nah dekhaa miir-e aavaarah ko lekin
;Gubaar ik naa-tavaa;N saa kuu bah kuu thaa

1) I didn't see the wanderer Mir, but
2) there was a single/particular weak-ish dust-cloud, from street to street



S. R. Faruqi:

There are two interpretations of the verse. One is that we didn't see the wanderer Mir, but we saw the dust he kicked up in madness, drifting from street to street. The other is that Mir had already been erased and turned to dust-- how would we have seen him? But his dust became a cloud and wafted and drifted from street to street-- that we certainly saw.

The 'weakness' of the dust is also fine, since passion had so weakened Mir that even his dust remained weak. But in 'weak-ish' the meaningfulness is that in reality the dust wasn't weak, because if it had really been weak, then it wouldn't have spread like this from street to street.

Another point is that if we saw the dust, then it's as if we saw Mir. Or if we saw Mir, then we saw dust-- both are exactly the same substance. An additional point is that through the dust's flying from street to street, his restlessness is manifest. Dust is in any case agitated and convoluted, and if it would float and fly from street to street, then apparently it's even more restless and agitated. That is, even upon becoming dust, Mir's restlessness and madness did not leave him.

This latter aspect of the theme he has expressed in the first divan like this [{525,3}]:

hai baguulaa ;Gubaar kis kaa miir
kih jo ho be-qaraar u;Thtaa hai

[the whirlwind is whose dust, Mir
such that whoever it may be, he rises up restlessly?]

The final point is that perhaps the dust wanders from street to street because it believes that in this way it, or in its guise Mir, would obtain access to the street of the beloved. The dramatic style of the whole verse is also fine. From the interpretation of the 'weak dust' the possibility also emerges that the dust was light and slack-appearing. Such dust can be seen quite a long time after someone has passed.

That is, Mir was so swift-moving that he passed rapidly through every place, and now when we've set out to search for him, we've arrived at every place only after he has passed by, and we can see only a light dust-cloud. Mir is long gone. In Persian, Mir has composed this theme on a very low level:

'I didn't see Mir in her street.
But along with the breeze there was certainly a weak dust-cloud.'

[See also {126,5}.]



The searcher returns to report quite matter-of-factly what he's seen: no Mir, just a flimsy cloud of dust drifting around from street to street. He's not providing any personal notions or revealing any private emotions ('just he facts, ma'am'). Any theorizing, any drawing of conclusions, is left to the person to whom he's conveying the information. The verse gives us no hint of who that person is, but in practice it turns out to be us, the audience. The evocatively drifting dust-cloud is something like a 'gesture'-- something that does not explain itself in words, something about which we can only speculate.

This verse is thus a consummate example of the power of 'implication' [kinaayah]. Given the raw data, our minds can't help but start to massage it and make meaning(s) out of it. First one idea occurs, then another, then a third. The mind restlessly cycles among them, reviewing them, looking for hints that would make one of them more probable than another. This is one of the many ways to make a small, simple two-line verse feel much larger, much more compelling, than would otherwise seem possible. SRF shows us excellently how the process works.