Ghazal 140, Verse 5

{140,5}

pii jis qadar mile shab-e mahtaab me;N sharaab
is bal;Gamii mizaaj ko garmii hii raas hai

1) drink, to the extent it would be available, during a moonlit night, wine
2) for this 'phlegmatic' temperament, only/emphatically heat is propitious

Notes:

bal;Gamii : 'Of, or relating to, phlegm; phlegmatic'. (165)

 

raas : ' raas aanaa ( ko ), To agree (with, --as climate, medicine, &c.); to suit; to be auspicious'. (Platts p.581)

Nazm:

That is, a moonlit night is cool, and why would my phlegmatic temperament not drink wine? Or this: that the character of a moonlit night is mar:tuub ['moist, humid, wet, damp; full of humours' (Platts p.1023)]. For this, to drink wine is advisable. (151)

== Nazm page 151

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in the moonlit night, to the extent that wine was available, I drank it. My temperament is phlegmatic, and for those of phlegmatic temperament hot things are always beneficial. They imagine wine as 'wet fire', which is a minor proof of its being of hot temperament. And a moonlit night too is always cool; for this reason the use of wine on a moonlit night has been proved to be particularly beneficial. (208)

Bekhud Mohani:

Addressing himself, he says, 'Your temperament itself is phlegmatic; heat is propitious to it. On a moonlit night, to the extent that wine is available, drink it.' The light of the moon is cool; thus he says that a moonlit night is cool; in it, it is beneficial to drink wine. (275)

FWP:

SETS == HUMOR
WINE: {49,1}

The verse has, amusingly, the tone of a medical prescription: something like 'Drink as much liquid as you can-- for a condition like this, hydration is beneficial'. The temperament is 'phlegmatic' in the sense of being dominated or characterized by 'phlegm', which is, in the classic Greek medical system, one of the four bodily humours. It is considered to be 'cold and moist', so that the adjective can refer also to 'coldness or dullness of character' or to 'coolness or evenness of temper' (Shorter OED, p.1571).

Nazm points out an entertaining ambiguity-- we can't tell which 'temperament' is being diagnosed. It could be the listener's (he's being told to drink 'hot' wine, after all); but it could also be that of the 'cool' moonlit night (for which 'hot' wine would be a suitable counterbalance).

Bekhud Dihlavi takes pii as the perfect form (with mai;N ne omitted). But his interpretation would require milii instead of mile ; I think he's just read the verse carelessly.

Presenting as a sober medical prescription an (astonishingly convenient) injunction to drink lots of wine is delightful in its own right. But an extra piquant touch is the thoughtful medical stipulation of the moonlit night. For moonlit nights are classic times for drinking; on this see {97,13} (which passes itself off as nostalgia, while still reporting continued wine-drinking).