((aashiq me;N hai aur us me;N nisbat sag-o-ahuu kii
juu;N juu;N ho ramiidah vuh tuu;N tuu;N yih lagaa jaave

1) between the lover and that one-- the relationship of dog and deer
2) the more that one would be alarmed/panicked-- the more this one would be following/'attached'



ramiidah : 'Terrified, alarmed, scared, horror-struck, disturbed, afflicted'. (Platts p.599)


lagaa jaanaa : 'To go along continually or uninterruptedly, to keep going; to follow'. (Platts p.960)

S. R. Faruqi:

With regard to meaning and theme, this verse is such a wonder that if its construction weren't a bit limp, then even in the work of the greatest poets a verse of this level would not have been found. To use for the beloved the metaphor of a wild deer, or a deer that is wild toward everyone except its master (=the lover), is common in the traditions of classical poetry both Eastern and Western.

Thus Thomas Wyatt (d.1542), in a famous and extremely beautiful sonnet:

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Whoso list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck found about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

The 'mood' of the original poem is difficult to express, even if one would be able to successfully convey in Urdu translation its spirit and language both. But it's clear in this poem that in the balance between the deer (beloved) and the hunter (lover), the rank of the deer is much higher than the rank of the hunter.

In Mir's verse too, apparently just the same balance exists, that the lover has the rank of a dog and the beloved has the rank of a gazelle. Then, because of its taste for offal, its bloodthirstiness, its inclination toward bones, flesh, and such impure things, its lustfulness, and so on, in our culture the dog has been decreed to be very low.

But because of the dog's humility, its faithfulness to its master, its submissiveness within the house, lovers have also not hesitated to use for themselves the simile of the beloved's dog. Rather, Mir has declared himself proud to be equal to a dog of the beloved's street. In the sixth divan [{1907,2}]:

fa;xr se ham to kulah apni falak par phe;Nke;N
us ke sag se jo mulaaqaat musaavaat rahe

[from pride we would throw our cap into the air
if she would keep meeting and treating us like her dog]

Some Persian poet has very enjoyably expressed the lover/dog theme. Here the dog is a real dog, and also the speaker/lover:

'At dawn I came into your street. You had gone hunting.
When you didn't take a dog with you, then what use was it to go?'

Despite these verses and Wyatt's uncommon poem, in the present verse Mir has accomplished some fine things. To call the beloved a deer because of her delicacy, refinement, wildness, beauty, and alarm/panic, is fully as fitting as it is for the speaker to call himself a dog because of his swift-gaitedness, firmness of resolve, and persistence in pursuit. Then, with regard to a dog lagaa jaave too is extremely superb, for in it are allusions to its persistence, continuance of pursuit, and becoming laaguu (that is, bloodthirsty) for an animal, and allusions also to its passion and lustfulness.

But as much as the surface scene of the verse is full of harmlessness and diligence, its outcome (which has not been mentioned, but which is extremely easy to envision) is equally bloody, violent, and murderous. When a hunting dog takes a gazelle, then the end for the gazelle will be nothing but blood and dust. As long as the pursuit continues, the gazelle has the advantage over the dog. But when the pursuit is over, then the dog will have the advantage. In this way the pursuing dog, using sight or smell or all its powers, is 'attached to' pursuing its goal with full concentration and energy and single-mindedness. Thus we can certainly call him a symbol of the lovers constancy of temperament, his resolve/valor, his diligence/energy.

But at the end of the pursuit that same life-devoting and life-sacrificing dog becomes a symbol of blood and 'violation' and the destruction of innocence. That is, the deer is a symbol at the same time of beauty, alarm/panic, delicacy, and virginity; and also of the condition of being a victim of bloodshed and (sexual) violence; and of the state of being a blood- and dust-smeared prey. Similarly, the hunting dog is a symbol at the same time of steadfastness in passion, of resolve/valor in searching for a goal, of single-mindedness and intensity of attachment; and also of bloodthirstiness, ruin, mortal violence, and the destruction of innocence.

Such a cruel verse, and a structure that unites opposites in such a way, is found nowhere else even in Mir's poetry, not to speak of the poetry of others.

Though indeed, Mus'hafi has written an uncommon verse, as if it's a commentary on Mir's verse:

vuh aahuu-e ramiidah mil jaa))e tiirah shab gar
kuttaa banuu;N shikaarii us ko bha;Nbho;R ;Daaluu;N

[if that alarmed/panicked deer would be available in a dark night
I would become a hunting dog, I would gnaw/devour her]

Mus'hafi has 'decoded' Mir's verse, but it's not the case that in Mir's verse everything is on the surface. Among the common people in both East and West it's believed that at night some people take on the form of an animal and emerge to hunt humans and animals. In English this is called 'lycanthropy'. [A discussion of werewolves and other such animals.] Mus'hafi's speaker/lover-- and in fact, his beloved/deer too, seem to be absolutely clear examples of 'lycanthropy'.

The theme in Mir's and Mus'hafi's verses has only one other example of which I am aware. It's a [Persian] verse by Sa'ib:

'My heart trembles for the purity of the bud--
For the Nightingales are all intoxicated, and the gardener is alone.'

The intensely 'dramatic' mood of this verse, the air of fear and menace in its atmosphere, its miraculousness of expression-- for all these reasons, Mir's and Mus'hafi's verses pale by comparison. But in Mir's verse the frighteningness and melancholy that are under the surface, and in Mus'hafi's verse the rare aspect of 'lycanthropy', have made these verses no less terrifying. And the honor of inventing a new aspect for the theme of the hunting dog, of course belongs to Mir.

In the light of such verses, my belief becomes even stronger that it's impossible to analyze the classical ghazal without renouncing mental preconceptions. For in any case our elders, when they composed verses, were not bound by these preconceptions. Because people like the late Khvajah Manzur Husain were not aware of this, they found themselves obliged to twist and distort their accounts of ghazal verses. For heavens sake, people who composed verses like these in their ghazals-- what need would they have to use the beloved's fairness to sneer at the English, or to use the beloved's long curling tresses that hide her throat to sneer at the Sikhs? Askari Sahib was aware of this truth; thus he severely opposed the late Khvajah Sahib during his lifetime. For further discussion of the views of the late Khvajah Manzur, see




This really is a strange, ominous verse, very atypical of the ghazal world in general. Over and over again the beloved is the hunter, the killer, the cruel oppressor; the lover is her helpless, or willing, or even eager prey. So here we have one of the few verses in which the roles are reversed, and the relentless hunting dog is hot in pursuit of the wild, panicky deer. (And we can be sure that such verses are few indeed, because SRF would certainly have given us more if he could have found them.)

It's possible to envision the lover as a 'faithful hound', but since when is the beloved a fearful, panicky, vulnerable deer, condemned to flee for her life? We in the ghazal world know her well, and that's just not the beloved we know. Yet here's the emblematic dog pursuing the emblematic deer across our line of sight, giving us a look at one more possible facet of the nature of passion. And it's indeed a chilling view, as SRF so eloquently says.

Could there be any better proof of the flexibility of the ghazal, and the autonomy of the individual verse?