Ghazal 204, Verse 4

{204,4}*

nasiim-e mi.sr ko kyaa piir-e kan((aa;N kii havaa-;xvaahii
use yuusuf kii buu-e pairahan kii aazmaa))ish hai

1) is the breeze of Egypt a well-wisher of the Old Man of Canaan [Jacob]?
2) his/its is the test of the scent of the garment of Joseph

Notes:

havaa : 'Air, wind, gentle gale;.... affection, favor, love'. (Platts p.1239)

 

havaa-;xvaahii : 'Well-wishing; goodwill, friendship'. (Platts p.1239)

Nazm:

In this verse too there's reference to a famous story: that Jacob recognized the scent of Joseph's garment from miles away. (230)

== Nazm page 230

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the breeze of Egypt has no friendship for the Old Man of Canaan, that is, Hazrat Jacob. It is seeking the test of the perfume of the garment of Hazrat Joseph. It had come from Egypt toward Canaan to see about that perfume: being spread in the air, how far can this perfume remain established, and what effect does it have? (287)

Bekhud Mohani:

The breeze of Egypt did not bring with it the perfume of the garment of Hazrat Joseph because it has some sympathy for Hazrat Jacob-- but rather, to see what effect the scent of Hazrat Joseph's garment has on Hazrat Jacob. (406)

FWP:

SETS == WORDPLAY
TESTING: {4,4}

Is the Egyptian breeze in fact a well-wisher of Jacob's? The first line asks the question, and the second line gives an ambiguous answer: 'his/its is the test'. The grammar of this is multivalent in English-- the test-deviser, the test-giver, and the test-taker can all say, in various senses, 'mine is the test'-- and equally multivalent in Urdu. So here are some possible readings:

=Jacob is testing the breeze's sympathy for him, by seeing whether it brings the scent or not
=the breeze is testing Jacob's love for Joseph, by seeing whether he perceives the scent or not
=Jacob is being tested (by God?), on his ability to perceive the scent on the (passive) breeze
=the breeze is being tested (by God?), on its sympathy for Jacob, as shown by its bringing the scent

But of course, the real charm of the verse is its emphatic, in-your-face wordplay on havaa-;xvaahii , which beautifully pulls together the two senses of havaa as 'breeze' and 'affection'.