firdaus se kuchh us kii galii me;N kamii nahii;N
par saakino;N me;N vaa;N ke ko))ii aadamii nahii;N

1) compared to Paradise, in her street there's no lack/deficiency
2) but among the dwellers there, there's no human being



aadmii : 'A descendant of Adam; a human being; man; individual, person; adult; a sensible, or honest man; mankind'. (Platts p.33)

S. R. Faruqi:

In the Fort William edition and the Asi edition, after the ghazals there are some 'individual verses' [fardiyaat]. In the Mahmudabad edition (edited by Akbar Haidari), after the ghazals there are some individual verses. Abbasi in his kulliyat, no telling why, has omitted the individual verses (it's possible that he might have intended to put them in the second volume, which has not as yet received the imprimatur of the printing press). The edition of Naiyar Mas'ud, like the Mahmudabad edition, includes only the first divan. In it too, after the ghazals, the same verses are entered under the heading 'individual verses' as in the Fort William and Asi editions. For this reason I too have placed the 'individual verses' after the first divan. Kalb-e Ali Khan Fa'iq, the Lord knows on what basis, has placed the individual verses after the sixth divan.

The theme of the present verse, Ghalib too has presented with great excellence:


For discussion of Ghalib's verse, see tafhiim-e ;Gaalib . Undoubtedly Ghalib has done justice to the benefit that he derived from Mir's verse, and has created in his own verse so many points of meaning that we can't claim that he's indebted to Mir. But in Mir's verse, in addition to the intensity of the theme, there are also depths of meaning. It cannot be said that Ghalib's verse is better than Mir's. Consider the following points:

(1) In the first line, if we apply the word vaa;N to Paradise, then the meaning is that in Paradise there are no human beings. That is, those people who are worthy to be called 'human beings' receive no place in heaven. Or, that heaven is desolate and uninhabited. Or, that there there are only Houris and heavenly serving-boys [;Gilmaan] and so on, no human beings. There are various possibilities of this kind.

(2) If we apply the word vaa;N to her street, then the meaning emerges that in the beloved's street there's no one who has human qualities, all of them are bloodthirsty and have the qualities of a beloved, or they are devoid of humanity and kindness. Or the beloved's street is entirely desolate, everybody is lying dead. Or in the beloved's street only Rivals and more Rivals live-- how would there be any humanity among them?

In this way, by using common words like vaa;N and aadmii and making their precise meaning ambiguous, Mir has created a number of meanings in the verse. He has composed this theme in the fourth divan as well, but because it has no ambiguity it doesn't have the quality of the present verse [{1461,2}]:

kuuchah-e yaar to hai ;Gairat-e firdaus vale
aadmii ek nahii;N vaa;N ke hava-daaro;N me;N

[the beloved's street is the envy of Paradise, but
there's not one human being among the flighty/desirous ones there]



About 'individual verses': The 'individual verses' [fardiyaat] included in SSA and labelled as such, of which SRF speaks, all have refrains ending in n , so that putting them at the end of the n ghazals seems sensible. These comprise the set of ghazals {370} to {376}. Besides the present verse, only {375,1} has been included in SSA. All of them except {372,1} and {375,1} are opening-verses, so that at least we can confidently know their rhyming elements.

I didn't entirely understand SRF's explanation about the individual verses, and I asked him for clarification. He responded (May 2018):

When I say that I have put the fardiyaat here after Divan I, I mean here in SSA. In the kulliyat, as edited by me and Mahfuz, I have disregarded the category of fardiyaat and have placed all the verses in the refrains where they should be.

A fard is a verse which is alone by virtue of the author not having any other verse in that zamiin . So it is fard (=individual, alone), with  no companion having been added by the poet. The problem about the fard is that in practice poets, even Ghalib, describe a single verse as a fard , even if it’s clear that it comes from a pre-existing ghazal or qasidah. Yet technically, the fard is always defined as a verse that stands alone, composed as a single verse and not part of a longer composition.

Since we don't know whether a given [single] verse in a divan is actually one of a kind, and we can't be sure that the poet didn't compose any more verses in that zamiin , it's just a preciosity to declare that such and such verses are fard . There may have been more,  but we didn't find them; they never came down to us. Inserting a fard in a divan implies, to my mind, that the poet composed just that one verse and did not, or could not, add more verses. This is not a presumption that can be supported by any evidence except the poet's own word. Since no such evidence is available, it's better to treat all such verses as unfinished ghazals [by placing them among the ghazals], not fard [which would be in a separate list under the genre heading fardiyaat].

That's why you find individual verses in the kulliyat, but they are not labelled as fard , but as ghazal .

More such 'individual verses', which are not specifically presented as fard in the kulliyat (but of course this is a matter of definition): From the first divan: {163}-{166}, {168,173}; {180}; {196}; {228}-{229}; {241}; {242}; {244}; {245}-{246}; {248}; {272}-{274}; {371}-{376}; {414}-{418}; {430,1}; {501}-{502}, a special case, see {501,1}; {637}-{642}, {647}-{663}. From the second divan: {780}. From the third divan: {1148}; {1149}; {1153}. From the fourth divan: {1377}; {1384}; {1399}; {1406}; {1407}; {1409}; {1411}; {1412}; {1431}; {1485}. From the fifth divan: {1573}; {1600}; {1606}; {1647}; {1655}; {1656}; {1657}; {1703}. From the sixth divan: {1807x}.

In G{101,9}, Ghalib's first line chivalrously takes the side of the underdog, Paradise, and seeks to defend it from being seen as inferior to the beloved's street. Of course, Paradise can't be defended completely-- the speaker must admit that although the general layout of both places is identical, Paradise is much less populous, less crowded, than the beloved's street. The pleasure and wit of the verse come from the direction of comparison, and the speaker's defensiveness on behalf of Paradise.

By contrast, Mir's first line is defensive: it wants to protect the beloved's street from being seen as inferior to Paradise. Indeed, the speaker claims, her street does measure up to Paradise! This is of course a much less piquant (because much more conventional) direction of comparison, so we wait for the second line to provide a kicker of some kind.

SRF finds it in the clever deployment of vaa;N , which could apply to either place. If we assume that having no human beings is a defect (which from a human point of view would certainly seem to be the case), here's the logical structure of the two readings that SRF presents:

(1) X is not less than Y, but in Y there's a defect
(2) X is not less than Y, but in X there's a defect

To me it seems that the presence of 'but' tilts the verse strongly toward (2). In (2) a claim is made for X, but then a concession is made that limits the scope of that claim; that's how 'but' normally works, after all (X has many virtues, but has a defect too). By contrast, the logic of (1) doesn't seem to accommodate a 'but', since the argument in it would have ongoing, cumulative force (X is not less than Y, and furthermore Y has a defect). As a thought experiment, just change the 'but' to 'and' and see how the logic immediately tilts toward (1). In short, to me it seems that this verse shares the basic logical structure of {1461,2}: X is better than Y, but X has a defect.

In my view, the pleasure of the verse is in the multivalence of aadmii . In the beloved's street, is there no humane, kindly, civilized person (think of insaan )? No honest and reliable person (see the definition above)? No mensch? No descendant of Adam, no one made of dust? No adult, no sane person? Or, most extravagantly, is there literally no one at all-- does everyone in fact lie dead in the street?