shafaq se hai;N dar-o-diivaar zard shaam-o-sa;har
hu))aa hai lakhna))uu us rah-gu;zar me;N piilii bhiit

1) from twilight/dawn/fear/affection, the doors and walls are yellow/pale, evening and morning
2) Lucknow, in that roadway, has become Pilibhit/'pale-walled'



shafaq : 'Fear; —affection, kindness, &c. ... ; —the redness of the sky between sunset and nightfall, evening twilight'. (Platts p.729)

piilaa : 'Yellow, pale'. (Platts p.300)

bhiit : 'Frightened; fearful, timid, afraid'. (Platts p.199)

bhiiti : 'Wall; breadth of a wall; embankment; vestige of an old house'. (Platts p.199)

S. R. Faruqi:

The ambiguity of this verse is worthy of praise. It's not clear whether the verse is in praise of Lucknow or against it. However we might interpret it, the image in the first line, and the simile (or metaphor) in the second line too, are utterly unique. He has used piilii bhiit not only because this is the name of a city. For bhiit means 'wall'; thus piilii bhiit is proper in its own right, and with regard to its dictionary meaning is a metaphor.

Munir Niyazi's verse comes to mind:

shafaq kaa rang jhalaktaa thaa laal shiisho;N me;N
tamaam uj;Raa makaa;N shaam kii panaah me;N thaa

[the color of twilight used to glimmer red in the windows,
the whole ruined house was in the shelter of the evening]

The only difference is that Mir has a qalandar-like and royal usage, and to some extent a distaste [be-ru;xii]; and Munir Niyazi has a romantic seriousness. But in Mir there's more masterfulness [ustaadii]; this 'ground' and this rhyme seem to be [bestowed by] the glory of God.



What has caused Lucknow to become 'pale-walled'? Of course, it did in Mir's day have mostly light-colored buildings, but since when does the ghazal poet go in for reality? He often prefers to show 'elegance in assigning a cause'.

In terms of this verse, the possible causes of the city's 'pale-walled' appearance include the physical glow of twilight (and shafaq is sometimes used for dawn light as well), and a choice of two separate emotions: either affection and favor, or fear (see the definitions above). Unless we simply choose according to our feelings about the city, we have to wait and hope for the second line to bring us further information.

But the second line offers us only 'in that roadway'. How do we know what 'that' roadway is? In such unspecified contexts, the ghazal world tends to slope inward from all directions toward the central figure of the beloved. Does the effect spring from the road where the beloved lives, or a road that she travels on? Is the city itself thus in thrall to the beloved, so that through either love or fear its walls, like the lover's face, have become pale?

If not, then obviously it's just a trick of the light, and minor wordplay about 'Pilibhit'. And surely the beloved's power is more creatively radiant than the mere glow of the sun.