Ghazal 9, Verse 2


sabzah-e ;xa:t se tiraa kaakul-e sar-kash nah dabaa
yih zumurrud bhii ;hariif-e dam-e af((ii nah hu))aa

1) by the greenery of the down, your insolent/'high-headed' ringlet was not subdued
2) even/also this emerald did not become a peer/rival of the breath of the serpent


kaakul : 'A curl, lock, ringlet; a tuft of hair left on the top of the head'. (Platts p.802)


sar-kash : 'Rearing the head, refractory, rebellious, mutinous, disobedient, contumacious; obstinate; proud, arrogant, insolent, licentious'. (Platts p.649)


;hariif : 'A fellow-worker (in one's craft or ordinary occupation), an associate, a partner, a mate; —a rival, opponent, adversary, antagonist; an enemy'. (Platts p.477)


It's well known that faced with an emerald, a snake goes blind. But what kind of emerald is the greenery of the down on your cheek, that it has no effect on the serpent of the ringlet? That is, even after the emergence of the down, there was no change in the alluringness of the curls. (9)

== Nazm page 9


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {9}

Bekhud Mohani:

They say that when a snake sees an emerald, it goes blind. Your high-headed ringlet was not overpowered by the down on the cheek. That is, your curls are so heart-attracting that even when the lines of down emerged, their heart-ensnaringness did not depart. And the serpent of your curls particularly changed the nature of the emerald of the down on the cheek. Mir has composed this theme very well: M{102,2}. (16-17)


CURLS: {14,6}

THE BELOVED IS A MALE ADOLESCENT: This is one of the verses in which the beloved is imagined as male-- as an androgynously beautiful, often cruelly flirtatious boy or youth just on the verge of reaching puberty. (Think of the cultural climate of the 'Symposium'.) Other such verses: {6,13x}; {9,2}; {9,8x}; {53,1}, with Ghalib's letter; {53,13x}; {72,6}, turban; {73,1}; {85,3} (?); {111,7} (?), discussion; {168,2}; {173,7}; {184}, an unpublished verse, aamad-e ;xa:t ; {192,5} // {251x,4} (mixed with veil imagery); {345x,1}; {366x,5}; {369x,1}; {394x,1}; {404x,6}; {407x,4} (probably). For further discussion see {65,1}, which suggests a sort of polymorphous perversity. For some verses of Mir's in which the beloved is a youth, see M{60,3}. A helpful theoretical article: C. M. Naim, "Homosexual (Pederastic) Love in Pre-Modern Urdu Poetry" (Urdu Texts and Contexts: The Selected Essays of C. M. Naim, New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004, pp. 19-41).

This is a verse entirely based on wordplay. The beloved's curly lock of hair is twisting, arrogant ('high-headed'), and dangerous in its beauty like a snake. The new, light down on his cheek is like 'greenery', and its greenness should blind the snake as an emerald traditionally does. But his serpentine curls are too potent and deadly for even such an emerald to be able to confront them.

The appearance of down on the cheek signals the arrival of puberty, and also, in the ghazal world, the end of the boy's androgynous beauty (as is made clear in {53,1}). The arrogant curl is still able to stave off the forces of time and growth-- but for how long? There's a certain pathos in its naive 'high-headedness'.