jaise ;xayaal-e muflis jaataa hai sau jagah tuu
mujh be-navaa ke bhii ghar ek-aadh raat aa rah

1) like the thoughts of a pauper, you go to a hundred places
2) to the home of even/also me, the destitute one-- come, and stay a few nights



be-navaa : 'Without provisions or furniture; without prosperity or splendour in condition; indigent, destitute'. (Platts p.204)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse the beloved is entirely 'a rake and a ruffian' [aubaash-o-badma((aash], who comes and goes to everyone's places. But the real beauty of the verse is in the simile that the beloved's character is like the ;xayaal-e muflis . The thing for which the simile is given (the mushabbah bihi [the tenor]) is always greater than the thing that would be the simile (the mushabbah [the vehicle]). Here the accomplishment is that the tenor is indeed greater, but at the same time it's also utterly vile and foolish.

The thoughts of a pauper run in every direction: something might be gotten from X, something might be obtained from Y. The thoughts of a pauper have no self-respect or self-regard. The proverb is well known, that 'the seeker is crazed' [;Gar.z-mand baavlaa hotaa hai]. Thus the 'thoughts of a pauper' are utterly devoid of dignity.

Nevertheless, that wanton/roamer [harjaa))ii] is also greater than the beloved, because no matter how much of a wanton the beloved may be, she won't be going to as many places and won't be going as often as do the 'thoughts of a pauper', which run this way and that way. The poet's accomplishment lies in the way that for the beloved's fault (wantonness) he searched out a simile that of something that in roaming around and vagabondage was even more powerful than her wantonness.

In simile and metaphor both, the principle that operates (or let's say, ought to operate) and that gives them their real force, is that their foundation is on hyperbole [mubaala;Gah]. If the power of the tenor is greater than that of the vehicle, then the simile will not be established, and this will be a proof of the poet's creative failure. As in this stanza by Majaz:

ik ma;hal kii aa;R se niklaa vuh piilaa maahtaab
jaise muflis kii javaanii jaisa bevah kaa shabaab
jaise mullaa kaa ((imaamah jaise banye kii kitaab

ay ;Gam-e dil kyaa karuu;N ay va;hshat-e dil kyaa karuu;N

[from the protection of a palace emerged that yellow moon
like a pauper's youth, like a widow's prime of life
like a mulla's turban, like a Baniya's book

oh grief of the heart, what can I do? oh wildness of the heart, what can I do?]

Here, all the vehicles (a pauper's youth, a widow's prime of life, a mulla's turban, a book of insight) are less powerful than their tenor (the yellow moon), because none of them has the yellowness of that imagined/ideal yellowness that the speaker has seen in the moon. A second point is that in a mulla's turban and a book of insight there's not necessarily any yellowness; thus the simile is in any case unsuccessful.

Thus despite this series of similes, in our minds the yellow image of the moon is not established; rather, 'the yellow moon' itself, which is to some extent a metaphor, is better than those similes, although in it too is the weakness that with the word 'yellow' the word maahtaab has been placed, so that it repeats the claim of radiance and light ( maah = moon, and taab = light, illuminating). If instead of piilaa maahtaab there had been piilaa chaa;Nd , then the metaphor would have been better.

In Mir's verse, we see that to express the beloved's wantonness, words have been brought that have an affinity with the simile ( jaataa hai , not [the more honorific] qadam-ranjah farmaataa hai or tashriif le jaataa hai or raunaq-afroz hotaa hai , etc.). The simile is with something that is vile in itself, but in the quality of wantonness is extremely powerful.

Now let's consider some verbal excellences. Between muflis and sau there's the relationship of a zila. With regard to muflis , to call oneself be-navaa is also a brilliant stroke of verbal affinity. Here, dil-zadah or ;Gam-zadah , or other such verbal constructions, would have had no affinity, as for example mere bhii ;Gam-kade me;N ek-aadh raat aa rah .

In the tone of the verse bitterness, complaint, pleading, desire, have all been so brought together that none of them can be dominant. It's a peerless verse.

[See also {277,2}.]



The simile or metaphor becomes remarkably convoluted. If a pauper's thoughts go running out in all directions, presumably he must be sitting still and entertaining them, like a spider at the center of a huge imaginative web. Similarly in the second line, the speaker presents himself as sitting at home, pauper-like, waiting and hoping-- while the frivolous, fickle, wanton beloved zigs and zags around all over the place. So the pauper is analogized to the be-navaa speaker, while the beloved is like the pauper's thoughts.

Just as the pauper's wandering thoughts are doomed to be desperate, helpless, often (almost always? always?) futile, the speaker's plea to the wandering beloved feels likely to have the same character. But the pauper's thoughts are vain, random, mental, while the beloved's wanderings are self-chosen, self-indulgent, physical. The pauper's thoughts are a web of failure; the beloved's wanderings are a web of successful conquest.

This makes for an odd kind of plea. Why should the beloved be moved by any such analogy? If SRF is right and the abjectness of the pauper's thoughts is paramount, would the lover not be in danger of offending her by the comparison? Maybe the lover is just dramatizing his humility and desperation. Because really, the juxtaposition of the pauper's wandering thoughts and the beloved's wandering body is quite awkward. Of course, that same oddness could always be said to make it more piquant and thought-provoking. Even if the beloved would actually, against all the odds, heed the plea and turn up at the poor lover's house for a night or two, the verse has set up a context in which her visit could only be casual, wanton, meretricious.