mirzaa))ii faqr me;N bhii dil se ga))ii nah mere
chahre ke rang apne chaadar kii za((fraanii

1) lordliness/pride, even/also in poverty, did not go from my heart--
2) with the likeness/color of my face-- the saffronness of the mantle/shawl



mirzaa))ii : 'The behaviour or manners of a mirzaa ; gentility; princeliness; princedom; —arrogance'. (Platts p.1023)

S. R. Faruqi:

In our classical poetry the lover is usually imagined as having a blackish or darkish color. When the color flees from his face, then he's imagined to be pallid/'yellow' [zard]. By contrast, the beloved's color is assumed to be golden, champa-like (wheatish), and when the color flees from her face then she's imagined as white-complexioned. On this topic we have seen detailed discussion already; for example:




and so on. The theme of the pallor of the lover's face was probably invented by Sa'di [in Persian]:

'If I say that my condition is not one of anxiety,
The color of my face shows forth the truth within.'

Maulana-e Rum has expressed the idea even more clearly [in Persian]. In the 'Masnavi' (first section) he says,

'However much one is alert, he is that much more afflicted.
However much one is aware, his face is that much more pallid.'

Among us in Urdu, as the eighteenth century progressed, it was as if it had been accepted that because of suffering, and because of inner burning, the lover's face is pallid. Thus in the 'Bustan-e Khayal' (volume 1, page 171, trans. by Khvajah Aman) there is:

zardii-e rang-e ru;xsaar us kii ((aashiqii kii daliil vaa.za;h hai _

In the pallor of his cheeks, the proof of his lover-ship is clear.

Vali has composed this theme with great delicacy and meaningfulness:

mu;habbat me;N tirii ay gauhar-e paak
hu))aa hai rang merii kahrubaa))ii

[in your love, oh pure pearl
my color has become amber-like]

The word kahrubaa , or kaahrubaa , is used for a pale-colored amber. Since amber is dark/black (or deep green) in color, by saying kahrubaa))ii the poet alludes to both of the lover's colors. Mir too has absolutely clearly taken the theme from 'Bustan-e Khayal' and composed, in the first divan [{393,4}]:

chaah kaa da((v;aa sab karte hai;N maniye kyuu;N-kar be-a;sar
ashk kii sur;xii zardii mu;Nh kii ((ishq kii kuchh to ((alaamat ho

[everybody claims to love-- how would one believe it without effects?
the redness of tears, the pallor of the face-- there ought after all to be some sign of passion!]

For discussion of the meaning of mirzaa))ii , see


The theme of mirzaa))ii and mirzaa (or miirzaa))ii and miirzaa ) too is very old. In the [dictionary] bahaar-e ((ajam , the phrase mirzaa))ii kashiidan means 'to endure someone's pompousness and pride'. In the seventeenth century a gentleman named Mirza Kamran also wrote a short essay with the title of mirzaa-naamah in which he recounted the necessary conditions for becoming a 'Mirza'. In it, if on the one hand he has declared that knowing various languages (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hindi, etc.) and pronouncing them correctly is necessary, then on the other hand he has given equal importance to remaining far from the path of bullets, and avoiding dangerous things (for example, rutting elephants).

In the present verse, Mir has brought together the pallor of the face, and 'Mirza-ness', and thus created a new idea. In lover-ship his face has become pallid. But the 'Mirza-ness' of his temperament remained just as it was. Thus the saffronness (= yellowness, pallidness) of his mantle/shawl is in reality a proof of the refinement of his temperament, it is not a proof of his being ruined/penniless or faqir-like.

The enjoyable thing is that the saffronness of his mantle/shawl is in fact due to his being ruined/penniless and faqir-like (yogis, sannyasis, faqirs used to wear pale saffron clothes, or at least would take a pale-saffron-colored wrapper and use it to cover their whole bodies). But what he is saying is that 'Since the color of our face is pallid/yellow, for the sake of the affinity with it we have wrapped ourself in a saffron-colored mantle/shawl. This is a proof of the refinement of our personality and the delicacy of our temperament.'

Because of this tension in the expression, it's difficult to decide whether this verse is describing his aristocratic temperament, or whether this description is only a veil/disguise for saying that lover-ship has turned his color pale. That is, on the one hand this verse is an expression of wit and playfulness, and on the other hand it's a proof that, as in the second divan,


The themes of 'Mirza-ness' and a saffron color, separately, have been well used by Qa'im Chandpuri:

.sa;hn-e .sa;hraa ko sadaa ashk se karnaa chhi;Rkaa))o
bas divaanah huu;N mai;N qaa))im tirii mirzaa))ii ko

[always sprinkling the courtyard of the desert with tears--
enough-- I'm mad, Qa'im, over your Mirza-ness]

Shah Nasir:

jism us ke ;Gam me;N zard az naa-tavaanii ho gayaa
jaamah-e ((uryaanii apnaa za((fraanii ho gayaa

[the body, in grief for her, became pallid/yellow from weakness
my robe of nakedness became saffron-like]

Shah Nasir, another verse:

miirzaa))ii ko nah farhaad ne chho;Raa taa marg
je;Gah-e sar tujhe ay teshah-e aahan samjhaa

[until death, Farhad never left off 'Mirza-ness'
oh iron axe, he considered you a turban-ornament]

On both the previous two verses, Mir's influence is apparent. But despite all his innate talent, Shah Nasir didn't manage to bring together the theme of 'Mirza-ness' and the theme of saffron-like clothing. The young Ghalib adopted a new path for the saffron-like color, but he left aside the theme of 'Mirza-ness' [in an unpublished verse, G{432x,1}]:

ha;Nste hai;N dekh dekh ke sab naa-tavaa;N mujhe
yih rang-e zard hai chaman-e za((faraa;N mujhe

[they all laugh, seeing me without strength
this yellow/pallid color is a saffron garden, to me]

[[Traditionally, the sight of a saffron field was supposed to be amusing and to evoke laughter.]]

Mir himself had already mingled the two themes in the second divan [{956,11}]:

faqr par bhii thaa miir ke ik rang
kafnii pahnii so za((fraanii thii

[even/also in mendicancy Mir had a special style/color
when he put on the [faqir's dress] 'kafni', it was saffron-like]

In {956,1} the theme of 'Mirza-ness' is not apparent, so it was not so difficult to maintain (though indeed, ik rang is peerless). In the present verse both themes have been opened out, nor is there any sense of anything missing/defective. He's composed it very well.



Saffron is one of the world's most expensive spices, and it's also traditionally considered auspicious and celebratory (especially in the spring) by Hindus. Moreover, its color is powerful, bright, and vivid; the saffron that you see in India tends to be a slightly mustardy dark reddish, and nobody who has seen the typical Indian saffron would call it 'pallid' or 'yellowish' in the unhealthy, negative sense of zard . Thus it might also be possible that the speaker's 'Mirza-ness' would extend to his complexion: rather than resigning himself to looking pallid/yellowish like most lovers, he looks-- or claims to look-- expensive and ruddy (with health?), like the saffron color of his garment. (Of course, there are different kinds of saffron, and different shades of 'saffron' dye for clothing, some of which use turmeric instead; so the question can't be definitely settled.)

Note for grammar fans: Since chahre ke rang apne is in the oblique, it invites us to read it with a 'ghostposition', a colloquially omitted postposition-- maybe ke :taur par , or else jaise . The line also contains 'clause A, clause B' with no verb, so we have to mentally insert some form of honaa .