, but in Mir's verse there's no need at all to make guesses about this meaning. Since the spirit's attribute has also been said to be 'sinlessness' (in the aanand-raj ), for jaan-e paak only/emphatically the meaning of 'spirit' is proper and appropriate.

Because kyaa kahiye is insha'iyah, it has several possibilities of meaning: (1) What can I say-- I can find no proper words, no appropriate expression; (2) It's not something that is to be spoken of; (2) Whatever one might say, it's proper. On such occasions, Mir has made great use of this style. From the fourth divan [{1462,3}]:

haa))e la:taafat jism kii us ke mar hii gayaa huu;N puuchho mat
jab se tan-e naazuk vuh dekhaa tab se mujh me;N jaan nahii;N

[alas, the refinement of her body! -- I have died!-- don't ask!
since I saw that delicate body, there has been no life/spirit in me]

From the second divan:


From the second divan:


From the first divan:


In these verses, the insha'iyah interrogative style, especially of puuchho mat , kuchh nah puuchho , kyaa jaani))e , kyaa ... hai , nah kuchh puuchho , kyaa kahiye , creates an abundance of force and meaning in the poetry. Not every poet can arrive at a style like this, and nobody has such an abundance of it as Mir.

For example, Mus'hafi has an extremely excellent verse:

ik bijlii kii kond ham ne dekhii
aur log kahe;N hai;N vuh badan thaa

[a single bolt of lightning, we saw
other people say that was a body]

In Intizar Husain's novel 'Basti', Zakir by mistake opens the bathroom door when Sabirah is bathing, and something like lightning flashes before his eyes. In both cases the images and the 'dramaticness' are fine. But the lack of an insha'iyah style makes itself felt. In Intizar Husain's case it wouldn't have been easy, after all, since that was an expression in prose; but in verse it certainly ought to become possible, for in such a theme it's clear that only weakness of the pen can inhibit the poet.

Janab 'Abd ul-Rashid has, on the strength of the di;xudaa [dictionary], maintained that the meaning of jaan-e paak is 'a pure spirit'; and he has also cited verses by Vajdi Dakani and Yakru Dihlavi in which jaan-e paak has been used, but in neither of these verses has jaan-e paak been used to mean 'a pure spirit'. On the contrary: Yakru's verse uses jaan-e paak to mean only 'life' or 'spirit':

aa milo mihrbaa;N ho yakruu se;N
kuchh nahii;N us me;N jaan-e paak payaa

[come, meet him, be gracious to Yakru
nothing is left of the spirit/life in him]

And in Mir's verse, too, there's not a trace of jaan-e paak as meaning 'a pure spirit'.



The 'kya effect' is of course elegantly present in the first line: we can read an affirmative exclamation ('How you will speak...!'), a scornful repudiation ('What! As if you'll speak...!'), or a genuine question ('Will you speak...?').

The shaayad here, as compared to the English 'perhaps', seems to have a more negative flavor: 'perhaps' the same thing can be found elsewhere-- but perhaps not, with strong overtones of 'probably not'. In short, 'don't count on it'. The English 'perhaps' sounds a bit more hopeful: 'perhaps the same thing can be found somewhere else' sounds like a suggestion that it might well be sought for. In English, to get an equally negative flavor we might say 'the thing will hardly be found anywhere else' or 'otherwise the thing can be found only with great difficulty'. So not only does the beloved's delicate, refined body offer a pleasure so subtle that no other body can provide it-- her body offers a pleasure that very possibly not even any spirit can provide.