The Third Era of Āb-e ḥayāt:
#172# The late Mīr Ẓāḥik is mentioned again and again in Saudā's volume, and among his descendants too some reached such a high rank and accomplishment that they themselves were described as possessing their own styles. Thus from the beginning I wanted in my heart to write a connected [musalsal] account of this family [silsilah] of Sayyids, but I couldn't obtain the flowers to string into a garland. Thus I remained deficient, in the first edition [of Āb-e ḥayāt]. Those unsympathetic and unjust ones who are ignorant of the principles of the art [of history-writing]--what can they know about it? They found a bright ink with which to make their articles glitter in the newspapers. And where they published other complaints, this increased the number by one. The present sinful writer wrote to friends in the east, and especially in Lucknow, but no voice could be heard from any quarter. But indeed, Maulvī Ġhulām Muḥammad Ḳhān 'Tapish' responded so kindly to my despair that my heart found release from the hard labor of the search. Now, on the occasion of the second edition, the former longing again welled up in my heart. Having no choice, I have made a garland from the dried-up, withered flowers that had been lying in the niche of my sad heart; I offer it at the tombs of the great Sayyids. And I begin from the point that the hand of awareness can reach.
The name of the late Mīr Ẓāḥik was Sayyid Ġhulām Ḥusain. His elders came from Herat and settled in Old Delhi.a #173# His family's lineage as Sayyids is thoroughly established. They were among the descendants of Imāmī Haravī, and poetry too had come down as a heritage in the family. Mīr Ẓāḥik was extremely good-natured and witty, always smiling, laughing and making others laugh too. For this reason he chose the pen-name [Ẓāḥik, 'Jester'].
His style and his attire: His style and his attire were perfectly typical of the elders of Delhi. On his head a green turban, in the Arab mode. A very wide robe or cloak, and that often green as well. At his throat a necklace of sacred clay beads [from Karbala]. On his right wrist a bangle, with a number of prayers inscribed on it. On his little finger, and even on the other fingers as well, were rings. He put henna on his beard--it was not very long, but he shaved the area under his chin. Sometimes he rubbed henna into his hands as well. He was of medium build and fair complexion.
His volume: I have not yet seen his volume, so I cannot express any opinion about it. What literate people know about him is thanks to the satires that Saudā composed against him. The ruin of the empire made him too leave Delhi, and he settled in Faizabad.
The insolence Saudā showed toward him was for this reason. First, on some occasion he composed something about Saudā. Saudā himself went to him and said, 'You are an elder, I am young. You are a Sayyid, I am the servant of your ancestor [the Prophet]. This slave is not worthy of your condescending to compose anything about him. Please don't do it! For it might cause words to fall from the lips of this sinner, and I would be disgraced before your ancestor on Judgment Day.' The students of God generally have lofty minds. From his lips there came, 'No, my friend, this is poetry--what does age or youth have to do with it?' And Saudā--if he once got started, would he ever stop? After that, whatever he composed--may God not cause anyone to listen to it! I have also heard from the elders that whatever nonsense Mirzā composed about him, Mīr Ẓāḥik replied to it with even lower and baser insults. But Mīr Ẓāḥik's poetry was lost in a strange way.
The late Mīr Ḥasan, the son of Mīr Ẓāḥik, was Saudā's pupil. When Mīr Ẓāḥik died, Saudā went for the Fatihah, and took his volume with him. After the customary condolences, #174# he made many apologies for the nonsense he had composed about the deceased, and said, 'The late Sayyid has taken leave of this world. You are his son, please pardon this wretch for his insolence.' After that, he sent the servant for his volume and himself ripped out and tore up all those satires he had composed about him. Mīr Ḥasan, as required by high courage and duty, at once sent for his father's volume from his house, and tore up the satires his father had composed about Saudā. But since Saudā's compositions used to spread so fast that the moment they were composed they were on the lips of every child, they all survived. Mīr Ẓāḥik's poetry, which was confined to that bound manuscript, was lost.
Whenever I saw in Saudā's volume the satire he had composed about the late Mīr Ẓāḥik, /Oh Lord, Sikandar [=Alexander] makes this prayer to you!/, then I used to wonder what Alexander was doing there. May God have mercy on Mīr Mahdī Ḥasan 'Farāġh',b for he told me that one day, as usual, seats had been arranged in the garden of Mirzā Sulaimān Shikoh. The Prince [Mirza Sulaimān Shikoh] was himself seated on his high cushion. It was a gathering of nobles and poets. Mirzā Rafīʿ and Miyāñ Sikandar the elegy-composer were also there, when Mīr Ẓāḥik arrived. At his old-fashioned style and dress, which even in those days attracted notice, the Prince smiled. Mīr Ẓāḥik came and sat down. Greetings were exchanged. The huqqah made its appearance. It happened that the Prince commanded Mirzā Rafīʿ, 'Please recite something'. (He knew how matters stood between the two gentlemen; God knows whether he wanted to tease, or the words just happened to slip out of his mouth.) Saudā said, 'I haven't composed anything recently'. Then he gestured toward Miyāñ Sikandar: #175# 'He's composed a quintain'. The Prince commanded, 'How does it go?' Saudā had recited only the first stanza--when the late Mīr Ẓāḥik rose and seized Miyāñ Sikandar by the collar and grappled with him. Poor Sikandar was astonished: without reason or cause, this calamity had fallen on him! Everyone rose. They separated the two gentlemen. And when they looked at Saudā--he was standing to one side, smiling. (This was the occasion for the composition of that quintain.)
Although I wanted to find out the anecdotes and witticisms of their gatherings and mutual conversations, if I could not achieve that I wanted at least to get some whole ghazals. No effort succeeded. When even the light of their family, Sayyid Ḳhurshīd ʿAlī 'Nafīs', withholds the ray of his attention, then what hope can there be from outsiders? He did not even gratify this humble one, Āzād, by acknowledging the receipt of Āb-e ḥayāt. [One Persian verse.]
I could not even ascertain the date of his death. It is impossible that his accomplished son would not have composed a chronogram, but who would tell Āzād about it? The author of the Gulzār-e ibrāhīmī writes in A.H. 1196 [1781-82], 'Mīr Ẓāḥik is in Faizabad, and lives unconcerned with the world'.
In the anthologies that I consulted, I found only one verse of his:
/How could one give correction to God--otherwise,
Your beauty would have been enough, if there had been no moon/.
ḲHVĀJAH MĪR DARD
With the pen-name of Dard, and the name of Ḳhvājah Mīr, he is one pillar among the four pillars of the Urdu language.c His mother's family is related to Ḳhvājah Bahāʾuddīn Naqshbandī. Ḳhvājah Muḥammad Nāṣir, with the pen name of ʿAndalīb, was his father, and was a disciple of Shāh Gulshan Sahib. #176# Because of his family's [Sufi] pir-and-disciple relationships, they were extremely respected and honored in Delhi. He was acquainted with the standard kinds of learning; for a number of months Muftī Daulat Sahib instructed him in the art of the Maṡnavī [of Maulānā Rūm]. When there came the devastation of the country, and the ruin of the empire, the looting and destruction day after day caused a number of noble and respected families to leave their homes and their city. His firmly settled feet did not tremble. He trusted in his God, and continued to sit on the prayer mat that his elders had made. 'As is the behavior, so is the intent'; God too upheld him.
An account of his writings: His Urdu volume is short; there is nothing in it except ghazals, repeated-line poems, and quatrains. The odes, masnavis, and so on that poets normally write, he did not compose. Still, the *ghazals 'on' ghazals of Saudā and Mīr Taqī that he did write are by no means inferior to theirs. There is also a small volume of Persian ghazals. The passion for writing was inborn in his temperament. Thus first of all, at the age of fifteen, living in a mosque [during the last ten days of Ramẓān], he wrote the pamphlet Asrār uṣ-ṣalāt. At the age of twenty-nine, he wrote another pamphlet by the name of Vāridāt-e dard, and by way of a commentary on it he wrote a large tome, ʿIlm ul-kitāb, which contained one hundred eleven pamphlets. Among them were Nālah-e dard, Āh-e sard, Dard-e dil, Soz-e dil, Shamʿ-e maḥfil, and so on, which people devoted to Sufism regard extremely highly. And Vāqiʿāt-e dard, and a pamphlet on the religious permissibility of singing--all these are his memorial. Since in that time poetry was almost obligatory for good families--especially those interested in Sufism--his father too composed a brief volume together with a commentary, and a pamphlet called Nālah-e ʿandalīb.
