sarv-e lab-juu laalah-o-gul nasriin-o-saman hai;N shiguufah hai
dekho jidhar ik baa;G lagaa hai apne rangii;N ;xayaalo;N kaa

1) the riverbank-seeking cypress, the tulip and rose, eglantine and jasmine/chameli are there-- it's a bloom/fabrication/marvel
2) in whichever direction you might look, a single/particular/unique/excellent garden is spread, of my/your colorful thoughts



shiguufah : 'A bud, blossom; flower; (colloq.) a fabrication.... shiguufah laanaa : To bud, blossom; to put forth young shoots; —to produce something new and wonderful'. (Platts p.732)

S. R. Faruqi:

Having read this verse, the thought occurs that the incident [vaaqi((ah] narrated by Maulana Muhammad Husain Azad in aab-e ;hayaat might perhaps have taken place in the period when Mir composed this verse. The incident is like this [in a literal translation that replaces SRF's rough paraphrase]:

#210# ... His preoccupation with creative effort and his state of absorption: Seeing that Mir Sahib was in great distress, a navab of Lucknow took him and his family to his own home, and gave him a suitable residence near his mansion to live in, with a sitting room that had windows overlooking a garden. The idea was that he should be in a lively and cheerful frame of mind in every way. The day he went there to live, the shutters were closed. Some years passed, and they stayed closed; he never opened them to look at the garden. One day a friend came and said, 'There's a garden out here, why don't you sit with the shutters open?' Mir Sahib replied, 'Oh, is there a garden here?' His friend said, 'That's why the Navab brought you here, to divert and cheer you'. Mir Sahib's old crumpled drafts of his ghazals were lying nearby. Gesturing toward them, he said, 'I'm so absorbed in attending to this garden, I'm not even aware of that one'. With these words, he fell silent.

It's also possible that someone, having seen this verse in the divan, might have invented the incident. Whatever the reality might be, to give his own thoughts the simile of a beautiful garden is an eloquent idea.

But in the verse there's not just narcissism or self-glorification; rather, in the first line there are also a number of subtleties. The 'riverbank-seeking cypress' can be called a metaphor for the image of the beloved, and the 'tulip' (because of its being scarred/wounded) can be called a metaphor for the poet's heart. The mention of a water source reminds us of eyes filled with tears. A 'cypress' is green, a 'tulip' and a 'rose' (that is, the flower of a red rose) are red (the tulip orangey-red, and the rose only red). The nasriin is white in color, it's a beautifully scented wild rose). In English they call it 'eglantine'. With us, the saman is called the 'chameli'. In our country the chameli is white or yellow, but the Iranian saman (jasmine) also has many small light purple flowers.

On such an occasion Keats's 'Ode to a Nightingale' comes to mind, where he says,

White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine,
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves,
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,

It's clear that the way Keats influences several of our senses, and enchants for us several worlds at once-- in comparison to that, Mir's line seems less complex. But the two have different methods of procedure. Mir has adopted his own custom, and Keats has taken his own custom and augmented it.

Despite dwelling in the fort of custom, Mir has created several dimensions of colors and perfumes and implied meanings in his line. In Keats's lines, the implied meanings are very few, while in Mir's verse there is still a lot left to discuss. For example, the word shiguufah not only completes the image of the garden, but also alludes to the idea that a number of thoughts haven't yet come into action. They are like buds that are waiting to bloom. The word 'cypress' also alludes to the idea that a number of thoughts have found full expression and have become lofty and conspicuous like trees.

Then let's consider the word 'thoughts'. Does it refer to verses (that is, in 'thoughts' is there a synecdoche [majaaz-e mursal], so that by using a part, the whole would be intended), or is the intention to suggest that in poetry, the thought is everything? Or again, are all these colorful flowers and trees and blossoms still/now manifesting themselves in Mir's mind alone, and this is only a vision of joy? If this latter is the case, then was the idea somehow present in the back of Mir's mind that when a verse came into his mind then it also came into existence-- that is, that expression is everything and the transmission of it is a lower action?

Look at the harmony of the verse. In rangii;N the second syllable has been made short. A less practiced poet won't have the courage to make a short syllable in this way, and a critic with a commonplace mind will declare this line to be unmetrical. But the line is in an entirely natural harmony, and the simplicity with which ;xayaalo;N kaa is presented-- on its basis the shortening of the final syllable of rangii;N does not seem at all unpleasing.

Mir has given this treatment to shiirii;N as well, in the third divan:


Such an affinity with the natural harmonic arrangement of the language is not found in any other poet; it's not even present in Ghalib and Iqbal. In this quality only Mir Anis is an equal of Mir's.



The literal sense of shiguufah is excellently supplemented by several idiomatic extensions like 'fabrication' and the idea of producing 'something new and wonderful' (see the definition above). There's also the similar idiomatic expression nayaa gul khilaanaa , 'to cause a new rose to bloom', which is said sarcastically: one Hindi dictionary defines it as 'to do something unusual and unseemly; to give a novel and peculiar turn to events'. The witty penumbra of irony and self-mockery here fits perfectly with the mood of {1342,2}.

And in fact it's not clear whether you look with your eyes and see a real garden, or whether you look with your mind and see an imagined garden, or whether some sort of hybridization is involved (looking with your eyes and thinking that you see what you're really only imagining? looking with your mind and somehow willing or causing what you imagine to appear in, or as, the real world?).

Since dekho is a familiar subjunctive, the implied addressee, tum , might well be construed as continuing throughout the line: wherever you look, you see a garden of your own colorful thoughts. Since apnaa applies officially to the subject of the sentence, this reading feels quite grammatically correct. So Mir might be talking to himself; if so, the grammar suggests that the same is true for everybody (wherever we humans look, we see only our own thoughts). But that kind of dekho can also be quite general, meaning really 'wherever one may look'; in that case, we seem (following SRF) to take the apne as short for mere apne (or hamaare apne ), 'my own'. Strictly speaking, there's no reason to do this, since there's no first-person subject anywhere in the verse. Nevertheless it's not actually illegal or unprecedented, and it feels right, since we feel that the verse is really about Mir's own poetic imagination. (And in that case, could he even be telling someone, or anyone, that wherever they look they will see no world except Mir's own imagined garden?) As so often, all these questions are left for us to decide for ourselves.

Note for meter fans: SRF's point is based on the fact that the word is really rangiin , so to turn it into rangii;N is already to change a scansion of long-long-short into one of long-long. Then to further shorten the final syllable, to create Mir's scansion here of long-short, is to doubly diminish the word; it's uncommon, and critics do indeed go around declaring this kind of thing to be an ((aib , a flaw. But who listens to them, and who cares? It's obviously a deliberate choice that Mir made; and as SRF points out, he has made it work brilliantly.

Mir has a garden of the mind; Ghalib has a wine-house of the mind: