parvaaz-e gulistaa;N ke to shaa))istah nah nikle
parvaanah nama:t aag ham ab de;Nge paro;N ko

1) for flight to/in the garden, they did not turn out to be worthy/suitable
2) like the Moth, we will now set fire to our wings



shaa))istah : 'Worthy, honourable; fitting, proper, suitable; decent; useful'. (Platts p.720)


nama:t : 'Likeness, similitude; manner, mode, way, custom'. (Platts p.1154)


par : 'Pinion, feather, wing, quill'. (Platts p.234)

S. R. Faruqi:

shaa))istah = worthy

This theme, that wing and feathers are not capable of flight, Mir has expressed in various ways. In the second divan [{891,3}]:

nikle havas jo ab bhii ho vaa rahii qafas se
shaa))istah-e pariidan do chaar par rahe hai;N

[desire would even/also now emerge, if the way from the cage would remain open,
capable of flight, three or four feathers have remained]

In the second divan, again [{1038,8}]:

u;Thne kii ik havas hai ham ko qafas se varnah
shaa))istah-e pariidan baazuu me;N par kahaa;N hai

[we have a single/particular/unique/excellent desire to rise from the cage-- otherwise,
in our wing, where is there a feather capable of flight?]

In the shikaar-naamah-e avval :

kyaa kiije jo nah kiijiye andaaz daam kaa
gulzaar ke to qaabil-e parvaaz par nahii;N

[what can be done, if you don't guess about the snare?
there's no feather worthy of flight to/in the garden]

But the present verse is unique in its glory-- that those wings and feathers that turned out not to be capable of flying here and there in the garden (because they were weak, or because they were unsuccessful and ill-fortuned, or because they were considered so contemptible and petty that they were not worthy of the garden)-- we will burn them, so that the rank of the Moth would be obtained.

In the whole verse there's an extraordinary kind of ambiguity. Why the wings and feathers turned out not to be worthy/suitable for flight to/in the garden, he has not explained; and he has created the possibilities noted above. Then, in the second line he has not made clear whether setting fire to the wings and feathers is because of anger (wings and feathers that are not worthy of the garden are fit only for burning), or because of the longing to attain oblivion in the beloved (if we can't fly around in the garden then so what, we can burn ourself to death like the Moth).

In shaa))istah nah nikle there's a suggestion that they were tested, and did not pass the test. Or they were scrutinized and investigated, and a decision was made that they were not worthy/suitable for the task of flying in the garden. Then, par nikalnaa is an idiom; if we keep it in mind, then the meaning emerges that our wings no doubt 'emerged' (grew), but they were not worthy/suitable for flying in the garden.

In the whole verse there's an extraordinary kind of tumultuous lamentation; and at oneself, at the whole work of the world, anger and protest.

The tajnis of parvaaz , parvaanah , paro;N is fine. For nah nikle , even if the reading of nikalnaa as 'grow' is not adopted, there's still a zila with paro;N . It's a fine 'tumult-arousing' verse.

The theme of the burning of the wings of the Moth, Ghalib has well versified [in Persian]:

'Oh Nightingale, you should burn in shame before the Moth,
Your wings and feathers are not as yet colored by the flame.'

In the first divan, Mir has taken this theme, that wings and feathers are not worthy/suitable for flying in the garden, and composed it in an entirely different style [{210,6}]:

par-afshaanii qafas hii kii bahut hai
kih parvaaz-e chaman qaabil nahii;N hai

[wing-fluttering in only/emphatically the cage is plenty
for they are not capable flying to/in the garden]



In traditional mushairah-verse style, the first line remains unintelligible; it could quite well be 'we' or 'they' who would not be worthy of such a flight. Then, after the usual delay, when we're allowed to hear the second line, even halfway through it we really can't tell what's coming. Only when we hear, at the last possible moment, the rhyme word paro;N does the verse suddenly make sense, and deliver its punch.

'Like the Moth', the bird/speaker announces, 'we will now set fire to our wings'. But really, that is not much 'like the Moth' at all. The Moth had no wing-trouble and no problems in flying. The Moth never sat around deciding whether, or when, to fly into the candle-flame. The Moth never analyzed or castigated his wings (or any part of his body or behavior). The Moth never deliberately set fire to his wings in particular, or to himself. The Moth never made pronouncements about his intentions; in fact, he never talked to us at all. The Moth was entranced, self-less, rapturous as he circled closer and closer to his radiant beloved. His mystical absorption was complete, even before his fiery death and union with the candle.

By contrast, the bird/speaker is analytical, judgmental. He observes his wings and feathers, finds them unsatisfactory for his purposes, decides to burn them up, and makes a formal-sounding announcement of his intentions. He may feel-- or at least claim-- that he is doing what the Moth did, but his claim is not very persuasive.

However, a case could also be made on the bird's behalf. He is clearly not an unselfconscious, spontaneous mystic like the Moth. But is that his fault? He is apparently doing the best he can. He is a seemingly rational decision-maker, but should that be held against him? He's using rational means-- apparently the only ones he has-- to achieve trans-rational, emotional goals. By deciding to imitate the Moth, isn't he making the highest choice in his power?

Which leaves us, again, with ambiguities. I know I am a bird rather than a Moth; you probably are too, dear reader (otherwise you wouldn't be here looking at this page). Hasn't Mir given us in this verse a spectacular illustration of an intellectual versus an emotional pursuit of self-transcendence?