la;Rke jahaanaabaad ke yak-shahr karte naaz
aa jaate hai;N ba;Gal me;N ishaarah jahaa;N kiyaa

1) the boys of Jahanabad show a 'whole-cityful' of dalliance/coquetry/playfulness
2) they come to one's side wherever/whenever one would make a gesture



naaz: 'Blandishment, coquetry, playfulness, amorous playfulness, feigned disdain; dalliance, toying; fondling, coaxing, soothing or endearing expression; —pride, conceit, consequential airs, whims; —softness, delicacy; elegance, gracefulness'. (Platts p.1114)

S. R. Faruqi:

The yak-shahr idiom has become very famous because of this verse of Ghalib's:


There's no doubt about the fact that Ghalib's verse is peerless. But with regard to 'Jahanabad' (which is a city), the pleasure that's in yak-shahr isn't there in Ghalib's verse, because in Ghalib's verse there's no indication of any city, town, or settlement, and yak-shahr has been used in isolation.

Mir's verse provides a proof of his mischievousness and sense of humor [:zaraafat]. But it's possible that in it there may also be some sarcasm directed at those boys, who show so much coquetry-- but who also, if you make a sign, come and sit by your side. The meaning of naaz karnaa is 'to show sidelong glances, arrogance, pride, disdain, etc.', but the meaning of naaz alone can be 'caution, guardedness' [i;htiyaa:t] or 'words of attraction and love, etc.' Thus those boys who strut around and show pride, are also inclined toward affection/mingling.

Taking advantage of the idiomatic pronunciation, Mir has versified jahaanaabaad as jahaanah-baad [scanned - = - = -], and has thus shown a kind of independent will. Alas, that later people renounced such freedoms! Because of jahaanah-baad , in the present verse the tone of the line has come near to conversation, and its atmosphere has become informal.

In order to fully feel the effect of this informality, consider this verse of Mir's, in which 'Jahanabad' has been versified with its proper pronunciation [{107,8}]:

ab ;xaraabah hu))aa jahaanaabaad
varnah har ik qadam pah yaa;N ghaar thaa

[now it has become a ruin, Jahanabad
otherwise, at every single footstep, here, there was a house]

In the first line, the mood of regret and sorrow vanishes immediately if Jahanabad is versified with the changed pronunciation:

ab ;xaraabah jahaanah-baad hu))aa

Here, since it's not the place for informality, the popular pronunciation seems clumsy and powerless. Here the traditional pronunciation was necessary, so Mir versified it in exactly that way. In the present verse informality was necessary, so he used the popular pronunciation.

Even in small little verses we find in Mir the kind of consciousness of poetic technique that in the case of other Ustads isn't seen even in their most important creations.



About Persianized yak constructions: for detailed discussion, see {452,2}.

'Jahanabad' is of course the Mughal city of 'Shahjahanabad', or what we now call Old Delhi. And of course, 'Jahanabad' in the first line and jahaa;N in the second line also have an enjoyable affinity.

Note for meter fans: SRF makes an excellent and persuasively argued point about Mir's willingness to take special liberties with meter for the sake of poetic effect in the case of 'Jahanabad'. Both SSA and the kulliyat preserve the full proper spelling, which technically is made up of two words, jahaan aabaad , so that even to get to the normal scansion involves word-grafting: ja-HAA-NAA-BAA-d ( - = = = - ). Then to make Mir's 'informal' scansion, what looks to be the perfectly straightforward long syllable naa has to be arbitrarily scanned as short. Since 'Jahanabad' is a proper name, in presenting the verse I've followed the kulliyat and used the official spelling. If it were an ordinary word, we could just take it to be the kind that had two spellings that could be varied for metrical convenience.