sarv to hai sanjiidah lekin pesh-e mi.sra((-e qadd-e yaar
naa-mauzuu;N hii nikle hai jab dil me;N apne tole;N hai;N

1) the cypress is no doubt weighty/'measured', but before the 'line' of the stature of the beloved
2) it turns out to be only/emphatically inharmonious/'non-metrical' when we weigh it in our heart



sanjiidah : 'Weighed, measured; tried, proved, assayed; approved; composed; weighty, grave, serious; considerate'. (Platts p.681)


mauzuu;N : 'Weighed; balanced, well-adjusted; symmetrical; well-measured (verse), consisting of an exact number of feet; sythmical; —equable, equal; —modulated (sound), harmonious; —good, sweet, excellent, agreeable'. (Platts p.1090)

S. R. Faruqi:

sanjiidah = measured, harmonious

To use the cypress as a simile for the beloved's stature is a common theme. In Turkish, it has been used to such an extent that in Turkish 'moving cypress' [sarv-e ravaa;N] has come to mean 'beloved', the way with us one meaning of 'heart-stealer' [dil-rubaa] is 'beloved'. The theme of the 'cypress-stature' has been used with various new meanings by Sa'di and Khusrau and Hafiz.

Shibli has complained that in the earliest period of poetry the poets used to compose simple and easy things, but later people preferred artificiality and convolutedness, so that poetry became full of 'imaginary themes'. The first error in this complaint is that since themes are based on metaphors, and with us metaphors are used on the level of reality, for our poetics the distinction between 'imaginary' and 'realistic' is meaningless. A metaphor is in any case an activity of the imagination, and in this regard all metaphors are to one or another extent 'imaginary'.

Shibli's second error is that he has ignored the principle of 'theme-creation'. The basic act of 'theme-creation' is, after all, that a new theme should be created, or that a new direction should be drawn out of an old theme, or that an old theme should be presented in a new way. Thus it's obvious that as a rule, compared to earlier poets, later poets will make more attempts at 'theme-creation'.

The new things about the theme of the cypress and the beloved's stature that the early Persian poets have said, we can mostly classify as a special kind of metaphor called [the English word] 'substitution' [tabdiilii]-- that is, in place of something, to put something else. The poets of early Hindi based their themes on [the English word] 'contiguity' [taqriib]. By contiguity is meant to make the qualities of something the foundation of a theme. Roman Jakobson has written that the creation of 'substitution' is the characteristic of metaphor, and metaphor is the characteristic of poetry. By contrast, the creation of 'contiguity' is the charactistic of [the English word] 'metonymy' [kinaayah], and metonymy is the characteristic not of poetry but of fiction. If Jakobson had been acquainted with Indo-Persian poetics, then he would have known that for us 'metonymy'-- that is, the forms of suggestion-- has been made the foundation of the theme (=metaphor).

As an example, let's take the cypress and the stature. Since the cypress is simple, light, and evergreen, it has been used as a simile for the beloved's stature. Now from here the creation of 'contiguity' begins. The tree ( :tuub;aa ) that is found in Paradise is like a cypress. Thus the stature = the Tuba tree = the cypress. Now they also call the stature 'harmonious' [mauzuu;N]. Thus the stature = harmonious = a line of poetry; and the stature = the cypress = a line. The act of assessing the harmoniousness is to do metrical scansion [taq:tii(( karnaa]. One meaning of taq:tii(( is 'adornment', and another meaning is 'trimming, pruning'. Thus stature = cypress = taq:tii(( = harmonious.

Now we'll look at a [Persian] verse by Muhsin Tasir:

'Although not one cypress has the charm of her stature,
Since the cypress does taq:tii(( , it becomes a harmonious line.'

