thii jab talak javaanii ranj-o-ta((ab u;Thaa))e
ab kyaa hai miir jii me;N tark-e sitam-garii kar

1) as long as there was youthfulness, he/you endured grief and hardship

2a) now what is there in Mir-ji? Renounce the practice of tyranny!
2b) now what is there, Mir, in your inner-self? Renounce the practice of tyranny!



ta((ab : 'Exertion, labour, toil, trouble, hardship; fatigue, weariness, lassitude'. (Platts p.326)


jii : 'Life, soul, self, spirit, mind; heart; courage; disposition; affection, regard; strength, health; —any living thing; —a form of address, a term of endearment or respect, Sir, Master, Madam'. (Platts p.411)

S. R. Faruqi:

The verse has a powerful/excellent [zabardast] 'mood'; this much is absolutely clear. Now please reflect on the aspects of meaning.

(1) The speaker of the verse is not the lover himself; rather, it's someone else who is telling the lover's situation to the beloved.

(2) The lover hasn't caused this message to be sent. Perhaps out of self-respect, or because he knows that this message will have no effect on the beloved, he has refrained both from himself expressing his situation, and from sending some Messenger to express it. Some other person-- for example, the lover's confidant, or a neighbor-- goes to the beloved. The proof of this is that in the verse there's no hint from which the conclusion could be drawn that the speaker is in reality an envoy of the lover's.

(3) The lover's youth is already over, but the beloved is still youthful (otherwise, why would the lover be dying for her?). The cause of the end of youthfulness can be the hardships of passion (that is, old age has come before its time), or else the passage of time.

(4) By 'he endured grief and hardship' can be meant the beloved's tyranny and the tyranny of the age/world, both.

(5) The lover's situation has already become so wretched that people in the vicinity, and friends, are alarmed; and they are alarmed to such an extent that they go to the beloved and commend him to her.

(6) Mir's beloved is some famous person; people know her, and can present themselves in her service.

In the opening-verse [{817,1}] there's a stage of love that more or less behaves like the introduction to a dastan; and the closing-verse [the present one] is comparable to the final chapter of a dastan. But in this final chapter too, there's a glimmer of some hopeful future outcome. It's been recommended to the beloved-- 'just renounce the practice of tyranny'. It hasn't been said, 'become gracious to Mir, call him to your side, consent to union with him, or even give him a promise of union'. All these ideas are, so to speak, not at all possible. If even this much could be done then it would be a great deal-- that the progression of tyranny would be halted.

In 'now what is there in Mir-ji?' there's also the implication that now there's nothing left in Mir, he's a wretched/unworthy prey-- now what will you get out of tormenting him?

There's also the possibility that the verse's addressee might not be the beloved, but rather might be Mir himself. Then the interpretation emerges, 'As long as there was youth, you tyrannized over yourself by enduring grief and hardship; now youth no longer remains, so what is this madness that's even now in your inner-self [jii]? Renounce the practice of tyranny!' With regard to this interpretation, there will be a pause between 'Mir' and jii (meaning 'heart').



What a zabardast advantage it is to have SRF's commentary! I was tossing and turning this verse around in my mind, and noticing the unusual (in this context) address of 'Mir-ji', but even then I might never have come up with the irresistible second reading that SRF presents. For of course the first line could be an intimate second-person address [tuu] just as easily as a third-person singular [vuh]. And the little jii could certainly go either way: it's placed so perfectly that both the 'form of respectful/affectionate address' and the 'inner-self' readings feel completely natural (see the definition above).

In fact, the perfect placement goes far to show that Mir deliberately intended to create these two readings. Otherwise, why in such a context does he use 'Mir-ji' as a form of address? And what are the odds that if he would happen to do so, he would also immediately follow the jii with a postposition that could also apply to the 'inner-self' sense, in the context of a whole phrase that works perfectly with both senses? Probably, dear reader, you already see very clearly how complex Mir's ghazal verses are, so I really don't even need to mention this kind of evidence of complexity. But it's surprising how Azad's influence (Mir as an innocent, naive, suffering soul who never had any fun in his life, and simply wrote down his sorrows) still lingers. I've written a whole article about this, so let me not get started on it again.

Just for interest, here's what might be called an 'ordinary' use of 'Mir-ji', one in which the title has only a single possible reading; the speaker seems to be some friendly but respectful neighbor who is concerned about him [{1134,8}]:

kis :tar;h miir-jii kaa ham taubah karnaa maane;N
kal tak bhii daa;G-e mai the sab un ke pairahan par

[in what way might/would we believe Mir-ji's repentance?
even until yesterday, so many wine-stains were on his robe!]