Saturday, 27 October 2007

Zafar - Lagtaa nahin hai jee meraa

Apparently, this week saw Bahadur Shah Zafar's 232nd birth anniversary. I wouldn't have known, but Hindustan Times carried a feature on the 'last Emperor of India' (or rather the last 'Indian' emperor - nominally, of course, India came under Queen Victoria a couple of decades after the 1857 revolt, and the British sovereign formally remained India's emperor until Independence).

We do know that, even before he was deposed, Zafar's was merely a 'paper reign', and his personal limitations as a statesman are also well-documented. However, at a human level, his is a truly fascinating story - a poet at heart, reluctantly trapped on the seat of power in times too tumultuous for him; a man destined to be immortalised by what he would come to represent - the passing of an age, the end of a dynasty....

However, even if Zafar hadn't become the iconic historical symbol he is, Urdu poetry would still owe him a greater debt than probably to any other single individual. A passionate - and not incompetent - shaayar himself, Zafar provided the crucial royal patronage that permitted the remarkable flowering of Urdu poetry - and the refinement of its poetics - in the 19th Century, and led to the eventual shift away from Persian. Just consider - Zauq, Ghalib, Momin and Daagh all enjoyed the patronage of Zafar's court; one shudders to imagine what we might have lost but for him!

It is the end of his his life, of course, that makes Zafar's story so poignant - stripped of his throne, forced to watch the beheading of his sons and grandson, then exiled to the foreign climes of Rangoon for his remaining years. And it is this history which imbues the following ghazal - written by the octogenarian king during his final incarceration - with rare beauty, a beauty that one probably may have failed to perceive in it in the absence of this context. Generally seen as Zafar's epitaph for himself, particularly on account of its Maqta, these are fated to remain the best-known words of the poet-king:

लगता नहीं है जी मेरा उजड़े दयार में
किसकी बनी है आलम-ए-नापायेदार में

I remain dispirited in (this) desolate place
(but then) who has found fulfillment in (this) fleeting world?

A rather inadequate translation, I admit - 'dil na lagnaa' is an extremely multivalent expression, which can mean anything from 'being bored' to 'not being able to get used to a place' to outright 'being melancholy'. Similarly, 'kiskee banee hai' is also a broad colloquialism which can express a variety of nuances. However, the overall idea seems straightforward - the second line 'qualifies' the lament in the first line (Zafar complaining about being forced to live in alien strangeness?) by pointing out that, in any case, it isn't as though anybody manages to quit this transient world satisfied...

बुलबुल को न बागबां से न सैय्याद से गिला
किस्मत में कैद लिखी थी फ़स्ल-ए-बहार में

The bulbul has no complaints, neither against the gardener nor the hunter
It was written down in (its) destiny, to be imprisoned in the flush of spring

Once again, the context in which these words were written almost forces us to see them as a personal statement. However, even otherwise, the sher expresses a fatalism worth relishing, and would have been quite enjoyable from anyone's pen.

I rather like the ambiguities that can be pulled out of the second line. In its straightforward interpretation, it was in the bulbul's destiny to fall into the hunter's net during spring (as in my translation above), which expresses a sorrowful resignation. However, a more triumphant interpretation can also be gleaned out of the words, namely, the blessed bird was destined to remain (perpetually) trapped in the height of spring! The two readings reflect back in very different ways on the first line also!

कह दो इन हसरतों को कहीं और जा बसें
इतनी जगह कहाँ है दिल-ए-दागदार में

Tell these desires to find some other abode
Where is the space (to accommodate them) in (my) wounded heart?!

Not too deep, but still touching in its disconsolate intensity! Probably because one invariably thinks of the words as coming from a broken man, on the eve of his death...

एक शाख-ए-गुल पे बैठ के बुलबुल है शादमान
कांटे बिछा दिए हैं दिल-ए-लालाज़ार में

Seated on a flower-bearing branch, the bulbul is content
(even if) thorns line (its) heart's garden

A little more ambiguous, but it has a nice sound to it. Presumably the idea is the standard one that the bird is happy with its proximity to the bloom, even if its breast is rent by thorns in the process of enjoying it. However, the 'dil-e-laalazaar' could also be read as the 'heart of the garden' I think, which would admit alternative interpretations...

