dast-o-daaman jeb-o-aa;Gosh apne us laa))iq nah the
phuul mai;N us baa;G-e ;xuubii se jo luu;N to luu;N kahaa;N

1) my hand and garment-hem, collar and embrace, were not worthy of that--
2) if I would take a flower from that garden of excellence/beauty, then where/how would I take it?!



S. R. Faruqi:

From the introduction to SSA, volume 1, pp. 62-63. [Presented here for convenience:]

In the second line there's a commonplace kind of metaphor. The world has been called a 'garden of excellence/beauty' and the beloved, or beautiful women, 'flowers'. But the meaning of ;xuub can be the beloved as well; thus the 'garden of excellence' also becomes, instead of the world, a metaphor for some gathering or place. Since the beloved's body too is called a 'garden', and various parts of her body are called 'a rose of beauty' or 'a flower', the 'garden of excellence' can also become a metaphor for the beloved's body alone.

Now the meaning of 'flower' can also be not the beloved, but rather some part of the beloved's body, or a kiss on some part of her body. In this way 'garden of excellence' and 'flower' are not a commonplace metaphor, but rather become a single complex metaphor that with an interpretation that extends from one person, through one gathering, to one whole world.

In the first line, he said 'flower' through its affinity with 'hand and garment-hem, collar and embrace', because these are the places for keeping flowers. With hand and garment-hem the affinity is clear: that the garment-hem is gripped by the hand. In the same way the affinity between collar and embrace is clear: because the collar is on the neck, and the meaning of an embrace is 'to grasp the neck and take hold of'. Then there's also an affinity between hand and embrace, because at the time of embracing the hands are used. Thus these places that are suitable for keeping flowers have not been casually thrown together. There are mutual affinities among them all.

Now look at the metaphor. 'Hand and garment-hem, collar and embrace' are a metaphor for the speaker's virtue. This virtue can be spiritual, or it can be moral, or it can be physical. On the face of it, hand and embrace seem to have a direct connection with the body; thus an erotic effect is established in the verse, and the second line's 'garden of excellence' looks to be a metaphor for this world in which beloveds abound, and 'flower' looks to be a metaphor for the beloved. Or 'garden of excellence' can be the beloved's body, and 'flower' appears as a metaphor for a part of the beloved's body or the embrace of a part of her body. Thus in both lines, an erotic affinity is strengthened.

It's also possible that 'garden of excellence' might mean mystical experience or insight, and 'flower' might mean the flower of mystical insight. The words 'garment-hem' and 'collar' are not alien to this meaning. Because the foundational word is 'flower', which is seemingly less powerful than the garden of excellence. But it is the foundational word because the first line has been composed with regard to its affinity with completeness and perfection.

One additional benefit of this affinity is that in the first line solid and conventional things are mentioned-- that is, hand and garment-hem, collar and embrace. Since the erotic effect is so strong, physicality instead of solitude/chastity has come into the verse. If Mir had not kept the affinity in mind, he could have used words like 'heart', 'life', spirit', etc.; then the verse would have become one of solitude/chastity, and there would have remained no scope for the human and immediate act of filling the hand, the garment-hem, the embrace.

As it is, on the basis of human and immediate effects, urgency and eagerness have come very excellently into the verse. If he had used a word like 'eye' or some such, he would have had to give up all chance of an erotic effect.

Now let's consider the word kahaa;N . This has two meanings. It can mean 'in which place'-- that is, for the suitable places like hand, collar, garment-hem, embrace he has turned out not to be worthy, so now in what place can he take those flowers? The second meaning of kahaa;N is a negative rhetorical question: that he cannot take the flower. Now look at another aspect of the ambiguity of 'flower'. Since several places have been mentioned, the possibility is created that 'flower' is used not in the singular, but in the plural. That is, the speaker desires quite a number of flower-- and he's not worthy to obtain even one of them.



In the first line, the us could be read as referring either to 'that one' (that flower), or to 'that action' (the taking of the flower); but it doesn't seem to make much difference. And of course, if we wanted to we could read is instead of us in both lines, but this too doesn't seem as if it would make much difference.