bijlii se yuu;N chamke bahut par baat kahte ho chuke
juu;N abr saarii ;xalq par huu;N ab to chhaayaa ek mai;N

1) like lightning they flashed {casually / 'like this'} very much, but they have already finished saying things
2) like a cloud, over all creation/creatures, now I alone am a shade/shadow



chhaayaa : 'Shade, shadow; a shady place; reflected image, reflection; light, lustre, splendour; colour; —darkness, obscurity; —s.m.(?) An apparition, a spectre; a faint image or resemblance: —refuge, asylum, protection'. (Platts p.457)

S. R. Faruqi:

If the previous verse [{897,4}] was a declaration [((ilaan-naamah] by the lover, then this verse is a declaration by the poet, not only by Mir. There's no objection to considering it a personal expression and personal self-exaltation, but then the universality of the verse is diminished. In the theme there's also the interesting 'opposition' that former people were flashing like lightning, but the speaker, who is a contemporary poet, is black like a cloud.

In this there's also the point that lightning only does harm; moreover, it's only a part of the cloud. In the cloud, there's lightning and water too, which is life-giving and strength-enhancing. Then, another point is that lightning is only one part of the sky, and when a cloud arrives and gathers, then it fills the whole sky.

The affinity between baadal and chhaanaa , and also with regard to poets baat kahte , he has placed very well.

In the sixth divan, he has said it like this [{1857,3}]:

barq to mai;N nah thaa kih jal bujhtaa
abr-e tar huu;N kih chhaa rahaa huu;N mai;N

[I was not lightning, that I would have burnt up and been extinguished
I am a wet cloud, such that I'm spreading]

For more, see




On the meter and general structure of this ghazal, see {897,1}.

The opposition between the situation 'they' were in in the first line, and the one that 'I' am in in the second line, is open to a variety of readings; these are created by 'stress-shifting' across the different elements of the lines. Here are some possibilities:

=they 'used to' flash like lightning; I still do flash like lightning
=they used to flash like lightning 'very much'; now I do less flashing
=they used to flash 'casually' or in some particular way; now I flash differently
=they have 'already finished' saying things; now I still do say things
=they used to be 'like lightning'; now I am not like lightning
=they used not to be cloud-like; now I am cloud-like
=they used to be a 'shade/shadow/shelter' over creation; now I alone am such a thing

All these possibilities exist because of the ambiguities of the comparison. Even if former poets were marked by their lightning-flashes, it's quite possible that these flashes came from clouds (as in fact lightning-flashes seem to do), so they too may have been cloud-like; and similarly, the cloud-like speaker too may (occasionally?) flash like lightning. For if we take the comparison on the macro-level, it's quite possible that they and I were identical in our nature and behavior, so that the only difference is that they are gone while I am here.

The ambiguity of chhaayaa also works wonderfully here. A protective 'shade' from the hot sun is a beautiful benefit provided by a rain-cloud; an ominous 'shadow', suggesting future calamity (possibly in the form of lightning), is not.