jis chaman-zaar kaa hai tuu gul-e tar
bulbul us gulsitaa;N ke ham bhii hai;N

1) the garden of which you are the dewy/moist Rose
2) the Nightingale of that garden, even/also are we



S. R. Faruqi:

Nasikh has well composed a theme similar to this one:

tuu rang-e chaman mai;N hosh-e bulbul
tuu nak'hat-e gul to mai;N .sabaa huu;N

[you, the color of the garden; I, the awareness of the Nightingale
if you are the scent of the rose, then I am the breeze]

In Nasikh's verse too, the meaning is abundant. But in Mir's verse something has been said to which special importance and force has been given-- that is, the equality of the lover and beloved. Between them both, the honor of the garden is shared. That garden whose adornment and glory is thanks to you, has a liveliness and hustle and bustle thanks to me.

Thus for the garden the presence of both is important, the rose and the Nightingale. If only one of them would be there, then the garden would remain incomplete. Then, the garden of lover and beloved is a single one. It's not the case that the beloved would be the dewy rose of some garden, and the lover would be the Nightingale of some other garden.

Now the question is, what garden is it of which the honor is shared between the Nightingale and the rose? (1) the garden of belovedness and beauty; (2) the garden of lover-ship; (3) the garden of the world; (4) the garden of the world above. All these possibilities are present.

A second question is, on what occasion has this verse been said? The following answers are possible:

(1) The beloved asked the lover to identify himself.

(2) The lover wants to complain, and to ask why she pays no heed to him. But instead of saying it directly, he says it like this: you and I belong to the same place (so why this disdain?).

(3) In a lofty tone the lover says, we are not less than you.

(4) There's a tone of rivalry. The beloved is praising her beauty. The lover replies that if you are a dewy rose (and you certainly are), then we are the Nightingale of the garden in which you are a dewy rose.

As in Nasikh's verse, here too there is a division caused by confrontation/rivalry. The beloved's task is to be beautiful and delicate. The lover's duty/rank is to be eloquent and melodious.

[See also {1185,8}.]



Here's a beautiful, endlessly piquant balance between opposition and participation, differentness and sameness. Compare Ghalib's more explicit (and equally irresistible) meditation on the same idea:


Note for meter fans: Scanning the usual gulistaa;N (short-long-long) as gulsitaa;N (long-short-long) is a permissible alternative and works within the meter here; it involves no change in spelling.

Note for translation fans: How to choose between 'a' rose and 'the' rose, 'a' Nightingale and 'the' Nightingale? Urdu grammar gives us no help, so we have to fall back on context. It's often hard to decide. A real garden (or a different metaphorical garden) might well have many flowers and birds; but in the archetypal setting of the present verse, the beloved is the only Rose, and the lover the only Nightingale.