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 the speaker were identical in nature and behavior, so that the only difference is that they are gone while the speaker is 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.