zindaa;N me;N bhii shorish nah ga))ii apne junuu;N kii
ab sang mudaavaa hai is aashuftah-sarii kaa

1) even/also in prison the disturbance/tumult of my madness did not go
2) now stone is the medicine/cure of this {distracted/disordered}-headedness



shorish : 'Commotion, confusion, tumult, disturbance, insurrection, &c.'. (Platts p.736)

S. R. Faruqi:

An example of how a commonplace poet ruins a lofty theme can be seen by placing against Mir's verse this verse of Atish's:

firaaq-e yaar me;N saudaa-e aasaa))ish nahii;N bihtar
nah aa))ii niind to to;Ruu;Ngaa sar se ;xisht-e baalii;N ko

[in separation from the beloved it's better if there's no dealing in repose
if sleep would not come, then with my head I will break my brick-pillow]

Atish says on the one hand that in a state of separation the thought of repose is not good; but on the other hand he says that if sleep wouldn't come then he would smash his head into the brick that he uses instead of a pillow-- that is, if sleep will come, then he'll go to sleep! In addition, the whole verse is full of unnecessary or minimally effective words. In 'separation from the beloved', 'from the beloved' is unnecessary. To have saudaa-e aasaa))ish instead of fikr-e aasaa))ish is inappropriate. The word 'better' makes the claim that there would also be a mention of something that would be less good than repose. If he had said nahii;N achchhaa then this flaw would have been removed. The defects of the second line have already been mentioned above.

As against this, in Mir's verse there's a whole story, and only eloquent allusions have been made to it. From 'even in prison' we learn that other cures for the disturbance of passion have already been used, and they've remained unsuccessful. What an affinity there is between 'disturbance' and 'distracted-headedness', and between 'disturbance' and 'madness' there's a meaning-play [ri((aayat-e ma((navii].

With what harmony the word sang has been used in the line! The word itself alludes to the cracking sound with which the head would be smashed against a stone. A further pleasure is that the cure the speaker has devised for the disturbance of madness (to smash the head against a stone, or to crash a stone into the head) is itself a symbol of the intensity of madness. Then, for the intensity of madness (which even in prison remained incurable) that he has called 'this distracted-headness'-- the power in 'this' doesn't even need to be mentioned.

[See also {700,1}; {931,11}; {1037,7}.]



The speaker's madness is now as deeply-rooted as his life, and the only way to remove it is to remove his life too. Or at least, to remove his consciousness for a time. As SRF observes, the quest for such a radical 'cure' is itself a sign of severe madness. But of course, that doesn't mean it's not a cure.

Stone is not only a cure, but also a wonderfully suggestive antithesis. The madness is full of disturbance, wildness, tumult; stone is motionless and still. The madman's head is full of disorder and distraction; stone is monolithic and simple. The living person is full of inner turmoil and chaotic desires; the dead are as quiet and indifferent as stone.

For another play with such a mad and deadly 'cure' for pain, see: