aag khaa jaatii hai ;xushk-o-tar jo us ke mu;Nh pa;Re
mai;N to jaise sham((a apne hii ta))ii;N khaataa rahaa

1) fire devours dry and wet, whatever would fall into its mouth
2) I, like a candle, kept on devouring only/emphatically my own self



S. R. Faruqi:

The theme is very alarming, and the image in the first line is extraordinarily terrifying-- but how calm/dignified is the voice of the speaker himself! There's not even a suspicion of grief or sorrow, not to speak of self-pity. Then, the enjoyable thing is that by giving for himself the simile of a candle, he has also established an image of his nature. Because a candle drives darkness away; it itself burns and melts, but it gives ease to others. Then, radiance is a symbol of virtue, of purity. Thus by likening himself to a candle he has also created an image of his spiritual superiority.

With regard to 'fire devours', mu;Nh pa;Re has a great affinity, and the idiom mu;Nh pa;Re very beautifully expresses the unstoppable destructiveness of fire. The image in the first line is so effective that there appears before the eyes a vision of a forest fire, or of some uncontrollable fire raging in a populated town, destroying shops and houses. Then, by saying 'dry and wet' he has included everything-- old and young, wood, roof-beams, trees, greenery and desert.

For the Doomsday-like qualities of fire, Mir Soz too has searched out an image like that of Mir's first line in the present verse, but his verse is superficial:

jalne se mere kyaa use parvaah jal gayaa
shu((le ko kab hai ;Gam jo par-e kaah jal gayaa

[what did she care about my burning? -- I burned up
since when does a flame feel sorrow that a straw burned up?]

But in Mir Soz's verse there's indeed a mood. Atish took up Mir's image directly, and also adopted the 'dry and wet' phrase, and composed an extremely dry and unenjoyable verse:

momin-o-kaafir kaa qaatil hai tiraa ;husn-e shabaab
aatish-e afro;xtah yaksaa;N hai ;xushk-o-tar ke saath

[a murderer of believer and infidel is your youthful beauty
a kindled fire is the same with dry and wet]

In this verse, unnecessary words have made the image less powerful, and the theme that was versified is extremely commonplace. 'Theme-creation' is not a thing that just anyone can do. Look at Mir-- he has drawn out a theme, and also in the second line has gotten so much work out of little words like to and hii . Atish filled his verse with Persian words, but except for the wordplay of 'believer and infidel' and 'dry and wet' hasn't achieved anything.

Now look at Abu Talib Kalim Hamadani-- having likened the destructiveness of a fire to the destructiveness of a flood, what a fine [Persian] verse he composed! Mir's verse is one of inwardness and mood, and not an abstract one like Kalim's, but the comparison of both will be very interesting:

dar rah-e ((ishq-e jaha;N-soz chih shaah-o-chih gadaa
;hukm-e sailaab bah viiraanah-o-aabaad ravad

[on the road of world-burning passion, what is a king and what a beggar?
the writ of the flood runs in wilderness and town]

In Mir's verse, the image doesn't have the aspect that can be seen in Kalim's verse and that is also a specialty of Shakespeare's. But the intensity and immediate effect with which Mir has versified personal experiences, and the stunning image in his first line-- those are not found in Kalim.

Qa'im Chandpuri has, keeping in mind the necessities of 'dry and wet', composed an extremely fine verse:

;xvushk-o-tar phuu;Nktii phirtii hai sadaa aatish-e ((ishq
bachyo us ranj se ay piir-o-javaa;N sunte ho

[it always wanders around, blowing on dry and wet, the fire of passion
save yourself from that sorrow, oh old and young-- do you hear?]

In the second line the addressee too is fine, and with regard to 'dry and wet', in 'old and young' is the pleasure of a metaphor and of chiasmus [laff-o-nashr]. He has also well composed phuu;Nktii phirtii hai in the first line. But in Mir's verse personal experience, or at least the aspect of expression by a single speaker, is much better and loftier than Qa'im's verse. In Qaim's verse the proclamation is enjoyable, but it feels a little artificial as well. Because he has not expanded upon the speaker's individuality, Qa'im's first line has fallen below the level of intensity of immediate experience. Mir's verse is complete/perfect [mukammal] in every way.

[See also {1688,4}.]



Another conspicuous pleasure of the verse is based on the 'A,B' structure of its lines: it's left for us to decide how to connect them. The complexity of hii , with its dual possibilities of 'only' and 'emphatically', adds to the range of choices. Here are some possibilities:

=opposition: Fire devours other things, but I, like a candle, devour only myself.

=similarity: Fire ceaselessly devours whatever fuel is at hand; I and the candle do the same.

=cause (1) and effect (2): The omnivorous fire of passion has devoured me, and as a result I now burn self-consumingly in its flame like a candle.

=specific case (2), general rule (1): I am actually devouring myself like a candle in the fire of passion; this is not surprising, because it's the nature of fire to burn whatever fuel it can find

As the line relationships are altered, the verse shifts like a kaleidoscope. Its two lines are rich in both similarities and differences, so that our minds have been given complex material to work (or play) with. Mir and Ghalib do this kind of thing all the time.