SRF's translation comes, with his permission, from Mir Taqi Mir: Selected Ghazals and Other Poems, translated by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019. Murty Classical Library of India; Sheldon Pollock, General Editor. Ghazal 5, pp. 19-23.

S. R. Faruqi:

(1) The head swollen with a crown's pride today
Will be the site of loud lamentation tomorrow.

(2) The peri is ashamed of her face when she is in your presence.
The partridge can do nothing to match your walk.

[The partridge, or mountain quail, is supposed to have a swaggering, drunken, and most attractive walk.]

(3) Did anyone ever journey safely through the quarters of the world?
All travelers had their baggage plundered somewhere on the highway.

(4) Even prison could do nothing to lessen the tumults of unbridled madness.
Now the only cure for my deranged head is to be dashed against a block of stone.

(5) Each wound in my heart demands from doomsday's judge
Justice against your unwillingness to do justice in my lifetime.

['Doomsday' is the Islamic judgment day, when the dead will arise and be held accountable for their sins; by extension, it's used for any terrible disaster or calamity.]

(6) I myself keep my gaze fixed just where I locked my eye the first time.
It's the mirror that compulsively makes eyes at everything.

[The mirror reflects everything that comes before it, but the lover's eye always reflects the beloved.]

(7) I spent a hundred springtimes ceaselessly on the wing.
I never got to see the potential of being wingless and featherless.

(8) It glitters so, hung at the tip of an eyelash, that you might say
my teardrop is in fact a red gemstone, a liver-colored agate.

(9) I went out yesterday to look at the ocean--
I found it stood in need of the wetness of someone's eyelashes!

[The lover weeping copious tears is a common trope. Mir has used the theme with great variety, adding occasionally an effect of levity combined with satire (on the ocean), and gravity (because it is the lover's fate to weep always) as here.]

(10) Draw your breath gently, its workings are brittle and delicate.
These four quarters of the world: a glassmaker's workshop.

(11) Please, go pay some heed to Mir's condition: his heart is on fire.
Dear friend, who can know how much life is left in the lamp when morning is near?



(inspired by SRF's translation)

(1) Here, upon the head that proudly wears a crown today
Tomorrow is, again, the tumult of mourning.

(2) The Pari's cheek is shamed by your face.
In your presence, the partridge is frozen in place.

(3) Who has passed safely beyond the horizons?
Here, every traveler's baggage has been looted on the road.

(4) Not even a prison cell ended the tumult of my madness.
Now stone is the only cure for this disordered head.

(5) My every heart-wound seeks, from the Judge of Doomsday,
Justice, for your practice of injustice.

(6) Where the eyes have met, hold the gaze!
The wanton mirror makes eyes at everything.

(7) A hundred rose-seasons passed for me, under wing.
I never saw the power of winglessness.

['Under wing' can be taken either as 'on the wing', or as 'with head under wing'.]

(8) It glistens with such a color on my eyelashes that
You'd call my tear-drop a precious 'liver' agate.

(9) Yesterday I went for a stroll down to the sea.
It was in need of the moisture from my eyelashes.

(10) Take even a breath gently, for the work is very delicate
In this glass-making workshop of the horizons.

(11) 'Just go quick and check on Mir, with his burnt-out liver!
How long, my friend, can an oil lamp last in the dawn?'


Zahra Sabri:

Zahra Sabri is a special guest translator for this site.

(1) The head which is proud, today, of wearing the royal crown
Tomorrow, yet again here, there is the din of tears being shed over it

(2) Your face puts to shame the fairy’s exquisite face
The mountain partridge’s grace cannot approach your gait

(3) Who is it who finished their journey through this world securely?
Here, every traveller had their belongings plundered along the way

(4) Even in the dungeon, the tumult of our madness did not depart
Now there’s nothing for it but a stone, as the remedy of this insanity

(5) Before the Arbiter of Judgement Day, every wound in our liver
Is a seeker of justice for the oppression done by you

(6) As for me, once I fixed my gaze somewhere, I just never looked away
The mirror is addicted to looking here and there

(7) A hundred rose-seasons passed for us in a state of being ‘under the wing’
We never experienced the power of being powerless

[In using the phrase ‘winglessness and featherlessness’ (be-bāl-o-parī) here, Mir is playing on its established meaning of ‘being powerless and without resources’]

(8) It glitters on the eyelash in such a way that you wouldthink
My teardrop to be a piece of liver-coloured cornelian

(9) Yesterday, we made an excursion to the much-talked-about ocean
Well, it stood in need of the water of eyelashes

(10) Take care, and be gentle, even in breathing, for very delicate is the business
Of this glass-maker’s workshop of a universe

(11) Quick please, go over and ask how the burnt-livered Mir fares
No telling, my friend, when a morning-lamp may burn out


Tahira Naqvi:

Tahira Naqvi is a guest translator for this site.

(1) The head that feels pride today because it wears a crown,
Tomorrow it will carry again the tumult of lamentation

(2) The cheek of the fairy is envious of your face,
The gait of the partridge does not compare to your walk

(3) Who has passed safely through the horizons?
Every traveler’s baggage was looted here along the way

(4) Even in prison the tumult of my passion did not diminish,
Now the cure for the madness of love is only the stone

(5) From the ruler of the Judgment Day, every wound in the heart
Seeks redress for your injustice

(6) I kept my gaze pinned to where I first found love,
The mirror is what makes eyes at everyone

(7) I spent a hundred years of springtime flying,
I was not fated to know what it is means to be wingless and featherless

(8) The way it sparkles on my eyelash makes you say
That my tear is a droplet from the liver-hued agate

(9) Yesterday we also went and wandered by the ocean,
It was in need of your eyelashes

(10) Breathe softly, delicate is the task
Of the mirror-making workshop in the horizons

(11) Go and see how Mir of the burning liver, fares,
How long can one trust the morning lamp, friend?