balaa hu))ii hai mirii go kih :tab((a raushan miir
huu;N aaftaab valekin zavaal apnaa huu;N

1) a disaster has come, although mine is an enlightened/radiant temperament, Mir
2) I am a sun, but I am my own decline/setting



balaa : 'Trial, affliction, misfortune, calamity, evil, ill; a person or thing accounted a trial, affliction, &c.; evil genius, evil spirit, devil, fiend; a wonderful or extraordinary person or thing; an awful or terrible person or thing; an insignificant, or vile, person or thing; excessive, fearful or awful amount or quantity (of)'. (Platts p.163)


:tab((a : 'Nature, innate or natural disposition; genius; natural temper, temperament; idiosyncrasy; quality'. (Platts p.751)


raushan : 'Light, lighted up, alight, illuminated; bright, shining, splendid, luminous; clear, evident, manifest, conspicuous'. (Platts p.606)


zavaal : 'Declining (as the sun from the meridian); declination; setting (of the sun, &c.); decline, wane, decay; fall; cessation; defect, deficiency, failure'. (Platts p.618)

S. R. Faruqi:

Everybody composes verses of loftiness [ta((allii], but the style of this verse is in a class by itself. The affinity of :tab((a raushan and aaftaab is of course very fine; but to give to one's own decline so high a rank that it would become equal to the decline of the sun, is an example of Mir's unrestrained imaginativeness, of which I've spoken before.

In Persian and Urdu there's a famous saying [kahaavat], ay raushanii-e :tab((a tuu bar man balaa shudii . This is said when someone's excellence-- especially of mind and brain-- would get him into some difficulty, or would become a cause of entanglement for him. Now Mir says that it's true, my flowingness of temperament (my accomplishment in poetry, my passion, my thoughtful mind) is for me (and perhaps for others as well) a source of disaster. But I'm not at all sorry; rather, I'm proud of it. Because I'm a sun, and if because of the radiance of my temperament disaster has come upon me, then it's just as it is with the sun-- despite its radiance (or because of that very radiance) it is obliged to set.

There are two aspects to this loftiness. One is this: that I, like the sun, am radiant. The second is that I am unique/solitary in my nature. My disaster isn't like that of others; rather, it is solitary and peerless like the sun. No star is radiant like the sun, or sets the way the sun does.

The sun's solitude and incomparableness is its excellence, and for it is a cause of freedom; this theme Mir has versified like this in the sixth divan [{1811,4}]:

tajriid kaa faraa;G hai yak daulat-e ((a:ziim
bhaage hai apne saa))e se bhii ;xvushtar aaftaab

[the freedom of solitude is a single great wealth
it runs more happily away even/also from its own shadow, the sun]

Thus like the sun, I too am alone and unique to such an extent that I don't even have a shadow. And my decline too is radiant and peerless like the decline of the sun.

The theme of the 'radiance of nature', Mir Ali Ausat Rashk has versified in a moralistic way, but his proof has remained incomplete:

sach yih hai raushnii-e :tab((a balaa hotii hai
chaand kaamil jo hu))aa naq.s bhii dar-kaar hu))aa

[the truth is that radiance of temperament is a disaster
when the moon became full, deficiency too became operative]



'I am my own decline/setting'-- that is really a strange thing to say. SRF normalizes it: he argues that Mir is really just loftily claiming to be (like) the sun, and thus to share the sun's glorious qualities of radiance and uniqueness, along with its being compelled to set. But even if we were speaking about the sun, what would it mean to say 'the sun is its own setting'? That's the kind of pretentious aphorism that's meant to sound very profound and instead just sounds annoying. On a common-sense level, it's obviously false (unless we want to say that the sun also 'is' its own rising, and its own noonday glory, and its own eclipse, and its own sunspots, and so on).

So the statement has to be taken metaphorically, but how exactly? We're left entirely to our own devices. Is the speaker/sun 'the cause of' his own setting? Is he condemned to live 'at the time of' his own setting? Is he 'absorbed in' or 'obsessed with' his own setting? Is he an inadequate sun, too weak to sustain his radiant temperament, and thus in the process of burning out?

We're left so clueless because the first line has given us no reason or poetic 'proof' of why or how the speaker/sun 'is' his own decline or setting. Instead, the first line is devoted to cleverly evoking (not quoting or repeating) an old Persian-Urdu 'saying' about how radiance of temperament can be a disaster. (Rashk's verse too invokes this saying.) So are we to conclude that the speaker's own 'radiance of temperament' has caused him to burn out? The use of 'although' seems to point us away from this reading. So we can just fill in the blank with any dire problem of the lover's crazed life, as we choose.

Compare Ghalib's description of himself as 'the sound of my own breaking':


Ghalib's verse is more powerful and less problematic, because there's a more effective 'connection' between his lines. In his first line he names two (good, musical) things that he's explicitly not; in the second line he names a (bad, musical) thing that he is. So we can more readily imagine that he's (like) the string of an instrument that's been too tightly strung. We are thus given a kind of guidance that helps us frame the verse in our minds.

By contrast, Mir gives us in the first line only the vague ideas of disaster and radiance, which don't really help us to approach the second line. Yet that second line in its own right is so punchy, so potent, so mysterious! Let's just call this one a verse of 'mood' and not try to torment it into yielding any kind of rational 'connection' or meaning.

Note for grammar fans: When hu))ii hai mirii would go so well with the feminine singular balaa , how do we know that the hai mirii part should best be considered anticipatory and saved to go with the feminine singular :tab((a coming later? Answer: the first time through, we don't know. Only upon rereading it (or, under mushairah conditions, replaying it in our minds) do we realize how to put it together. And even then, the only way we know is from the semantic context and constraints (do we really want to find ourselves stuck with the extreme sketchiness of :tab((a raushan miir ?).