The Urdu poets might saw the possibilities of Muhsin Tasir's theme. Thus now let's look at some examples in Urdu. Vali:

hai pasand-e :tab((a-e ((aalii mi.sra((-e sarv-e buland
jab se gulshan me;N tiraa qad dekh kar mauzuu;N hu))aa

[it is pleasing to a lofty temperament, the line of the tall cypress
ever since, in the garden, having seen your stature, it became harmonious]

Shakir Naji:

mauzuu;N qad us kaa chashm ke miizaa;N me;N jab tulaa
:tuub;aa tab us se ek qadam adh kasaa hu))aa

[when her harmonious stature was weighed in the balance-scale of the eyes
then the Tuba-tree was one footstep less trim than that]


;Ga.zab hai sarv baa;Ndhaa us parii ke qadd-e gul-guu;N ko
yih kis shaa((ir ne naa-mauzuu;N kiyaa mi.sraa((-e mauzuu;N ko

[it's a disaster-- he versified the rose-colored stature of that Pari as a cypress!
which poet made this harmonious/metrical line, inharmonious/unmetrical?]


pahu;Nchtaa use mi.sra((-e taazah-o-tar
qad-e yaar-saa sarv mauzuu;N nah niklaa

[a fresh and dewy line would have arrived for it--
the cypress turned out not as harmonious as the stature of the beloved]

Mir's own present verse is a radiant link in this same chain of 'theme-creation'. In this connection, there has already been a detailed discussion about a verse from the third divan:


The poets whom I have cited above, from Vali to Atish, are superior examples, each in his turn, of 'theme-creation'. To analyze their verses at this point would unduly prolong the discussion; thus I consider only Mir's present verse:

(1) The word sanjiidah means 'weighed, metrically scanned'. This is also the meaning of mauzuu;N . Thus sanjiidah means mauzuu;N . But we also use sanjiidah to mean 'serious, grave, worthy of respect'. And this meaning too is appropriate here. Because the cypress remains established in its place, and is an important part of the garden. Therefore it has sanjiidagii .

(2) If the second line is present beforehand, and the first line is attached [mi.sra(( lagaanaa] to it, then it's called a pesh mi.sra(( . Thus in pesh-e mi.sra((-e qadd-e yaar , the phrase pesh mi.sra(( has an additional meaningfulness.

(3) In order to ascertain the mauzuuniyat of a verse, in addition to scansion there's also the technique of bringing into play one's 'inner listener' and, so to speak, weighing a line in the heart and deciding whether it's mauzuu;N or not, or it's out of meter or not. Thus dil me;N tolnaa is extremely appropriate here.

(4) Between sanjiidah and tole;N hai;N there's the connection of a zila.

(5) The cypress too is mauzuu;N , but the beloved is more mauzuu;N than it is. Thus the mauzuuniyat of each line is noted separately. One is more mauzuu;N , and one is less so.

(6) Then, naa-mauzuu;N also means 'inappropriate, unsuitable'. Thus one meaning is that although the cypress is sanjiidah , for becoming the pesh mi.sra(( of the stature of the beloved it's inappropriate/unsuitable. (Consider the verse by Atish that has been cited above.)

(7) Mir has written this theme as follows, in the sixth divan [{1830,4}]:

us kii qaamat-e mauzuu;N se kyaa sarv baraabar hovegaa
naa-mauzuu;N hii niklegaa sanjiidah ko))ii jo bole ;Tuk

[her harmonious stature-- how would the cypress be equal to it!
it will turn out to be non-harmonious, if anyone would even call it measured]

This verse lacks the depths of meaning and theme that are found in the present verse. The second line is not entirely effective. The present verse is trim and properly constructed in every way, and has the rank of a masterpiece.



These wonderfully illustrative 'theme-creation' verses were part of a set given to me years ago by SRF for use in Nets of Awareness (pp. 95-103). I'm glad to have another chance to express my great debt to him as an Ustad. (I had so many such footnotes in the book that he said they were embarrassing and made me take some out.)

Note for meter fans: Two-consonant Arabic words like qad very often have a tashdiid added before an izafat, presumably to save them from being reduced to a one single-letter syllable. But this is not always done; it remains at the poet's discretion.