phiruu;N miir ((uryaa;N nah daaman kaa ;Gam ho
nah baaqii rahe ;xaar-;xaar-e garebaa;N

1) I would/should wander naked, Mir-- there would/should not be grief of the garment-hem
2) nor would/should there remain the anxiety/'thorn-thorn' of the collar



;xaar-;xaar : 'Disquietude'. (Platts p.483).

S. R. Faruqi:

;xaar-;xaar = perplexity, anxiety [uljhan , andeshah]

In this verse there are a number of aspects of meaning. But first we'll consider the word ;xaar-;xaar . It has two meanings. One is 'desire, ardent longing', as in this verse of Mir's own, from the second divan [{1034,5}]:

maa))il nahii;N hai sarv hii tanhaa tirii :taraf
gul ko bhii tere dekhne kaa ;xaar-;xaar hai

[it's not only the cypress that is inclined/'leaning' in your direction
even/also the rose has a longing/'thorn-thorn' to see you]

The second meaning is 'perplexity, anxiety', as it is in the present verse. Later poets abandoned the meaning of 'desire, ardent longing', and adopted only the meaning 'confusion, anxiety'. Thus Ghalib:


And Momin:

;xaar-;xaar-e ;Gam aashkaaraa hu))aa
mi;sl-e dil jaamah paarah-paarah hu))aa

[the anxiety/'thorn-thorn' of grief became manifest
like the heart, the robe became shredded]

If some lexicographers have abandoned the meaning 'desire, ardent longing', then some (for example, Farid Ahmad Barkati in his dictionary) have ignored the meaning 'perplexity, anxiety'.

Some early poets, paying attention to both meanings, have composed extremely fine verses. Abdullah Qutb Shah:

;xaar-;xaar apne sine kaa daur kar yak dahr the
rakh apas kuu;N har va.z((a jyuu;N phuul ;xandaa;N ;Gam nah khaa

['thorn-thorn', having made the rounds of my breast, was a whole universe
having kept in itself every style, smiling like a flower, having felt no grief]

Shah Mubarak Abru:

phuul jab phuulaa hu))aa tab bhed us kaa aashkaar
thaa nihaa;N ;Gunche ke dil me;N tujh dahan kaa ;xaar-;xaar

[when the flower bloomed, then its secret/mystery was revealed
there was hidden in the heart of the bud, 'thorn-thorn' of your mouth]

In both of these verses, ;xaar-;xaar has been used to mean at the same time both 'desire, ardent longing' and 'perplexity, anxiety'. In the verses of Abru and Abdullah Qutb Shah there are other excellences as well, though this is not the occasion for discussing them. In the present verse of Mir's, the meaning of 'desire, ardent longing' is not very apparent, but it's also not entirely absent. In any case, the meaning of 'perplexity, anxiety' is entirely clear.

Now please reflect on the verse. In both lines, the 'seating' [nishast] of the words is so superb that a number of meanings are possible.

(1) There would be neither the grief of the garment-hem nor the anxiety of the collar.

(2) There would not be the grief of the garment-hem, and the anxiety of the collar too would not be there.

(3) There would not be thought/concern about the garment-hem, and there wouldn't be perplexity over the collar.

(4) If grief over the garment-hem would not be there, then there also wouldn't be anxiety over the collar.

(5) In truth, nakedness is in the idea that there would be neither grief over the garment-hem, nor anxiety over the collar. That is, to remove the clothing is only a physical action; true nakedness is that neither grief over the garment-hem and the collar no grief, no perplexity, should remain. That is, when we renounce clothing, then we should also renounce grief over the garment-hem and the collar.

(6) In a prayerful manner he says, 'oh Mir, may the Lord cause me to wander naked, etc.'

(7) It's the expression of an intention: 'now my intention is that I would wander naked, etc.-- there will neither be any concern over the garment-hem, nor any longing to keep/maintain a collar'.

The 'longing to keep a collar' can be for two reasons. One is that if there's a collar, then he will be able to tear it. The second is that without a collar there can be no garment-hem, without a garment-hem there can be no collar. Thus the longing for a garment-hem will be so that there would be a collar, and the longing for a collar will be in order to tear it. It's a peerless verse.

On the theme of nakedness of body, Abd ul-Hayy Taban too has composed an excellent verse; the grammatical structure of the second line is devastating, but it doesn't have a 'meaning-creation' like Mir's:

faraa;Gat sunii hai mai;N ((uryaa;N-tanii kii
miraa haath hai aaj aur pairahan hai

[I've heard of the leisure/freedom of nakedness of body
today-- 'there's my hand, and there's the garment']

Taban has composed a ghazal in the same ground as the present one, but none of its verses are of the rank of Mir's verses. This verse alone somewhat evokes Mir's opening-verse:

giraa ashk az baskih aa;Nkho;N se mere
lab-e juu hu))aa hai kinaar-e garebaa;N

[tears fell to such an extent from my eyes
the border of my garment-hem has become the bank of a river]

[See also {546,3}.]



For an explanation of the 'collar', which is of course the vertical neck-opening of a kurta, see G{17,9}.

The future subjunctive grammar of the verse simply poses a possibility: 'I might wander', 'there might be', 'there might remain'. This tense can be used for a hope or fear that something might happen, or a resolve that something would/should happen, or just an exploration of one possible choice among many: ('I might wander, I might sit still, I might bash my head against a stone'). As SRF notes, the two occurrences of nah can be read either as a 'neither-nor' (there would be neither X nor Y), or else independently (there would be no X; Y might not remain); in the latter case there could be various causal and/or temporal relationships between the two independent statements.

Then, of course, the rest of the verse might be a mere extension of the initial thought, an exploration of the advantages of wandering naked. But it might also be a warning or a risk: 'If I would wander naked, may there be no regrets or second thoughts!'. What form might such griefs or second thoughts take?

Thanks to the versatility of kaa , there could be several kinds of grief 'of' the garment-hem: (1) grief of having a long robe, which is such a burden and a bother to wear; (2) grief of having messed up the long robe by saturating its garment-hem with tears; (3) grief of no longer having a long robe, so that one misses it and feels regret.

Similarly, thanks to the versatility of the izafat, there could be several kinds of ;xaar-;xaar 'of' the collar: (1) the anxiety of having to wear an uncomfortable, bothersome collar; (2) the anxiety of having torn and destroyed the collar; (3) the anxiety of no longer having a collar, and thus feeling regret at having nothing to tear open when a mad fit occurs; (4) the 'desire, ardent longing' for a collar, so as to be able to tear it open at one's pleasure.

That image, ;xaar-;xaar-e garebaa;N , is so vivid. How annoying it is to have something tight, prickly, perhaps over-starched, constantly rubbing on the sensitive skin of your neck! 'Thorn-thorn' is a wonderfully evocative metaphor. We can put the rest of the verse together in half a dozen ways, but the collar of thorns is always at the center of it.

Note for meter fans: The considerable liberties taken with spelling in Abdullah Qutb Shah's verse are not errors, but reflect the earlier practice in Dakani Urdu.