The Bagh I Wah 37


I am sleeping four hours a night in my push to get the book finished by Friday. I felt an overwhelming urge to share at least a passage of what I am working on, I suppose because it is one of the few passages that is about feeling not policy, and feelings should be shared. Or something like that, maybe its just lack of sleep. This differs from previous passages I have published as it is going to be in the book, not something I have removed in editing down.

On 1st August they were joined by Hugh Falconer and his collaborator Captain Proby Cautley. Burnes received a letter from Dost Mohammed explaining that he was receiving proposals and diplomatic representatives were being sent from both Persia and Russia, but he would do nothing until Burnes arrived. Burnes immediately wrote to Colvin and Macnaghten insisting that he needed more powers and discretion to act in these circumstances, noting in his diary “I am to talk, they [the Persians and Russians] are to act. They had better recall me than act thus.” He was to repeat often a belief that Auckland was placing him in an impossible situation.

But that same evening there was time for enjoyment amid the gloom. They dined al fresco in the beautiful but decaying Mughal garden, flooded with roses, the Bagh-i-Wah. “We pitched our camp by the crystal rivulet, filled our glasses with Burgundy, and drank to the memory of the fame of Noor Muhal and her immortal poet Thomas Moore.”

Burnes frequently quotes Moore and his “Mughal” poetry, especially Lalla Rook. He had met Moore in London, and Burnes’ own works are accounted an influence on Moore’s poetry. Undoubtedly this poetic sensibility affected Burnes’ attitudes, particularly his partiality for Islamic culture. Moore’s reputation has not proved “immortal”, but he was enormously popular at this time, across all of Europe. His poetry inspired music by Schumann and Berlioz, and countless artists and writers. The passage Burnes is here referencing – and presumes his readers will get the reference – is

The mask is off – the charm is wrought –
And Selim to his heart has caught,
In blushes, more than ever bright
His Nourmahal, his Haram’s light!
And well do vanish’d frowns enhance
The charm of every brighten’d glance;
And dearer seems each dawning smile
For having lost its light awhile;
And happier now, for all its sighs,
As on his arm her head reposes,
She whispers him, with laughing eyes,
“Remember, love, the Feast of Roses!1

That was a wonderful evening under the stars in Hasan Abdal – the rivulet, the roses, the burgundy, Goncalves’ guitar, the poetry and added to Burnes’ mission of already very remarkable men, the great paleontologists Falconer and Cautley, who much influenced Darwin. Cautley also was the genius who designed and constructed the great Ganges canal.


37 thoughts on “The Bagh I Wah

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  • Pete

    @Giyane

    “In Islam, if people don’t listen to the truth, and connect it to the comprehension/fitra of the God which they were given when they were born, and are utterly contentious against the message that God is one, not trees nor spirits nor men, then the sword is justified against them.”

    Nice concept religion you have there mate. You, Richard the Lionheart, Torquemada, Vasco da Gama- you’d have got on like a house on fire I’m sure.

    Fortunately most Muslims clearly don’t agree with you, otherwise we’d have been in a continuous state of world war ever since the Seventh Century CE.

  • farrukh

    Lovely quote Craig, I would love to see the Mughal Gardens at Aah, there is also a beautiful Mughal era Haveli/Mansion there with lovely Mughal paintings on the walls. When the Mughal emperor saw the gardens he said “wah” which would in the West translate as “Wow” hence the name. The whole garden was privately owned until the state bought it. I have a guide book to the Gardens of Wah, which you may be interested in purchasing.There are other Mughal gardens in Pakistan which have simply disappeared into urban development because they remained in private hands with all the lovely Mughal architecture destroyed for some ugly housing to take its place.

  • farrukh

    Should read mughal gardens at ‘Wah” as opposed to “Aah” but it appears some form of word check screwed up my text. I commend you again on your fine writing and research and the lovely quote from your work. The Sufi shrine at Hasan Abdal is of a Kandahari man known as Baba Wali in Afghanistan. When is your book coming out?

  • Villager

    Pete
    16 Jun, 2015 – 7:57 pm
    @Giyane

    “In Islam, if people don’t listen to the truth, and connect it to the comprehension/fitra of the God which they were given when they were born, and are utterly contentious against the message that God is one, not trees nor spirits nor men, then the sword is justified against them.”

    Nice concept religion you have there mate. You, Richard the Lionheart, Torquemada, Vasco da Gama- you’d have got on like a house on fire I’m sure.

    Fortunately most Muslims clearly don’t agree with you, otherwise we’d have been in a continuous state of world war ever since the Seventh Century CE.
    ___________________

    Thanks for also picking up on that Pete.

    I was beginning to wonder if I were the only sane person around to have responded when response is due.

    Our Steno-to-power in residence glossed over it completely preferring to make some silly remarks. (But she’s an anti-Jew so by default Islam can do no wrong.

    And now, I’m not at all sure what the majority of Muslims in the UK feel/believe. I suspect a good number of them are duplicitous like Pakistan is itself, or, Saudi Arabia, the largest importer of scotch whisky in the world, plain hypocritical. I really don’t know where all this is going, but it doesn’t look pretty.

    Get rid of all man-made (organised) religions, I say. See the fact that we, the world, are a Type Zero Global Civilisation!

  • Villager

    “Lovely quote Craig, I would love to see the Mughal Gardens at Aah”

    I had to read that 6 times wondering if you had some new take to the original name. Glad you clarified.

    “I have a guide book to the Gardens of Wah, which you may be interested in purchasing.”

    This I read only once but hesitatingly acknowledged that you’re not a particularly generous soul. Craig could have any book from my library, any time. In fact I think I should send him something!

    Commendations come cheap. Man up!

  • Mary

    ‘(But she’s an anti-Jew so by default Islam can do no wrong).

    Slandering me again. Watch that mouth of yours Villager when you make this type of gratuitous remark about me to another commenter.

    Not anti-Jew but anti-Zionist as you well know. You really are a piece of work.

  • farrukh

    Villager, presumably you have a job, and you are paid for doing that job. I am a book seller, I do not work for free so I charge for books. If you can’t handle that concept then you need a reality check.

    As for your other comments “Man Up!” I simply don’t understand pleb English.

    Thanks for reading my good village peasant.

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