din raat mirii chhaatii jaltii hai mu;habbat me;N
kyaa aur nah thii jaagah yih aag jo yaa;N daabii

1) day and night my breast burns in love
2) was there no other place [for it]-- this fire that [some person(s) or thing(s)] here pressed down?!


jaagaa : '(prov.)= jagah '. (Platts p.371)


daabnaa : 'To press down; to suppress, repress; to rule; to restrain'. (Platts p.499)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse too is governed by 'mood'; it also has 'tumult-arousingness'. But in addition, several points are such that they are revealed only upon reflection. One aspect of the meaning is that the speaker's heart is a treasure-house of love, and his breast burns day and night with the fire of love. That is, the speaker feels as if in anybody else's heart love doesn't even exist. Or again, the love that is in other hearts is not true/real, but rather only a faint glimmer of love. Or again, the speaker is making a claim that all the love in the whole world is in his breast alone (that is, the rest of the people in the world have obtained their love from this very treasury).

Another aspect of the meaning is that by 'love' is meant the mystical knowledge of lordship [((irfaan-e ;xudaavandii]. In the Qur'an [33:72] God wanted to give the burden of his knowledge to the earth and the sky, but they refused. Man, through his ignorance and lack of wisdom, accepted this burden. In the light of this meaning the interpretation of the first line becomes very interesting-- that he himself accepted this fire, and he himself is complaining, 'why wasn't it pressed down somewhere else?'.

If a question would be raised as to what is the justification for calling the mystical knowledge of lordship 'fire', then the answer is that mystical knowledge itself is obtained when the burning of the love of God would be in the heart. Rasikh Azimabadi too has directly called it 'fire', and it's possible that he might have taken the basic theme from Mir himself:

;hairaa;N huu;N kih daabii dil-e parvaanah me;N vuh aag
jis aag se pur-;xauf dil-e ruu;h al-amii;N ho

[I am amazed, that pressed down in the heart of the Moth is that fire
that fire of which the heart of Gabriel would be full of fear]

Now let's turn back to Mir's verse. In the second line, the insha'iyah style has of course created the pleasure of a complaint; in it there's also the point that the breadth of all creation was narrow for the fire of love. Or again, the sarcasm is directed toward the Lord Most High-- was there any restriction/lack of places, that his selecting gaze fell on my heart?

For aag daabnaa , there are two meanings. One is to cover the fire with ashes and such, so that embers would remain alive, but the flame would vanish. Hatim has versified this idiom in this same sense, and it's probable that on Mir's theme is a ray from Shah Hatim's verse:

badan par kuchh mire :zaahir nahii;N aur dil me;N sozish hai
;xudaa jaane yih kis ne raakh andar aag daabii hai

[on my body, externally, is nothing; and in my heart is a burning
the Lord knows who has pressed down this fire within ashes]

The other meaning of aag daabnaa is 'to extinguish a fire'. Thus Zauq has a verse:

;xunuk-dilo;N kii agar aah-e sard doza;x me;N
pa;Re to vaaqa((ii ik baar aag daab to de

[a cold sigh from the cool-hearted ones-- if into hell
it would fall, then truly, at once it would extinguish the fire]

Mir's accomplishment is that in his verse both meanings of the idiom are appropriate. That is, one meaning is that he brought fire and hid it in my heart in such a way that its flames were extinguished, but the embers remained alive. Another meaning is that there was no way to extinguish that fire; only my breast was a place where it could be extinguished-- so the fire was brought there and extinguished, but the heat of the fire remains to such an extent that day and night my breast always burns.

There's also the possibility that the agent who does the 'pressing down' might be the speaker himself. That is, the prose of the line might be like this: kyaa aur jagah nah thii jo ( mai;N ne ) yih aag yahaa;N daabii ? Now the meaning emerges that 'I alone felt love, and I alone made my heart and breast into a burial-place for this fire. Now I am experiencing the punishment for this.'