उम्र-ए-दराज़ माँग के लाये थे चार दिन
दो आरज़ू में कट गए, दो इंतज़ार में

Having asked for longevity, (I) had brought (a span of) four days (with me)
Two (of them) were spent in longing, (the other) two in waiting

One of the most famous couplets in the ghazal, and probably its best. The first line could mean simply that the poet had requested from the almighty a life-span of four days and brought the same to the world. However, since the more common sense in which 'daraaz' is used is for emphasising the length or duration of something, a nicer reading is that he had asked for a long life, but had been given only four days. Then the second line goes on to ruefully observe that even this abbreviated duration was wastefully spent, first in desire, then in anxious anticipation...

दिन ज़िंदगी के ख़त्म हुए, शाम हो गयी
फैला के पाँव सोएँगे कुन्ज-ए-मज़ार में

life's span is over, the evening falls
(I) shall spread out my legs and sleep, in a corner of my tomb

Very nice... while the haunting quality of the verse certainly depends on our knowledge that the King is dying, and is destined to actually be entombed soon, the devil-may-care colloquialism captured in 'phailaa ke paanv soenge' shows a triumphant expectation of restful repose! And then, to follow it up by saying that this rest shall be availed of in a mere 'corner' of the tomb...a deft touch!

कितना है बदनसीब ज़फर, दफ्न के लिए
दो गज़ ज़मीन भी मिल न सकी कू-ए-यार में

How wretched is Zafar (that even) for (his) burial
(he) could not get two yards of land in the lane of the beloved

This is the 'defining' signature-sher of this Ghazal - quoted almost as often as some of the best ones of Ghalib! And invariably seen as Zafar's final cry of anguish at dying away from his Delhi. Coming from the failed Emperor, this sher could hardly have become anything other than the abiding symbol of his personal tragedy!

This ghazal has been reproduced, along with some other of Zafar's writings, in his mausoleum. Incidentally, the Myanmarese authorities have done a credible job of maintaining Zafar's tomb - I had had occasion to visit it a few years back while on a tour to Yangon, and was quite impressed with the upkeep of the premises and the stately dignity with which religious ceremonies were regularly performed there. Looking at the shameful shambles we had made of, say, Ghalib's tomb and haveli until the Courts intervened (or almost any of our monuments), one wonders if Zafar was really 'unfortunate' in not having found the 'do gaz zameen' in his beloved city, nahin?

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Mir - Ulti ho gayin sab tadbeeren

We've been a little remiss in not having looked at anything by Mir so far. Not only because his oeuvre is huge (in quantitative terms) but also because Mir was, in many ways, the defining poet of the Mughal tradition that has come to dominate the classical Urdu poetry popular until today. He pre-dated the great names of the Delhi durbar, and was a point of reference for many of them. Ghalib is said to have approached Mir for guidance in his youth, and Mir reportedly predicted a bright future for the young poet. Zauq and even Ghalib (despite the contempt he usually professed for other wielders of the quill) have penned shers conceding the merit in Mir's work... In one of them, Ghalib describes Mir's deewaan as being nothing lesser than a Kashmir garden!

हुआ पर हुआ मीर का अंदाज़ नसीब
ज़ौक यारों ने जोर बहुत ग़ज़ल में मारा

रेखता के तुम ही उस्ताद नहीं हो गालिब
कहते हैं अगले ज़माने में कोई मीर भी था

I haven't read a great deal of Mir. What I have read, I have found a little uneven. He is truly wonderful in places - and in a way that is somehow very heart-warming, even if it lacks the outright brilliance of a Ghalib. In other places, he seems almost exasperatingly formulaic and conventional. I realised later that at least a part of the reason for this was that Mir actually defined much of the 'imagery' that later became standard in the poetic tradition. Hence when he used an idiom, it probably wasn't as formulaic as it was destined to become later - in fact, the very fact that so many of his stylisations have come to be the standard fare of urdu poetics is, perhaps, testimony to their worth!

We'll look at a ghazal that is among the 3 or 4 best-known of Mir's. Incidentally, Begum Akhtar has breathed life into a few shers from this, in her inimitable voice - do check out if you haven't heard it so far!

उल्टी हो गयीं सब तदबीरें, कुछ न दवा ने काम किया
देखा इस बीमार-ए-दिल ने आख़िर काम तमाम किया

Every solution/scheme turned contrary, the medicine had no effect
See? This affliction of the heart, it finally finished (me? you? him?) off

An otherwise simple sher, it turns on a clever word-play involving 'kaam kiya'. Since the idiom 'kaam tamaam karna' (which signifies something like 'to kill off') literally translates as 'to do a LOT of work', it provides a nice juxtaposition to the medicine, which 'did no work at all'! However, whereas someone like Ghalib would have grasped the word-play potential inherent in the idiom, and teased and tweaked at it until he ended up saying something truly profound or witty, Mir is happy to merely present the word-play to us...gently, without too much of a fuss. There's merit in his approach...

