dhuup me;N jaltii hai;N ;Gurbat-va:tano;N kii laashe;N
tere kuuche me;N magar saayah-e diivaar nah thaa

1) they burn in the sun, the corpses of the homeland-exiles
2) but/perhaps in your street there was not the shade/shelter of a wall



;Gurbat : 'Travelling (to foreign countries), going abroad; emigration; —being far from (one's) home or native country; the state or condition of a stranger, or foreigner, or exile; wretchedness, misery; humility, lowliness'. (Platts p.770)

S. R. Faruqi:

magar = perhaps

This theme he has expressed, in the first divan itself, like this [{400,1}]:

dekhtaa huu;N dhuup hii me;N jalne ke aa;saar ko
le ga))ii hai;N duur ta;Rpe;N saayah-e diivaar ko

[in only/emphatically the sun I see the effects of burning
agitations/glitters have taken the shade of the wall far away]

Although the image of ta;Rap (meaning 'bright light') is a fine one, in the present verse the image of the corpses of the homeland-exiles is more effective. A corpse is buried after a shroud has been put on it; or if there's no custom of burial, then they make it an offering to the fire. Here, the situation is such that if there's a shroud, then it's of sun. If the intention was to burn the corpse, then they would have burned it in fire, which purifies. If it was the corpse of someone who believed in the custom of burial, then they would have buried it. But if it burned, it was in the sun-- and not to speak of a shroud, not even the shelter of a wall was allowed to be vouchsafed to it. It's possible that Mir might have taken the image of corpses being burned in the sun from the Parsis, because the Parsis leave their dead under the open sky, so that kites/vultures would eat them.

But in the second line, the peerless mode of implicational style in which deprivation and helplessness have been expressed-- that is Mir's gift alone. The implication is that the the helpless homeland-exiles wouldn't at all have received shroud or burial or burning-- how would they have merited such a thing?! It was amply sufficient that their corpses would have cooled down in the shade of some wall; in this way they wouldn't have been disgraced/revealed in the sun.

And there's also no insistence that the shade would be the shade of the beloved's wall. If the shade of some wall would have been available, then that was amply sufficient. Thus he's said 'your street'. He hasn't said, 'wasn't there the shade of the wall of your house or garden?'.

In the first line too there's the implication that when the corpses are burning in the sun, then it's obvious that in life too, those homeland-exiles would hardly have had any shelter. In this verse he's captured such a picture of helplessness, deprivation, and loneliness, that it has no peer. He's composed an uncommon verse. 'Homeland-exiles' too is a very excellent and fresh epithet.



That tense shift really does a lot of work in the verse. In the first line, the burning of the corpses could easily have been located in the past habitual through jaltii thii;N ('the corpses used to burn; but/perhaps there was no shade') in a way that would have made for a much more straightforward reading. Instead, Mir chose to shift the tense. The tense shift forces us to realize that the two lines, located in two different times (and spaces?), offer a more complex perspective on the lovers' fate. Compare the similarly complexity-enhancing tense shift in


As SRF points out, the present verse really is a bleak and haunting one, a kind of limit case of sacrifice and stripped-down-ness. That first line-- the corpses are simply there, they simply 'burn' in the sun. There's no indication that they complain, or repine, or have any feelings whatsoever. Their expression of feelings has ended with their lives-- and has been perfectly captured in the neglected, discarded corpses 'burning' in the open glare of the sun.

SRF wants magar to mean 'perhaps', and of course that's a very satisfactory reading. However, 'but' has its own fascination: 'The lovers dropped dead and left their corpses right out there 'burning' in the sun, but there was no shade in your street, so (by implication) what else could they have done?'.

The speaker seems to be (at least mentally) addressing the beloved. But is his tone reproachful, meditative, compassionate, wry? As so often, that too is left up to us to decide.

Compare Ghalib's more personal vision of the neglectedness of the lover's corpse after death: