((ishq-peche kii :tara;h ;husn-giriftaarii hai
lu:tf kyaa sarv kii maanind gar aazaad raho

1) the style/manner of a passion-vine is captivity by beauty

2a) what's the pleasure/beauty if, like a cypress, you would remain free?!
2b) what pleasure/beauty there is if, like a cypress, you would remain free!



pechaa : 'A creeping plant, ivy; a lock of curling hair; an ornament set with jewels worn on the head of a bride; a fillet for the hair; ... a wink, nod, sign'. (Steingass p.263)


pech : 'Turn, winding; revolution; involution; convolution; —twist, coil; plait, fold; —entanglement, complication, maze, perplexity, intricacy, ambiguity'. (Platts p.297)


lu:tf : 'Delicacy; refinement; elegance, grace, beauty; the beauty or best (of a thing); taste; pleasantness; gratification, pleasure, enjoyment; —piquancy, point, wit'. (Platts p.957)

S. R. Faruqi:

Since the cypress tree is absolutely shapely and straight, it is given the simile of the letter alif . And that letter is the symbol of being 'free' [aazaad]-- that is, someone who would have no ties to the impurities of the world and the customs of the age. (In former times many people even used to draw an alif on their foreheads, as a symbol of freedom.) In any case, the cypress was equated with the alif , and the alif with the free cypress, so that the cypress became a metaphor for freedom.

The theme is the same one as in


But here the metaphors are different, and in calling the passion-vine a 'captive' there's much freshness. Because in the passion-vine the word 'passion' appears; the leaves of this vine are also very fine/delicate, and its branches delicate and convoluted and spiral-like. All these things have an affinity with passion.

And then, the passion-vine is a climbing vine, so that only with the aid of a tree or some other thing does it flourish and flower. In itself it has no strength to raise its head. Thus the passion-vine becomes a captive of whatever enables it to grow. And the best part is that on the passion-vine red flowers grow. It's obvious that the red color (wounds, bathing in blood, the flow of blood, etc.) is a symbol of passion.

Atish has taken up the theme of the passion-vine, but in an entirely flavorless way, and he's composed the idea absolutely without a 'proof':

jis se lip;Taa suukhaa majnuu;N kii :tara;h se vuh dara;xt
((ishq-peche par mujhe shak hotaa hai zanjiir kaa

[the one through which, like Majnun, that tree is enfolded and dried out --
about the passion-vine I have the suspicion of a shackle]

How easily Mir created rareness in the theme, and how Atish struggled without anything coming to hand! He offered proof neither that someone who has been shackled becomes dried out, nor that the passion-vine dries out the tree around which it twines. Then, between a green vine that produces red flowers, and a shackle, there's no affinity. And to top it all off, he's still mired in doubt as to whether it even is or isn't a shackle.

'Passion-vine' itself is a very interesting word. The nuur ul-lu;Gaat and the aa.sifiyah [dictionaries] declare it to have the same meaning as ((ishq-pechaa;N , and enter both words. [A discussion of various names given by Persian and Urdu dictionaries to different kinds of jasmine and ivy.] Zauq has written ((ishq-pechaa;N :

mai;N hameshah ((aashiq-e pechiidah-muuyaa;N hii rahaa
;xaak par ruu))iidah meri ((ishq-pechaa;N hii rahaa

[I always remained only/emphatically a lover with tangled hair
on the dust, my growth remained only/emphatically a passion-vine]

In Zauq's verse, the excellence is that the appearance of ((ishq-pechaa;N has also been mentioned. In an ode based on praise of Navab Kalb-e Ali Khan, Amir Mina'i has written ((ishq-peche :

shauq-e dil ne yih kahaa mast hai yih sarv sahii
((ishq-peche ki :tara;h jaa))iye mastii me;N lipa;T

[ardor of heart said, this cypress is intoxicated, indeed,
like a passion-vine, go, in intoxication, enfold her]

From this verse we learn that Amir Mina'i too used to say ((ishq-pechah or ((ishq-pechaa . The relationship between the passion-vine and the cypress is also established from this verse. Now it has also become clear that since the passion-vine is established as the lover of the cypress, in Mir's present verse the passion-vine and the cypress are words of great affinity.



In the first line, the word pechaa (see the definition above) is admirably effective: it means not only a 'creeping vine', but also a 'lock of curling hair'-- exactly what the beloved so often uses to ensnare and shackle her lovers.

In addition, the word 'captivity' has enough negative possibilities so that it can become a kind of signal flag. It invites us to notice the 'kya effect' and consider the multivalent meanings of the second line. For it's quite possible that the lover's supreme bliss is indeed to twine himself helplessly, submissively, irreversibly around the beloved, as in (2a).

But then it's also possible that the best thing is that, like a cypress, he would remain free, as in (2b). Why go and get oneself captured? Why become helplessly entanged in the coils of a twisting vine? Isn't it perhaps better to be a beloved than a lover? For after all, as SRF notes, the 'freedom' of the cypress is also a fine thing. In this cleverly framed verse the advocate of 'passion' doesn't necessarily have it all his own way.