us ke kuuche se jo u;Th ahl-e vafaa jaate hai;N
taa na:zar kaam kare ruu bah qafaa jaate hai;N

1) {when they / those who} get up from her street, the people of faithfulness, and go
2) as far as their gaze would do its work/desire, they go with their face turned backward



qafaa : 'The back of the head; nape of the neck; —adv. Behind, after'. (Platts p.793)

S. R. Faruqi:

Sauda too has versified the theme of the 'face toward fate/death' and the 'street of the beloved':

;Darte ;Darte jo tire kuuche me;N aa jaataa huu;N
.said-e ;xaa((if kii :tara;h ruu bah qafaa jaataa huu;N

[when I come, very fearfully, into your street
like a timid prey, I go with my face turned backward]

The difference is that Sauda's verse speaks of going into the beloved's street, and Mir's verse speaks of coming out of it. With regard to the beloved's being a hunter and the lover's being a prey or murdered one, .said-e ;xaa))if is very fine; but taken as a whole Sauda's theme is slight, and he also wasn't able to bring all its possibilities into play. Because of ;Darte ;Darte in the first line, .said-e ;xaa))if in the second line is, if not entirely useless, certainly at least to a large extent without effect.

Zalali Badayuni has adopted the spirit of Mir's theme with such excellence that his verse has deservedly become immortal:

mai;N ne jab vaadii-e ;Gurbat me;N qadam rakkhaa thaa
duur tak yaad-e va:tan aa))ii thii samjhaane ko

[when I set foot in the valley of foreignness
for a long distance memory of the homeland came along to cajole/dissuade me]

Zalali Badayuni has made use of 'stripping down, isolating' [tajriid], and Mir has, according to his style, versified the theme with regard to daily life. When a person leaves any beloved individual or place, then for a long time he keeps turning around to look that way. Mir has very excellently made this observation the foundation of his verse.

In this opening-verse the rhyme is vafaa and qafaa ; that is, both of them have the restriction to f . Nowadays some 'Ustads' will say that in all the verses the restriction to f ought to have been maintained-- while Mir did not consider this necessary, and made the 'error' [;Gala:tii] of using rhymes like lagaa and rakhaa and so on. The response to this complaint is that if later people have confined the verse within unnecessary bonds, then why is Mir at fault?

From the days of early Urdu to the eighteenth century, our poets were particularly free. In the nineteenth century the restrictions began, and in the last quarter of the nineteenth century the Lakhnavis tightened these restrictions even further, and declared that the excellence of a poet lay in being bound by these restrictions. The name used was that of Nasikh, but the actual work was done by others-- for example, ((alii ausa:t rashk , miir ((ishq , and others. Those people said whatever they said, and passed away. But in our era some 'Ustads' have taken those restrictions as bulwarks of their life and faith.

[See also {293,1}; {302,1}; {1882,1}.]



We should also notice the prominent placing of the multivalent kaam . Even though the official meaning is certainly kaam karnaa as 'to do work', how can we fail to enjoy the fact that in looking back as long as possible the gaze is also 'doing' its desire?

The criticism by the modern 'Ustads' to which SRF refers is that the actual rhyme in the ghazal consists only of the aa syllable: after this opening-verse the rhyme-words are lagaa , sunaa , dikhaa, khaa , u;Thaa , aa , gadaa . But by using vafaa and qafaa , the opening-verse gives the false impression that the rhyme would be afaa . Obviously, this was not something that Mir bothered about. Other such instances: {293,1}; {302,1}; {1882,1}.