mere sang-e mazaar par farhaad
rakh ke teshah kahe hai yaa ustaad

1) at/'on' the stone of my tomb, Farhad
2) having placed his axe, says, 'oh Ustad!'



S. R. Faruqi:

It's an extraordinarily enjoyable verse. As usual, there's dramaticness in it, and a kind of loftiness such that we can't say that it's entirely conventional, nor can we say that it's based on realism. For Farhad to come to the stone of my tomb and place his axe there, and to call out to me, 'oh Ustad!'-- for this there can be various reasons:

(1) Farhad, hewing away at mountains, has grown weary, and seeks from me courage and blessings.

(2) Farhad, before starting his work, seeks blessings from me.

(3) Farhad has put down his axe-- that is, he has given up mountain-hewing and come to my tomb, and confesses my Ustad-ship: that he's not a lover of my rank.

(4) Farhad wants to erase the stone of my tomb. He knows that as long as the tomb remains as a memorial of me, his own importance will remain secondary. Everyone will compare him to me, and decide that I'm better. He calls out to me 'oh Ustad!' because he himself too is convinced of my greatness, and before wielding his axe on my tomb wants to make it clear to me that he's not erasing the stone of the tomb out of enmity for me.

In the verse there are also the following implications:

(1) My era, therefore my passion, is more ancient than Farhad's, because Farhad comes to my tomb.

(2) Farhad's coming to my tomb and calling me 'Ustad' is also a proof that in my time I too had hewed mountains.

In a verse in the sixth divan he has also mentioned his and Majnun's sharing of a craft/skill, although the verse is commonplace [{1877,3}]:

bed-saa kyuu;N nah suukh jaa))uu;N mai;N
der majnuu;N se ham-fanii kii hai

[like a willow, why wouldn't I dry up?
for a long time I've practiced fellow-craftsmanship with Majnun]



The verse is what I call a 'mushairah verse'. It builds toward a climax, but meanwhile keeps us entirely in suspense, attentive to every clue, unable to guess what might be coming. Since this is a ghazal with no refrain, the crucial, punchy, rhyme-word ustaad can come at literally the very last possible moment. It's such a 'short meter', but how much it gets done in its dozen words!

Climactically, yaa ustaad takes brilliant advantage of the insha'iyah power of exclamation. We can feel that Farhad is expressing some strong emotion-- but what kind? His bringing his axe to Mir's tomb might represent an offering (he plans to leave it there), or a consecreation (he plans to dedicate it and then make use of it), or merely some kind of communion (he wants to be in touch with Mir's spirit through their common commitment to a craft).

But then again, as SRF notes, it also might represent an intention to use the axe on the tomb. After all, the first line speaks of Farhad's coming not just to 'my tomb', but to 'the stone of my tomb'. And since Farhad is the stone-cutter par excellence, and since we learn in the second line that he has his axe with him, and since he even 'places' the axe on the tomb, we're strongly invited to think of damaging (though paradoxically also respectful and even flattering) intentions.

Even the little par in the first line is wonderfully exploited. It could well be part of a general phrase: mazaar par most commonly means 'at the tomb' (in a general way). At the end of the first line, that's how we're reading it. People go 'to' and pay visits 'at' tombs all the time, with par . Not until we hear rakh ke teshah , 'having placed the axe', do we learn that the par has to be repurposed to mean very literally and physically 'on'. It's really almost a tiny little iham in its own right, in Mir's own sense from his tazkirah: there's a word with two meanings, one common and one rare; the poet makes us think he means the common one; but it turns out that he means the rare one.