;xaamosh rah sake nah to ba;Rh kar bhii kuchh nah kah'h
sar sham((a kaa ka;Te hai zabaan-e daraaz se

1) if you wouldn't be able to remain silent, then also don't say anything boastful/arrogant
2) the candle's head is cut off, due to its 'long tongue'



zabaan-daraaz : 'Long-tongued'; loquacious; speaking much and malevolently; impudent, saucy; abusive, scurrilous'. (Platts pp. 614-15)

S. R. Faruqi:

It's a verse in the special 'Sabk-i Hindi' [sabk-e hindii] style: in the first line is a claim, or advice, and in the second line is a proof or example. A verse of this kind is usually most successful when the claim/advice would be uncommon, and in the proof the metaphorical style would be sharp/fine [chokhaa]. For example, in the present verse the advice is not to speak boastfully/arrogantly. For this, the metaphor of the candle flame's flaring up into a high flame has been adopted. (The simile of a tongue is used for the flame of a candle.) When a candle's flame flares up highly, usually the reason is that its wick is burning more than necessary, and the wax melts.

The remedy for this is that with a gul-giir the candle's wick is cut down and made short. This has become a metaphor for the head being cut off. In this way it's been proved that if the candle's tongue had not been long (if it had not 'talked big'), then its head would not have been cut off. It's also enjoyable that the result of the tongue's 'becoming long' is not that it is cut off, but rather that the head is cut off-- that is, the meaning of se is 'because of'.

The usage and structure in the second line are also fine-- that at first glance the guess is made, that the 'long tongue' is the means by which the candle's head is cut off. Nor is this guess entirely without foundation, for the flame of a candle is also given the simile of a sword. Mir has also used both implications well in


The metaphor of the candle and the sword, Kalim Hamadani has versified [in Persian] in an absolutely new aspect:

'From our realm, the darkness didn't depart for even a moment,
Our dark evening was wounded by the sword of the candle.'

It is cruel to deny due praise to this 'delicacy of thought'; and the truth is that Mir's verse is devoid of 'delicacy of thought'. Though indeed, Mir's metaphor and example are both beautiful, and in their own style are peerless. See




There's also of course the pleasure of zabaan-daraaz as an idiom in its own right (see the definition above).

A further nice touch of wordplay is that while ba;Rh kar baat karnaa idiomatically means 'to speak boastfully, to show arrogance', the literal meaning of ba;Rhnaa includes the sense of 'to extend, lengthen; to grow, rise' (Platts p.153). If it were not so folksy-sounding, 'get uppity' would capture the same colloquial range-- one all too appropriate for a candle-wick that is about to have its 'head' chopped off.

And of course ;xaamosh , 'silent', is also used to describe a candle that has burnt out (because its 'tongue' of flame is no longer active). Really the verse has excellent wordplay.

Note for grammar fans: In the first line, should we read to , or tuu ? In this case it doesn't seem to make much difference at all.