Sayyid Muḥammad Mīr Aṡar: His brother, Miyāñ Sayyid Muḥammad Mīr, used the pen-name of Aṡar; he too had a volume. In fact, a masnavi of his, Ḳhvāb o ḳhiyāl, is famous, and is a very good one.
The style of Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard's ghazals: The ghazals of Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard Sahib are normally seven to nine verses long; but each is a selection. Especially in the short meters, which he has used very often--it's as if he compressed the sharpness of a sword into a lancet. His ideas are serious and sober. No satire about anyone ever pollutes his tongue. No one has ever put Sufism into Urdu as he has.
Mīr Sahib has judged him half a poet: Mīr Sahib has counted him as half a poet.d If #177# you want to hear the speech of his time, look at his volume. His language is the same as that of Mīr and Mirzā [Saudā].
Expressions appear in his poetry just as they did in his time. Nit to mean hameshah [=always], ṭuk for żarā [=a little bit], taʾīñ for [the accusative marker] ko, yahañ taʾīñ for yahāñ tak [=up to here], and mujh sāth for mere sāth [=with me]. [Other examples of archaic spellings and usages are discussed, with illustrative verses by Dard.]
He was no one's servant: The people of former times had very strong faith in God. That is why those who sat quietly, trusting in the name of God, prospered best of all. This is the reason that the Ḳhvājah Sahib did not feel the need to work, or to leave Delhi. The royal court had given his elders grants of land, which had remained in the family. Rich and poor counted it auspicious to serve him. He lived without anxiety, spending his time in prayer. When Shāh ʿĀlam Bādshāh himself wanted to come to his house, he did not consent. But a regular gathering of the people inclined toward Sufism #178# took place every month. The king came unexpectedly and joined this gathering. It happened that that day the king's legs were causing him pain. He stretched his legs out a bit. The Ḳhvājah Sahib told him, 'This action is against the rules of the gathering as observed by this faqir'. The king apologized: 'Please forgive me, I am helpless because of illness'. He replied, 'If you were ill, then why did you take the trouble to come?'
He was very skilled in music: He was well skilled in music. Well-known and accomplished singers used to sing their compositions before him, to receive his correction. A rāg is a thing full of emotional effect. The Greek philosophers and the ancient learned men have determined it to be a branch of mathematics. It opens the heart and exalts the spirit. For this reason, some circles among the practitioners of Sufism have treated it as a form of worship. Thus on the second and the twenty-fourth of every month it was customary for the well-known masters of music, Ḍoms, singers, accomplished persons, and people of taste to gather together and sing mystical pieces. These dates were the death anniversaries of certain of his elders. Muḥarram is the month of grief; thus on the second [day], instead of songs, there was elegy-recitation.
An anecdote about Maulvī Shāh ʿAbd ul-ʿAzīz Sahib: The families of Maulvī Shāh ʿAbd ul-ʿAzīz and Mīr Dard lived in the same muhallah. In the time of Mīr Dard's late father, the Maulvī Sahib was a boy. One day he went into that gathering, and sat down by Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard. The Ḳhvājah Sahib's father's disciples included many dancing girls as well. And since at that time they were about to take their leave, they had all come forward in attendance. Even though the Maulvī Sahib was then a child, Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard, seeing the way he smiled and looked at them, sensed his disapproval, and said, 'In the eyes of this faqir, these are all mothers and sisters'. The Maulvī Sahib said, 'Then how is it proper to bring mothers and sisters and seat them in the midst of a public gathering?' The Ḳhvājah Sahib fell silent.
An anecdote about Mirzā Rafīʿ Saudā: Special gatherings used to take place at Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard Sahib's house, during which he would read from Nālah-e ʿandalīb--that is, his father's work--and from his own poetry. One day the Ḳhvājah Sahib ran into Mirzā Rafīʿ in passing, and invited him to attend. Mirzā #179# said, 'Sahib, it does not please me that a hundred crows should be calling out "Caw caw", and in the midst of them a single robin should sit and go "Chirp chirp"'. In those days, to tolerate and endure the words of such people of accomplishment was considered an essential part of good manners. The Ḳhvājah Sahib smiled and fell silent.
