yih :tasht-o-te;G hai ab yih mai;N huu;N aur yih tuu
hai saath mere :zaalim da((v;aa tujhe agar kuchh

1) this is the basin and sword, now, this is I and this, you
2) if with me, oh cruel one, you have some quarrel/claim



:tasht : 'A large basin (of tinned copper, or of brass, &c., used for washing the hands, &c.), an ewer'. (Platts p.752)


da((v;aa : 'Pretension, claim; demand, suit; plaint, action at law, lawsuit; charge, accusation; contention, assertion'. (Platts p.519)

S. R. Faruqi:

da((v;aa = quarrel

For an image similar to that in the first line, see:


It's possible that Hafiz might have had [in Persian] some influence on that style:

'You will have no mercy on me, the heart-lost one, I know
This is my quarrel/accusation-- here's you, and here's the age.'

Undoubtedly Hafiz's second line is a limit case of flourishingness and flowingness, and the the fact that in it he versified Arabic structures with extreme naturalness has increased this fourfold. But in Hafiz's verse there's no special pleasure of meaning. Mir, by leaving the idea halfway, has created pleasure in the meaning and style both. His second line too is dramatic, like the first line.

Qa'im has used some of Mir's words and has repeated his arrangement, but the idea has remained entirely superficial:

yih :tasht-o-te;G yih ham kushtanii dirang hai kyaa
yuu;N hii mizaaj me;N aa))e agar to bihtar hai

[this basin and sword, we to be killed-- what's the delay?
if somehow it would come into your temperament, that would be best]

While Hafiz's first line at least gets the job done, in Qa'im's first line there's nothing worthy of attention.

In Mir's verse, da((v;aa has been used both with its usual meaning, and with the meaning of 'quarrel, allegation, blame' as well. The word :zaalim is the focus of affinities, because this (being a cruel one) is appropriate as a quality of the beloved's, and is also appropriate as a form of admiring, or descriptive, or passionate, address. If in place of :zaalim we would put some other word, then the power and beauty of the line would become very little:

(1) hai saath mere qaatil da))v;aa tujhe agar kuchh
(2) hai saath mere dil-bar da))v;aa tujhe agar kuchh
(3) hai saath mere jaanaa;N da))v;aa tujhe agar kuchh

If attention is paid to my example (3), then the matter of affinity at once becomes clear. To call the beloved jaanaa;N is so common that there's no need to present verses in evidence. But jaanaa;N has no affinity with a sword and slaying and a quarrel/claim; thus the line remains lifeless and unsuccessful, and it harms the verse. In the case of dil-bar too there's the same flaw, but the effect can more or less be created if we can take dil-bar as a passionate form of address.

The best of these three is qaatil , but in it the aspect of admiration for beauty is very minor. For example, we can say, :zaalim ne kyaa ((umdah baat kahii , but to express this meaning we cannot say qaatil ne kyaa ((umdah baat kahii . Thus in the word qaatil too there's a slight lack of affinity. By contrast to them all, :zaalim is the kind of word through which the verse's theme and meaning and the verse's other words ( :tasht-o-te;G , da((v;aa ) attain completion.

I have said above that :zaalim is an expression of admiration for beauty, and also a passionate form of address. By way of an illustration of the first usage, consider this verse by Mus'hafi. Here the occasion on which :zaalim has been used also bears a similarity to the occasion mentioned in Mir's verse:

:zaalim tirii galii bhii badaayuu;N se kam nahii;Na
har har qadam pah jis ke mazaar-e shahiid hai

[oh cruel one, your street too is not less than Budaun
where at every footstep is the tomb of a martyr]

When the address would be on an occasion to which the speaker has an emotional relationship, and he wishes to make clear that there is oppression from the direction of the one whom he's addressing, then at that time the best form of address is one in which the dictionary meaning and the metaphorical meaning are both appropriate.

For this usage of :zaalim , consider Jigar Muradabadi's verse:

ay mu;htasib nah phe;Nk mire mu;htasib nah phe;Nk
:zaalim sharaab hai are :zaalim sharaab hai

[oh morals-policeman, don't throw it away-- my morals-policeman, don't throw it away!
oh cruel one, it's wine! hey there, cruel one, it's wine!]

In Mir's verse, at least three aspects of meaning are also worthy of note:

(1) The speaker is prepared in every way. It's not necessary that the quarrel the beloved might have with the speaker-- whatever dispute there might be, whatever complaint there might be-- would result in murder. But the speaker either is so disaffected with his life that he has come prepared for death, or else he thinks that whatever the outcome might be, he would go to the beloved prepared for anything.

(2) The speaker knows that whatever and of whatever kind the quarrel might be, he would receive a sentence of death. Thus right from the start he speaks of the basin and sword.

(3) More than anything else, he has apparently told the beloved to define her quarrel/claim, but in truth the quarrel/claim is on the speaker's part: 'We are ready to give up our life-- let's see what you do now, let's see whether you even have the courage/spirit to cut off my head, or not'.

An entire readiness for death, and a challenge to the potential slayer ('Let's see what you do now'). Then, a powerful 'dramatic' style of expression; an economy of words and an abundance of meaning. This verse too is superior to thousands. But it's possible that the thought of the word da((v;aa might have been suggested by Hafiz's verse. But in Hafiz's verse the meaning of da((v;aa is 'claim', and in Mir's verse the meaning of da((v;aa is both 'quarrel' and also 'claim'.

[See also {508,3}; {528,1}; {611,1}.]



There's also the elegant placement of ab positions it as a 'midpoint'; it can be read with either the clause before it or the clause after it. The effect is dramatic either way; it's just a matter of a slight shift in emphasis either toward slaughter (of course, the basin is there to make the bloodshed less messy), or toward personal confrontation. The effect is indeed one of challenge (SRF uses the English word).

Note for translation fans: Almost always, it's best to translate vuh as both 'that' and 'it', and to reserve yih for 'this'. But in the first line, those three repetitions of 'this' would be absurd and wrong ('this is a basin and sword'?; 'this is I'?; 'this is you'?). They would make it sound like a piece of elementary language instruction. To go for 'it' creates something much closer to the desired effect ('it's just between me and you now, with no distractions or evasions possible').

Compare Ghalib's version of this kind of challenge to the beloved:


In addition to the challenge, there's a kind of intimacy: this is the showdown (emphasized by three repetitions of yih ), now it's only 'I, and you'-- and of course a basin to catch the blood. Ghalib is very fond of such 'I and you' verses; there's a list in