mai;N vuh pazhmurdah huu;N kih ho kar ;xaak se sar-zad
yakaayak aa gayaa is aasmaa;N kii paa))imaalii me;N

1) I am so blighted/withered that, having become apparent/'head-rearing' from the dust
2) at once I came into the foot-trampling of this sky



pazhmurdah : 'Withered, faded, pallid, drooping, blighted, decayed; frozen, numbed'. (Platts p.261)


sar-zad : 'To be accomplished or effected (by, - se ), to be committed (by), to proceed (from); to happen, occur; to appear, come out, come to light'. (Platts p.648)


zad : 'He struck; a stroke, blow; battle, conflict, combat'. (Steingass p.612)


sar zadan : 'To behead; to exert oneself, to make an effort; to rebuke sharply; to enter suddenly without leave; to happen; to appear; to leave off; to fire, shoot; to make a supreme effort'. (Steingass p.666)


yakaayak : 'One by one; —all at once, suddenly, immediately; —one opposed to another'. (Platts p.1250)

S. R. Faruqi:

sar-zad honaa = to be manifest



in which the theme resembles this one, and in which other verses with this theme are noted as well. The present verse holds the supremacy in several ways. The first point is that grass has grown up by chance (it has appeared from the dust). In Persian sar zadan means 'to be manifest', and Mir too has used it in this way. But in Urdu sar-zad honaa means for something, especially something improper, to take place (for example, gunaah sar-zad honaa ). Thus here there's also the reading of coming about by chance.

On both readings, the wordplay between sar and paa))imaal is fine. The reading of coming about by chance is also supported by the grammar and usage of the verse. That is, the first word of the second line, yakaayak , we can also connect to the first line (I am that blighted grass that all at once appeared from the dust and came under the foot-trampling of this sky).

If we keep this reading in view, then the scene of the verse becomes even more cosmic: that humans were put into the universe without any preparation or consent; and when they arrived here, the sky trampled them underfoot. In this way humans were doubly trampled underfoot by the celestial powers: once through being thrown into this world; and a second time after coming into the world-- that is, after coming down from the upper world into the physical world.

The affinity between ;xaak and aasmaan is obvious. In 'this sky' the word 'this' is not merely a demonstrative, but rather is also there to give force and to create a tone of complaint and overthrownness. For example, we say is ;hukuumat ne to aur bhii :zulm kar rakhaa hai . For more on the meaningful use of the demonstrative, see:



In calling oneself blighted grass there's a subtle ambiguity, because he hasn't made clear whether the speaker became blighted after being trampled underfoot by the sky; or whether he had been blighted from the time he first grew, and now the sky too has trampled him underfoot. Both meanings are fine. If he had said mai;N ik pazhmurdah sabzah or mai;N huu;N pazhmurdah sabzah , etc., then this effect would not have been obtained.

To come under the foot-trampling of the sky too is very fine. From this the idea emerges that the sky had some project or scheme for trampling things underfoot. I myself was not directly a target; but when the general trampling-underfoot began, then 'along with the wheat, the chaff too was ground'.

There's an affinity between pazhmurdah and ;xaak , because the color of withered grass usually becomes dust-colored or a dusty brown. In Persian the meaning of yakaayak is also 'suddenly, entirely'. It's clear that this meaning too is suitable. Another meaning is 'one against another, one confronting another'. This meaning too is appropriate, for on the one side was the grass, and against it was the sky, or its trampling underfoot. If we keep these meanings in mind, then in yakaayak there's an iham. In short, however we look at it, every word of this verse is a serpent-jewel of affinity and meaning.



The emphasis that SRF places on the 'this' in the second line, is equally appropriate to the 'that' in the first line, and for the same reasons.

Just to round out the list of affinities, sar-zad itself also contains the idea 'head-rearing' with a sense of self-assertion or even combativeness, like the sudden striking of a blow (see the definitions above), which works elegantly with the rest of the verse. Lifting one's head up is a metaphor in Persian and Urdu for arrogance, insolence, aggression-- think of sar-kash , 'Rearing the head, refractory, rebellious, mutinous, disobedient, contumacious; obstinate; proud, arrogant, insolent, licentious' (Platts. p.648).

And really, 'this sky' is masterfully provocative. It just slips in, without even a hii to call attention to itself. We can see that it is to be compared to something, but what? Perhaps before he thrust his head up from the dust, the speaker was under the jurisdiction of some other sky-- maybe another one that persecuted him, or maybe a contrasted one that actually gave him some respite.

We ourselves hardly have occasion to speak of 'this sky'-- we really only need 'the sky'. Does the speaker live in more worlds than we do? Has he been ground down so far in pursuit of some advanced Sufistic discipline we can hardly imagine (which would make him loftier than we are)? Or is he so fantastically unfortunate that in birth after birth (perhaps with every new season's grass-blades) he feels himself to be persecuted by sky after sky?

Or might 'this' even be a bit ironic-- he is persecuted by this thing that might as well be called a 'sky'? By something that isn't really a sky, but behaves so much like one that it deserves the same name? Perhaps falling into the beloved's clutches has been like a whole series of disasters coming down from the (real?) sky. Much less flashily than Ghalib would, Mir leaves us to wonder about the fate of this lover who is (like) a blade of grass.