bashre kii apne raunaq ai miir ((aari.zii hai
jab dil ko ;xuu;N kiyaa to chahre pah rang aayaa

1) the radiance/brightness of my face/appearance, oh Mir, is a happenstance
2) when I turned my heart to blood, then color came upon my face



basharaa : 'Outer skin or cuticle; physiognomy, countenance, face, appearance'. (Platts p.157)


((aari.zii : 'Accidental, not inherent; adventitious, casual'. (Platts p.756)

S. R. Faruqi:

This is one of those tricky verses that that I claim to be his special achievement. In appearance such verses seem to be simple, one-dimensional, and even quite commonplace. But when we look attentively, in them a number of complexities come into view.

For example, in this verse the first question is, what is the occasion for the radiance on the lover's face? The lover normally has a pale and non-radiant face. Mir himself has said in the first divan [{393,4}]:

chaah kaa da((v;aa sab karte hai;N maani))e kyuu;Nkar be-a;sar
ashk kii sur;xii zardii mu;Nh kii ((ishq kii kuchh to ((alaamat ho

[everybody claims to love-- how would one believe it without effects?
the redness of tears, the pallor of the face-- there ought after all to be some sign of passion]

Thus if the speaker's passion is not true, if the pain of passion isn't really in his heart, then for the radiance of his face he makes the excuse that this is in fact the heart's blood that is glimmering in the face.

Or else, to turn the heart to blood is the perfection of lover-ship; after achieving this perfection, it's inevitable that the face (through extreme joy, or pride) would begin to glow. If this second state of affairs is the case, then why did he call it 'transitory'? To this two replies are possible. One is that after the heart's turning to blood, life will not remain for very long; when life is ended, then the redness of the face too will disappear.

The second reply is that the heart has many times turned to blood. This intensity of passion and this mood of pain are not sustainable. After some time, the heart will return to its condition, and on the face there will be that same pallor. But this time, the pallor can also be that of failure and defeat. That is, the perfection of passion (of which the sign was the heart's turning to blood), has now no longer remained.

But in the word 'when' there's also the possibility that this action takes place again and again. That is, whenever we turn the heart to blood, then the face becomes rosy. If instead of jab dil ko ;xuu;N kiyaa we would put ham dil ko ;xuu;N kiyaa , then this point becomes clear. Now the radiance of the face appears as an effect of the lover's self-esteem. That is, he doesn't want his face to be pale and colorless, and people to regard him with pity. Thus again and again he turns his heart to blood, so that people will remain in the illusion that he has no grief, or that if he has any it's not beyond his endurance.

Now let's consider the possibilities that arise from the question of the addressee. In the verse there are two characters. One is the speaker (who is the lover) and the other is 'Mir'. Having seen the redness on the lover's face, Mir asks, 'We've heard that in passion people's faces lose their color, but why is there so much radiance on your face?' It's possible that Mir (that is, the question-asker) might think that passion wouldn't be such a big difficulty as people consider it to be. Or perhaps he might think that the lover's emotions are not perfected; otherwise, why would there be color on his face? In answer to this question the speaker says, 'My friend, this radiance is a happenstance-- ever since I turned my heart to blood, this color has come'. That is, in the language of 'implicatio'n he says, 'my friend, don't consider passion to be a game-- in it we turn our heart to blood so that the effects of life would be created'.

Now from this the point arises, whether in passion the method for creating the effects of life is only that the heart would be turned to blood-- that is, that a thing would be done because of which life itself would be finished), or if it isn't finished, then it is certainly endangered. Thus this verse can also be one of self-address-- that is, 'Mir' looked at his face in a mirror and, seeing its redness, said to himself, 'My friend, all this is thanks to the heart's having become blood. Your love began to be indwelling, the heart turned to blood. But all this radiance is short-lived, because now you're not long for this world.'

If the question should arise as to what relationship there is between the heart's becoming blood and the redness of the face, then the answer is that by means of the heart alone blood runs throughout the body; if the heart would turn to blood, then it's inevitable that redness would increase. But there's also a medical answer. It's a common medical observation that people who have hypertension (and this is a disease of the heart) have an increased redness on their faces. In the terminology such faces are called 'florid' (having the color of a flower).

Now consider the wordplay. The meaning of ((aar.izii is 'that which would not be stable'. But ((aari.z also meas 'face, cheek'. Thus in calling the redness of the face ((aar.izii there's an additional pleasure. It's hardly a verse-- it's a picture-gallery!

Khalil ul-Rahman Azmi too has taken up this theme, but his first line was not entirely successful:

log kyaa ;Dhuu;N;D rahe hai;N mirii peshaanii par
rang aataa hai yahaa;N apnaa lahuu piine se

[what are people seeking on my forehead:
my color comes, here, from drinking blood]

[See also {1037,1}; {1237,4}; {1350,2}.]



Nobody is better than SRF at taking part a 'simple' verse like this one, showing us all its complex workings, and then putting it all back together as trim and sleek as before, but now with so many more depths apparent.

I vote for the reading in which Mir is meditatively speaking to himself. Not Mir the actual person of course, but 'Mir' the ghazal-world lover-persona. Feeling the hot flush on his face (since why would he be so vain as to require a mirror?) the lover philosophizes about how such an apparent sign of 'health' is in fact as contingent and transitory as life itself.

In fact, the lover's flush that comes from extreme self-destruction is like the death-spiralling 'smile' of the bud' in the brilliant


Compare Ghalib's equally enjoyable explanation for the transient flush on the wretched lover's face: