The Fifth Era of Āb-e ḥayāt:

Part Four


#387# With the pen-name of Naṣīr, his name was Naṣīr ud-Dīn. But because he had a dark complexion, his family called him Miyāñ Kallū [=Blackie]. His native place was Delhi proper. His father was a venerable elder named Shāh Ġharīb [=Poor], whose humility of temper and retiring disposition made his name proper to his character. The fruit of his good-nature was that he, although poor in name, lived his life in affluence. All the nobles and wealthy persons of the city honored him. But he sat in his corner of contentment, giving spiritual counsel to his chosen disciples. [An account of the royal villages with income allotted to the family.] In short, the late Shāh Ġharīb brought up his only son with much pampering and attention. And he kept ustads and tutors in his service, to educate his son.

His intellectual attainments: It's a strange thing, that he failed to acquire learning from books to the extent that would have been considered proper. Though indeed, the instruction he obtained had better results than that of learned persons. Because what he said, learned men were all ears to hear; and what he #388# wrote, educated men went mad over. His temperament turned out to be so suited to poetry that in mushairahs, the most learned and long-practiced poets were left staring at him in stupefaction.

His pupilship: His ustad-pupil silsilah [=lineage] reaches at two removes to both Saudā and Dard, because he was the pupil of Shāh Muḥammadī Māʾil, who was the pupil of Qiyām ud-Dīn Qāʾim. Qāʾim obtained correction both from Saudā and from Mīr Dard as well. He spent his life within the English dominions. But in the time of Shāh ʿĀlam, his poetry had begun to show its true temper. Familial honor, at the recommendation of individual accomplishment, carried him to the court. At the court, people of accomplishment received suitable rewards not just on the occasions of ʿĪd and festivals, but in every season and suitable time. If the poets received things late, then they managed to insinuate their claims. He composed a verse-set in the winter season by way of an elegant insinuation and presented it, and obtained a reward. I remember two verses of it.

/You alone will save me, oh Allāh

There has been a troublesome confrontation with winter

The refuge of the Sun is all that I have

For it will wrap me in a double shawl/.

The subtlety of this is that Āftāb [=Sun] was the pen-name of Shāh ʿĀlam Bādshāh.

His trip to the Deccan: The capital he obtained through the dominion of travel--that too was the gift of poetry. The travels of his poetry took it as far as Hyderabad in the south, and in the east, to Lucknow. Although he was honored and esteemed not just in the court but in the whole city [of Delhi], people whose habits have been spoiled by such courts are never happy in educated governments. Thus when the English took power, he had to make a journey to the Deccan.

In the Deccan, it was the time of Dīvān Chandū Lāl. Although his appreciation of accomplishment and generosity of temperament were open to all, he looked on Delhi people with an especially benevolent eye, and treated them with great courtesy. The great good fortune was that he had a real taste for poetry and literature. In short, there the Shāh Sahib's jewels found the price that his heart desired. But #389# the relish of Delhi was not one that a person could forget. Thus, loaded with rewards and honor, he came again to Delhi, and went again [to the Deccan] three times.

In the Deccan, it was not only that the angel of wealth had shown him hospitality. The Venus of the beauty of poetry came down from the heavens, and it once again cast over people's hearts the glory of the time of Shams [=Sun] Valī. The passions for composing poetry, which for years had been lying in a niche like extinguished lamps, were lit in every heart. And people began to let drip into them the oil of mental labors. Even now if anyone goes from Delhi to the Deccan, he will hear so many names of the Shāh Sahib's pupils that he'll forget that he had so many pupils in Delhi.

His first trip to Lucknow: Shāh Naṣīr went twice to Lucknow. But it's a pity that today there's nobody left in either Delhi or Lucknow who can report in which year he went exactly where, or in which mushairah and in competition with whom, which ghazal was composed. There's no doubt that the first time he went, Sayyid Inshā, and Muṣḥafī, and Jurʾat, and so on, were all present. And a number of ghazals that are famous from their encounters are present in Muṣḥafī's volume; see page #318#: 'dahan-e surḳh tirā, chaman-e surḳh tirā'.

His second trip to Lucknow: This was that time when important people of hospitable nature, and nobles who recognized high [poetic] rank, were present. They recognized quality, and acknowledged the claims of those who had that quality. Whoever went there found honor, and came away grateful. But the second time he went, the atmosphere had changed. Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh's time had cancelled [nasḳh] the ancient era. And the accomplishment of Ḳhvājah Ātash [=Fire] had kindled people's minds. The young people's temperaments were on the boil. New kinds of liveliness showed their style, novel creations smiled at the old simplicity. Thus when the opponent's banner showed itself from a distance of many days' travel--when he came near, everyone's necks craned to look.

This powerful poet, with many years of practice, whose old age snapped its fingers at the forces of youth--the day he arrived there, there were perhaps two or three days left of a mushairah. Every ustad had #390# sent two or three pattern-lines. He would have been excused, for he was troubled by kidney pain. But he rose as soon as the pain ceased, and prepared eight ghazals and went to the mushairah. Then the mushairah poets sent even more difficult patterns. And he effortlessly came, bringing ghazals for these too. But the accomplished poets of the city did not themselves come there. When two or three more gatherings had passed in this way, an individual gave a pattern-line in the open mushairah. That line was one of Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh's. And that time Shāh Naṣīr could not restrain himself. He took the line, but he said this much: 'Please tell him that it is not done to set a nightingale to fight, while you yourself are sitting on your perch. Please enter the arena yourself, so that the spectators too can enjoy the sight.' It's a pity that on that occasion there were a number of ill-bred people, the kind of whom no time and no place is free. Their babbling made a stain on the lofty spirit and hospitality of the people of Lucknow. Thus in one memorable mushairah of encounter Shāh Naṣīr recited eight ghazals of the pattern prescribed. He also recited one ghazal in his own choice of pattern, of which the refrain and rhyme were 'ʿasal kī makkhī, maḥal kī makkhī'. Some persons spoke sarcastically of this [because makkhī means 'fly']. About one verse someone said, 'Praise be to God--how well the fly is seated there!' Someone else said, 'Your Excellency! This fly is not seated.' Someone else also said, 'Your Lordship! The ghazal is fine, but the refrain has begun to make me feel sick.' The Shāh Sahib at once said, 'Whoever has a real taste for the relish of poetry will find only pleasure in it. But indeed, he who is in the grip of the bile of envy--he will begin to feel sick.'

In those gatherings this well-established, proven ustad lifted up the art of ustad-ship without fear or favor. But certain slips, of which no man can remain free, blemished his reputation. Thus in one place he used taz̤allum [=lament] in the sense of z̤ulm [=tyranny]. This was objected to in the open mushairah, and he made matters even worse when he produced this verse of Muḥtasham Kāshī as an authority: [one Persian verse]. No ustad is free of such slips and absentminded errors. And such a small thing cannot make even a crack in his perfection. Thus the power of his poetry made dozens of people his pupils right there. #391# Munshī Karāmat ʿAlī 'Az̤har', who in the beginning used to compose all the chronograms that appeared in printed books in Lucknow, always declared himself proud to be Shāh Naṣīr's pupil.

Shāh Naṣīr went again, for a fourth time, to the Deccan, but that time he went and never came back. My late Ustad, who always remembered the ustad-ship of Shāh Naṣīr in words of respect, often said with regret, 'The fourth time when he was preparing to go there, I chanced to meet him. I said, "Now your years are too many for such a long journey". He replied, "Ibrāhīm, my boy! It is heaven, a very heaven. I am going to heaven. Come on, you come too."' My late Ustad, in a state of grief, often used also to say, 'His own opening verse became appropriate for him:

/Oh Majnūn with the dust-smeared body, whose body is now dead in this wilderness?

Oh acacia-thorn needles, whose shroud are you stitching?/'

Finally in Hyderabad he set out on his journey from this mortal world. And he was buried in the khanqah of Qāẓī Maḳhdūm Mūsā. A pupil of his produced a chronogram with the date of his death: 'chirāġh gul' [=the lamp is extinguished] (A.H. 1254) [1829-30]. He did not compile his own volume. The ghazals he composed, he kept in one place. When a large number of them collected, then he stuffed them into a long bag that was like a bolster. He gave them to his wife to keep, and said, 'Keep them with care'. There were also various ghazals in one or two brief volumes. They and a much greater number as well remained in the Deccan.

Here, among his children, the changing times gave none of them the chance to raise his head and pull into shape the whole of his poetry. Many individual ghazals are in the hands of his pupils, but no one has gathered them all together. Everyone wants his volume. Thus, in Delhi there was one Mīr Ḥusain 'Taskīn',a a poet of creative disposition and 'delicate thought'. His son too, Sayyid ʿAbd ur-Raḥmān, was the possessor of taste and a person who understood poetry. He too, with great labor, gathered together a collection; very probably no collection of the Shāh Sahib's poetry larger than his would ever have been gathered in one place. The Navab Sahib of Rampur, who is an extreme appreciator of poetry, paid a substantial amount and obtained that manuscript. The ghazals are found in quantity in a number of places, but the odes are hard to find--and they too were many. The truth is that #392# the style of his ghazals too shows the effect of the ode.

His poetry has been thoroughly scrutinized. His language, in the glory of his words and the trimness of his constructions, was Saudā's language, and the force and relish of it was an inborn gift. He claimed to have designed new similes and metaphors of his own, and the claim was legitimate. He used to devise new grounds, extremely pleasing and resonant. But they were so stony that even great champions couldn't take a step to advance upon them. He has adopted similes and metaphors and used them with the greatest ease--so that many powerful literary stylists dislike them and declare them the result of lack of learning. And they say that these similes and metaphors are not poetic, but are mere banter. It's their mistake. If he had not composed in such a way, then how would the poetry have been popularly understood, and how could we hear hot fresh verses in such stony rhyme-schemes? Then, how would he receive cries of 'Bravo!' in thousands of mushairahs, and from the mouths of great and small? Some words--for example, ṭuk, vāchhṛe, tispar, and so on--which had survived up to the time of Sayyid Inshā and Jurʾat, he abandoned. But verbs like āʾe hai, jāʾe hai, and so on, he too used.

Poets with claims to learning always looked askance at the loud clamor of his poetry, and whispered among themselves. Still, they couldn't suppress the power of his poetry. The reason was that no one could manage to attain a power of poetic temperament like his. The stony grounds in which he overwhelmed the mushairah with the heat of his poetry--for others, even to complete a ghazal in them was difficult. A number of venerable, long-practiced elders, who were fully learned in book-knowledge, like Ḥakīm Ṡanāʾullāh Ḳhān 'Firāq', and Ḥakīm Qudratullāh Ḳhān 'Qāsim', the pupils of Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard; Miyāñ Shikebā the pupil of Mīr; Mirzā ʿAz̤īm Beg and Shaiḳh Valīullāh 'Muḥib', the pupils of Saudā; and Ḥāfiz̤ ʿAbd ur-Raḥmān Ḳhān 'Iḥsān', and so on, were present. They all heard his claims. And on a number of occasions, because of their dignity, they endured his sarcasms. But they couldn't silence him.

With Ḥakīm Qudratullāh Ḳhān Qāsim, a particular event occurred: one time, in a mushairah, a pattern was given: 'yār shitāb, talvār shitāb'. The ghazal that Shāh Naṣīr recited #393# contained the following verse-set:

/When I wrote down the praises of your face full of radiance [anvar]

Oh friend, Anvarī quickly overturned his volume

Then when I read the theme of the bayāẓ [=whiteness; notebook] of the neck

Having heard it, Qāsim-e Anvār fell silent [with shame] at once/.

The late Ḥakīm Qāsim was regarded by great and small as entitled to respect and honor. In addition, along with his intellectual attainments he was practiced in the art of poetry. And he didn't think much of the power merely to compose metrically and write forcefully. Since he himself used the pen-name of Qāsim, the name Qāsim-e Anvār displeased him. At the next mushairah he included this verse-set in his ghazal:

/For a human, the first requirement is humanity

Whether he be a Mīr or a Mirzā, whether he be a Ḳhān or a Navab

Not to mention men, should I even prostrate myself to God

If the head of the arch [in the mosque] doesn't first show a respectful curve?/

Shāh Naṣīr's extemporizing skills and ready wit had earned the authority of acceptance and approval from both great and small. And his was a genuine fervor, for it apparently couldn't be suppressed. He never tired of composing verses, and slackness never entered the trimness of his poetry. Often in mushairahs, while others were reciting their ghazals, he used to spontaneously compose suitable verses and insert them into the ghazal. His power of metrical composition was like a tree: when you shook its branches, at once fruit rained down. He gave correction extremely quickly, and he gave suitable correction. The quickness of his temperament was also extraordinary. Right in the mushairah he would hear someone's verse, and would speak up right then, 'Put it this way!' The speaker, hearing him, would be left with his mouth hanging open. This is the reason that the veteran, long-practiced poets used to avoid meeting his gaze.

His style of recitation too was different from everyone else's, and was extremely agreeable. His recitation enhanced the power of the poetry twofold--or rather, tenfold. Because his tongue had taken its power from the power of his temperament, and its effect from the fervor of his heart. In his voice, even in his old age, was the thunder of youth. When he recited a ghazal in the mushairah, he overwhelmed the whole gathering. And at his own poetry he himself grew impassioned. In one mushairah he recited a ghazal. In it when he came to the verse-set given #394# below, he recited the verses, and out of sheer joy he rose and stood up.

