paa-e pur-aabalah se mai;N gum-shudah gayaa huu;N
har ;xaar baadiye kaa meraa nishaan degaa

1) with blister-filled foot, I, the lost one, have gone [along/away]
2) every thorn of the wilderness will give my mark/trace/whereabouts



baadiyah : 'Desert, wilderness; forest, jungle'. (Platts p. 119)


nishaan : 'Sign; signal; mark, impression; character; seal, stamp; proof; trace, vestige; —a trail; clue ;—place of residence (of a person), whereabouts'. (Platts p.1139)

S. R. Faruqi:

In the second line of this verse of Ghalib's


[Nazm] Tabataba'i has praised the use of the word se [as quoted there].

There's no doubt that in Ghalib's line the trimness of se , and the compression obtained through it, are worthy of a hundredfold praise. But Tabataba'i has made an error about the honor of primacy. Mir has the honor of being first, as will be clear from the present verse.

In Mir's verse there's also the excellence that he's written gayaa huu;N . If he had written chalaa huu;N , then only one interpretation would have been presented: that is, 'on the feet on which I have walked along, there were blisters'. In gayaa huu;N there's both an allusion to walking along, and the original idiomatic interpretation that 'I'm one whose feet were full of blisters, and with those blisters I have traveled, as though they are my apparatus for traveling'. For example, they say vuh is saaz-o-samaan se aayaa kih nah puuchho .

In the second line, the affinity of nishaan degaa with gum-shudah in the first line is also fine. If he had been a good poet, he would have written dil-zadah or be-;xabar . A word like gum-shudah can only occur to a great poet.

The image of the whole verse is also attention-seizing. A single individual is lost from the whole world, but here and there drops of his blood can be seen. The lost individual goes on moving forward; eyes do not see him, but but it can always be seen where he has passed by.

[See also {276,2}; {1502,4}.]



Most of the verses with 'blister' imagery fall into my category of 'grotesquerie', but this one seems to avoid the gross-out quality. Perhaps that's because it's not too graphic in its references to the serum or pus that oozes from the blisters, since these appear only in their capacity as 'traces' or 'marks'. And in fact, nishaan is a word that gives them a good deal of dignity; see the definition above. The idea that the very signs of the speaker's lostness-- his bloody footprints on the thorny ground, far from the smooth and well-traveled highway-- also show his 'residence' or 'whereabouts', and also constitute his 'seal' or 'character', giving the verse a stoical, matter-of-fact feeling.

The placing of gum-shudah means that it can be either in apposition to the subject ('I, the having-become-lost one'), or else adverbial ('I went, [in a state of] having become lost'). Thus in the first case lostness is an integral part of the speaker's identity, while in the second case it's connected only with the activity of going along. In the present verse these choices don't make a tremendous difference in the meaning, but they do add a bit of subtlety and fluidity to the line.

And of course gayaa huu;N can mean not just 'I have gone along', but also 'I have gone away', as in 'I have left this world'.