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DO WE REALLY NEED AN INTRODUCTION? == You probably came to this site through my main website, and you've probably looked at the Ghalib site already, so perhaps I don't need to say much by way of a general introduction. If you don't know much about the classical Urdu ghazal, please do start with the Ghalib site! It will be much better as a jumping-off point than this one.

'A GARDEN OF KASHMIR' == In the verse from which the name of this project is taken, I translate gulshan-e kashmiir as 'a garden of Kashmir'. S. R. Faruqi would prefer (August 2003) 'the garden that is Kashmir', since that would provide 'extra meaning' (by suggesting size, elaboration, and the combination of natural and man-made qualities) and would also correspond better to normal Urdu i.zaafat usage in cases like this. I agree with him that an equational reading would be the normal, least-marked usage in Urdu, but my reading is also grammatically sound. After all, Kashmir not only 'is' a garden, but 'has' gardens too (chief among them Jahangir's famous Shalimar Bagh), and the i.zaafat construction is easily multivalent enough to permit both readings. My reading also makes for a more evocative title, I think. Does it mean a garden that is located in Kashmir? A garden of a special type characteristic of Kashmir (with all the qualities mentioned by Faruqi)? A metaphorical garden that evokes Kashmir in some crucial way? In short, I hope the title can work somewhat the way 'a desertful of roses' does.

 

 

PRESENTING MIR'S GHAZALS == It's a very different problem from that posed by Ghalib. In the case of Ghalib, we have a small divan of 234 ghazals, handpicked and edited by the poet himself, discussed obsessively by many dozens of commentators for well over a century.

In Mir's case we have a huge body of primary-source material-- six divans [diivaan], totaling something like 1,916 ghazals-- from which no shorter selection was ever made by the poet himself. And though we have many later anthologies or selections [inti;xaab], we have no commentarial tradition at all. The only serious commentary that exists, as far as I know, is Shamsur Rahman Faruqi's four-volume one, which itself is based only on his own selection of the best of the poetry. This invaluable work is going to be the foundation of the commentarial part of this project. In fact this whole 'garden of Kashmir' project is dedicated to Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, my ustad and dear friend of thirty years' standing, without whom it could never have taken shape at all.

Fortunately, some pages on the Ghalib site will not need to be replicated. In particular, the overview page called *About the Genre* (as it develops over time), and the page on *Transliteration*,  will serve for both sites. *Urdu Meter: A Practical Handbook* will be even more valuable for Mir, since he's far more metrically adventurous than Ghalib. The 'Names' and 'Terms' indices for the two poets will be linked, with the Ghalib ones treated as primary.

In general, the Mir commentary is going to assume that the reader already has some background-- the kind of background one would get from reading the Ghalib commentary. Fewer names and terms in individual verses will be hyperlinked to the indices, and more references will be left unexplained. The basic reason for this practice is that the vastly greater amount of poetry means that the structure of the site has to be more complex, and moving up and down the layers is more cumbersome, so making hyperlinks will be more time-consuming. Moreover, since I'd never live long enough to do the whole kulliyaat , there can't be even the hope of any kind of systematic indexing of things.

So I've decided to be more free-form in dealing with Mir than with Ghalib. I'll translate large chunks of Faruqi's commentary, mostly quite literally but once in a while with a bit of flexibility. For example, I'll make many more paragraph breaks than he does in the Urdu. And I'll generally omit the texts of the Persian verses he often supplies, and will often confine myself to retranslating his translations. Within his commentary, all expressions in parentheses are his own, and all those in square brackets are my explanatory insertions. However, I will not follow his practice of sometimes assembling verses from two formally identical ghazals and presenting them together; all verses will be presented as parts of the ghazals in which Mir originally placed them, and I will arrange and adjust SRF's commentary accordingly. And of course, I will follow the main modern 'Abbasi-Mahfuz kulliyat numbering system, not SRF's system that is peculiar to his own commentary.

The title of his commentary, shi((r-e shor-angez , comes from {1543,6}:

har varaq har .saf;he me;N ik shi((r-e shor-angez hai
((ar.sah-e ma;hshar hai ((aar.sah mere bhii diivaan kaa

[in every page, every line, is a single/particular/unique/excellent tumult-creating verse
the scope of Doomsday is the scope of even/also my divan]

After translating from this commentary, I'll then add my own thoughts, and explain or discuss various terms and concepts as the spirit moves me. Remember-- if you don't understand something, look at the Ghalib website for many kinds of introductory help that will NOT be replicated in the case of Mir. Other decisions and policies I will have to make as I go along, and I'll report them here.

Sometimes Faruqi selects for commentary a number of verses from a single ghazal, and sometimes just a few, or a single one. My policy is that when at least half of the verses in a ghazal have been selected, I will present the text of the whole ghazal. Otherwise I'll present only the selected verses. Fortunately the whole set of Mir's six divans of ghazals is available online through rekhta.org, thanks to the wonderful work of Sanjiv Saraf.

Faruqi uses the traditional terms of Indo-Persian poetics. For various reasons (including impatience, ineptitude, and ruthless practicality) I haven't engaged too much with these terms in the Ghalib website, and I don't propose to do so here. I've found it more helpful to start from the ground up, and invent my own terminology as I need it. The SETS and MOTIFS pages are basically mine; the NAMES page is objective; the TERMS page will largely reflect SRF's critical vocabulary (which is traditional, but of course inflected through his own literary-theoretical views). Naturally, I too will sometimes use this vocabulary.

If you wonder why so many examples of traditional North Indian zardozi embroidery are embedded in the site, it's because these visual appetizers are a kind of introductory celebration of the poetry. (I could actually make quite a case about their resemblance to ghazals, but for the moment I'll refrain.) They also help me to refresh and delight myself while doing this very hard work. I hope you too will enjoy them.

On textual problems: {745,4}; {757,1}; {1112,9}; {1327,5}; {1341,5}; {1791,3}

Longest ghazal: {804}, with 32 verses

 
THE GHAZAL INDEX ITSELF == There has never been anything like a complete, well-organized index of all Mir's ghazals. So one of the purposes of this project is to provide one. The *Ghazal Index* page for Mir is far more complicated than the one for Ghalib, but apart from that, the two kinds of indices that are provided are basically the same as for Ghalib.

The indices on this site can thus help you find out whether a ghazal ascribed to Mir is actually his, according to the best available scholarship. And if it is, you'll have a bit of background information on it (meter, divan number, etc.), and you'll easily be able to locate it by number in the best current text.

For Mir far more than for Ghalib, a 'finding tool' is itself a real contribution. In the past, comparative study of Mir's similar ghazals, and comparison of his verses with relevant ones by Ghalib and other poets, has been possible only for the most serious specialists. Now, that kind of study will be within the reach of interested people who have much less background.

In fact, the whole ghazal tradition is not attuned to indices; it's sometimes even hostile to them. It favors memorization, oral recitation and discussion, deep intimacy with a smaller number of poets, rather than efficient, rationalized access to a large number of texts. In particular, the radiif (and qaafiyah ) index of Mir's poetry goes way beyond anything that has ever existed before, toward providing access for people who don't already know the poetry well. This democratization of access is something that I as a teacher value greatly. It's also a response to both new constraints (the supply of traditionally-educated ahl-e zabaan has virtually dried up) and new opportunities (who could have imagined the wonders of the internet as a knowledge-sharing tool?).

The FIRST STAGE of the project thus consisted of indexing all 1,916 ghazals by first verse in two different ways, and providing a little basic information about each ghazal (number of verses; meter; which verses have been included in Shi'r-e shor-angez). This work is now complete, in a DRAFT form with no doubt a number of errors, most of which will be corrected as I go along.

Now I'm in the SECOND STAGE, going through SSA and correlating its verses with the best new kulliyaat, and translating SRF's commentary and adding my own, and adjusting the indices as I go.

CONCEPTUAL WORK IN PROGRESS:

=on 'dramaticness': {7,1}
=on 'iham': {178,1}
=on problems of 'mood' or 'tone': {724,2}
=an excellent credo: {736,1}
=on 'meaning': {770,7}
=on varied moods vs. single ones? {1373,3}
=on terminology and its discontents: {1579,3}
=on special 'musical' ghazals (SRF): {1589,1}
=on the beloved as speaker: {1815,3}

 

METER == See the page on Mir's meters.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS == I began designing this site in the spring of 2003, and starting to think of how it could develop; it first went on line in early July 2003. When I got hold of the new gold-standard kulliyaat in fall 2003, the indexing could begin in earnest. Making these two indices (the divan-based main one, and the rhyming-elements-based rational one) was a really horrible ordeal combining boredom and nuktah-chiinii in the most annoying way imaginable. The only thing that kept me going was stubbornness, and the realization that half an index was no use-- and how could I stand to waste all that work? I'm passionately glad it's over, as of January 7, 2006. I worked on it mostly while visiting my mother in Little Rock, Arkansas, and it was her patience, love, and cheerful support that made it (barely) endurable.

The commentary part began on February 2, 2007. After doing only a handful of ghazals, however, I stopped work. This was partly because Ghalib's unpublished ghazals were calling out to me; but I was also intimidated by the difficulty and sheer scale of the Mir project. Only now, on May 12, 2010, am I resuming work on the commentary for real.

For the project I'm using CSS style sheets developed by my friend and software-designer Gary Tubb, and relying on the same script-display program created by Sean Pue for the Ghalib site. I'm altogether grateful to them both, for making me such magnificent tools. Obviously this project would be nowhere without the fundamental work of Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, and his ongoing help and observations are a precious resource. Peter Hook generously helps me out with linguistic problems. Pasha Mohamad Khan and Owen Cornwall provide advice and encouragement. Zahra Sabri, Owais Syed, and Aditya Pant have helped me correct errors. I am also grateful as always to Columbia University, my academic home and the home of this project.