yaa;N faqa:t re;xtah hii kahne nah aa))e the ham
chaar din yih bhii tamaashaa saa dikhaayaa ham ne

1) we hadn't come here merely to compose/recite only/emphatically Rekhtah
2) for a few days, we showed even/also this, like a spectacle



S. R. Faruqi:

For composing mysterious verses, Mir, Ghalib, and Iqbal are distinguished among our poets. But even within Mir's poetry there will be found few verses as mysterious as the present verse. Even among lofty/elevated verses, Mir has achieved the upper hand, and he boasts about his art/skill in many new styles/moods. From the first divan [{578,6}];

dil kis :tara;h nah khenche;N ash((aar re;xte ke
bahtar kiyaa hai mai;N ne us ((aib ko hunar se

[how would they not draw the heart, the verses of Rekhtah?
I have made that 'flaw' [of using Rekhtah rather than Persian] better than art/skill]

In {578,6}, the second line is multivalent, with a paradox as well. Then, this also an extremely superb 'reply' to a famous verse of Qa'im's.

[[Qa'im's verse:

qaa))im mai;N ;Gazal :taur kiyaa re;xtah varnah
ik baat lachar-sii bah zabaan-e dakanii thii

[Qa'im, I made Rekhtah into the style of a ghazal; otherwise
it was a trifling thing in the Dakani language] ]]

From the second divan [{914,11}]:

ash((aar-e miir par hai ab haa))e vaa))e har suu
kuchh si;hr to nahii;N hai lekin havaa to dekho

[at the verses of Mir, there is now 'ha'e va'e!' in every direction
there is no enchantment, but look at the affection/favor]

In {914,11} he has used such a rhyme-word, and 'seated' the refrain so powerfully, that whole ghazals can sacrifice themselves for this verse. If we read havaa as 'wind', then both rhyme-word and refrain have a different meaning, and the meaning of the verse too changes. And if we read hu))aa (the perfect of honaa ), then the meaning of rhyme-word, refrain, verse, not only becomes something else, but the rhyme-word and the refrain also become multivalent.

[[Further clarification by SRF of his comments on {914,11} (June 2017):

If we read havaa as 'wind', then (1) it's ek havaa bah rahii hai , that is , his poems are like the breeze blowing everywhere. (2) Though not magic, his poems pervade everywhere. (3) havaa ba;Ndhna , baa;Ndhnaa = to create an effect, to make everyone agree (to one's deeds or assertions), to boast, to enchant everyone, etc.

If we read hu))aa to dekho , it has the following connotations: (1) It (the magic) just happened, do you see? (2) If it (the magic) happens, then you’ll see! (God knows what will happen then-- people will go into raptures, will start dancing, etc.) (3) You can see it happening right before you.]]

From the fourth divan [the verse-set {1511,6} and {1511,7}]:

ai miir shi((r kahnaa kyaa hai kamaal-e insaa;N
yih bhii ;xayaal saa kuchh ;xaa:tir me;N aa gayaa hai

[oh Mir, is composing verse a human accomplishment?!
has something of an idea like this come into your mind?!]

shaa((ir nahii;N jo dekhaa tuu to hai ko))ii saa;hir
vuh chaar shi((r pa;Rh kar sab ko rijhaa gayaa hai

[you are not a poet-- if one looks, you are some magician
having recited those few verses, you have enchanted everybody]

In the verse-set from {1511}, there is a whole overview of poetry, with wordplay in addition.

So then, despite all this, why choose the present verse? In this verse what is the speaker (or Mir himself) saying to us? Is composing Rekhtah equal to showing off a spectacle because there may be a thousand 'meaning-creations', but the purpose of the heart is not fulfilled (that is, the beloved is not attained, or the purpose is not able to be attained)? Mir says in the third divan [{1165,5}]:

((ibaarat ;xuub likkhii shaa((irii inshaa-:taraazii kii
vale ma:tlab hai gum dekhe;N to kab ho mudda((aa ;haa.sil

[we wrote fine phrases of belles-lettristic poetry
but the intention is lost; let's see when the goal would be attained!]

Or again, is Rekhtah-recitation a spectacle because in people's view it is only an entertaining thing, and they are not able to grasp the addiction to verse-composition? (See


Or again, it's possible that since the listeners are all incapable, the poet did not manifest all his accomplishment; rather, he showed them something like a spectacle, as in the first divan itself [{316,9}]:

guft-guu naaqi.so;N se hai varnah
miir jii bhii kamaal rakhte hai;N

[he converses with deficient people; otherwise,
Mir-ji too possesses accomplishment]

Or again, Rekhtah-recitation is a spectacle because it's not the real purpose of the speaker's life. In the first line he's said that he didn't come here merely to compose Rekhtah-- so what was his real purpose in life? To be a lover?

Or again, is Rekhtah-recitation a spectacle because it's a veil/disguise for the speaker's real thoughts? (See


But he has also said that he showed the spectacle of Rekhtah-recitation for only chaar din (that is, for some days, for a brief period). So then, to what pursuit were the remaining days of his life devoted? Was there some other external, or internal, life about which others knew nothing, but which was the speaker's true life?

Or again, perhaps he has construed his whole life as chaar din -- that is, the whole period of his life either was chaar din , or else seemed to be so, such that it was over very quickly.

But he has called Rekhtah too 'like a spectacle', which has at least two meanings: (1) in fact that was not a spectacle, but was reality; (2) this was not a spectacle, but rather an imitation/feigning of a spectacle-- that is, our Rekhtah-recitation was a drama that was included within a drama (for example, in 'Hamlet') for some other purpose. Mir is the king of ambiguous speech, but even he will not have composed many verses as filled as this one with possibilities and questions.

The tone of the verse too is interesting. If we look at it in one way, then it's the tone of some comic actor who is apparently on the stage telling jokes, but in reality entirely dominates his audience, and considers them putty in his hands [mom kii naak]. If we look at it in another way, then this is the tone of some long-lived wily kind of Ustad, about whom it's difficult to say whether he is speaking the truth or playing a trick. If we look at in yet another way, then in the tone there's a prophetic dignity ('we have not been sent here for Rekhtah-recitation'), and also a slight shadow of melancholy: [{605,14}]

kahe;N kyaa jo puuchhe ko))ii ham se miir
jahaa;N me;N tum aa))e the kyaa kar chale

[what would we say if someone would ask us, Mir,
'you came into the world-- what did you do before you moved on?']

It should also be kept in mind that the world is called chaar din kii bahaar and the lifetime itself is said to be only of chaar din . He's composed an extraordinary, uncommon verse that's impossible to grab hold of. He has filled these two lines of the verse so full that a commentator would be lucky to live through them.



What exactly is 'this'? The first line makes it clear that 'only Rekhta composition/recitation' was not the speaker's whole purpose in life. The audience may well hope to learn in the second line what the speaker did in addition. But of course, the second line gives us only 'this', and some related information about what was done with 'this' as a performance. So how is the contrast to be framed? There are two main possibilities: that the speaker didn't 'compose/recite' Rekhtah, but turned it into 'something like a performance'; or that he didn't 'compose/recite Rekhtah' at all, but instead used 'this' as a performance-- perhaps 'this' crazed behavior of a mad lover, or perhaps 'this' sycophantic pursuit of public fame and approval, or perhaps anything else whatsoever that might have been within the speaker's range of possible activities. For if he's talking to himself, as is entirely possible, he might feel no need to specify the exact nature of his alternative activity. Leaving the 'this!' unspecified also tends to add a sharp note of bitterness or self-contempt ('Has it come to this?!').

And not only is the 'this' open to question, but so are several other elements of the second line:

chaar din == 'For a few days' only, did the speaker show this? Or did he show this for the 'few days' of his lifetime?

yih bhii == 'This too', this in addition to other things that he showed? Or 'even this', this which might have been expected not to be shown?

tamaashaa saa == This that was 'spectacle-like' in itself? Or this that we showed in a way that was 'something like a spectacle'?

It's an intriguing verse, and the irreducibly mysterious 'this' does linger in the mind, but I don't find it more complex than a number of Mir's other verses.