Mirzā's frivolity: Mirzā [Saudā] had written an ode in praise of Navab Aḥmad ʿAlī Ḳhān, and in the introduction he had mentioned a number of poets with the frivolity that is his habitual style. Thus in this connection he says,
/How Dard makes people quiver
by making his voice shaky and weak!
And the fools who are his listeners
praise him every moment in such a way--
just the way, hearing 'Holy is He who shows me to myself'
boys in school should say amen.
Someone should ask him what
he is proud of in the world.
If the verses and measure of his volume
are collected, they are like carvings on a gem.
If you look inside, then finally
it's either coincidence--or incorporation.
He only composes that much poetry--
Fie on this earth, that has such bad poetry in it!/
Well, this is poetic frivolity. Otherwise, as for the feeling of reverence for the Ḳhvājah that was universal in the society, Saudā's heart too was not unmoved by it. Thus he has said,
/Saudā, write this ghazal with a different rhyme--
Oh you rude person, don't confront Dard any further!/
An anecdote: heartfelt [dillī] love: A person was preparing to go from Lucknow to Delhi [dillī]. He went to Mirzā Rafīʿ, and said, 'I'm going to Delhi. If you have any message for any dear one or friend there, please tell me'. Mirzā said, 'My friend, I have no one in Delhi. Oh yes, if you happen to pass by Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard's house, please give him my respects.'
Just imagine--for a man like Mirzā Rafīʿ not to recognize anyone except him in all Delhi! And Delhi too, the Delhi of that time! Praise be to God! What jewels they were, and what jewelers--it's a marvel! What pearls my late Ustad has strung:
#180# /When I went and showed them the tear-pearls from my eyes
All the jewelers were convinced, and swore by my eyes/.
An anecdote: Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard has one verse,
/If your eye falls on a stranger, see a friend
If a creature comes before you, even then, see God/.
There is a Persian verse with this same theme:
/Since you are in my eye and heart, oh beloved, every moment
Whomever I see from afar I believe to be you/.
When the poet recited this [latter] verse in a gathering, Mullā Shaidā, a frivolous, impertinent poet, said, 'If you see a dog?' The poet said, 'I believe it is you!' But if the truth be told, the Ḳhvājah Sahib has avoided this possibility very nicely in his verse. A quatrain:
/Oh Dard, for this pain in my heart to depart--not a chance!
Like the poppy, to wash the scar from my heart--not a chance!
The garden of the world blossomed a thousand times, but
For my heart to come into bloom--not a chance!/
A quatrain of Shāh Ḥātim's is also peerless for this theme:
/To sleep with those silver-bodied ones--not a chance!
In my fortune only dust was written--gold? Not a chance!
Ḥātim, it's a pity that yesterday and today have passed
There's still hope for tomorrow--and that's unknown/.
The masters of his time: Mīr Taqī and Saudā, and Mirzā Jān-e Jānāñ Maz̤har, were his contemporaries. Qiyām ud-Dīn 'Qāʾim' was a pupil of whom an ustad ought to be proud. In addition to Qāʾim, Hidāyatullāh Ḳhān 'Hidāyat' and Ṡanāʾullāh Ḳhān 'Firāq' and others [of his pupils] were renowned poets.
The Ḳhvājah Sahib died in Delhi, at the age of 68 years, on Friday the 24th of Ṣafar, A.H. 1199 [1784-85]. A faithful disciple composed this chronogram: /Alas, that beloved of God set forth from the world!/. [Eight ghazals #181 #182# #183# #184# and one quatrain by Dard.]
SAYYID MUḤAMMAD MĪR SOZ
Mīr Sahib considered him one-fourth of a poet: With the pen-name of Soz, and the name of Sayyid Muḥammad Mīr, he is the individual whom Mīr Taqīe considered to be one-fourth of a poet. In Old Delhi was a muhallah called Qarāvalpūrah [=Qarolbāġh]; that is where he lived. But the real homeland of his ancestors was #185# Bukhara. His father, Sayyid Ẓiyāʾ ud-Dīn, was a very venerable gentleman. He was famous for his skill in archery. And he was descended from Hazrat Qut̤b-e ʿĀlam Gujarātī.
He changed his pen-name: The late Soz first used the pen-name of Mīr. When the late Mīr Taqī conquered the world with the pen-name of Mīr, he adopted 'Soz'. Thus in one verse he makes reference to both pen-names:
/I used to say 'mīr mīr'--but I didn't die, it's a thousand pities
Now I say 'soz soz'--that is, 'Keep burning'/.1
His style of poetry: Whatever I have heard from my elders, or seen in anthologies, his poetry verifies. That is, it is clear that just as eloquence polished the mirror of his poetic temperament until it shone, in the same way wit and good nature produced marks of quality in it. Along with that, to whatever extent virtue and goodness gave him honor, to an even greater extent a hospitable temperament and sweetness of speech made him widely liked. And humility made all his qualities shine more brightly. Along with freedom [from ambition], he certainly had consistency of style as well. The result of which was that despite his poverty he was always seated with dignity on the seat of respect, by the side of nobles and the wealthy. And that was how he maintained himself.
His departure from Delhi: In the time of Shāh ʿĀlam, when the ruin of the people of Delhi passed beyond bounds, in A.H. 1191 [1777-78] he left his home like a faqir and went off to Lucknow. But in 1212 [1797-98], unsuccessful, he went from there to Murshidabad. Here too, fortune did not befriend him. Then he returned to Lucknow. Now his fortune turned towards him, and Navab Āṣif ud-Daulah became his pupil. He had hardly spent even a few comfortable days there, when he himself passed away from this world. Look at the Navab's ghazals--the style is his exactly.
The author of the anthology Gulzār-e ibrāhīmī writes, 'Now, in A.H. 1196 [1781-82], Mīr Soz is in Lucknow. The present sinful writer has not yet met that Sayyid of high dignity. But this year he has sent to this humble one some of his verses and some fragments of prose'. [A quotation in Persian, garbled #186# and meaningless.]f
His fine calligraphy: He wrote very well in the Shafīʿā and the Nastaʿlīq styles. It is a tradition in the lands of Iran, Khurasan, and so on that when people of good family have finished their necessary work, they don't sit around doing nothing as we do. They practice calligraphy. Thus often many of them are good calligraphers. This custom formerly existed here too. Now not to speak of good calligraphy, even bad calligraphy has been given up as a stigma.
Horsemanship and archery: Mīr Soz was an expert in horsemanship, and a master of the arts of soldiery. As an archer, he never missed his mark. He did exercises, and he also had such innate strength that not everyone could string his bow. In short, in A.H. 1213 [1798-99], in the city of Lucknow, he died at the age of 70 years.
His son was called Dāġh: His son too was a poet, and in keeping with his father's pen-name he chose the pen-name of Dāġh. His early death left a scar [dāġh]. And it is even more of a pity that I have not been able to locate any ghazal of his. He himself was handsome, and he loved the sight of handsome people. Finally, he died of the grief of separation.
The limpidity of his language: The late Mīr Soz had an extraordinarily sweet tongue--and it is in truth the soul of his ghazals. Thus his ghazals themselves proclaim this.
He normally composed only ghazals: The beauty of his literary style is entirely free of ostentation and artificial literary devices. It is an example of the style of beauty displayed by a rose on a verdant branch, when it forms a kind of cup; surrounded by deep green leaves, it shows its true youthful vigor. Those people of insight to whom God has given eyes to see, know that the adornments of thousands of artifices sacrifice themselves before one innate beauty. However, in his ghazals, after two or three verses one or two archaic words indeed prick the brain. Well, we ought to ignore them. /Think properly--is there any rose anywhere that doesn't have a thorn?/ [--Ḥāfiz̤].
The true style of the ghazal: In the literal sense, the word 'ghazal' means chatting with women. And as a literary term it means that the lover will, by giving scope to his feelings about separation from or union with his beloved, express #187# the longings of his heart or the fever of grief. And the language as well would be as if the two are seated together, conversing with each other. That is just the poetry Mīr Soz writes. To address the beloved not as jānāñ but only as jān, or as miyāñ, or as miyāñ jān, is his special idiom.
