ay naaqah-e lail;aa do qadam raah-e ;Gala:t kar
majnuun-e z-;xvud-raftah kabhuu raah par aave

1) oh she-camel of Laila, take a couple of steps onto the wrong road
2) would Majnun, who is 'gone from himself', ever come onto the [right] road?!



;Gala:t : 'Wrong, erroneous, incorrect, inaccurate; untrue, false'. (Platts p.772)


raah par aanaa : 'To come or return to the road, find the road (which had been lost); to mend (one's own) ways or manners'. (Platts p.585)

S. R. Faruqi:

Qa'im too has composed this theme:

kaash us vaadii me;N ay naaqah-e lail;aa teraa
us :taraf raah ;Galat ho kih jidhar majnuu;N hai

[if only, in that valley, oh she-camel of Laila, your
road/path would veer off wrongly in that direction, where Majnun is]

(Qa'im has usually versified raah as masculine; thus for example in the opening-verse of the second ghazal in his kulliyat:

maqduur kise na((t-e paiyambar kii raqam kaa
har dam hai dam-e te;G pah yaa;N raah-e qalam kaa

[who is worthy of the nature of a praise-poem to the Prophet?
every breath is a sword-edge, here, on the road of the pen])

The basis of both Mir's and Qa'im's verses about Laila's she-camel is the following powerful [Persian] verse by Shapur Tehrani:

'For these two or three steps that Laila's she-camel took off the road,
How long will the sky send down disasters on Majnun's head?!'

Undoubtedly the rarity of the theme, the 'tumult-arousing' expression of passion and of the hopeless torment of the lover, and the dignified, unemotional style have made Shapur Tehrani's verse almost impossible to rival. But Mir has shown that this impossibility is possible.

The first point is that in Mir's verse Majnun himself never goes along on the road of Laila's she-camel. Rather, if Laila's she-camel would step off the road and thereby walk on the road on which confused Majnun is, then it's as if she would come into Majnun's direct road-- that is, would come into the true/real road.

A second point is that Majnun is az ;xvud raftah -- that is, he has no care for his body. He wanders distractedly in the desert, and also in the dictionary meaning is 'gone from himself'. That is, he doesn't even have any awareness of himself, or psychologically and physically is not present to himself. Thus if Laila's she-camel would take a wrong road and would come onto the road on which Majnun is, it will prove to be merely fruitless and trivial.

The next point is that both lines are insha'iyah in style. In the first line, Laila's she-camel is being instructed to take a slightly wrong road. Thus Laila's she-camel has the power to go in any direction she might wish. In such a case, Laila's she-camel too is shown to be aware of Majnun's wretched condition. Another possibility is that the speaker says in a pleading tone, or in a tone of practical advice, 'oh she-camel of Laila, take a wrong road'.

We can also consider that the second line is interrogative-- 'well, will Majnun, who is lost to himself, ever take the right road?!' That is, Majnun, who is lost to himself, is not one ever to come onto the right road (for after all, he is gone even from himself). Therefore, oh she-camel of Laila, you yourself take one or two steps on a wrong road.

In this way Mir has crafted, through 'meaning-creation', a reply to Shapur Tehrani's 'tumult-arousingness', and has made his own effect. A reply to Shapur Tehrani's uniqueness (and especially to the generalized sarcasm of his second line), Mir was not able to make.

Mir has versified another aspect of this theme in the first divan itself [{538,7}]:

tuu hii zimaam apnii naaqe tu;Raa kih majnuu;N
muddat se naqsh-e paa ke maanind raah par hai

[you yourself break your bridle, oh camel, since Majnun
for a long time, like a footprint, has been on the road]



This ghazal and the following one [{509}] form a 'double-ghazal'. [SSA integrates its selected verses into one ghazal: first the opening-verse from {509}, then these two verses from {508}, then three more verses from {509}.]

The phrase raah-e ;Gala:t opens up not only a neutral, pragmatic meaning ('a road that does not lead to the destination') but also a morally charged metaphorical meaning ('a road that is wrong, untrue, false'). These two possibilities are further developed in the second line: the question might be whether Majnun would ever raah par aanaa in a neutral, pragmatic sense ('come onto a road that leads to the destination'), or in an idiomatic, metaphorical sense ('mend his ways', 'behave properly'-- see the definition above).

In either case, the description of Majnun as 'gone from himself' [z ;xvud raftah] continues the imagery-- it sounds as though Majnun has wandered off somewhere away from himself, so that he's unlikely to wander (back?) onto the right road (in either sense).

Note for grammar fans: In the second line, the insertion of an invisible kyaa is absolutely required. (On this see {490,2}.) The question as to whether Majnun would ever come onto the road clearly wants to be a negative rhetorical question that gives a terrific sarcastic fillip to the verse ('Would he ever...?! Of course not! As if!'). The line could also, though less enjoyably, be read as a straightforward inquiry ('Would he ever...?'). But to read it as 'Sometime he might/would...' is to make nonsense of the 'connection' between the lines.