The way the sher is said, it remains deliciously ambiguous whether it is a lament from the afflicted party himself, or a dispassionate observation by someone who has merely seen the afflicted one succumb to his heart's affliction...

अह्द-ए-जवानी रो रो काटा, पीरी में ली आँखें मूँद
यानी रात बहुत थे जागे, सुबह हुई आराम किया

The days of youth, (I) spent in tears; (and) in old age, shut (my) eyes
That is, (I) had kept awake a lot during the night; (hence) in the morning, (I) rested

Nice. While, on first reading, the sher seems to be (in a reversal of convention) equating youth with night and age with morning, what the poet is actually stressing that his entire life was encapsulated/contained in that one wakeful night of separation! Hence, he first gives what seems to be an overview of a lifespan - a youth spent in sorrow, and an old-age of deliberate restfulness - and then explains (look at the opening 'yaanee' in the second line) that this picturisation is based on the fact of him having spent the previous night in teary-eyed wakefulness, and having finally dozed off at dawn!

हर्फ़ नहीं जां-बख्शी में उसकी, खूबी अपनी किस्मत की
हम से जो पहले कह भेजा, सो मरने का पैगाम किया

(there's) no doubt about her life-sparing nature, it is the exceptionalness of my (good) fortune
that the first message (she) sent across, it was a death-sentence!

Wonderful! This is the typical sort of 'yeah, right!' sher that Ghalib does so well, isn't it?

The poet sarcastically absolves the Beloved of any blame in his death - because 'sparing lives' is so unambiguously inherent to her nature, after all! It is only the excellence of his kismat, he explains, because of which the first message he received from her was a death-sentence. It's so deliciously over-the-top, this sarcasm-laden thankfulness that the Beloved's professed gentility didn't get in the way, at least in his case, of a summary execution!

नाहक हम मजबूरों पर ये तोहमत है मुख्तारी की
चहते हैं सो आप करे हैं, हम को अबस बदनाम किया

(it is) unjust that we, the helpless, are accused of (possessing) power
you do whatever (you) like, it's needlessly that we stand defamed

Once again, a sher of endearing simplicity. 'Mukhtaaree' is a word of almost judicial import, signifying legal authority, autonomy, or plenipotentiariness. For the wretched lover to be attributed such sovereignty is like rubbing salt in his wounds... given that the Beloved holds his very destiny in her dainty fingers, the very least she can do is to acknowledge this reality!! To imply that her Lover has some power over his state shifts the responsibility for this state on to him, which is certainly defamatory!

The sher could evidently constitute a witty response to a protest by the Beloved against some forward sign of ardour by the Lover... "listen - don't blame me. It is not as though I am in control of anything here!' However, the first part of the second line also hints that the sher could be directed against still 'Higher Powers'... the 'chaahate hain so aap kare hain' being close to a specific Koranic allusion that describes the Almighty's omnipotence...

सारे रिंद औबाश जहां के तुझ से सुजूद में रहते हैं
बांके, टेढ़े, तिरछे, ठेके, सब का तुझ को इमाम किया

All the drunkards and waywards of the world bow before you
the crooked, the bent, the askance, the twisted; you've been made the Imaam of all (these)

This one is quite delightful! What an unflattering caricature of the Beloved's other devotees! And by implication, of course, also of her - - "yes, yes, you may have thousands worshipping you, but don't get too uppity; just look at the sort of motley crowd they constitute!" The honorifics heaped upon this fan club - 'baanke, Terhe, Tirchhe, Theke' - conjure up a truly apalling picture of a physically malformed gathering, which when read with the first line's verdict on their moral qualities, leaves them little hope for redemption, howsoever pious their devotion to the Beloved may be...!

Of course, nothing in the Sher shows that the poet is explicitly excluding himself from this sorry bunch - after all, he too prostrates before the Beloved just as frequently as her other devotees, as the next Sher shows!

सरज़द हम से बे-अदबी तो वहशत में भी कम ही हुई
कोसों उसकी और गए पर सजदा हर हर गाम किया

As for discourtesy, very little was committed by me, even in madness
(it is true that) I moved miles towards her, but I prostrated myself at every step!