/This is Majnūn, it's not a deer, Lailā!

He has donned a deerskin and emerged from his home

What you take for antlers are thorns

They entered in at his feet and have emerged from his head/.

The firmness of his beliefs: His religious persuasion was Sunni, but there was no fanaticism in it. A number of repeated-line poems and munāqib to the glory of Janāb Amīr [Hazrat ʿAlī] (may God's peace and blessing be upon him) exist. They also show that whatever he composed, he did not compose in order to show the power of his temperament, or to adorn his turban with the crest-ornament of praise and applause. Rather, he composed with heartfelt love and true faith. His sincere faith was of such an order that as he went on his way through streets and lanes, if he saw in some niche a three-stranded garland, or if he saw some clay-plastered niche with five flowers lying in it, he used to stand barefooted on his sandals and recite the Fātiḥah with his hands joined. Some of his pupils (there were always four or five with him) asked him, 'Ustad! Whose dargah is it?' He would reply, 'God knows which venerable elder has passed this way'. A pupil said, 'Your Excellency! Without inquiring, why did you recite the Fātiḥah?' He used to reply, 'My boy! After all, someone has offered flowers. If someone has arranged a garland, then has he done it for nothing? He must have arranged it for some reason.' Things went so far that sometimes some pupil actually knew, and would say, 'Ustad! I know that right adjacent is a sweeper's house, and he has arranged this niche for his Lāl Beg'. At that time he himself would laugh and said, 'Well, I recited the word of God! Its blessing cannot merely drift away in the air. Wherever there is a dwelling for it, it will arrive. My merit has not been lost.'

The details of his temperament, and his habits and manners: Shāh Naṣīr was of an extremely refined disposition and sensitive temperament. He was always well dressed and well turned out. And along with that, he always maintained a certain style, as is the rule with people of Delhi's old families. His deportment was such that it aroused respect and esteem in everyone's eyes. Although he did not have a fair complexion, the light #395# of awareness shone from his head to his feet. He was thin, and of tall stature. However short his beard, and however little his outward impressiveness--a thousand times more the robe of honor of perfection had increased his radiance and dignity. When in some encounters and some verses he referred to this matter, a thousand beauties sacrificed themselves for him. In a few anecdotes [lat̤āʾif], the pleasure [lut̤f]of such occasions can be obtained.

His wit and liveliness: Although Shāh Naṣīr was a gentlemen of so much accomplishment, and had the rank to preside over gatherings with honor and respect, he was still extremely good-tempered and friendly. With elderly people he became elderly, with children he became a child. In every fair he went to, he searched for themes. And since the heart withers through concentration on poetry, in this way he used to make it turn fresh and dewy and flourishing.

An anecdote: My late Ustad used to say, 'One time the Shāh Sahib came to [the Basant fair of] Bholū Shāh. Some pupils were with him. Taking them along, he sat on the wall of Tīs Hazārī Garden, and began to watch the spectacle. Some prostitute had spent a great amount of money and had had made a gold-worked chariot of extreme and showy magnificence. It was being talked about in the city. The prostitute, seated in the chariot, made her glittering way through the fair. One pupil said, "Ustad! Some verse on that?" At once he recited,

/'Look at the golden pinnacle of her chariot,'

The Pleiades said last night to the moon,

'So that it may fly out,

The golden chicken has broken open the shell with its beak'/.1

An anecdote: On another such occasion some prostitute passed before him. She had a blue-grey shawl on her head, and the glitter of the indigo gave an extraordinary pleasure. A pupil again made a request. He recited,

/It is not a blue-grey indigo shawl, the covering on your head

Oh moon-browed one, it is a starlit night over your head/.

His good strategies: #396# Although his ascendant fortune had provided for Shāh Naṣīr a broad field of freedom from financial care, it was his habit to make some request or other from every pupil. For example, he would began to give correction on a ghazal. He would withdraw a pen from his pen-case and say, 'My boy, what fine pen-cases used to come from Kashmir! God knows what the reason is, but now they can't be had. Please--if you see one that you like, get it for me.' In the same way he asked someone for a knife, and if he had some well-off pupil, and he was putting on a garment, he would say, 'The Dacca muslin that used to come--now it's nowhere to be seen. Sir, this English muslin doesn't please me at all. My boy, if you see one that you like, then just see to it.'

Some friends asked him in surprise what sort of behavior this was. He said, 'Every day they write down their fiddle-faddle and nonsense on pieces of paper, and come and sit on my head. The benefit of my requests is that people who would come every day, bring their ghazals every fourth day instead. Moreover, when a person pays something in order to learn a skill, he values it and his interest is firm; and whatever he writes, he writes with his whole heart. This is the benefit to him. And the benefit to me is that if he brings something, then the gift falls to me; if he doesn't bring anything, then he ceases to pester me.'

To suit the occasion: When he found some eventb worthy of being memorialized, Shāh Naṣīr certainly composed something or other about it. Thus when Maulvī Ismāʿīl Sahib was defeated in holy warfare, and word of it reached Delhi, then on that occasion he composed a long ode. Right now I remember three verses from it: [#397# three verses with background comments].

An anecdote: One time a number of villages under the king's control grew rebellious. Shāh Niz̤ām ud-Dīn, who was known as 'Shāh jī' and was chief officer at the court, took an army and went there. And he returned unsuccessful. During his time as chief officer, the royal servants had experienced trouble over their salaries. Ṣhāh Naṣīr wrote a poem about this too, of which the opening verse was:

/Why do you ask, friends--we sit around in wretchedness!

Thanks be to God that finally the Shāh Sahib has come back again/.

An anecdote: In Delhi there was a Hindu clerk who had turned Muslim over a prostitute named Najiyā. The Ṣhāh Sahib said,

/Wherever you made a gesture, no one lived [nah jiyā]

Ah Najiyā, the one slain by your eye did not live [nah jiyā]/.

An anecdote: In Delhi there were two brothers named ʿĪsā Ḳhān and Mūsā Ḳhān. Some quarrel arose between them over wealth and property. ʿĪsā Ḳhān lost. Mūsā Ḳhān, partly through the orders of the courts and partly through practical wisdom, swallowed up the whole property. Shāh NaṣIr, by way of a witticism, composed a verse-set of some verses. I remember one line--and it is the life of the verse-set: /Word spread throughout the world that ʿĪsā Ḳhān's house has been robbed [mūsā]/. The amusing thing is that both brothers were poets. One had the pen-name 'Āfāq' [=World], the other 'Shuhrat' [=Fame]. Even among those two, one brainless person had babbled some nonsense [about the Shāh Sahib]. After praising the virtues of the Shāh Sahib's ancestors, he spoke ill of the Shāh Sahib. And since #398# the Shāh Sahib lived in Raushan Pūrah, [to mock his dark complexion] he made reference to that and said,

/After them all, the Shāh Sahib

Brightened [raushan] up Raushan Pūrah very well/.

Mirzā Muġhal Beg,c while he held the office of vazir, displeased the king's servants. On that occasion everyone, according to his spirit, gave vent to the rancor in his heart. One gentleman composed a chronogram:

/Laughing, a voice said to him, Bravo!

How the vazir-ship has been wrapped around a [weaver's] spindle!/

The Shāh Sahib too composed a verse-set. I remember two verses of it:

/Don't at all trust the warp and woof of the world

Look carefully with the eye of reality: the moment of your departure has come

Cut yourself away from that side and join yourself to this side

You are a believer; otherwise, you're nothing but the tail [or ass] of a true believer/.2

The late Shāh Naṣīr and Shaiḳh Ibrāhīm Żauq too had encounters. See the account under the latter's name.

An anecdote: In the court of the Deccan it was the custom for business to continue night and day. Times were fixed for various activities. When one department had finished its court audience, its people were given leave to go, and the people of the second department presented themselves. In the meantime the Nizam rested a little, took care of necessary tasks, and then seated himself again. Thus the court audience concerning mushairahs and munāṡirahs [=prose reading sessions] was held in the last watch of the night. On one occasion, there was an extremely glittering and elegant gathering. All the accomplished people of the Deccan, and a number of people from Iran, were present. All their temperaments displayed their mettle. In particular, some poets from Iran recited such odes that people's lips and throats could not find sufficient words of praise. Shāh Naṣīr's polished tact and good manners had won over everyone at court, small and great. Thus when the candle drew near to him, a herald with a golden mace in his hand stood with a double shawl worth a thousand or twelve hundred rupees over his shoulder. Bending down, #399# he whispered, 'If you don't recite a ghazal today, it will be better'. He, growing angry, said, 'Why?' The man said, 'The wind has grown sharp' (that is, it is difficult for your poetry to flourish). He, running his hand over his chin in anger, replied, 'I am not so beautiful that anyone should keep me as a servant just to look at my face. If not this, then what am I good for?' During this exchange, the candle too had come before him. Then the ghazal that he recited ravished everyone's hearts.

