rakkhe taa chand ;xayaal us sar-e pur-shor kaa miir
dil to kaa;Npaa hii kare hai kih sabuu naazuk hai

1) how long would it/you keep in mind that tumult-filled head, Mir?
2) the heart always only/emphatically trembles, for the wineglass is delicate



S. R. Faruqi:

With this verse, it's impossible not to remember two verses of Ghalib's:




Undoubtedly the heat, radiance, and movement in Ghalib's image are not present in Mir's verse. But Mir's verse too is of the same class, and the honor of primacy in any case belongs to Mir. Then, in saying sar-e pur-shor and sabuu there's a double pleasure, because the head is called a cup and a wineglass, and then words like 'tumult-filled' and 'madness-struck' are used for it. Wine is known to be ebullient, so a wave and a flame are used as similes for it. Because of these affinities, to call the 'tumult-filled head' a wineglass is extremely fine.

Then with regard to tone, in Ghalib's verses there's a bit of shame/embarrassment, that the speaker fears that harm might be done to his heart. By contrast, Mir's speaker not only welcomes the possibility of harm to his heart, but he himself says, 'Until now, have I kept fearing that the cup of the heart would be shattered? I want to make that tumult-filled head even more tumult-filled, and as for the heart, it keeps fearing that this delicate wineglass might shatter. The fate of the tumult-filled head is, in any case, that it would be smashed against stone. See


In the fourth divan, Mir has composed this theme in a very interesting implicit style [{1458,6}]:

balaa shor hai sar me;N ham kab talak
qayaamat kaa hangaamah barpaa kare;N

[there's a disastrous tumult in our head; how long
would we kick up the commotion of Doomsday?]

The point is that rather than keeping on kicking up a Doomsday-like commotion, it would be better for us to burst our head open and level it out. In both verses there's an overthrowing of 'high-headedness'-- or rather, an extraordinary, laughing ardor for the cutting-off of the head, and a joyful eagerness. In Ghalib's verses the balance-pan of wisdom seems to be a bit heavier on the scales. In Mir's verses, madness rules.

Now it's another matter that even in such verses Mir did not ignore affinities and wordplay. Thus because of the affinity with sar and dil , he said ;xayaal ; otherwise, with regard to meaning, li;haa:z would also have been fine. To call the head, which is the hardest part of the human body, 'delicate' is proper (for if the head receives a deep wound, then unconsciousness is unavoidable), and it has a sarcastic pleasure as well. Then, the wordplay of 'head' with 'heart' is very fine-- for usually the head (the mind) is concerned about the heart, and here the heart is concerned about the head.



In the second line, if the heart trembles and feels anxious because the wineglass of the tumult-filled head is so fragile, that's a perfectly fine reading. But older Urdu greatly prefers direct discourse ('He said, "You are wrong"') rather than the indirect discourse ('He said I was wrong') so common in modern English. And of course older Urdu has no English-style quotation marks or other such punctuation; the versatile little clause-introducer kih is obliged to do a variety of tasks, only one of which is marking the beginning of a quotation. (In any case we're always left to figure out for ourselves where the quotation ends.) So another perfectly good reading of the second line would be that the heart trembles, thinking to itself, 'The wineglass is delicate!'.

And if the heart has, so to speak, a mind, and an inner voice, then it could also be the subject of the first line. Rather than taking Mir to be expressing his own impatience with the wayward head, he could be expressing the heart's impatience with the head, or his own impatience with the constant anxious trembling of his heart. And the wineglass could even be the heart, which is tormented by the wayward head despite the poor heart's trembling and delicate condition.

In short, we can see that Mir himself, the head, the heart, and the metaphorical wineglass are all in there somewhere, swirling around together in a vortex of vulnerability.