us bistar afsurdah ke gul ;xvushbuu hai;N murjhaa))e hanuuz
us nak'hat se mausam-e gul me;N phuul nahii;N yaa;N aa))e hanuuz

1) the perfumed roses of that dispirited/melancholy bedding have withered/faded now/still
2) in the rose-season, flowers like that scent haven't come here now/still



afsurdah : 'Frozen, frigid, benumbed; withered, faded; dispirited, dejected, low-spirited, melancholy'. (Platts p.62)


nak'hat : 'Smell of the breath; —anything odoriferous; perfume, odour'. (Platts p.1149)


murjhaanaa : 'To wither, fade, droop, pine; to become dejected or dispirited; to turn faint; to swoon'. (Platts p.1021)

S. R. Faruqi:

;xvushbuu = ;xvushbuu-daar

Although the first line of the opening-verse is in every way 'flowing' and swift-moving, it can be declared to be out of meter.... [This point is discussed in technical detail: the metrical problem occurs only if we read bistar-e afsurdah ]. Thus although bistar afsurdah is a bit non-'flowing', we will be compelled to consider it alone to be correct....

In Urdu, this meter became customary because of Mir. In Sauda, ghazals in this meter are thin on the ground. Before Mir and Sauda, in North India, as far as I know, it wasn't present in the work of any important poet except for a nazm by Mir Ja'far 'Zatalli' that dates from around 1690. But since Mir Ja'far Zatalli wasn't an 'Ustad' type of poet, it's not probable that he himself invented this meter. The probability is that this meter was present in the Urdu poetry of that time, or in popular poetry. But since we find no sign of this meter in the work of the ancient Persian poets, the claim that the meter ought to be governed by Persian rules remains without any proof.

Some people say that this is a 'Hindi' meter. Leaving aside the fact that in Hindi no meter is found that has all the qualities of the meter under discussion; if this is indeed a Hindi meter, even then, to divorce it from Persian rules and decide its qualities for oneself, and then declare this line to be out of meter because it contradicts Persian rules, is wrong, because Hindi meters can't be expected to abide by Persian rules.

In such a situation only those poets should be considered exemplary and normative, who have made considerable use of this meter. If we look at things in the light of this principle, then whatever Mir has done with this meter will be considered correct, because in using this meter he is the first/primary one, and he has also made considerable use of it. Ja'far Zatalli was long before Mir, but he used this meter in only one place. Thus his primacy is only statistical, and he didn't make enough use of this meter so that rules could be formulated in the light of his practice. Thus as far as this meter goes, the practice of Mir alone is established as normative; and if this is so, then we have no right to say that this meter is really mutaqarrib [and thus that he has misused it in the first line].... But indeed, if in the light of further research this meter would be proved to be present in Persian, then in the light of Persian rules [the first line is incorrect]....

After this lengthy (but perhaps helpful/relevant) discussion, we turn to the meaning. The thought is trifling, but original. To call bedding 'dispirited' is an eloquent [badii((] idea. It's clear that the bedding is the lover's, and the flowers that are on it are either real or else those of a flowered sheet. By 'that scent' is meant the perfume that was in the beloved. The rose-season has come, but the beloved has not come. If there were a flower as perfumed as the beloved, then the bedding wouldn't have been dispirited. In ordinary flowers, where is that perfume?

There's also the suggestion that if the beloved had been near, then those same flowers that lie withered on the bedding would have bloomed again, and the dispiritedness of the bedding (which is caused by the withering of the flowers) would have been removed. The word 'here' is also good, because it alludes to three places-- the bedding, the house, and the bazaar.

Nisar Ahmad Faruqi takes hanuuz to mean 'despite': that the flowers of the bedding, despite having withered, are perfumed, but this meaning seems to me not to accord with the verse. The best meaning seems to be that 'the perfume that is in the flowers on my bedding has now/still withered away because the perfume of the beloved's body is not among them'.

[See also {1256,5}; {1650,3}.]



On the basis of Mir's own practice-- though as SRF has argued, not necessarily for any other reason-- we cannot read an izafat between bistar and afsurdah . SRF says that this makes the line less 'flowing'. In addition, we just have to pretend, as he proposes in his definition, that the noun ;xvushbuu is really the adjective ;xvushbuu-daar . But even then, won't gul ;xvushbuu-daar (which also cannot have an izafat, on the same metrical grounds) be open to the same charge of non-flowingness as bistar afsurdah , and for the same reason? Nouns followed by their adjectives require careful handling in Urdu, just as they do (for different reasons) in English; we would only say 'bedding dispirited' instead of 'dispirited bedding' under special circumstances.

Two such small bits of clunkiness so close together really do weaken the verse. And they could be said to create a lack of flowingness, but not in the sense in which ravaanii is chiefly phonetic, a sequence of graceful sound effects. Rather, in these two cases the clunkiness is mental. It's created by the way the mind when it tries to process the grammar is balked and confused and forced to scramble-- twice in quick succession. This would be acceptable if there were some special reward for doing so, such as the pleasures of iham (a cleverly deliberate 'misdirection' that is then enjoyably corrected and savored). But here I don't see any reward at all, just annoyances (like small stones in dal).

Note for meter fans: SRF's full discussion of Mir's famous 'Hindi meter' is of real interest; do check out the technical parts in the original Urdu. To put it simply, the problem is that in this meter the even-numbered long syllables can mostly be replaced by two short syllables, but the odd ones cannot. If we put in an izafat and make us bistar-e afsurdah , the scansion would be = = - - = = =, so that the third long syllable would be replaced by two short syllables. Some critics would consider this an impermissible violation of the rules of the meter; SRF doesn't entirely agree, but goes along in practice by citing Mir's own practice, since he generally follows this rule. For another example of this kind of problem see {1650,3}. For more serious information, of course see the appropriate chapter in the Practical Handbook of Urdu Meter.

Note for grammar fans: We here need to take se as short for jaise , 'like'.

Note for translation fans: The hanuuz , 'still/now', brings the action into the present and thus makes it necessary to translate the verbs in perfect forms as though they were verbs in the present perfect. Since the perfect verb forms in Urdu don't really correlate so well with their English counterparts, many things can trigger such a shift, but hanuuz is bound to do so in a high percentage of cases.