shaam se kuchh bujhaa saa rahtaa huu;N
dil hu))aa hai chiraa;G muflis kaa

1) since the evening, I remain somewhat extinguished-ish
2) the heart has become the lamp of a poor man



muflis : 'Insolvent, bankrupt; penniless; indigent, needy, in want, poor, wretched, beggarly; --an insolvent; a penniless person, a pauper'. (Platts p.1053)

S. R. Faruqi:

The first line of this verse is usually reputed to be this:

shaam se kuchh bujhaa saa rahtaa hai

But the text as I have given it is correct, and is better.

A verse of Mus'hafi's has almost gone head to head [la;R jaanaa] with this one:

shaam se hii bujhaa saa rahtaa hai
dil hai goyaa chiraa;G muflis kaa

[right from the evening, it remains extinguished-ish
the heart is, so to speak, the lamp of a poor man]

Mir's verse is somewhat better than Mus'hafi's, because in the first line the speaker said, 'since the evening I remain somewhat melancholy'. This melancholy is of the whole temperament, the whole personality.

In the second line the speaker said an apparently disconnected thing, that 'my heart has become the lamp of a poor man'. But in reality, in the first line is a claim, and in the second line is the proof. When the heart is like a poor man's lamp, then it's clear that there will be very little light in it; that is, it will have little heat/energy. That is, in it there will be few longings and hopes. And when the longings and hopes in the heart are few, then it's clear that the whole temperament will be melancholy. In Mus'hafi's verse there's only one observation: that the heart remains extinguished-ish. In Mir's, there are two observations, and between them there's also the connection of claim and proof.

Then, there's also the point that if in the heart the light is less, then in it the burning will also be less. (However bright a lamp is, that's how much burningness it will have.) So since in the heart the burning of love is less, the temperament remains melancholy, or the heart is lightless; that is, the glory/appearance of the beloved isn't in it, or the light of mystic knowledge isn't in it.

The specification of the evening is because in the day, the heart keeps being diverted by many kinds of preoccupations. The moment the evening comes, helplessness and solitude come and surround it. Since the heart is not entirely lightless, but rather like the lamp of a poor man has a dim light, he has described himself as 'somewhat extinguished-ish', not as entirely melancholy. For the diminishedness in the heart of tumult, or of the glory/appearance of the beloved, or of the light of mystic knowledge, to give the simile of a dim lamp-- and then not directly to call the lamp dim, but rather in an implicative way to call it a poor man's lamp-- is a miracle of poetic composition.

The image of the 'lamp of a poor man' Mir has used one more time in the first divan, in a comparatively weaker way:


Shahryar has presented an aspect of this theme in a very fine way:

yih tab hai kih ik ;xvaab se rishtah hai hamaaraa
din ;Dhalte hii dil ;Duubne lagtaa hai hamaaraa

[it's then that we resemble a single dream
as soon as the day declines, our heart begins to sink]

Qa'im Chandpuri too has lighted his lamp from Mir's lamp. But by saying tahii-dast kaa chiraa;G he has made a new image. And another new idea that he has created is that the hand is empty, and there is also a lamp in it. Qa'im's verse is:

tab hii qaa))im bujhaa saa rahtaa huu;N
kis tahii-dast kaa chiraa;G huu;N mai;N

[thus indeed, Qa'im, I remain extinguished-ish
of which empty-handed one am I the lamp?]



While we're at it, we might also compare Ghalib's more elaborate, baroque treatment of the theme:


The difference is not entirely due to poetic temperament-- it's also related to the fact that Mir is here using a short meter, while Ghalib is using a much longer one.