dil ko le kar .saaf yuu;N aa;Nkhe;N milaataa hai ko))ii
tab talak hii lu:tf hai jab tak kih kuchh pardah ho myaa;N

1) having taken the heart, does anyone clearly/openly {casually / 'like this'} cause eyes to meet?!
2) there is pleasure/elegance/favor only/emphatically as long as there would be some veil/'pardah', sir



.saaf : 'Clearly; plainly; distinctly; openly, candidly, without reserve or guile; clean out, outright; decidedly, flatly; thoroughly, entirely'. (Platts p.742)


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)


miyaa;N : 'An address expressive of kindness, or respect; Sir! good Sir! good man; master; husband; lord; father'. (Platts p.1103)

S. R. Faruqi:

The theme of this verse is interesting and new. By now it would have become clear that in the classical ghazal poets, and especially the ghazal poets of the eighteenth century, sometimes in the 'affairs of passion' the beloved not only takes an equal share, but sometimes herself takes the first step. Or again, she understands the lover's feelings and also encourages him. Thus Shah Hatim's extremely beautiful verse:

us vaqt dil miraa tire panje ke biich thaa
jis vaqt tuu ne haath lagaayaa thaa haath ko

[at that time my heart was between your fingers
when you touched your hand to mine]

For those poets, the beloved is not merely a courtesan, not merely a lady in pardah, and not merely some allegorical non-human imagined being who is peerless in beauty, the breaking of hearts, and the forgetting of promises. Ghazal poetry is certainly to a great extent a poetry of non-access, but it's not only a poetry of non-access. In it other themes are possible as well.

In the present verse, Mir's beloved comes before us in an extraordinarily interesting manner. Even after having taken his heart, she is not embarrassed before the lover, or does not avert her eyes from his eyes. In a tone of complaint, or slight perplexity and agitation, the speaker says, 'No one behaves like this. The pleasure of passion is when there's some formality, some veiling. Why are you becoming so shameless?'

The ideas in this situation, and behind the lover's complaint and perplexity, can be briefly explained like this:

(1) If the beloved, having taken the heart, is determinedly meeting his eyes, then it's as if there's no crack in her heart; that is, in her heart there's no corner for the lover. She simply took the heart, and gave the lover leave to go. If the beloved too had felt some attraction, then she wouldn't have been so bold/insolent.

(2) The beloved isn't even aware that she has taken the heart. That is, she's so careless, and so unconcerned about the condition of her lovers, that she doesn't even know whose hearts she's made off with.

(3) In the beloved's heart too there's a place for the lover. But the lover doesn't like the way the beloved meets his eyes without formality, and thus signals 'we know what you want'. This informality or shamelessness degrades the pleasure/elegance/favor of passion. The pleasure/elegance/favor of passion is in the existence of a slight veiledness on both sides, of a certain shamefacedness. Then gradually, the veils are lifted one by one.

(4) It's contrary to the etiquette [aadaab] of belovedness that she should also become informal with the one whose heart she has taken, as though nothing at all had happened.

Among the people of the eighteenth century, there was in any case great respect for the etiquette of the lover. Mir himself has a number of superb verses on this theme; for example,




Those people also had an idea of the etiquette of the beloved, and the present verse can come from the world of the beloved's etiquette.

About the etiquette of the beloved, Shah Mubarak Abru has written a masnavi of some two hundred fifty verses. Chaudhari Muhammad Naim has included a description of it in an English essay of his. In this masnavi, where there's advice about adornment and beautification, there's also counsel about manners and style, the etiquette of the gathering, and the beloved's own character. Some verses are given below; they shed light on Mir's present verse:

sha;x.s-e be-tamkiin hove be-vaqaar
sho;x ko ((aashiq nipa;T kartaa hai pyaar

[a person without dignity would be without sedateness
a lover entirely loves a mischievous one]

ka))ii;N ta;Gaaful kar ka))ii;N ho mihr-baa;N
gaah kar lu:tf-e nihaanii gah ((ayaa;N

[sometimes she would show heedlessness, sometimes would be gracious
sometimes would show favor secretly, sometimes openly]

aashnaa hove jo apne shauq se
kyaa ma.zaaqah us se milye ;zauq se

[if there would be familiarity through one's own ardor
what's the harm if one meets him, with taste?]

par ;xabar rakhnaa ko))ii ;xandah nah ho
buu al-havas naa-paak dil-gandah nah ho

[but take care-- let there be no laughing/smiling
let him be no impure, foul-hearted lecher]

ko))ii paajii yaa ko))ii lachchaa nah ho
baat kahnaa us satii be-jaa nah ho

[let him not be a scoundrel, nor a wretch
let speech with him not be inappropriate]

;husn hii hai miirzaa))ii kar talash
vuh nahii;N ma((shuuq jo ho badma((aash

[it is only/emphatically beauty after having sought out gentility
she/he is not a beloved, who would be a ruffian]

is :tara;h se mil kih be-((izzat nah ho
ahl-e majlis me;N tirii ;zillat nah ho

[meet in such a way that you would not be dishonored
that among the people of the gathering, you would not be lowered]

;Gair .su;hbat mil ke to mat pii sharaab
aadamii us :tar;h hotaa hai ;xaraab

[in the company of strangers, don't drink wine
in that way a person becomes ruined]

saadah-ruu jab mast aur sarshaar ho
be-takalluf har kisii se yaar ho

[when one would be openly intoxicated and ebullient,
when, without formality, one would be friends with everyone,]

tab to na))ii;N rahtii hai ma((shuuqii kii shaan
us se saaraa shahr hove bad-gumaan

[then the glory of belovedness does not remain
from that, the whole city would become suspicious]

This masnavi is included in the 'Divan-e Abru', edited by Dr. Muhammad Hasan. I have taken the verses from there, but the Doctor Sahib's text is here and there incorrect. I have corrected it as much as was possible.

In the light of the allusions to the culture of passion and lover-ship that appear in this masnavi, it becomes easy to understand many themes that appear in the classical ghazal. It's also worth noting that the established rules of etiquette for beardless youths and those who took an interest in them among the Greeks, are very similar to the etiquette described by Abru.



What about the refrain of myaa;N , a decidedly masculine term of address? We could take it as used ironically to a beloved boy, who is being scolded for his wanton behavior; in that case, the reference to the seemingly feminine pardah must be taken in only a general or metaphorical sense. Or we could take the term myaa;N as used teasingly or by extension, in the rebuke addressed to a female beloved. Theoretically, the verse could be addressed to a companion, to whom the lover explains his disapproval of the beloved's unsuitable behavior; but in view of the tone of 'complaint' noted by SRF, this possibility does seem less compelling.

No matter what the poor beloved does, she/he can be passionately rebuked for it; but then, isn't this how passion works? The lover's demands are insatiable but also un-discourageable-- give him an inch and he'll demand a mile, give him no inch at all and he'll resolutely occupy a millimeter. One might as well advise the beloved, 'Just do whatever you like-- because whatever you do won't be enough for him, but nothing you do will drive him away'.