aaj us ;xvush pur-kaar javaa;N ma:tluub ;hasiin ne lu:tf kiyaa
piir faqiir is be-dandaa;N ko un ne dandaa;N-muzd diyaa

1) today that fine skilful youthful desired beautiful one showed affection/favor--
2) to this elderly/venerable toothless mendicant, she gave a {festive food gift / kiss / 'tooth-treat'}



pur-kaar : 'Skilful, efficient, full of workmanship, well-executed'. (Platts p.234)


muzd-e dandaa;N : 'Money distributed to the poor at a time of feasting; anything valuable (as pelisses or a horse) presented after an entertainment'. (Steingass p.1222)

S. R. Faruqi:

He's used the meter in an extremely fresh and pleasing manner; at first glance it feels as though this is not the meter of ghazals like {7}, etc.

In the first line the collection of qualities, and the way they are used, is eloquent. That is, among the qualities several kinds of relationship can obtain:

1) aaj us ;xvush , pur-kaar , javaa;N , ma:tluub , ;hasiin , ne lu:tf kiyaa

2) aaj us ;xvush pur-kaar , javaa;N ma:tluub , ;hasiin , ne lu:tf kiyaa

3) aaj us ;xvush pur-kaar javaa;N , ma:tluub ;hasiin , ne lu:tf kiyaa

4) aaj us ;xvush , pur-kaar javaa;N , ma:tluub ;hasiin ne lu:tf kiyaa

And so on. This line is an excellent example of mastery over speech-- that is, he used the language just the way he wanted to. In this collection of qualities another pleasure is that the first quality is ;xvush (meaning 'fine' or 'beautiful'), and the last quality is ;hasiin (meaning 'beautiful'). That is, at both ends are words meaning 'beautiful', and in between are words for the qualities of beauty. This arrangement always remains intact, no matter where the pauses would be made.

After such a skilful line, it was difficult for the second line to be framed. But the seventy-year-old Ustad, calling himself elderly, venerable, and toothless, came up with an eloquent expression like dandaa;N-muzd , and raised the verse from its former level to such a different level! The term dandaa;N-muzd or dandaa;N-muzhd refers to a fruit, sweet, etc., that would be distributed to faqirs on some special occasion. By calling himself old, a mendicant, and toothless he has created in dandaa;N-muzd an extraordinary pleasure.

But this is only a superficial pleasure. As a term, dandaa;N-muzd is used to mean 'kiss'. Now look what a picture of rakishness and lecherousness, and a way of laughing at himself and at the beloved's multifariousness, he has created! A venerable/elderly seventy-year-old, who doesn't even have any teeth, dying for love of a young, skilful beloved! And the beloved is probably a youthful boy, because the qualities in the first line seem to be more suitable for a youthful boy.

In [the Indo-Persian dictionary] bahaar-e ((ajam it's written that the meaning of dandaa;N-muzd as a term is 'kiss'. (It's possible that this might be a term used by sodomites [luu:tii].) Such a beloved, out of coquetry or pity, or only out of disdain, or only superficially in order to make a lover happy, gives a single kiss. The lover is laughing at himself, and is also priding himself on his own lustfulness.

Hasrat Mohani would call this verse 'foolish' and 'flimsy'. But in the depths of its apparent flimsiness, the excellence with which the human condition and its psychological complexities have been expressed, and what a courage of self-awareness is possessed by the author of the verse-- these things can't be perceived by genteel people like Hasrat Mohani.

Nasikh has tried to touch this theme from afar, and has even been successful as far as his ability goes. If the style of laughing at oneself had been more in evidence, then Nasikh's verse would have been counted among the best verses in Urdu:

aa gayaa piirii me;N us ke bosah-e lab kaa ;xayaal
ho;N;T kaa;Tuu;N kis :tara;h ;hasrat hai dandaa;N chaahiye

[there came, in old age, the thought of kissing her lip--
how would I bite the lip? there's a longing/regret-- teeth are needed!]

Nasikh would probably also have had this verse of Mir's before him, from the fourth divan [{1514,4}]:

;hasrat se ((aashiqii kii piirii me;N kyaa kahe;N ham
dandaa;N nahii;N hai;N mu;Nh me;N vuh lab gaziidanii hai

[from the longing/regret of lover-ship in old age-- what can we say?
there are no teeth in the mouth; that lip is to be bitten!]

Here too, Mir's lustfulness and ability to laugh at himself are both greater than in Nasikh's verse.

About an old lover and a young beloved Hafiz has composed an enjoyable [Persian] verse:

'Although I am old, give me one night to lie beside you,
So that I would rise at dawn, made young by your body.'



This is one of the very few ghazals from which SRF has selected every single verse as deserving of commentary in SSA.

As SRF demonstrates, the first line has a kind of 'list' structure, a set of adjectives that can be variously grouped into descriptive compounds. He also points out, of course, the adorably multivalent 'tooth' wordplay in the second line. The Persian idiomatic expression muzd-e dandaa;N (see the definition above) is cleverly evoked-- all the more so since it's not explicitly present.

What I would add is the enjoyable wit of the imagery in the second line: a 'toothless' man has gotten a (charitable, impersonal) 'tooth-treat', which sounds like something that, ironically, he can't use. SRF points out that the 'tooth-treat' may be construed as a kiss, which adds to the amusement: an old man reflects (humorously? ruefully? wryly?) on his being given a potentially sexual gift that he is no longer equipped to enjoy as he would wish. The emphasis on the beloved's being 'youthful' and 'skilful', as well as 'desired', works well with this reading: she/he cleverly gives a minor gift, relying on her knowledge that nothing more will, in practice, be expected of her. (Of course the beloved could be an adolescent boy, but the evidence seems slight and circumstantial at best.)

The verse thus evokes the well-known Hindi/Urdu proverb used in cases where people obtain what they cannot use: 'The bald man has gotten fingernails' [ganje ko naa;xun mil ga))e].

Here's Ghalib's more extreme vision of the too-late gift: