kis taazah maqtal pah kushande teraa hu))aa hai gu;zaaraa aaj
zah daaman kii bharii hai lahuu se kis ko tuu ne maaraa aaj

1) over which fresh slaughter-ground, oh slayer, have you passed today?
2) the hem/border of your garment is full of blood-- whom did you kill today?



zah : 'A bow-string; border or edge (of anything), parapet (of a well, &c.), a ledge; collar or facing (of a garment); edging, lace, fringe'. Platts p.619)

S. R. Faruqi:

zah = border, garment-hem, or ruffle

Askari Sahib, in his introduction to his intikhab of Mir, has said a very fine thing: that many of Mir's ghazals are such that when they're read as a whole, only then do they give the proper pleasure, even if individually speaking no verse in them would be worthy of inclusion in an intikhab. As true as this idea is for the ghazal critic, it's equally worrisome as well. Because ghazal criticism is usually based on individual verses, and in the poetics of the ghazal there's seemingly no scope for a ghazal to be found to be of a high level, even if no verse in it would be of a very high level.

Askari Sahib didn't write extensively about this idea, but the flower-crown of priority in observing the point is on his head. As far as I know, besides Mir only Hafiz has ghazals in which individually no verse is out of the ordinary, but the whole ghazal has an extraordinary excellence. While making my intikhab from Mir, I often had to confront this difficulty, so that I was also compelled to reflect on the secret of these ghazals' success.

The first point I understood was that in these ghazals the musicalness [muusiiqiyat] was uncommon. And as with classical music, if only a portion (as with only one part of a bandish , or only one section of a raag ) would appear, then there's a sense of incompleteness; and when the whole ghazal (so to speak, the presentation of the whole raga) would be heard or read, then the pleasure becomes complete.

This cohesiveness and attachment has no relationship to the imagined and erroneous idea that there's any [habitual] connection and sequence among the verses of a ghazal. Rather, it's a matter of the kind of structure that's the specialty of the classical raga. That is, in the structure of the classical raga there's a disconnected or 'organic' completeness [puuraapan], and this same completeness can be seen in a number of Mir's ghazals.

The second point is that we can construe this situation of musicalness as the highest 'mood' [kaifiyat] of 'flowingness' [ravaanii] that is possible in the ghazal.

The third point is that in the harmony [ahang] of such ghazals there's a swift-movingness [tez-raftaarii] that compels the reader to keep reading on, rather than stopping at any verse. This is how the harmony of these ghazals works.

The question can also be asked, whether there's any excellence of meaning in them as well, such that it's manifest only after reading the whole ghazal. But in any case harmony is in one way or another a form of meaning, it's true. But in sound alone there's no meaning; that is, it's not indebted to meaning for its beauty. Thus Wagner said that all the arts seek to attain the form of music.

But it's also clear that the present ghazal of Mir's is not devoid of meaning. It's only that in his ghazals harmony has to a large extent freed itself from meaning. Now what happens is that when we step aside from harmony and pay attention to the meaning, we feel the pleasure of a new style; in the ghazals of Mir's latter days this mood can more often be seen.

After this introduction, we'll attempt to interpret the verses. In this ghazal there are nine verses; and in the next one [{1590}], ten verses. After a great struggle I've selected four and five verses, respectively; because both ghazals, in their entirety, had a claim to be selected, and I resolved to choose those in which the pleasure of meaning would be above average.

In the opening-verse the freshness of the word zah itself was more than enough for its selection. In the two lines he has kept the two images far apart, and in the fragment that comes after them he balances them against each other. 'Fresh slaughter-ground' is at the beginning of the first line, and 'the hem of your garment is full of blood' at the beginning of the second line. Then 'have you passed today' and 'did you kill today' are at the ends of the lines. Thus in all four fragments, there's a balance of both occurrence and meaning.

By mentioning the hem of the garment he's created an implication of adornment for the garment of speech; and then having filled it with blood he's established an implication of the slain one's being covered with blood and the slayer's irresistible swordsmanship. In both lines there's the interrogative, and in the refrain the implication that every day the slayer hunts down someone, but that today's slain one was in a class by himself.

In 'fresh slaughter-ground' there's also a suggestion of 'fresh blood', and in the second line 'the hem of your garment is full of blood' he achieves an expression that conveys the flow of real and fresh blood. The whole verse is full of drama. There's no lamentation at all; and pitilessness, dignity, the slain one's being out of the ordinary-- all this the verse has expressed.

The image of fresh blood, Shakeb Jalali too has used well:

fa.siil-e jism pah taazah lahuu kii chii;N;Te;N hai;N
;hi.saar-e dard se baahar nikal gayaa hai ko))ii

[on the ramparts of the body there are spatters of fresh blood
someone has gone out of the fortress of pain]



Having carefully explicated the idea that this ghazal and the following one [{1590}], have a special 'musical' beauty when (and only when) all the verses are rapidly read together, SRF then proceeds to give us only four verses from the ghazal! So I will add the missing ones as we go along, to make it convenient for readers to test out the effect for themselves.

I asked SRF for any further comments. He replied (July 2013):

There are many ghazals of that type. The ghazal kaam kiyaa , tamaam kiyaa [{7}] comes to mind at once.... Similarly, we have {321}, {377}, {777}, {847}, {848}, {874}, {897}, and so on.

As for the speed of recitation, opinions may differ. I think all these ghazals don't need many pauses, or a thoughtful style of recitation.

No, it's not musicality, or ravaanii . It's something even harder to pinpoint, but it can be felt; though it doesn't follow that everybody will agree on another's choice.

Apparently {1502} is another such ghazal, in SRF's view. He discusses this ghazal, and the selection process he used on it, in {1502,1}.

This effect sounds rather mystical to me, since it's not to be captured by any words that SRF can come up with, and it's not based on anything smaller than the whole ghazal itself, and the perception of it is subjective in any case. It's obviously not helpful as any kind of analytical tool.