bahut sa((ii karye to mar rahye miir
bas apnaa to itnaa hii maqduur hai

1) if/when you make a great effort-- then just go off and die, Mir!
2) enough-- only/emphatically this much is our ability/means/presumption



sa((ii : 'Endeavour, attempt; exertion, effort; enterprise, essay; purpose'. (Platts p.661)


maqduur : ''What one is able to do or accomplish,' &c.; power, ability; capacity; —means, resources; —presumption, presumptuousness'. (Platts p.1055)

S. R. Faruqi:

The word maqduur too [like saliiqah in {545,3}], Mir has used at various times. See for example




But here it has a unique glory. That our maqduur is very narrow, is proved because we can confide our life itself to the Creator of Life. What duress it must be, and what constraint too it must be, that would reach as far as death. In this paradox there's a 'mood' of sarcasm that recalls


and that protects the verse from self-pity. As I have previously said, verses of 'mood' are always in great danger of self-pity and/or sentimentality. By 'sentimentality' is meant that in comparison to the emotion or experience (that is, to the theme) that has been described, words too ebullient/emotional have been used. That is, the matter might be light, but the poet may have described it with unnecessary intensity. For example, there is sentimentality in this verse by Fani Badayuni:

yaas jab chhaa))ii ummiide;N haath mal kar rah ga))ii;N
dil kii nab.ze;N chhu;T ga))ii;N aur chaarah-gar dekhaa kiye

[when despair overspread me, hopes were left wringing their hands
the pulses of the heart ceased, and the physicians could only watch]

In the first line, the insistence/repetition is improper. Then, for the hopes to be left wringing their hands, for the pulses (not even 'pulse') of the heart to cease, for the physicians to (helplessly) watch-- all this is unnecessary verbosity. And the theme is only this much: that despair overspread me, the heart stopped beating, and the physicians could do nothing. Rather than a verse, this seems to be more the lament of some not very educated widow.

If we compare this verse to Mir's, then it becomes clear that even piteous themes can be expressed with dignity, sarcasm, and authority. Fani was in general a good poet, but in his weak moments he always used to become prey to limpness and self-pity. The taste of the time had already become so corrupted that people considered self-pitying verses to be full of dignity and pity. People held the view that verses like

faanii davaa-e dard-e jigar zahr to nahii;N
kyuu;N haath kaa;Nptaa hai mire chaarah-gar kaa

[Fani, the medicine for pain in the liver is not poison!
why does the hand of my care-giver tremble?]

were verses in the tradition of Mir! Although Mir has not the remotest relationship with this kind of foolish 'self-dramatization' and this attempt to engage the sympathy of the hearer/reader. To him, the kam-maqduurii was such that he would give up his life. And the maqduur one was the person whom he has described in


Now we will pay a bit more attention to Mir's present verse. The original meaning of sa((ii is 'to run'; see


Thus between sa((ii and rahye there's the enjoyable connection of a zila. It should also be kept in mind that when Hazrat Hajirah [=Hagar] made a great effort/run (in memory of which the pilgrims at Mecca too run between the two mountains Safa and Marvah), then life was bestowed upon her in the form of water, and God saved her and her child from dying of thirst. In this context, the theme of dying as a result of sa((ii carries a special sarcasm.

If we read the previous verse,


together with the present verse, then the present verse seems to be an expansion and commentary on that one. But these verses are entirely separate, and between them are a number of other verses that have not been able to come into the intikhab.



SRF argues that the verse escapes from the taint of self-pity [;xvud-tara;hmii] and 'sentimentality' (he uses the English word), but then he goes on to speak of its 'dignity, sarcasm, and authority' [vaqaar aur :tanz-o-tamkiin]. But surely to try to pin a verse like this down to any one kind of tone is as problematic as it is in the case of


For the present verse too has a first line that proposes an action that can be interpreted multifariously-- as a sign of failure, a perverse form of success, a gesture of triumph, a show of humiliation, or even a fit of peevishness.

Moreover, the present verse too, like {543,3}, has a second line that can be read variously, thanks in part to the range of meanings of maqduur (see the definition above). Thus the second line could be read boastfully (the speaker is proud of the extent of his courage and determination), or neutrally (the speaker reports that he did his utmost, but failed), or sorrowfully (the speaker mourns his lack of success). It could also be read sarcastically ('Yeah, this was my degree of 'capacity'!') or with wry amusement ('Yeah, this is how 'presumptuous' I was!'). For more on such problems of 'tone' and 'mood', see {724,2}.

Note for translation fans: How to convey mar rahiye ? The literal-seeming 'die and stay dead' doesn't at all do the job in English. I tried to come up with something vaguely idiomatic, but it's not truly satisfactory.