Ghazal 20, Verse 4


ko))ii mere dil se puuchhe tire tiir-e niim-kash ko
yih ;xalish kahaa;N se hotii jo jigar ke paar hotaa

1) let someone ask my heart about your half-drawn arrow
2) where would this pricking/anxiety have been, if it had [gone through and] been beyond the liver?


;xalish : 'Pricking, pain; care, solicitude, anxiety; apprehension, suspicion, misgiving; --putting a stop to, interruption'. (Platts p.492)


In the face of the excellence of the theme, nobody thinks about [certain small metrical quibbles]. A 'half-drawn arrow' is one from a bow that at the time of release was not fully pulled tight, and for this reason it wasn't able to go through. (21)

== Nazm page 21

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Mirza Sahib removes her embarrassment [at her careless archery] with these words.... The convention is that an arrow that remains in the wound, compared to one that goes through, causes more pain to the wounded one, and the beloved's purpose in attacking the lover with an arrow or a sword is to increase his suffering. (42)

Bekhud Mohani:

The point is that if the arrow of your coquetry (which had veered aside) had been released with full force, then the heart would have been finished off in a moment, and I would not have become acquainted with the relish of the tension and pricking of passion. (49)


ARCHERY: {6,2}
JIGAR: {2,1}
SPEAKING: {14,4}

As Nazm explains, a 'half-drawn arrow' is meant to be taken as one that is shot from a half-tightened bowstring, so that it has less force. If anybody wants to know about the beloved's amateurish archery, it is the lover's heart that should bear witness to it. His heart, having experienced that archery, knows it better than anyone else. Far from piercing completely through the liver and putting him out of his misery, her arrow has fallen doubly short: it has simply lodged itself rather than passing through-- and not even in the liver, but merely in the much more dispensable heart. For more on the liver and its crucial blood-producing role in ghazal physiology, see {30,2} (in which a more potent arrow has pierced both organs at once).

Thus in the present verse the beloved's careless archery has prolonged the lover's life just a bit, leaving him to suffer; if the arrow had pierced through the liver it would have put him out of his misery at once. The same vision of the two organs as lined up in a row, with the (less vital) heart in front, also appears in {204,6}.

But is the lover's heart sorry about this slight prolongation of life, or glad? As is the case so often, the inshaa))iyah rhetoric of both lines (the first a sort of subjunctive imperative, the second an interrogative) makes the tone impossible to pin down. Is his heart oppressed at the extra, unnecessary suffering, when better archery would have produced a swift, clean kill (straight through heart and liver both) and put an end to the heart's suffering right away? Or is his heart delighted at the frisson, the ;xalish , produced by the vibrating of the deeply-lodged arrow, so that it's happy to have extra time to experience this sensation before the inevitable end? The verse works beautifully, with full impact, in whichever tone it is read.

Compare this verse with the simple and lovely {30,2}. And in its technical aspect, compare it to the proficiency of the murderous beloved in {200,2}. There's also the prolonged-suffering emphasis of {72,4}.

Mir has offered a much bleaker and less playful view of a similar situation: M{1579,1}.