us kaa ba;hr-e ;husn saraasar auj-o-mauj-o-talaa:tum hai
shauq kii apne nigaah jahaa;N tak jaave bos-o-kinaar hai aaj

1) the ocean of her beauty is, from end to end, heights and waves and buffeting
2) as far as the gaze of my ardor would go, there is kissing-and-cuddling, today



auj : 'Highest point, top, summit, vertex; zenith; height, altitude, ascendancy'. (Platts p.103)


bos-o-kinaar : 'Kissing and toying, dalliance'. (Platts p.175)

S. R. Faruqi:

To speak of the beloved's beauty as moving in waves like an ocean is extremely eloquent [badii((], and by saying 'heights and waves and buffeting' he has provided it with several kinds of necessary equipment and made it more eloquent. The auj -- that is, the loftiness of beauty, or the height of the waves of the ocean of beauty. The mauj -- that is, like the waves of the sea continuously welling up, continuously moving. The talaa:tum -- that is, not remaining in any one state; in one moment one thing, in the next moment another thing. Whenever you look there's movement; at whatever time and in whatever circumstances you look, there's a new aspect.

Shah Asi Sikandarpuri has well expressed this aspect:

((ishq kahtaa hai do ((aalam se judaa ho jaa))e;N
;husn kahtaa hai jidhar jaa))o nayaa ((aalam hai

[passion says, let's separate ourselves from the two worlds
beauty says, wherever you go, it's a new world]

Urfi has [in Persian], along the lines of 'affair-evocation', brought this theme to its limit:

'Every moment, constantly, I am imprisoned by a different grief,
For your behavior-styles are not acquainted with each other.'

But Mir's accomplishment is that has expressed the whole idea through implications, and in addition he has added an erotic and sensual mood. On top of all this he has created an interpretation that the oceans of the turmoil of beauty and the turmoil of the spectacle are both out of control and full of waves and ungoverned. As far as the gaze goes, the beloved's beauty can be seen; and as far as the beloved's beauty can be seen, we take pleasure in the 'kissing-and-cuddling'.

Then, in the whole verse there's the effect of bodies 'waving' on a bed of union; there's a suggestion of the moment when the whole world seems to be within one's control, and one's own existence seems to be out of control. Jur'at has very well expressed one aspect of this:

be-qaraarii hame;N juu;N mauj nah kyuu;N kar ho kih jab
lahr-e daryaa kii :tara;h yaar kaa joban maare

[why shouldn't I feel restlessness like a wave, when
like an ocean wave, the beloved's youthful-beauty would strike me]

Jur'at's first line hasn't entirely managed to work as an illustration, but the image in the second line is brimming over with meaning. Atish has called the beloved an ocean of beauty, but he began to use ready-made commonplace expressions, so that the verse became artificial:

shash jihat me;N mauj-zan hai tuu hii ay daryaa-e ;husn
farq kyaa hai ;Duubne-vaale me;N aur tairaak me;N

[in the six directions only/emphatically you are full of waves, oh ocean of beauty
what's the difference between a drowner and a swimmer?]

Firaq Sahib imitated Jur'at, but his second line didn't become entirely effective, because it is unrelated to the first line, and its metaphor has fallen prey to verbosity and lack of cutting power:

ras me;N ;Duubaa hu))aa lahraataa badan kyaa kahnaa
karva;Te;N letii hu))ii.sub;h chaman kyaa kahnaa

[a waving body, drowned in juice/mood-- what can I say!
constantly shifting her position, at dawn, in the garden-- what can I say!]

Mir has created whole sets of aspects, and the object and the subject (that is, the beloved's beauty and her body, and the lover's imagination and its practical action) he has made into one. It's an uncommon verse.

Limiting the theme, but in a very appropriate style, Mir himself has said in the second divan [{950,2}]:

daryaa-e ;husn-e yaar talaa:tum kare kahii;N
;xvaahish hai apne jii me;N bhii bos-o-kinaar kii

[the beloved's ocean of beauty might somehow make a buffet!
there's a longing in even/also my heart for kissing and cuddling]

In both verses the wordplay of ocean and sea and shore [kinaar] is shared; but in {950,2} the longing for bos-o-kinaar has been expressed in a very prosy style.

In a quatrain, Mir has used 'ocean' as a metaphor for 'ardor'. Thus my idea is confirmed, that in the present verse [{1590,3}] not only the beloved has oceanic qualities, but rather the lover's ardor too is 'shore-less':

aab-e ;haivaa;N nahii;N gavaaraa ham ko
kis ghaa;T-e mu;habbat ne utaaraa ham ko
daryaa daryaa thaa shauq-e bosah lekin
jaa;N-ba;xsh lab-e yaar ne maaraa ham ko

[the Water of Life doesn't please us
what riverbank-stairs of love brought us down?!
our ardor for a kiss was ocean upon ocean
the life-giving lip of the beloved slew us]



This ghazal is the second of a set of two about which SRF makes special claims for an over-all 'musical' effect; see {1589,1} for his discussion.

I especially enjoy the richness of the second line. That phrase shauq kii apne nigaah jahaa;N tak jaave opens so many interpretive doors, and makes sure to keep them open. Here are some of the possible readings that set us up for bos-o-kinaar hai aaj :

=I am watching, and reporting on the thrilling agitation that I observe in her 'ocean of beauty'.

=My 'gaze of ardor' and her roiling 'ocean of beauty' are sharing an erotic experience of some kind.

=Her 'ocean of beauty' is roiling throughout its whole expanse; but wherever it encounters my 'gaze of ardor', the result is 'kissing and cuddling' instead.

=My 'gaze of ardor' is limited only by the limits of its own capacities in enjoying the roiling 'ocean of beauty'; my gaze can only have as much 'kissing and cuddling' as it would be able to claim.

If we are reading the whole ghazal rapidly as SRF proposes, we must be intuiting these subtleties of grammar and tone, and enjoying them on the fly.