Ghazal 212, Verse 4


shorish-e baa:tin ke hai;N a;hbaab munkir varnah yaa;N
dil mu;hii:t-e giryah-o-lab aashnaa-e ;xandah hai

1) the companions are disapprovers/rejecters of the internal turmoil/saltiness; otherwise, here
2) the heart is an ocean/encloser of weeping, and the lip a friend/swimmer of a smile


shorish : 'Commotion, confusion, tumult, disturbance, insurrection, &c.; --brackishness, saltness'. (Platts p.736)


munkir : 'Denying; rejecting; disapproving (of); averse (to); --one who denies, denier; rejecter; ignorer; --an atheist; --one who takes ill, or feels disobliged; one who places no confidence (in another), but disbelieves what he professes'. (Platts p.1079)


mu;hii:t : 'Surrounding, encompassing, enclosing, encircling, circumambient; containing, embracing, comprehending; knowing,... the ocean'. (Platts p.1010)


aashnaa : 'Acquaintance; friend; associate; intimate friend, familiar; lover, sweetheart; paramour; mistress'. (Platts p.57)


aashnaa : 'A friend, companion, comrade, acquaintance; swimming, floating; a swimmer'. (Steingass p.66)


That is, although our outer appearance is rakish, our inner self is full of lowliness and humiliation. The word aashnaa is because of an affinity with mu;hii:t : they call a swimmer aashnaa [in Persian], and the Persian poets always use mu;hii:t to mean a river/ocean. (241)

== Nazm page 241

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The meaning is that outwardly we maintain a rakish condition, and inwardly we are a master of mystical states. (299)

Bekhud Mohani:

The reason that tears don't drip from the eyes is that the burning [sozish , in his text of the verse] of the heart has dried them up. And the friends refuse to believe it, but the truth is that the heart is an enclosure of weeping, and has surrounded it. That is, as much weeping as can possibly exist, all of it is completely within the heart. And on the lip there's a smile-- that is, the lover's heart weeps, and everybody smiles. (432)



Every single one of the commentators that I'm using-- Hamid, Nazm, Bekhud Dihlavi, Bekhud Mohani, Hasrat Mohani (p. 162), Baqir (p. 509), Shadan (p. 475), Josh (p. 343), Chishti (p. 799), Mihr (678)-- gives the first word of the verse as the variant sozish , 'burning', rather than shorish . As always, I follow Arshi (and Raza); and in this case very gladly, since shorish offers much richer and more appropriate scope for wordplay. (Most uncharacteristically, Faruqi too uses this reading of the verse in his commentary on Mir, comparing the verse to M{1109,4}.)

When we first see the shorish we of course think of its more common meaning of 'turmoil, commotion', etc., and the first line is general enough so that that meaning works perfectly well.

Only in the second line do we learn that the heart is an 'ocean of weeping'-- and, secondarily, a 'knower' of it, which works elegantly, and indeed also an 'enclosure' or 'encloser' of it, which goes well with the idea that it is kept hidden from the companions (see the definition above). An 'ocean' is salty in its own right, and 'tears' are salty too, so an 'ocean of tears' would be remarkably salty; and now in retrospect we remind ourselves that shorish also means 'brackishness, saltness' (see the definition above).

But in classic mushairah-verse style, the verse saves the best punch-word for the last possible moment. For aashnaa in all its uses (see the definitions above) is perfect here:

=As 'friend' or 'associate', it reminds us of the 'companions' in the first line, and of the lip's obligation to maintain (outward) sociability.

=As 'familiar' or 'intimate', it reminds us that the lip is a kind of confidant and secret-sharer, understanding the real nature of the smile; while the heart too , as a mu;hii:t , is a 'knower' and 'comprehender'-- of the real nature and quantity of grief

=As 'swimming' or 'swimmer' (in Persian; see the Steingass definition above), it enriches our vision of a huge, inner, salty tear-ocean, on which we can now imagine the lip as 'a swimmer of a smile' or 'swimming in a smile'. Of course, we can't quite pull this last image into a single clear visual scene. But we're so close to it that the final small gap feels like the kind that a spark leaps across, the kind that generates energy. We've all been in social situations where our lip was 'associating with' a smile, while at the same time that very smile was swimming, or floating, on a salty, stormy sea of hidden misery.

The single word aashnaa thus retrospectively pulls together all the imagery of the verse, and creates a web of wordplay that provides it with a sharp, compelling energy. All the things we might want to do with the 'teeth' in {212,1}, but can't, we can here do with aashnaa .