An anecdote: Leaving aside the fact that when it came to poetry he had a ready disposition, he was also like lightning in repartee. Thus one day he had gone to the Seventeenth-day [fair] of the Sult̤ānjī [Niz̤ām ud-Dīn Auliyā]. And going into the step-well, he sat down in a side-niche. He was smoking the huqqah, when by chance a Navab Sahib passed by. He exchanged courteous greetings with Shāh Naṣīr. Many dancing-girls too were in attendance, and a dance was taking place. Gesturing toward this show of glitter and splendor, the Navab Sahib said, 'Ustad! Today you too are on the shelf [t̤*q]'. He replied, 'Yes sir, I have sat down to acquire a mate [juft hone ko]--please come, you sit down too'.3

An anecdote: One time he went to the Deccan. The Navab of Jhajjar had been inviting him for a long time. Now, since that place was on his way, and the heat was very intense, so that to travel constantly was difficult, he went there and stayed for some days. When he was ready to move on, he went to take his leave. The Navab said, 'It's the hot season, and the trip to the Deccan is a long one. May God bring you there safe and well! But tell me for sure when you'll come again to Jhajjar.' He laughed and said, 'The desire for an earthen pitcher [jhajjar] is very strong in the heat!'

The objection of Rangīn: Shāh Naṣīr has a famous verse,

/Last night a wine-drinker on the Bactrus River stole the moon's cloak

In the heavens the sun began to circulate a golden drinking bowl/.4

Navab Saʿādat Yār Ḳhān Rangīn says in Majālis-e rangīn, 'In one gathering, this verse was receiving much praise. I gave a correction on it: that it would be good to make it /Last night a cloud #400# stole the moon's cloak on the Bactrus River/. The reason is that when a cloud comes over the moon, the 'moon's cloak' no longer remains. It's as if it were stolen. Here, the thief is on the ground, and the theme in the upper world. Affairs of the ground should be settled on the ground. For the upper world, the thief too ought to be heavenly.' Someone went and told Shāh Naṣīr as well. He was very angry, and said, 'It's one thing to be the son of a navab, and another thing to be a poet!' When Rangīn heard of this, he went to the Shāh Sahib and offered many apologies.

But in my opinion, Shāh Naṣīr said nothing inappropriate. The moon is in the sky, the moonlight is on the earth. And only the wine-drinker knows the pleasure of the moonlight--what does a cloud know of it? And if there is to be no wine-drinker, then the the verse will fall below the level of 'ghazalness'.

An anecdote: In connection with his estate in the country, on one occasion he went to meet with the revenue officer of Sonepat. And he took some oranges from Delhi with him by way of a gift. The revenue officer said, 'Respected Shāh Sahib! Why did you take the trouble of bringing oranges? The best gift from you is your poetry. Please be kind enough to compose a verse using these oranges to create a beautiful simile.' At once he composed a quatrain, and recited,

/Oh sun of the tower of the sky of good fortune

Please pay close attention to these oranges

May this trifling offering presented to you be accepted

Behind the curtain of twilight there are crescent moons [of orange sections] bunched together/.

[Ghazals #401# #402# #403# #404# by Shāh Naṣīr.]

a The same Taskīn who was a well-trained pupil of Momin's.

1 A 'golden chicken' [murġh-e zarrīñ] is a strutting, overdressed person.

b Shāh Naṣīr went to the Seventeenth-day [Fair] of Shāh Niz̤ām ud-Dīn. Mīr Bāqar ʿAlī Sahib came from a Sayyid family of Delhi; he went to the dargah, and on the way someone killed him. When word reached the dargah, then everyone regretted his youth and his untimely death. The Shāh Sahib at once composed a chronogram. The verse-set of the chronogram: [two Persian verses].

c By birth he was a weaver.

2 'Momin' [=believer] is a title often used by weavers.

3 The word t̤āq [=niche] also means 'prime number', while a non-prime number is a juft. The phrase juft honā thus means 'to move from one to two'--and thus, by extension, to have sex.

4 To 'steal the moon's cloak' is to drink for the whole night, till the moon sets. If something is stolen, one puts slips of paper bearing the suspects' names into a bowl, recites a prayer, then begins to recite the names aloud; when the guilty name is recited, the bowl will start to revolve.