bah rang-e kah-rubaa))ii sham((a us kaa rang jhamke hai
dimaa;G-e sair us ko kab hai mere rang-e kaahii kaa

1) with the color/style of {an amber-colored / a 'grass-attracting'} candle, her color shines/glitters,
2) when does she have a mind to stroll amidst my grassy-coloredness?!



kaah : 'Grass; dried grass; straw: — kaah-rubaa s.f. (lit. 'straw-attracting'), Yellow amber; Oriental anime, gum-resin from the Valeria indica ... :— kaah-rubaa))ii or kah-rubaa))ii ), adj. Of or relating to amber; —s.f. The quality of amber; —electricity:. (Platts p.808)

S. R. Faruqi:

kahrubaa))ii = of the color of amber, a gold with yellow in it
kaahii = like grass, green

The simile of kaahii for his own color/complexion, Mir has used in two other places as well. From the first divan [{162,4}]:

kisuu ke ;husn ke shu((le ke aage u;Rtaa hai
suluuk miir suno mere rang-e kaahii kaa

[it flies before the flame of someone's beauty--
listen, Mir, to the behavior of my grassy color!]

From the fifth divan [{1733,2}]:

miluu;N kyuu;N kih ham-rang ho tujh se ay gul
tiraa rang shu((lah miraa rang kaahii

[how would we meet you by becoming a color-sharer, oh rose?
your color-- flame; my color-- grassy]

But in the present verse there are a number of subtleties that make this verse better than those from the other divans. In a kahrubaa))ii color there's a golden color intermixed with yellow. The beloved's color is like the kahrubaa))ii of the candle-- that is, a candle that would itself have a golden body, and the flame of which too would no doubt be golden, but because of the goldenness of both its head (flame) and body, in addition to the goldenness there will be the pleasure of borax, and the whole body will be imagined as glittering like pure gold.

Then, on the basis of the mutual interaction of the goldenness of the flame and the goldenness of the body, there will also be just a tiny bit of alteration in the color of both. In the west, it was the eye of Cezanne that first picked up this point. Mir had a certain attraction to painting; the proof of this is found in his Persian divan. It wouldn't be strange if the poet who in any case had habitually expressed in his poetry an uncommon awareness of colors, and who also had an interest in painting, had arrived at the same point that Cezanne reached about a hundred years later. In any case, even if this idea would not be accepted, there's no doubt that the radiance of the flame at the head of a golden-yellow candle will be something else. 'Grassy' is used to mean green, or rather even a deep green, with a suspicion of black in it. Thus a 'grassy-colored' person will be of a deep tawny complexion.

According to some accounts, the Prophet of God too had a tawny [sabzah] complexion. Here and there in the daastaan-e amiir ;hamzah , describing Hamzah and his offspring, the 'Hashimi green' [sabz rang-e haashimii] and the 'green beauty-spot of Abraham' [sabz ;xaal-e ibraahiimii] are mentioned. In this way by calling his own color 'grassy' the speaker has also brought out one aspect of his excellence.

Amber is called kaah-rubaa))ii or kah-rubaa))ii because after a little rubbing it acquires a power like that of electricity, and bits of grass and straw begin to be drawn toward it. The meaning of kaahii is 'of the color of grass'; thus the relationship that exists between grass and amber (that is, that amber draws grass (that is, kaah ) toward itself-- that very same relationship will be established between an amber color [kah-rubaa))ii rang] and a grassy color [kaahii rang]. That is, the one whose color is grassy will definitely be drawn toward one whose color is amber.

An additional pleasure is that 'candle-colored' [shama((ii rang] is used for a color that is green mixed with black. That is, one aspect, or one name, of a 'grassy color' is 'candle-ish' as well. Thus the candle will certainly draw to itself the one who is 'candle-colored'. Since these aspects of pulling have been established, a kind of irony [:tanz-malii;h] can be seen in the verse: that the amber-like candle no doubt draws toward itself the grassy-colored one, but because of its ill-temperedness it gives not even a single glance to the grassy-colored one.

But there's also the point that if the flame-colored beloved would look at the grassy-colored one, then the way straw and grass fly upward in the presence of a flame (because the air near the flame is heated and rises, and carries with it small light things), in the same way the lover's grassy-coloredness too will fly upward. The verse from the first divan cited above has exactly this theme.

In the present verse, with regard to rang jhamke hai , the use of bah rang is also very fine. With regard to kaahii , the use of sair is also very fine, because 'strolls' are taken through greenery.

Nasir Kazmi too, in imitation of Mir, has made fine use of the theme of the flame-coloredness of the beloved:

shu((le me;N hai ek rang teraa
baaqii hai;N tamaam rang mere

[in flame is a single color of yours
all the remaining colors are mine]

Calling the colors of the beloved and the lover 'golden' and 'grassy' (that is, mixed with black) has a cultural meaningfulness too. In this connection, for further discussion see


[See also {1354,3}; {1373,1}; {1501,6}; {1504,2}.]



This verse also shows once again how deep is Mir's (and the classical ghazal's) reliance on wordplay to energize a verse. This verse has almost no charms except its wordplay-- but what wordplay! The excellently multivalent meanings that radiate outward from kah-rubaa))ii -- how intriguing, how piquant! The wordplay is so intricate that it really rises to the level of 'meaning-play' as well. Verses like this make me so grateful for SRF's cultural knowledge, and careful explication, of the ghazal's poetic color palette.

Most unusually, the verse also contains three occurrences of the word rang , but they've been used so deftly that at first we can hardly even notice them. Then, the first line has kah and kaa , and the second line tops that with kaahii kaa .