A comparison of his poetry to that of Mīr and Saudā: From a number of the sessions of the Majālis-e rangīn, and from anthologies going back before our time, it appears that his poetry has been proverbially famous for purity of idiom and delightfulness of language. His verses seem as though a lover sits talking to the one he dearly loves. He put his talk of love into verse in a way that showed he didn't wish even to change the word order and push the words around, backwards and forwards, to achieve metricality in the verse. Here and there Mīr Taqī approaches him, but still there's a great deal of difference. Mīr Taqī too made fine use of idioms. But he introduced a large amount of Persian, and brought in lofty themes. Saudā is very far from this: he gave his themes idiomatic composition after dipping them into the color of similes and metaphors. And he used his poetic energy to push words backwards and forwards, and he joined them into arrangements of a delightfulness that has to be seen to be believed.
An account of the style of his ghazals: Just as Mīr Soz used very simple themes, so he used very easy *patterns. In fact he often abandoned the refrain, and contented himself with the rhyme. His verses rest solely on the relish of their idiom. In his poetry iẓāfats, similes, metaphors, Persian constructions are very few in number. In these respects it's as if he ought to be called the Shaiḳh Saʿdī of Urdu ghazal. If the language had stayed on this road--that is, if many colorful Persian ideas had not entered into it--and if the faculty of expressiveness had been greater, we would not not today face so much difficulty. Now, the difficulty is twofold. First of all, colorful metaphors and ideas full of exaggeration have been placed like pillows for our speech to recline against. We ought to abandon this habit. Then we ought to introduce into poetry new styles and simple ideas. Because years of speaking and listening have made the mouths of the tellers and the ears of the listeners #188# so familiar with this [ornate] style, that justice can't be done to the delight of the language when simplicity is used--nor does simplicity give pleasure to the listeners.
A second distinction: It was largely Saudā, and somewhat Mīr, who changed the style in this way: mixing metaphors with the Hindi idiom, they made a solid Rekhtah. If we wish to describe the distinction between Mīr and Saudā's language and that of Mīr Soz, then we can say that by comparison to the age of Saudā, in Mīr Soz's volume the child of Urdu is some years younger. And this is so with regard to themes, to archaic idioms, to every aspect. Thus he treated as rhymes ko (which is the object marker), lahū [=blood], and kabhū [=sometimes]. He composed only ghazals. And at the time, Urdu poetry had only that much scope.
The length of his volume: With twelve lines to a page, his whole volume consists of 300 pages. In it are 288 pages of ghazals, 12 pages of masnavis, quatrains, quintains; and that's all. One masnavi begins with this verse:
/Soz makes great claims about his poetry,
If anyone looks at it closely, it's only worth a cowrie/.
An anecdote about Sauda: One day Mīr Soz went to Saudā's house. In those days everyone was talking about a [Persian] ghazal of Shaiḳh ʿAlī Ḥazīn's, of which the opening verse is this:
/I looked at my beloved while passing on the road, occasionally
He also, out of hidden kindness, glanced at me, occasionally/.
The late Mīr Soz recited his own opening verse:
/Anxiety doesn't leave my heart even occasionally
Oh Sky, permit me to breathe a sigh, occasionally/.
When Mirzā Saudā heard it, he said, 'Mīr Sahib, in my childhood Ḍomnīs from Peshawar used to come to our house. I heard this word upāhe [=anxiety] then, and haven't heard it again until today'. Poor Mīr Soz smiled, and fell silent. Then Mirzā himself composed and recited an opening verse:
/I'm not like the rose, to wish for the black cloud occasionally
I'm dried grass--oh Lightning, cast a glance occasionally!/
In those days, Miyāñ Jurʾat was just starting his career; he himself could not show courage [jurʾat]. Someone else said, 'Hazrat! This young man too wants to present something.' Mirzā Saudā said, 'Well, my friend, what is it?' Jurʾat recited,
#189# /I meet him in a casual way, occasionally
In the rival's company occasionally, on the road occasionally/.
Everyone praised it, and Mirzā too liked it, and expressed admiration and approval. I've remembered another opening verse of this kind, whether you consider it Z̤afar's or Żauq's:
/You ought to glance in this direction too, occasionally
Not every moment, not all the time--occasionally/.
An anecdote about his pen-name: Someone came and said to him, 'Hazrat! Today a person was laughing at your pen-name, and was saying, "Soz--Goz--what a pen-name he's chosen! I don't like it"'. Mīr Soz asked the person's name. After much refusal and resistance, he told it. Mīr Soz learned that the person was one who always attended the mushairah. He said, 'Well, there's no harm. In the company at the next mushairah, you ask me the same question in front of everybody'. Thus the man did just that, and in a loud voice asked, 'Hazrat, what is your pen-name?' He replied, 'Sahib, at first this faqir had adopted the pen-name of Mīr. But then Mīr Taqī Sahib took a fancy to it. This faqir reflected that compared to his accomplishment, my own name could not shine brightly. Having no choice, I adopted the pen-name of Soz.' Gesturing toward the aforementioned person, he said, 'I hear that this gentleman uses Goz [=Fart]'. The whole mushairah roared with laughter. In Lucknow, thousands of men used to gather for mushairahs. His voice didn't reach everyone's ears. He was made to repeat his remark a number of times. On the one hand the aforementioned person, on the other hand Mīr Taqī Sahib, sat and listened in silence.
His style of recitation: In addition to composing poetry, he invented a style of recitation that doubled the pleasure of the poem. He presented the verse in such a way that he himself took on the form of its theme. Other people sought to imitate him, but how could they! His voice was full of pathos. He recited his poetry in a most gentle voice full of sorrow [soz] and pain. And he enlisted the help of gestures too. For example, when he used the theme of a candle, then while he recited it, with one hand he made the candle, with the shelter of the other hand he depicted a chandelier. If he used the theme of haughtiness or arrogance, then he himself knitted his brows and showed anger. And if you too look from this angle, you'll find that his verses, when read, demand action and visual style. #190# Thus on a specific occasion he composed this verse-set--and recited it in a uniquely attractive manner:
/When I left my home in the morning
and went to the house of Salāmullāh Ḳhān Sahib,
There I saw a number of Pari-faced children,
Are-re-re, are-re-re, are-re!/
While reciting the fourth line, he collapsed to the ground right there, as though the moment he saw the Parizads he lost control of his heart and was so shaken that as he said 'Are-re-re', he lost consciousness and fainted.
In one ghazal, he recited a verse-set in such a way that all those present in the mushairah panicked and leaped to their feet:
/Oh black snake of the curls, tell the truth,
Tell me where any heart is hidden
Look under the coil, see if it's there,
You bit me, you poisonous one [hafī]--may you suffer!/
He recited the first line fearfully, timidly, leaning over, as if he had bent down to look under an earring. And when he said 'You bit me, you poisonous one' he suddenly crushed his hand against his chest, and writhed so uncontrollably that people panicked and leaped up to come to his aid. (The correct form is afʿī; in the idiom people say hafī.)
In my childhood, I used to hear that he had a pupil called Navāzish; it was said that if anyone recited in his very style, it was Navāzish alone. Mirzā Rajab ʿAlī Surūr, author of Fasānah-e ʿajāʾib, was Navāzish's pupil. [Ghazals and verses #191# #192# #193# by Soz.]
a The author of the anthology Gulzār-e ibrāhīmī writes about the late Mīr Ḥasan that in Delhi he lived near the Bhujal Mosque. And Ḥakīm Qudratullāh Ḳhān Qāsim says that the late Mīr was born in the muhallah of Sayyidvāṛah, which was a muhallah of Old Delhi.
b Mīr Mahdī Ḥasan Farāġh was an elderly gentlemen, of Sayyid Inshā's family; he was a pupil of Miyāñ Betāb. His ability in Persian was good; he also composed good Urdu verses, and was skilled in the subtleties of poetry. He had attended many of the mushairahs of Nāsiḳh and Ātish, and been in the company of the learned men of Lucknow. His elders, and he himself, had always been stewards in various courts. Thus he was acquainted with historical backgrounds and family affairs. When the Dowager Queen--that is to say, the mother of Naṣīr ud-Dīn Ḥaidar--and Ṡurayyā Jāh were in Chandgaṛh, he and his brother were always their stewards, and in Mirzā Sikandar Shikoh's court as well. He was the old friend of Miyāñ Baḥr, and shared in his practice [with the same ustad].
e See page #208#. Mīr Sahib was the king of the land of poetry; he expressed himself in whatever words he wished. But what he said is right. Look at Mīr Soz's volume: it's merely superficial. The rest is all very well.
1 In Persian mīr [=die!] and soz [=burn!] are imperative verb forms.
f I compared this speech in two anthologies. No meaningful text emerged. Therefore whatever I found, I have retained, considering it a blessing from the Sayyid and a lucky find.