gayaa kuuche se tere u;Th ke miir aashuftah-sar shaayad
pa;Raa dekhaa thaa mai;N ne rah me;N us ke sang-e baalii;N ko

1) Mir arose and went from your street, disordered-headed, perhaps
2) I saw, lying in the road, his stone-pillow



baaliin : 'Pillow, cushion.' (Platts p.125)

S. R. Faruqi:

For a verse similar to this, see


Both verses are in Mir's special, extraordinary style, with 'mood' and 'meaning-creation' joined together. In {89,12}, u;Th gayaa hogaa is the bearer of several suggestions, but in the present verse, in tere kuuche se u;Th ke gayaa there's the additional meaning of a funeral procession's setting out. Thus the idiom is vuh falaa;N vaqt u;The;Nge -- that is, the funeral procession will set out at such and such a time. The meaning of the funeral procession's setting out is also appropriate because if Mir had arisen of his own will, then he would have taken away his stone-pillow too. But his stone-pillow is right in the road, where people will trip over it. Thus the probability is that Mir is not now in this world.

But in the verse there are not only these meanings. The stone-pillow's lying there has been mentioned in such a way that the implication is clear that Mir's personal effects were only that much. What better proof of having no possessions can there be, than for someone's nonexistence to be revealed by the fact that his stone-pillow is lying in the road?

Then, between aashuftah-sar and sang-e baalii;N there's a 'meaning-play', because the head is beaten against a stone. (For a peerless verse on this theme, see


In addition, this lack of possessions itself is because of being 'disordered-headed', such that beyond the stone-pillow he maintains no property at all. About the stone-pillow's lying in the road, one point was mentioned above: that now this stone has no owner, so that people will trip over it. A second point is that perhaps Mir also kept his bedding (that is, the stone-pillow) right at the edge of the road; he had no house or home at all.

Another aspect is that if Mir has not died, then through the intensity of his 'disorderedness' he has left the beloved's street and gone away. That is, it's this same disorderedness that caused his stone-pillow to be left as a stumbling-block in the beloved's street, that now has caused him to leave that street as well.

The speaker's tone too is very interesting. It's completely colorless and uninflected. Only in 'disordered-headed' there's a small hint that the speaker feels sorrow at Mir's end. Otherwise, he's said the words as if mentioning some ordinary event. This style was not vouchsafed to anyone but Mir.

The theme of the stone-pillow, or a brick-pillow, Atish has versified very unenjoyably in a verse cited in {11,4}. In the present ghazal itself, Mir has called the moon a 'silver brick' and has said in an entirely new style [{931,7}]:

ham us ke chaa;Nd se mu;Nh ke hai;N ((aashiq mah se kyaa ham ko
sar apnaa kabk hii maaraa kare us ;xisht-e siimii;N ko

[we are a lover of her moon-like face; what is the moon to us?
our hand would always strike on our head, that silver brick]

'Silver brick' seems to be Mir's own invention; I've never seen it anywhere else.

The theme of arising and leaving the beloved's street, Amir Mina'i too has versified. It seems clear that he has composed a 'reply' to the present verse of Mir's:

kuuche se tere u;Th gayaa shaayad tiraa faqiir
kamlii sii ik pa;Rii hu))ii dekhii hai raah me;N

[from your street, your faqir perhaps arose
we have seen something like a single small blanket lying in the street]

The first line is not very good (although the meaningfulness of u;Th gayaa is fine), but the second line, especially kamlii sii , is peerless.



The idea of a 'stone-pillow' is startling, even shocking; though a bit less so to traditional South Asians, since some ascetics there have traditionally used wooden neck-rests (designed to keep the head steady and slightly elevated).

Isn't this verse at heart based on a kind of 'gesture', or at least the material residue of one? Mir has abandoned his stone-pillow-- isn't that a gesture? Like other such gestures in the ghazal world, it's ultimately (and by no coincidence) unrevealing. The stone-pillow is just an object, it's been left lying around, and whatever interpretations are given to it can only be conjectural.

Note for grammar fans: The construction sang-e baalii;N is a noun-noun izafat, seemingly parallel to, say, za;xm-e jigar , 'wound of the liver', or ;haal-e dil , 'state of the heart'. But in fact it works more like ;ha.zrat-e naa.si;h , 'his lordship who is the Advisor'; it thus means 'the stone which is the pillow'. In other words, it doesn't mean 'the stone of the pillow' (nor of course 'the pillow of the stone').