((uryaan phire;N kab tak ai kaash kahii;N aa kar
tah gard-e bayaabaa;N kii baalaa-e badan bai;The

1) how long will we/you/they wander naked? Oh, if only we/you/they would somehow come and
2) with a layer of desert dust atop the body, sit down!



tah: 'Ground; site; floor; surface; bottom, underneath; foundation; depth; layer, stratum'. (Platts p.345)

S. R. Faruqi:

On the theme of bodily nakedness, we have already seen two extremely superb verses:




But the glory of the present verse is unique. First of all, consider the pleasure/subtlety that the cure for nakedness is not clothing, but rather a layer of dust on the body. That is, it's natural and commonplace that the speaker (and other people like him) do not wear clothing; rather, even if they would want to cover the body, then they wander around to such an extent that they kick up dust that collects on their body and covers their nakedness.

A second point is that the speaker has become fed up with nakedness and is praying that somehow desert-dust would fly up and come (for example, that some typhoon would come, or that he would arrive in some section of the desert where there would be nothing but dust), so that his nakedness would be able to be covered.

In the first divan itself, Mir has slightly altered the theme and expressed it like this [{286,8}]:

((uryaa;N-tanii kii sho;xii va;hshat me;N kyaa balaa thii
tah gard kii nah bai;Thii taa tan ke ta))ii;N chhupaa))uu;N

[the mischievousness of naked-bodiedness-- in wildness, what a disaster it was!
it did not sit down under dust, so that I would/could hide my body]

In {286,8} there's only one insha'iyah utterance ( kyaa balaa thii ), while in the present verse the whole of it is insha'iyah. For this reason the present verse has more 'dramaticness'. Rasikh Azimabadi, benefitting from Mir's verse, has said,

va;hshat me;N kahaa;N mujh ko hosh apne badan kaa thaa
tah gard-e bayaabaa;N kii jaamah mire tan kaa thaa

[in wildness, how was I aware of my body?!
a layer of desert dust was the robe of my body]

Both Mir's and Rasikh's verses are 'tumult-arousing', but Mir's prayerful, longing tone has raised his verse to a higher level. Rasikh's speaker has veiled his body in desert dust, but the reason is wildness and heedlessness. By contrast, Mir's speaker considers it natural and pleasing to use a veil of desert dust as clothing. His madness is true madness; the madness of Rasikh's speaker is a passing mood.



The speaker seems to be a mad lover himself, as SRF notes, since he considers the opposite of nakedness to be not clothing but a veil of dust. Is the speaker addressing himself, or coaxing some other mad lover, or speaking (possibly to himself) respectfully about some third party who is also a mad lover? Since the subject is never given, and the plural verb can work in all three ways, I don't see how we can tell. It makes a difference in how we imagine the setting of the verse, but not particularly in the real effect of the verse itself.

The tone seems to be sympathetic and concerned, in which case the verse becomes a kind of parody of the 'neighbor' verses that are a specialty of Mir's. Or, as SRF observes, it can express impatience and vexation about one's own state as a wanderer.

It's an excellent touch that the opposite of constantly running around is envisioned not just as sitting, but as sitting so long and so fixedly that a layer of dust comes to cover the body. To go from one extreme to the other-- how else would the mad lover behave?

Note for grammar fans: Even if we take him as singular, the madman is referred to in the first line with the plural of respect ( phire;N ); but in the second line we find what looks like a singular form of the future subjunctive ( bai;The ). So we have to take the latter form as a plural perfect, idiomatically used as a subjunctive.