jahaa;N ab ;xaar-zaare;N ho ga))ii hai;N
yahii;N aage bahaare;N ho ga))ii hai;N

1) where now thorn-thickets have appeared
2) only/emphatically here, formerly, springtimes have appeared



S. R. Faruqi:

This theme is common in our poetry. Mir himself has composed it several times; for example, in the first divan itself [{350,5}]:

jis jaa kih ;xas-o-;xaar ke ab ;Dher lage hai;N
yaa;N ham ne i;Nhii;N aa;Nkho;N se dekhii;N hai;N bahaare;N

[in the place where now heaps of dry-grass and thorns have piled up
here we, with these very eyes, have seen springtimes]

Mir Soz has very well composed,

gu;zaaruu;N huu;N jis ;xaraabe se kahte hai;N vaa;N ke log
hai ko))ii din kii baat yih ghar thaa yih baa;G thaa

[in the ruins that I pass through, the people there say,
'some days ago, this was a house, this was a garden']

Mir Hasan has composed this theme in his individual manner:

ab jahaa;N ;xaar-o-;xas pa;Re hai;N kabhii
ham ne yaa;N aashiyaa;N banaa))e the

[now where thorns and dry-grass are lying, at one time
we had made a nest here]

Nasir Kazmi has changed the metaphor and made a superb verse:

;Dere ;Daale hai;N bagolo;N ne jahaa;N
us :taraf chashmah ravaa;N thaa pahle

[where the whirlwinds have pitched their tent
in that direction a fountain flowed, formerly]

Mir's present verse is, on the basis of several qualities, the choicest of them all. The first point is that in Mir's verse there's a great deal of 'mood', but there are also forms of meaning. The first line has two interpretations: 'those places where thorn-thickets have now appeared', or 'those places that have now become thorn-thickets'.

The second line has a number of interpretations: (1) formerly, or in past days, springtimes have passed through here; (2) formerly, to these places springtime had come a number of times; (3) formerly, to these places various kinds of springtime had come; (4) formerly, in these places a number of times, or in various ways, festive occasions had arisen.

Please consider the word yahii;N . At first glance it seems that it would have been proper for the first line's jahaa;N to be juxtaposed in the second line to vahaa;N . A good poet would have done exactly this. But the great poet, by using yahii;N , created an entirely unexpected kind of meaning: that those places where there were springtimes, those very places were compelled to become thorn-thickets.

That is, if springtime hadn't come, or if springtime festivals hadn't arisen, then those places would also not have been compelled to turn into thorn-thickets. To turn into a thorn-thicket is in fact the result of springtime. Now we realize that it would have been better if springtime hadn't come, because then no thorn-thicket would have appeared. It would have been an ordinary field or bush-filled scrubland. Nothing is worse than a thorn-thicket, because it's no good to anybody. Everyone hates a thorn-thicket and avoids entering it.

Just look-- people have been using this theme for two or two and a half centuries, but no one has been able to obtain a 'meaning-creation' like Mir's. And with 'mood' in addition. If Mir made a claim of Ustad-ship, then how was he wrong? In the first divan [{585,7}]:

is fan me;N ko))ii be-tah kyaa ho miraa ma((aari.z
avval to mai;N sanad huu;N phir yih mirii zabaa;N hai

[in this art, how would any depth-less person be my competitor?
first, I am a 'warrant'; then, there's this language of mine]

The claim is true: because of his masterful dominion over language, Mir used to make very small words so full of depth.

Then, ;xaar-zaar is an interesting word. It does not appear in the [dictionaries] nuur ul-lu;Gaat or the aa.sifiyah . In Platts it is entered as masculine. In the Urdu dictionary of the Taraqqi Urdu Board, Karachi, too, it is masculine. But the 'warrants' that they give don't verify whether it's masculine or feminine. Both Jalil Manikpuri's book ta;zkiir-o-taanii;s and Afaq Banarsi's mu((iin ul-shu((araa too are devoid of this word. Thus on the warrant of Mir's usage we'll have to declare it to be feminine, although all the Urdu words that end in zaar are masculine.



As a very short meter with a remarkably long refrain, this ghazal is an extreme case among all Mir's ghazals. Six syllables of the line are taken up by rhyme and refrain, leaving only five syllables free. Thus Mir's genius for 'making very small words so full of depth' is quite necessary here. And, as SRF notes, it's fully on display.

Note for translation fans: How to translate ho ga))ii hai;N ? The radically literal would be 'have become', but in English that requires either a predicate nominative ('thorn-thickets have become X', or 'X have become thorn-thickets') or else a different sentence structure ('there have come to be thorn-thickets'). I've opted in this case for 'have appeared', even though it's not ideal. But then, my pursuit of extreme literalness would undoubtedly look quixotic to most translators anyway. As always, I'm not seeking to provide a fine reading experience in English; I want to provide a fine reading experience in Urdu, and the clunky English is meant to help us get there.