par ke thii be-kalii qafas me;N bahut
dekhiye ab ke gul ke mausam me;N

1) last year there was much restlessness/disturbance in the cage
2) let's see, this year, in the rose-season



be-kalii (syn. of be-qaraarii ): 'Restlessness, uneasiness, anxiety, discomposure, disquietude; instability, inconstancy, variableness, fluctuation'. (Platts p.203)

S. R. Faruqi:

par ke = last year

In this verse too [as in {1202,4}], there's an abundance of meaning, and an uncommon mingling of melancholy and lamentation. The ambiguity of the second line has created a number of possibilities:

(1) Last year, in the spring season, my restlessness had a strange power, but I wasn't able to break open the cage and be free. Let me see, in this rose-season, what my situation is.

(2) Last year, despite my restlessness, I was not able to break open the cage; but this time, let's see. I will rend and tear the bars, and come outside.

(3) Last year there was much restlessness. The Lord knows how much it would be this year, whether it would be more or would be less-- this isn't at all within my control.

(4) Last year, despite the restlessness, I was spared. I'll see whether this time I survive or not.

(5) Last time, you people saw my restlessness inside the cage. This time, I am free. You'll see, in this rose-season, in how many ways I celebrate my joy and sing songs.

(6) Last year I was in the cage, and was very restless. This year I am free. I'll see whether that restlessness remains established even now, or diminishes.

Mir has versified par ke in the sense of 'last year' in several places, but I haven't noticed it anywhere else. Though indeed, in eastern Urdu par ke saal (meaning 'the past year') is used even now. The freshness of this expression increases the beauty of the verse.

Then, notice too that despite such a theme and such a style, Mir didn't lose his grip on wordplay. Between par (meaning 'feather, wing') and 'cage' there's the connection of a zila. The zila between kalii ['bud'] and gul is obvious. Then, par turns the mind toward parso;N , and kalii turns it toward kal . Thus between par and kalii too there's the game of a zila. He's composed an accomplished verse.

He's composed a verse on a theme similar to this one in the first divan, but in that one there aren't the same dimensions of meaning [{542,3}]:

par to gu;zraa qafas hii me;N dekhe;N
ab kii kaisaa yih saal aataa hai

[last year passed away only/emphatically in the cage; let's see
this time, how this year comes]

[See also {952,6}.]



The grammar of the verse is so abstract that it could even be a conversation between two bird-catchers, assessing the behavior of their captives. (Though I'm not really proposing that reading, since it's not that interesting.)

The second line is grammatically shortened; implied at the end of the line, but not stated, is something like '... if something similar happens' or '... if something different happens' or '... how it goes'. The shorthand effect might just reflect colloquial speech patterns, but it also might well be used to give an ominous tone (something so bad might happen that it would be inauspicious to mention it).