Ha! Another delightful one! How charmingly the Poet absolves himself of having breached any proprieties... he acknowledges having approached the Beloved - he also implicitly concedes that that, in itself, could well have been seen as rudely ambitious - but goes on to point out, in all innocence, that since he punctuated every step of this pursuit by falling flat in worshipful abjection, no discourtesy can possibly be attributed to him! One would imagine that even the Beloved would be moved to a smile on hearing this defence!

किसका काबा, कैसा किब्ला, कौन हरम है, क्या अहराम
कूचे के उसके बाशिंदों ने सब को यहीं से सलाम किया

Whose Kaabah, which Kiblah, what are places of worship or pilgrimage-clothes?
(as for) the denizens of her street, they (just) bestow a salaam on everyone from right here!

This is another rich one! The sher reiterates the oft-made point that those in the thrall of the Beloved are condemned to lose their faith - hence these besotted street-dwellers (of whom the poet is evidently one; as shown by his use of 'yaheen' in the second line) couldn't care lesser about the Kaabah, or in which direction Mecca is (a 'Qiblah' indicates this direction in a mosque), and have no interest in leaving the Beloved's lane to undertake any religious journey either.

Until here, the Sher is commonplace. What gives it its exceptional charm is the way the second line provides an additional picture - these besotted lovers, while determinedly ensconsed on their preferred perches in the Beloved's lane (in the evident hope of catching a glimpse of her), are quite prompt in 'wishing on', with courteous salaams, others who are going about their prayers, or setting off for pilgrimages!! This hypocritical show of religious fellow-feeling (all the while keeping a watchful eye on the Beloved's door) makes one feel almost fond of these roguish 'baashindaas', doesn't it?

शेख जो है मस्जिद में नंगा, रात को था मैखाने में
जुब्बह, खिरका, कुर्ता, टोपी, मस्ती में इनाम किया

The Sheikh who is naked in the Mosque, was in the tavern yesterday
(where he) , in inebriated enthusiasm, gave away as prizes, his cloak, robe, Kurtaa and Hat!

It was a custom of the time, of course, for persons of wealth and influence to grandiosely hand over a necklace or ring in reward to someone whose service or performance they found praiseworthy.

The Sher evokes an amusing picture of a Sheikh, in drunken stupor, carrying this a little too far, by distributing even his clothes away to sundry hangers-on in the tavern, who might have been entertaining him in one way or the other... The picturisation of the Sheikh being naked in the mosque on the following day is figurative - for we don't expect the personage to have actually landed up for prayers 'au naturel', of course. It is a sort of reversal of the 'Emperor's new clothes'... he might be clothed now, but in light of his silliness in the tavern on the previous night, he stands permanently denuded - of his dignity and authority, at least - in the public eye!

काश अब बुर्का मुह से उठा दे, वरना फिर क्या हासिल है
आँख मूंदे पर उन ने गो दीदार को अपने आम किया

I wish she would lift the burkah from her face now, else what would be achieved
(if) after (my) eyes are shut, she (even) makes her view completely public!

hmm... a little pedestrian. In a cultural context where a sight of the Beloved's face could be afforded only through good fortune or extreme generosity on her part, the groaning exclamation captured in the first half of the first line might have been quite common... the sher creates its pathos by invoking a situation where the Beloved might wait just a bit too long before she finally lifts the veil - by which time the Lover might have already died of unfulfilled longing...! In fact, if she does put herself 'in public view' after the Poet's death, he would probably see it, quite justifiably, as a double disaster!!

यां के सपेद-ओ-स्याह में हम को दख्ल जो है सो इतना है
रात को रो रो सुबह किया या दिन को जों-तों शाम किया

In the (interplay of) Black and White here, the involvement I have is (just) this much
(I) wept the night into the morning, or willy-nilly passed the day into night

In my opinion, this is by far the best sher in the Ghazal. It is a little difficult to translate though, because it hinges on very smart leveraging of a particular idiomatic usage.

Let us first see what is being asserted in the first line... the poet seems to be discounting or denying an implied power that has apparently been attributed to him. And no ordinary power, mind you - the power to influence matters of 'black and white' or 'dark and light', no less! Well, says the poet, if he does have any influence over such cosmic cycles, it is merely this much -- he has often 'wept the night into day', etc...

It is lucky that the 'weeping the night into the day' idiom comes through in English, actually - because otherwise it would be well-nigh impossible to capture the beauty here in translation. When we say 'raat ko ro ro subah kiyaa', we are talking, of course, about the difficulty of taking oneself through the interminable duration of the night. But LITERALLY, the idiom would translate as 'making the night into the morning, through one's tears'. Similarly, the 'din ko jon-ton shaam kiyaa' is equally an assertion of the poet's powerlessness - what it actually means to say is that the wretched creature 'somehow managed to get through the day'. But the wording of the idiom allows us to read an 'active' role for him - as if he 'somehow' managed to make the day into night!

It is this insightful observation - that an idiomatic usage meant to denote a complete lack of power can actually be read as an assertion of power, albeit an obviously contrived one, that allows Mir to weave such magic with 'yaan ke saped-o-syaah'!

I also love the exquisite wording of the first line... the use of 'dakhl' - meaning something like 'interference' or 'involvement' or 'having a hand in something', rather than outright 'power' - is a delicious touch!

सुबह चमन में उसको कहीं तकलीफ़-ए-हवा ले आई थी
रुख से गुल को मोल लिया, कामत से सर्व गुलाम किया

in the morning, the trouble of (taking) air brought her somewhere in the garden
with (her) face, (she) purchased the bloom; with (her) stature, she enslaved the Cypress

Very ho-hum! The Beloved enters the garden for a walk, and the trees and flowers fall to her charms! See what I mean about Mir being quite flat at times?

साद-ए-सीमीं दोनो उसके हाथ में ला कर छोड़ दिए
भूले उस के कौल-ए-कसम पर हाय ख़याल-ए-खाम किया

having brought both her silvery arms in (my) hands, (I) let go
foolishly did (I), alas, delude (myself) on her pledges and promises!

Ok, so a somewhat 'cute' picture is being evoked, here. The Lover manages, in a rare show of daring, to physically accost the Beloved, gripping her 'silvery wrists' in his hand. She wrings and writhes in attempted escape, and upon being unsuccessful, showers the Poet with pledges and promises - of returning to him later, if he lets her go now. He naively believes her, and lets go... only to later rue his gullibility, in the form of the sher above.

Granted that the vignette evoked is not without charm, it is hardly worthy of being placed alongside some of the other amazing shers in this ghazal. Moreover, the kind of situation evoked in the sher is at odds with the general milieu of the ghazal world... it is too intimate, the sort of situation you might expect to see between a man and wife, or at least a couple that implicitly acknowledges their intimacy to each other... the best shers don't deal with such relationships, which seem already 'consummated' in an emotional sense!

काम हुए हैं सारे ज़ाया हर सा'अत की समाजत से
इस्तिघ्ना की चौगुनी उसने जूं-जूं मैं इब्राम किया

all efforts have been wasted, from the (very) moment of every entreaty
she quadrupled her indifference, every time I beseeched her

The sher is undeniably lyrical, thanks largely to the alliterative 'saa'at kii samaajat' in the first line and the colloquial 'joon-joon' in the second. But otherwise, I once again fail to see particular merit in it - the idea that the Beloved would be unmoved by the Lover's entreaties is almost a given in this world...

ऐसे आहू-ए-रम-खूर्दा की वहशत खोनी मुश्किल थी
सिःर किया, ऐजाज़ किया, जिन लोगों ने तुझ को राम किया

for the wildness of such a frightful deer to be lost was difficult
they did magic, achieved a miracle, the people who tamed you

I haven't much idea what this is about. Presumably the Beloved is being addressed, and described as a frightened, flighty, skittish, deer. But who are the people who are supposed to have 'tamed' this otherwise wild beast? Presumably the poet's rivals... why should he be heaping praise on their accomplishment? Even in sarcastic note, this just doesn't ring right...!

Please feel free to chip in if you have a fix on what Mir was trying here...

मीर के दीन-ओ-मज़हब को अब पूछते क्या हो, उन ने तो
कश्का खींचा, दैर में बैठा, कब का तर्क इस्लाम किया

Why do you ask now about Mir's God and religion; (for) he has
worn a caste-mark, sat in a temple, (and has) long renounced Islam!

The maqtaa is quite delicious... and must have raised scandalised smiles from his listeners in the conservative times he lived. But it also demonstrates the admirably liberal ethos that the world of poetry was able to project, even in Mir's epoch, if these things could be joked about so freely...

Friday, 12 October 2007

Faiz - Tum aaye ho naa

It's been months! Sorry. Have been busy moving home and hearth - across continents - which doesn't leave one in a frame of mind for poetry. But, there's been unconscionable laziness too, of course...!

Thought this lovely Faiz ghazal would be a good way to restart. The first sher remains one of my all time favourites. As does the last one.

tum aaye ho naa shab-e-intezaar guzrii hai

talaash mei.n hai sahar baar-baar guzrii hai

तुम आये हो ना शब्--इंतज़ार गुज़री है
में है सहर बार-बार गुज़री है

You haven't come, nor has the night of waiting passed
the dawn is in search (of something); it has passed by again and again

Delightfully evocative! One can almost see the anguished lover tossing about in his bed restlessly...sleeplessly... telling himself at regular intervals - 'oh good, it's finally morning'... only to realise a moment later - 'no, it isn't. Not quite as yet.' To later explain these various 'imagined dawns' as the morning having actually passed by
on the street outside, without stopping - as it seemingly went back and forth in search for someone or something... now that's poetry!!

junoon mei.n jitnii bhii guzrii bakaar guzrii hai
agarche dil pe kharaabii hazaar guzrii hai

जूनून में जितनी भी गुज़री बकार गुज़री है
अगरचे दिल पे खराबी हज़ार गुजरी है

whatever came about in the madness (of love) was worthwhile
although the heart did endure a thousand anguishes

A rather nice one again. To savour suffering, even be redeemed by it, is what love is all about in the Ghazal world, isn't it?


hui hai hazrat-e-naaseh se guftaguu jis shab
vo shab zaruur sar-e-kuu-e-yaar guzrii hai

हुई है हज़रत-ए-नासेह से गुफ्तगू जिस शब्
वो शब् ज़रूर सर-ए-कू-ए-यार गुज़री है

Every evening on which there was a discussion with the advisor,
(that) evening invariably passed through the lane of the Beloved

A little more cryptic, this one. 'Naaseh', you would recall, is the well-meaning but officious friend or acquaintance who exhorts the Poet to cure himself of his pointless infatuation with the Beloved. The Sher seems to be thumbing its nose at such advice, and highlighting its ineffectualness, by pointing out that whenever the Advisor offers his gratuitous counsel, the lover invariably ends up in the Beloved's neighbourhood... the use of 'hazrat' - a respectful qualificative - adds to the ironical scorn implied in the sher.

vo baat saare fasaane mei.n jis kaa zikr na thaa

vo baat un ko bahut nagawaar guzrii hai

वो बात सारे फ़साने में जिसका ज़िक्र ना था
वो बात उनको बहुत नागवार गुज़री है

The issue that didn't (even) find mention in the entire saga
that's the one she has found completely unacceptable!

Ha! The capriciousness of the Beloved! To imperiously blow her top at completely imagined slights comes quite naturally to her, after all!

na gul khile hai.n, na un se mile, na mai pii hai

ajeeb rang mei.n ab ke bahaar guzrii hai

ना गुल खिले हैं, ना उनसे मिले, ना मय पी है
अजीब रंग में अब के बहार गुज़री है

the flowers haven't bloomed, (I) haven't met her, nor has the wine been drunk
(how) strangely the spring has passed this time!

Lovely...just lovely! This defies further comment!!

chaman mei.n gairat-e-gulchii.n se jaane kyaa guzrii

qafas se aaj sabaa beqaraar guzrii hai

चमन में गारत-ए-गुल्चीं से जाने क्या गुज़री
कफ़स से आज सबा बेकरार गुज़री है

Who knows what's occurred in the garden with the flower-picker's pillage
(but) it's an uneasy breeze that's passed through the cage today!

One returns to the standard 'chaman-qafas' stylisation here. The bird, caged away from his garden, has somehow heard that the garden has been ravaged by the flower-picker. He doesn't know the details of what passed... but the breeze - that carrier of moods, smells and information - seems, to him, to wear a palpably anxious 'air' as it wafts through the cage!! Hauntingly chilling, isn't it? Reminds me of an even more stomach-churning one by Ghalib, based on the same stylisation:

qafas mei.n mujh se rudaad-e-chaman kahte na Dar hamdam

girii hai jis pe kal bijlii vo meraa aashiyaa.n kyo.n ho

कफ़स में मुझसे रुदाद-ए-चमन कहते ना डर हमदम
गिरी है जिसपे कल बिजली वो मेरा आशियाँ क्यों हो

don't hesitate while giving me the account of the garden, my friend
the one on which lightning has fallen yesterday, why should it be my nest?

Meaning, of course, something like 'I know that lightning has fallen on a nest yesterday... but don't worry, there's no reason why it should necessarily have been mine'. There's such desperation in that confidence - but we can sense why the 'ham-dam' (another bird who's flown over from the chaman...?) is hesitating, can't we? Sends shivers down one's spine everytime one reads it...