dil ke daa;G bhii gul hai;N lekin dil kii tasallii hotii nahii;N
kaash kih vuh gul-barg udhar se baa))o u;Raa kar laave ab

1) even/also the wounds/scars of the heart are 'roses', but the heart is not [habitually] comforted
2) if only she would create a breeze from that direction and bring a rose-leaf now!



gul : 'A rose; a flower; a red patch (on anything); ... —a mark made (on the skin) by burning, a brand'. (Platts p.911)

S. R. Faruqi:

He has expressed this theme again and again. From the fourth divan [{1524,3}]:

bahaar lau;Te hai;N miir ab ke :taa))ir-e aazaad
nasiim kyaa hai ruu-e gul bah rang agar idhar laave

[this spring they have returned, Mir, the free birds,
it's hardly a breeze! --if they brought the face of the rose colorfully in this direction]

From the fifth divan [{1677,4}]:

shaa))iq ho mur;Gaan chaman ke aa))e ghar .saiyaado;N ke
phuul ik vuh taskiin ko un kii kaash chaman se laate tum

[having become desirous, the birds of the garden came to the hunters' house
if only you had, for their comfort, brought one flower from the garden!]

From the sixth divan [{1784,7}]:

;haq-e .su;hbat nah :tairo;N ko rahaa yaad
ko))ii do phuul asiiro;N tak nah laayaa

[the claim of friendship was no longer remembered by the birds
no one brought a couple of flowers to the captives]

No doubt the aspect that has come into {1677,4} has no peer in Urdu poetry. But in its situation there's a bit of artificialness too. In contrast to that verse, in the present verse there's such powerful realism that it makes the hairs on your body stand on end.

The wounds in the heart have the effect of flowers, but compared to real flowers these 'flowers' offer less comfort to the heart. They too no doubt may be 'flowers', but only to the extent of a metaphor. The claims of life, and of passion, demand something more. This rule is often found in Mir's poetry, and is presented in a number of styles. This same rule caused him to compose verses of this kind as well: from the first divan:


From the fourth divan:


Firaq Sahib too arrived as far as

are vuh dard-e mu;habbat sahii to kyaa mar jaa))e;N

[all right, so it's the pain of love-- are we going to die of it?!]

But in his verse there's not that sense of self-awareness, there's only a worldly petulance. In Mir's verse there's a sense of self-awareness, because he is examining the faded flowers of his heart (that is, the wounds in the heart; that is, his own worth): 'All right, they're flowers, but they don't fulfill the goal of the heart'. Thus there's a need for flowers from 'that direction', even if they reach us only unintentionally, or rather without any such volition, but only blown along by gusts of wind. And on our side too, it's not any massive longing-- only one or two rose-leaves will be enough.

If we assume this verse to be an illustration of countless situations of life and inner experience (as Askari Sahib would have it), or if we consider it a limit case of self-awareness, the foundation of the verse remains established.

Look at the wordplay too: one meaning of gul is also 'wound/scar', and the simile of flowers is used for wounds of the heart. Such a verse recalls the saying of Titus Burckhardt that when wisdom and skill are brought together, then accomplishment is born.

He has lightened this theme, and composed it like this in the first divan [{236,2}]:

;hirmaa;N to dekh phuul bikhere thii kal .sabaa
ik barg-e gul giraa nah jahaa;N thaa miraa qafas

[look at the disappointment-- yesterday the breeze had scattered flowers,
not a single rose-leaf fell where my cage was]

[See also {483,3}; {459,3}; {1723,7}.]



SRF's reading of the verse as a rueful or impatient complaint about the limits of metaphor is truly intriguing, and surely gets out of the verse the most that can be gotten. As he also observes, one's homemade or jury-rigged wound-'roses' do seem to do some work; ultimately they can't do it all, but a mere 'rose-leaf', a mere touch of the real thing 'from that direction', would be all the supplement that was needed to satisfy the heart. (Or alternatively, the lover's own 'roses' are so entirely unsatisfactory that compared to them even a tiny touch of the genuine article would be incomparably more satisfying.)

There's also an (accidental?) iham, at least on my reading. The first time through, it never occurred to me not to read vuh gul-barg as 'that rose-leaf'. If you make that guess, only after you get to the end of the second line do you have enough information to realize that your initial reading has broken down, and that you have to go back and redo it so that vuh becomes the subject and 'rose-leaf' the direct object. Did Mir do this on purpose? If it had been vuh gul I would have felt confident of it, because 'that rose' is such a fundamental way to speak of the beloved, so the wordplay would have been enjoyably meaningful. But a 'rose-leaf' is really just a 'rose-leaf', which weakend the case. Still, because I'm so interested in iham I want to mark every instance of 'misdirection' that's even reasonably plausible.