galii me;N us kii gayaa so gayaa nah bolaa phir
mai;N miir miir kar us ko bahut pukaar rahaa

1) when he went into her street-- well, he went; he didn't speak then/again
2) saying 'Mir! Mir!', I kept calling out to him a great deal



S. R. Faruqi:

Coleridge spoke of a special quality of Shakespeare's: that he brings the realities of life to a human level, and so expresses them. That is, those things that are usually expressed by means of philosophical, analytical language, Shakespeare expresses through human beings of flesh and blood. About Mir, in the domain of romantic poetry, this very thing can be said. In Mir's poetry is found that conventional lover who tears open his breast, and from whose eyes a river of blood keeps running. But side by side with him is that lover as well who confronts experiences like those of ordinary people. Mir has bestowed on that lover a dramatic intensity, so that his ordinary experiences too create an immediate effect.

As we see in the present verse, dramaticness has bestowed on events a mysterious 'mood'. Even after he has been called again and again, Mir's not speaking creates a number of possibilities. 1) In the street there's such a turmoil of people that Mir somehow became lost in the crowd, or the caller's voice didn't reach him. 2) The moment Mir went there, he was slain. 3) He lost his mind and senses. 4) He renounced the world and the people of the world; people kept calling but he didn't want to take the trouble to reply. 5) He himself gave up his own life, or 6) he committed suicide. 7) Madness so overpowered him that he left even the beloved's street and went off somewhere. 8) The beloved's street is a dark, mysterious place, not everyone can go there; thus the caller didn't enter the street, but rather only kept calling from outside it.

Then, the meaningfulness of gayaa so gayaa is praiseworthy ( so gayaa -- that is, 'he went to sleep'). On the basis of the repetition of 'Mir', the tone is both that of ordinary conversation, and that of calling out. This style also inclines the mind toward miir as the imperative of [the Persian verb] mardan , 'to die'. About the lover's utter absorption and his 'absorption in passion and in the beloved', thousands of Urdu verses have been composed. But on the basis of its style of expression, which is at once matter-of-fact and dramatic, this verse is in a class by itself.

This very style, on a slightly lower level, Mir has used in the third divan like this [{1105,5}]:

miskin jahaa;N thaa dil-zadah miskii;N kaa ham to vaa;N
kal der miir miir pukaare nahii;N hai ab

[where the wretched heart-stricken lived, there, well, we
yesterday for a long time called out 'Mir! Mir!'-- he's not there now]

But now in that verse too, the break after pukaare and the multivalent nahii;N hai ab is worthy of praise.

A theme similar to that of the present verse, Nasir Kazmi has also well versified:

vuh raat kaa be-navaa musaafir vuh teraa shaa((ir vuh teraa naa.sir
tirii galii tak to ham ne dekhaa thaa phir nah jaane kidhar gayaa vuh

[that voiceless night traveler, that poet of yours, that Nasir of yours
up to your street we had seen him; then, no telling which way he went]

A verse by Nazir Akbarabadi is:

ho ga))e jo muqiim-e kuu-e butaa;N
phir nah aa))e kabhii siyaa;hat me;N

[the one who became a dweller in the street of idols
never again took to traveling]

For a comparison of Mir's present verse to this one, see my essay na:ziir akbaraabaadii kii kaa))inaat [from i;sbaat-o-nafii ].



[See also {342,7}; {923,6}.]



What a classically powerful verse of 'mood'! The contrasts between the first line and the second line are complex and brilliantly orchestrated-- and deciding what they mean is left entirely to our own imaginative and analytical powers. The vanishing of 'Mir' is a 'gesture'; it's entirely non-verbal, so any thoughts about it can only be speculative. But the verse sets up provocative contrasts between the two lines:

=the first line is about the past; the second line is a report made in the present

=the first line is about someone who went into the beloved's street; the second line is about (and by) someone who didn't

=the first line is about some sort of reckless self-endangerment; the second line suggests cautious self-protection

=the first line is about a radical refusal or inability to speak; the second line is about loud, repeated shouting

None of our questions about the episode are answered. As SRF observes, we have no idea whatsoever about the fate of 'Mir'. Nor do we know when the speaker began to call out to him, or why the speaker was calling out to him in the first place (to check on him? to warn him about something? for some other reason?).

Compare the similarly mysterious death of the Moth in


it too is reported by a frustrated observer-- one who is unable to make a full report.

Note for grammar fans: We should presumably tak pukaar rahaa as short for pukaar rahaa thaa .