mai;N be-navaa a;Raa thaa bose ko un labo;N ke
har dam .sadaa yihii thii de gu;zro ;Taal kyaa hai

1) I, the destitute/voiceless one, had insisted upon a kiss of/from those lips
2) every moment/breath, the call was only/emphatically this: 'go on, give it, what's the delay?!'



be-navaa : 'Without provisions or furniture; without prosperity or splendour in condition; indigent, destitute'. (Platts p.204)


a;Rnaa : 'To come to a stop or stand-still, to stop, to stick; to be restive; obstructive, &c., to oppose; wrangle, contend; to be obstinate, ... to insist (upon, - par ); to be determined or bent (on)'. (Platts p.44)


navaa : 'Voice, sound; ... riches, opulence, wealth, plenty; subsistence; —prosperity; goodness or splendour of circumstances'. (Platts p.1157)

S. R. Faruqi:

The melancholy wittiness of this verse-set [consisting of this verse and {1031,9}], the ambiguity of its sarcasm, the speaker's derision aimed at himself-- these things are such that hundreds of ghazals can be sacrificed for them. And the mingling of these elements is so informal and appropriate that nothing seems to be too much or too little.

The iham of be-navaa too is enjoyable, for here its meaning is 'without wealth and property, poor'; but if we take the meaning to be 'voiceless, without a voice', then the interesting paradox is created that that person who had no voice is constantly calling out that he needs a kiss.

Now let's consider the beloved's reaction-- [for discussion of the second verse in the verse-set, see {1031,9}].

Mir has used this theme in one other place as well. That verse has trimness and tight construction, but not the abundance of meaning or the depths in the tone. From the third divan [{1269,7}]:

hu))aa mai;N miir jo us but se saa))il bosah-e lab kaa
lagaa kahne :zafaafat se kih shah .saa;hib ;xudaa deve

[when I, Mir, became an asker/beggar from that idol, of a kiss from her lips
she began to say, jestingly, 'Shah Sahib, may the Lord give it!']

Rasikh Azimabadi has taken from Bihari the theme that 'alas, these beautiful ones call us Baba!'. Rasikh has expressed it, in the idiom of Urdu culture, like this:

ha;Nsii kii raah la;Rke shaah jii kahte hai;N raasi;x ko
bahut mai;N aah is tere gadaa ko dekh kar royaa

[by way of a jest, boys call Rasikh 'Shah-ji'
seeing this beggar of yours-- ah, I wept a great deal]

Mirza Jan Tapish has broadened Mir's theme a bit, and lightened it, but he has also mixed into it the color/style of


and written an interesting verse-set:

jab :tapish ko nah milii bose kii us lab se ;xabar
tab faqiiro;N kii :tara;h shi((r yih pa;Rhtaa vuh chalaa

[when Ta;ish did not get word of a kiss from those lips
then, like faqirs, he went along reciting this verse]

be-navaa hai;N kisii par zor nahii;N yaa ma;hbuub
deve us kaa bhii bhalaa jo nah de us kaa bhii bhalaa

[we are destitute/voiceless, we have no power over anyone, oh beloved
to him who would give, may good come; to him who would not give, may good also come]

Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rind, imitating Mir's present verse, has brought out a fine verse:

saa))ilaanah un ke dar par jab miraa jaanaa hu))aa
ha;Ns ke bole shaah .saa;hib kis :taraf aanaa hu))aa

[when, beggar-like, I went to her door
laughingly she said, 'Shah Sahib, in what a direction you have come!']

Dagh, abandoning the theme of beggarliness and a kiss, has taken up the theme only of shame-- that an excess of agitation has compelled the lover to go toward the beloved's street, or to rise and come back from her street. Dagh has versified the simple expression of this idea with a peerless neatness, lucidity of idiom, and ambiguity:

kyaa i.z:tiraab-e shauq ne mujh ko ;xajal kiyaa
vuh puuchhte hai;N kahye iraade kahaa;N ke hai;N

[how the agitation of ardor made me ashamed!
she asks, 'Tell me, where do you want to go?']

[See also {1254,7}.]



This is a particularly strongly linked verse-set, in the sense that neither verse is at all coherent without the other, and their order too is absolutely fixed. This doesn't seem so remarkable in the context of Aristotelian norms, but anyone who looks at a large number of verse-sets will find that for many of them neither of these conditions holds true.

In this verse the first thing that the speaker tells us is that he is be-navaa . And in the verse-set the two meanings of be-navaa are most cleverly and enjoyably deployed. When we read (or ideally, hear) the first line, both possibilities are brought into play, but we can't as yet really choose between them. When we encounter the second line, we can choose either the meaning of 'voiceless'-- which, as SRF notes, creates the elegantly paradoxical effect of a voiceless person constantly clamoring and crying out, and thus being shown to have in fact quite a loud voice-- or the meaning of 'propertyless, destitute'. The wordplay of dam -- at every 'moment', and/or at every (voice-creating) 'breath'-- tilts the balance in favor of the 'voiceless' reading, since 'destitute' has no such piquant reinforcement.

But of course, as we move on to encounter the second verse of the verse-set, {1031,9}, the situation develops further.