Thus this verse too is a superb example of this special style of Mir's, in which 'mood' and 'meaning-creation' have been brought together. If it is taken as a sarcasm against the makers of fate and destiny, then in this verse 'tumult-arousingness' too is operative. Jur'at too has well presented this theme, that because of the burning of love, a fire remained lit in the breast:

sozish-e dil kyaa kahuu;N mai;N jab talak jiitaa rahaa
ek angaarah saa pahluu me;N pa;Raa dahkaa kiyaa

[the burning of the heart-- what can I say! -- as long as I remained alive
a single ember-like thing remained lying in my side, and always blazed up]

In Mir's verse 'mood' and tumult-arousingness are mingled, and the universality that is in his first line is better than the comparatively limited expression in Jur'at's verse. But in Jur'at's second line, the intensity of the image and the narrative mode are so powerful that even Mir would have been entranced.

By comparison, Sheftah's famous line seems entirely pallid. In Sheftah's verse, the beauty is in truth due to the insha'iyah expression of the first line:

shaayad isii kaa naam mu;habbat hai sheftah
ik aag-sii hai siine ke andar lagii hu))ii

[perhaps just this is what is called 'love', Sheftah--
a single/particular/unique/excellent fire-like thing is settled within my breast]

Mus'hafi has expressed Mir's theme straightforwardly. He has made a great effort to create a 'reply' to Mir, but the image in Mir's first line, and the question in his second line, have both outranked Mus'hafi's verse:

mu.s;hafii jis se sabhii siinah phu;Nkaa jaataa hai
yih ((ajab aag rakhii hai dil-e insaa;N ke biich

[Mus'hafi, this through which the whole breast is blown into flame,
this strange fire has been kept amidst the human heart]

It's undoubtedly true that Mus'hafi has declared passion to be a quality of all humanity, and thus has directly created a generalized 'mood'. In Mir's verse, the individualism is conspicuous. But Mushafi's generalization has the good aspect that in the whole verse there's no mention of the fire of passion-- he's only said 'fire', he hasn't named it. But the idea is complete.

In our time, Atiqullah has given to love an ambiguous aspect, and thus brought out a fine theme:

ik a;Ndheraa huu;N sar se paa))o;N talak
phir yih pahluu me;N kya chamaktaa hai

[I am a single darkness, from head to foot
then-- in my side, what is this that glitters?]

A discussion of archaic language in poetry: But it's possible that part of the 'mood' of the present verse might be indebted to the fact that in the verse a number of words are of an archaic kind ( chhaatii , jaagah , yaa;N daabii ) through which, in the midst of our other verses, a romantic distance has come to exist.

Terry Eagleton has made exactly this objection to Roman Jakobson's 'theory of deflection'-- that if the language of poetry is a 'distortion' of, and 'organized violence' upon, ordinary everyday language, then what is the standard/touchstone of ordinary everyday language? Eagleton says that one reason for our interest in the Authorized ['King James'] Version of the Bible (1611) is that the archaicness of its language greatly appeals to us. But was this archaic language itself not the 'ordinary everyday language' of the late sixteenth century?

To this question several answers are possible. (1) The interest of ancient language is for us like the interest of a child's labored language; it would not be measured by literary standards. (2) If ancient language is incomprehensible, then it is not interesting; thus the real point is the beauty of the meaning, not the ancientness of the language. (3) Ancient words sometimes create not interest but displeasure (as we see nowadays in refrains like aa))e hai , jaa))e hai , by which mushairah poets make childish attempts to create the 'style of Mir'; thus not merely the ancientness of words, but rather their appropriateness to the situation, is the basic and most important point.)

But despite these answers, we ought to remain careful not to declare any verse beautiful, only on the basis that the archaicness of its language appeals to us.



In the second line, who or what did the 'pressing down'? It might be a person or persons, it might be a thing or things, it might be some abstract entity or entities. Annoyingly, the verse gives us no traction whatsoever for making a guess. To me this seems a serious source of weakness (lack of 'connection') in the verse. How can we put the lines together in any satisfying way? Perhaps Mir means for us to read daabii as though it were dabii . Could it be some kind of archaic or colloquial form?

Note for grammar fans: The second line also contains a sort of grammatical break of the kind that is niggling but (at least to me) annoying. Allowing for some permutations, the first half of the line basically says 'was there no other place?' and the second half of the line says 'this fire that X here pressed down'. Obviously what's meant is a place 'for' the fire. We can tell this clearly, but only because we have so many mental ways of dancing around grammar. (Perhaps we can require the jo to do an impossible amount of work.) If Mir meant something by this little grammatical break, I have no idea what it could be. Perhaps he just wanted a colloquial effect of exasperation, or of naivete-- perhaps it aligns with the archaism that SRF points out.