;Gunchah hai sar pah daa;G saudaa kaa
dekhe;N kab tak yih gul bahaar kare

1) the wound/scar of madness on the head, is a bud
2) let's see {how long / 'until when'} this rose would flourish/bloom!



;Gunchah : 'A bud; a rose-bud; a blossom'. (Platts p.773)


kab tak : 'Till when? up to what time? how long?'. (Platts p.809)


bahaar : 'Spring, prime, bloom, flourishing state; beauty, glory, splendour, elegance; beautiful scene or prospect, fine landscape; charm, delight, enjoyment, the pleasures of sense, taste, or culture'. (Platts p.178)

S. R. Faruqi:

To use a bud as a simile for a wound, because of its redness, is very appropriate. One meaning of saudaa is 'black' as well; thus this word has the enjoyable connection of a zila with ;Gunchah and daa;G . There can be various reasons for the wound of madness on the head. It's possible that the head itself spontaneously took on a wound. Or, on some occasions people used to treat madness by scarring the sick person with hot iron (a new form of this, to apply an electric shock, was practiced until some years ago). Or it's possible that he might have beaten his head on walls or on a stone, and thus wounded it. Or perhaps boys might have thrown stones at the madman and wounded his head.

The fundamental point is that the wound is still a bud. That is, madness has not reached its full flourishing/springtime. For there to be a single wound on the head is only the beginning of the story. Taking advantage of the metaphor of the bud, the poet has assumed that where there's one bud, there will be others. And when there's a bud, then it will also become a flower. When there will be flowers, there will also be springtime/flourishingness. In addition, the 'springtime' of the bud is that it would become a flower and bloom.

Now when we look at the second line, it seems to be even more colorful than the first line. Here 'rose' means 'wound'. This meaning is metaphorical. But if gul is taken in its dictionary meaning ('flower'), then a new metaphor is created: 'Let's see when this gul (flower) blooms'. The bahaar karnaa is a translation of [the Persian] bahaar kardan , meaning 'to bloom, to perfume, to create the spring season, to come into a state of springtime', etc. Thus Muhammad Quli Salim has a [Persian] verse:

'The atmosphere of the garden of Hindustan is so garden-like
That there a tree made of wax would give off perfume [bahaar kunad] like amber.'

In this verse by Shah Mubarak Abru, the meaning of creating bahaar is clearly to create the season of springtime:

kii hai terii dil-figaarii ne bahaar
bazm hai gulshan me;N ab dil-resh tar

[your wound-inflictingness has made a springtime
the gathering in the garden now is heart-wounded, fresh/moist]

In Mir's present verse, all the above meanings are possible. In addition, bahaar also means 'flower' (especially the orange-flower), and Abu'l-Fazl has used it [in Persian] in the sense of 'perfume' ( bahaar-e ((ajam ). In the light of these meanings, gul kaa bahaar karnaa becomes even more enjoyable. [A discussion of the deficiencies of several Urdu dictionaries that either misunderstand or omit this expression.]

In dekhe;N kab tak yih gul bahaar kare there is ardor, confidence (that it will surely do so), the restlessness of waiting-- there is everything. But the question is, what does it mean? Ultimately, it will mean 'Let's see when our madness arrives at its full intensity and completeness'. But there can be various ways of expressing this meaning with reference to gul kaa bahaar karnaa :

(1) Let's see when this wound will open/bloom and adopt the form of a flower.

(2) Let's see when other wounds would be apparent along with this wound.

(3) Let's see when those wounds would occur from which blood would flow and the face would become covered with blood.

(4) Let's see when additional wounds would occur, and when all those wounds would come together and create the condition of springtime/flourishingness.

(5) Let's see when that time would come when we would break our head open and make it nothing but blood all over.

In this way there can be even more possibilities. The basic idea is the speaker's ardor and tumult/lamentation. It should be kept in mind that the quality of the bud is the heart's being confined, and the quality of the rose is expansiveness/bloomingness. Thus as long as the wound of madness will remain only a bud, the speaker's heart will remain confined or restless. And when the bud will open/bloom and become a flower, then the bud of the heart too will open/bloom. By God, it's hardly a verse-- it's a picture-gallery of [the famous Persian painters] Mani and Bihzad.

In this same divan, Mir has composed a very similar theme, but without the same effect [{1910,6}]:

is sare se us sare daa;G hii hai;N .sadr me;N
in bhii gulo;N kii bahaar dekhiye kab tak rahe

[from this end to that end, there are only/emphatically wounds in the breast
the springtime/flourishingness of even/also these roses-- let's see until when it would remain!]

It's certainly interesting that according to the general view, the meter of this verse [M16; #22 in the meter book] is not congenial to the temperament of Urdu. But Iqbal used it with extreme beauty in masjid-e qur:tubah and other poems, and made this meter known in Urdu. There's no doubt about Iqbal's mastery, but in fact in the above-mentioned ghazal and in a ghazal from shikaar-naamah-e duvvum Mir had already used this meter with unlimited 'flowingness'. The opening-verse of the shikaar-naamah ghazal is:

((ishq me;N ay ham-rahaa;N kuchh to kiyaa chaahi))e
giryah-o-shor-o-fi;Gaa;N kuchh to kiyaa chaahi))e

[in passion, oh fellow-travelers, one ought to do something
weeping and clamor and lamentation-- one ought to do something]

Thus the wreath of honor for making this meter known in Urdu is on Mir's head.



Here is a verse with immense scope for 'tone', and absolutely no indication of what it should be. The rhetorical effect of kab tak is to create a form of the 'kya effect'. The speaker might be eagerly anticipating the full 'springtime' of his madness, and looking forward to enjoying it for as long as he can make it last. Or he might be darkly muttering about what bad shape he's in, how quickly his 'springtime' of madness will come and then go, as it makes its doomed descent into autumn. Or he might be asking himself, with genuine uncertainty, how long the coming 'springtime' of madness would last. Is he speaking sarcastically, sadly, wryly, neutrally? His increasing madness of course opens the range of possible moods even further. As so often, it's left for us to decide.

Note for grammar fans: In {1910,6}, cited above by SRF, Mir uses kab tak in a sense that's both its official, dictionary one (see the definition above), and its normal one in everyday usage. It is a literal counterpart of 'until when'-- that is, it inquires about the future temporal stopping point, and thus the end, of a present situation. In the present verse, however, it seems to inquire about a future situation: at present we have only a 'bud' that by definition is not blooming at all. The best way around this odd situation is probably just to equate the 'bud' in the first line with 'this rose' in the second line. The speaker is so sure that the 'bud' will soon bloom into a rose, that even before it does so he's already begun to anticipate (the end of) its flourishingness.