dil vuh nagar nahii;N kih phir aabaad ho sake
pachtaa))oge suno ho yih bastii ujaa;R kar

1) the heart is not that [kind of a] city, that would be able again to become settled/flourishing
2) you will repent-- do you hear? -- after having devastated this town



S. R. Faruqi:

Firaq Sahib has, as usual, made a hash of this verse too:

ik sha;x.s ke mar jaa))e se kyaa ho jaa))e hai lekin
ham jaise kam hu))e;N hai;N paidaa pachtaa))oge dekho ho

[from the dying of a single person, what would happen-- but
few have been born like us-- you'll repent, do you see?]

The first line is out of meter. In an attempt to create Mir's language, ungrammatical phrases like mar jaa))e hai and hu))e;N hai;N have been inserted. Instead of the former, mar ga))e se ; and instead of the latter, hove;N hai;N would have been proper; but Firaq Sahib, because of poetic constraints or ignorance, has rejected them. In the same way, instead of dekho ho it was the occasion for suno ho , or again for only dekho . For admonition sunte ho or only dekho are used, not dekhte ho .

Then, Mir has spoken of the ruin of the heart; Firaq Sahib is absorbed in his own greatness. It's surprising that Askari Sahib didn't perceive that quite contrary to the thing for which he so esteemed Mir-- that is, Mir's entire renunciation of his own individuality and personality-- quite contrary to this, Firaq Sahib goes along expressing his own greatness here and there.

Firaq Sahib's theme, Jur'at has composed in a much better style:

nah kho jur))at ko apne haath se jaa;N
kih aisaa sha;x.s phir paidaa nah hogaa

[don't lose Jur'at from your hand, darling/'life',
for such an individual will not again be born]

Now let's consider Mir's dimensions of meaning. In the verse 'mood' is predominant, but the skirt of 'meaning-creation' has not slipped from his grasp either. The first point is that he has called the heart a city. This is a common metaphor of Mir's, but one ought not to consider it less valuable for this reason.

Here, the additional aspect is that he hasn't described his heart directly; rather, he has generalized the matter and has divorced it from any lover's heart. Rather, why from a lover's heart alone-- he has spoken of anything that would have the right to be called a 'heart', or every heart that in the true sense would be a heart. Then, the one who intends to ruin the heart can be the beloved, or also some other person. Every person who is an enemy of the heart-owners can be an addressee in this verse.

Now look at the style of address. He has placed the person who is addressed right there ('do you hear?')-- and has also not so placed the person. That is, it's also possible that the one whom he is addressing might not be right there; rather, the addressee might be passing on the highway, he might be on the way with his servants and entourage to ruin the town of the heart, and seeing this procession the speaker might call out 'Listen, if you devastate this town you'll repent of it'. Or someone is busy devastating the town of the heart, and the speaker, seeing him, might call out, 'Look, this isn't the kind of city that could be settled again, so why are you devastating the town of the heart?'

It's also possible that the beloved, who used to live in the heart, has now emptied it out and is leaving. It's possible that all the heart's longings have been slain. The radiance/glory of the heart is through longing; when the longings have been slain then the heart has been devastated. It's possible that by 'devastating the town of the heart', unfaithfulness is meant.

In order to see the difference between Jur'at, Firaq, and Mir, consider this verse of Mir's as well, from the first divan [{108,4}]:

mushkil bahut hai ham saa phir ko))ii haath aanaa
yuu;N maarnaa to pyaare aasaan hai hamaaraa

[it's very difficult for anyone like us to come to hand again
{casually/ like this} to kill us, dear, is easy]

Here is the same qalandar-like-ness, the same tension of arrogance and sarcasm. And pyaare is used in its dictionary meaning, and also sarcastically. By saying yuu;N to and aasaan hai he has suggested that compared to construction, destruction is always easy. And he has also suggested that a number of things that are easily destroyed, are in fact very valuable and delicate. In haath aanaa there are two suggestions: (1) to arrive, to be obtained; and (2) to be hunted down, to be made captive. That is, you've hunted me down, but a prey like me doesn't come along every day.

Now, it's another thing that this verse, and many verses like this, refute the view of Hasan Askari Sahib that Mir presents his own individuality before the world and before the beloved, both. Sometimes it seems to me that in Mir can be seen an arrogance only slightly less than Ghalib's.

In the present verse, the attention to 'mood' and 'tumult-arousing-ness' is also fine.

[See also {66,7}; {774,6}.]



The verse cleverly doesn't tell us what kind of city the heart is, but only what kind it's not. And even then the information we get is scanty: it's not the kind of city that could flourish again after being destroyed. But what kind of city is that? As so often, the power of the verse is generated by our being induced to dig into our own imagination to flesh out such very skeletal information. And apparently the heart-city isn't just delicate or vulnerable, but is also a source of something rare and valuable-- or else why would the rash destroyer 'repent'?

Note for meter fans: The problem with Firaq's first line is that it has ik instead of ek . In fairness to Firaq, we should keep in mind that this could have been an error of calligraphy.