ab ke baaliidan-e gul'haa thaa bahut dekho nah miir
ham-sar-e laalah hai ;xaar-e sar-e diivaar hanuuz

1) this time/season, there was much growth/increase of the roses/flowers-- look, won't you, Mir?

2a) the thorn of the edge of the wall is a companion/peer/rival of the tulip, now
2b) the companion/peer/rival of the tulip is a thorn of the edge of the wall, now



ham-sar : 'Equal in height, or age, or rank, &c.; of the same dignity or authority; —an equal, a peer; —a rival; —a companion, an associate, a comrade; —a consort, spouse'. (Platts p.1234)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse the expression of 'mood' has attained an uncommon power and excellence. The remarkable thing is that in the whole verse there's implication upon implication, and seemingly he hasn't placed emphasis on any one thing at all. According to Cleanth Brooks, the skilful craftsman knows that sometimes to mention something in a casual way makes it special and important.

The 'thorns of the edge of the wall' can mean iron nails, which are placed on the wall so that the people who are shut up within the four walls (for example, of a prison-house or a mental institution) wouldn't be able to climb on the wall and leap off on the other side. Or these can also be only thorns, which are trained up on the wall for the same purpose.

These 'thorns of the edge of the wall' are ham-sar-e laalah . It's obvious that whether they are iron or organic thorns, they can't grow flowers. Thus these thorns are ham-sar of the tulip because they are wet with blood, and this blood can only be that of the madmen (among whom is the speaker) who are imprisoned within the four walls. Climbing on the walls, or trying to leap over them, they've not only gotten themselves drenched in blood, but have also wetted the thorns as well.

Now we confront the speaker. He never manages to see the spring, but because of his madness he's unable to distinguish not merely between spring and fall, but even between red flowers and red blood. But in his demented mind there is certainly an image of spring, and perhaps a dim longing as well. When he sees the 'thorns of the edge of the wall' wet with blood, the thought comes to him that perhaps it's the ebullition of spring, and flowers have bloomed to such an extent that even the 'thorns of the edge of the wall' have attained the rank of roses. He doesn't manage to understand that this isn't the redness of flowers; rather, his own blood and the blood of other madmen like him have entirely reddened the 'thorns of the edge of the wall'.

Happily, like an innocent child, he says to his companion, 'Look, won't you-- the thorn of the edge of the wall is a ham-sar of the tulip'. The phrase dekho nah proves both the speaker's simplicity and his madness. Simplicity, because he directs his addressee's attention with such confidence, so that he too will share in this observation and will confirm it. And this very confidence is also the proof of his madness. Because if the sun would look blue to me and I would also be confident that other people would confirm my observation, then it's obvious that my mind is already disordered. In dekho nah there's an amazement, there's an innocent simplicity and madness, and the observation itself is that of a madman.

And the most entertaining thing is the suggestion that the redness of the 'thorns of the edge of the wall' is indebted to the blood of the speaker and his companions, but the speaker has entirely forgotten this fact; he's taking them to be imitators of the flowers. Such a verse is created even by people like Mir only a few times in a whole lifetime.

Nasir Kazmi, taking advantage of this verse and the opening-verse of this ghazal, has said-- and has well said,

shafaqii ho ga))ii diivaar-e ;xayaal
kis qadar ;xuun bahaa hai ab ke

[it has become sunset-colored, the wall of thought
to what an extent there is a blood-flow, this time!]

Nasikh has used the 'thorns of the edge of the wall' in his own style:

ru:tbah-e a((l;aa me;N :zaalim tark kar dete hai;N :zulm
paa))o;N se kaahish nahii;N ;xaar-e sar-e diivaar ko

[in a lofty style the cruel one renounces cruelty
from her feet, there's no wear-and-tear on the thorns of the edge of the wall]

But his claim and proof are both defective. Although Nasikh's verse has a great deal of flowingness, on the basis of which the verse appears distinguished.

[See also {509,3}; {1041,8}.]



The two uses of sar call attention to the 'head', which suits very well with SRF's emphasis on the speaker's madness. But the possibilities opened out by ham-sar appear to be even broader. It's quite possible that the speaker is madly claiming that blood-soaked thorns are as beautiful and blooming as roses, as SRF maintains. But he might be claiming only that the wall-thorns are 'companions' or 'associates' (see the definition above) of the tulips-- that is, that the flowers have grown so lavishly that they are almost bursting out of the garden, they are pushing right up against the wall, so that the flowers are cheek by jowl with the wall-thorns (2a).

And it's also possible that he's claiming, as in (2b), that (some of) the flowers have grown so lavishly that a flower almost as lovely as a tulip, a flower of the same rank as a tulip, is no better than a mere wall-thorn by comparison to other flowers-- or in particular, to the 'roses'-- that have reached astonishing heights of beauty. (Or has the beloved, in all her roseate glory, entered the garden, and utterly overshadowed the tulips?)

The 'thorns of the edge of the wall' are also a piquant touch. Often the Persianized sar-e doesn't mean anything in particular (for example, sar-e baazaar isn't appreciably different from baazaar me;N ). But 'thorns of the wall' is equally enigmatic. Does it mean that the garden wall is made of thorns, or covered with thorns? SRF imagines that the speaker is a madman or prisoner striving to escape till his hands are bloody. But how often does the lover really want to escape from a garden full of roses? Sometimes no doubt he does want this; but more often when he's outside the garden, he longs to be allowed inside it.

In fact, he could well be outside the garden now, madly admiring even the wall-thorns that are all he can see of it, and judging from them what the garden itself must be like. Or maybe it's not a garden at all that he's looking at, but the wall of the beloved's house (protected by thorns), or any old casual wall overgrown with weeds and thorns. Since he seems to be looking with the hyperbolic eye of madness, he might well see roses everywhere.

For 'this time' [ab ke vaqt] or 'this season' [ab ke mausam]-- since the colloquial omission leaves us to decide for ourselves-- things are indeed different, in the garden or outside it or wherever the speaker may be. The difference is reinforced by the 'now' [hanuuz] (which in this context can't be translated 'still'), and also by the speaker's eagerness to point out the new situation to Mir. It's just not clear exactly what kind of difference there is, or what the new situation really amounts to. SRF suggests that the speaker's pointing it out is a sign of confidence, thus of madness; but might it not instead show a certain anxiety, an urgent or uneasy need for confirmation?

Compare an even more enigmatic 'difference in the garden' verse of Ghalib's: