Sunday, 10 February 2008

Mir - Hastii apnii habaab kii sii hai

One of Mir's most famous ones, this one. A little patchy, though – some of the shers are quite nice...others quite pedestrian. Which is pretty much par for Mir, in my opinion...!

हस्ती अपनी हबाब की सी है

यह नुमाइश सराब की सी है

our existence is like that of a bubble

(and) this (entire) display is like a mirage

Touches of 'baaziichah-e-atfaal...' in this, nahin? To stress the illusoriness of existence and discount the concreteness of the material world is pretty standard fare in poetry inspired from sufi'ism...but this is still a competent 'mood establishing' sher for the ghazal.

नाज़ुकी उस के लब की क्या कहिये

पंखड़ी एक गुलाब की सी है

What can one say about the delicateness of her lips

(they are) like the petal of a rose

Huh?! Well, at least he is candid enough to admit in the first line that he has nothing particularly penetrating to say!! :-)

The comparison with a rose petal, as opposed to that of any other bloom, is probably supposed to hint at the possibilities of thorns lurking under the outward delicateness... but the simile is still pretty banal, one must admit.

चश्म--दिल खोल उस भी आलम पर

यां की औकात ख्वाब की सी है

do open the eyes of (your) heart to that world too

the status of the 'here and now' is like that of a dream

Nicer. Sort of paraphrases the first sher, but does it well.

बार-बार उस के दर पे जाता हूँ

हालत अब इज़तिराब की सी है

I go to her door again and again

(my) condition is now one of desperation

Once again, little more than a mere restatement of the compelling infatuation that is the defining characteristic of the Lover in the ghazal universe.

नुख्ता--खाल से तेरा अब्रू

बैत एक इन्तिखाब की सी है

due to the mark of (your) mole, your eyebrow

is like a chosen abode (poem).

Oh, much nicer! 'Bait' can stand for both a 'house' (or a temple) and a 'poem' or 'verse'. The beauty-spot next to the Beloved's eyebrow, 'marks it out' as something 'selected' or 'chosen out'....whether it is a chosen 'abode' (of beauty, what else?) or a 'verse' that is seen to be highlighted by the mole, the sher does capture an original sort of compliment...

मैं जो बोला कहा की ये आवाज़

उसी खाना-खराब की सी है

When i spoke, she commented – that 'this voice

is like that of that same vagabond'

Nice-ish. Obviously, the lover has spent some time calling out to the Beloved from the street outside, vexing her. When he finally manages, through some artifice, to find entry into her presence and speak to her, she is quick to remark on the similarity between his voice and that of the vilified importunate tramp!

आतिश--ग़म में दिल भुना शायद

देर से बू कबाब की सी है

The heart was baked in the fire of pain, probably

since a while, there's the smell of kebabs (in the air)

Cute...very cute! Even if it isn't the highlight of the ghazal in terms of pure poetry, it must have been a real hit in an oral recital!

देखिए अब्र की तरह अब के

मेरी चश्म--पुर-आब की सी है

Look, this time, just like clouds

my eyes (too) are full of water

The point of this sher is obviously technical rather than semantic. The clever way the composite adjective 'pur-aab' is fitted into the rhyme structure of the qaafiyaa...

मीर उन नीम-बाज़ आंखों में

सारी मस्ती शराब की सी है

Meer, in those half-open eyes

it's like there's every intoxication of wine


You know, a number of adherents of the 'Mir camp' claim that it is this very 'simplicity' of Mir that sets him apart as a poet of class... many of them take the position that the sort of overt 'cleverness' that someone like Ghalib infuses in his poetry makes it seem less 'feeling', and almost 'mocking'. In contrast, Mir, in his simplistic, almost wonder-struck, descriptions of the Beloved's beauty (the second sher in this ghazal serving as a typical example), comes across as much more sincere in his depiction of infatuated love.

There probably is something in that point of view...but still, give me Ghalib at most times!


Shweta said...

How I wish we had some full-fledged Mir campers commenting on this blog. What fun that would be!
Anyway my two-bit in support of the maqtaa. I think it has a nice scent of sweet intimacy about it, rather than the plain boring admiration of second sher. There is also a hint of teasing, pleasure and even pride perhaps. All this hinges somewhat on whether it is “Mir un…” or “Mir in…” I always thought it was ‘in’ from the versions I have come across. Would you know for sure?

deewaan said...

Actually, thank God there AREN'T any Mir groupies to contend with here! Some of the ones I know (though sensible chaps otherwise...)can get quite unreasonably incensed at what you and I would consider mere 'dispassionate' criticism! ;-)

You know, that's an interesting point about it possibly being 'in neem-baaz aankhon' as opposed to 'un'. One never can be sure, of course - because of the customary omission of zer and pesh indicators in written urdu...but in this case, it could make a nice and nuanced difference as to whether the sher is celebratory or wistful...

Must ask some of the groupies what 'accepted wisdom' says on this!