shi((r mere hai;N sab ;xavaa.s-pasand
par mujhe guft-guu ((avaam se hai

1) my verses are all pleasing to the elite
2) but I have conversation/speech/debate with the common people



guft-guu : 'Conversation, discourse, dialogue, common talk, chitchat; altercation, dispute, debate, expostulation, controversy, contention squabble'. (Platts p.910)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse is a superb example of abundance of meaningfulness and ambiguity, in simplicity. The apparent meaning is that although all my verses are pleasing to the elite-- that is, are worthy of pleasing the elite-- I am compelled, because of low repute or some other constraint, to converse with the common people. If we reflect even a little, then at least four additional meanings come to our understanding:

(1) My verses are pleasing to the elite, but I don't care about them; I speak to the common people.

(2) My verses are pleasing to the elite, but to recite poetry to them is useless. Or, those people are not the ones for my verses; or they will get no benefit from my verses. Thus I address myself to the common people.

(3) My verses are worthy of being approved by the elite, but my true message is for the common people, because I want to improve them, or cause them to make spiritual progress.

(4) My verses are for the elite, but my conversation is for the common people. That is, the common people will not understand my verses; I speak with them in commonly-understood language. The 'target audience' for my poetry is the elite, and the 'target audience' for my conversation is the common people.

It's clear that some of these meanings are such that they can be given a political color and Mir can be proved to be a 'poet of the people'. And for this construction a 'warrant' can also be brought forward from Mir's verses. For example, in the second divan [{788,5}]:

jaisii ;Gurbat mirii diivaa;N me;N amiiro;N ke hu))ii
vaisii hii un kii bhii hogii mire diivaan ke biich

[the kind of poverty/forlornness that happened to my divan amidst the rich/elite
exactly that will be even/also to them, amidst my divan]

But to construe a text in a way that would not have been possible in the time of the author of the text-- it is not incorrect, but it is certainly a bit perilous. But in any case there's no harm if the 'common'/political meaning too is established as one meaning of this verse. In the same way, a philosophical meaning too is possible; as will be discussed below. these meanings are based on the thought of Ibn Rushd.

Among Muslim thinkers, the door was opened early to reflection and discussion and analysis of the way that many 'philosophical' problems are established in the light of the intellect, but in the light of religion or belief they are false or impossible. And similarly, many matters that are based on religion or belief, in the light of the intellect cannot be established. So in such a situation, what path ought 'philosophy' to take? It's clear that between intellect and revelation, and between proof and belief, an opposition often develops. And for the 'philosopher' (that is, the person who wants to consider the universe in the light of intellect and proof), it is not possible to let go of intellect, nor is it possible to let go of belief.

For this problem, Ibn Rushd [=Averroes] presented the solution that there is no contradiction between 'philosophy' and religion. The truths of both are from separate worlds. And it's not necessary that what would be true in the world of philosophy, would also be true in the world of belief. The wider Muslim society did not accept this solution of Ibn Rushd's, but in the west obviously Spinoza and Kant drew their own conclusions that were similar to Ibn Rushd's. Spinoza differentiated between two kinds of truth: one kind he called 'vulgar acceptable truth' ('vulgar' in the sense of 'common, widespread'), and the other he called 'the philosophers' acceptable truth'; and he established that between the two agreement is neither necessary nor possible. Kant, in his own way, presented as a solution to this problem that some things are outside the circle of unaided intellect, and they are true only because everybody believes they are true. Kant said that the human intellect doesn't have the power to understand the ideas of the Lord, human freedom, infinity, and so on.

It's clear that one construction of Mir's verse can also be that 'My words are in fact the bearers of real truths-- that is, truths that would be worthy of acceptance by a philosopher, or again, would be Kantian truths that are beyond the human mind. But I have to converse with the common people; thus I keep my words limited to their level.' It's also clear that however we construe this verse, its theme remains the same-- that what we ought to say, or what we want to say, is very different from what we say. According to Eliot, 'every poem is an inscription on a tomb'.

It's possible that Mir might have profited from this verse by Shakir Naji:

kyuu;N pasand us shaah-e ;xuubaa;N ko nahii;N
shi((r meraa vird-e ;xaa.s-o-((aam hai

[why does it not please that ruler of the beautiful ones?
my poetry is constantly recited by the elite and the common people]

In Naji's verse, the enjoyable tension is that perhaps the reason the ruler of the beautiful ones is not pleased is that his verse is constantly recited by the elite and the common people. Mir himself has said, in one verse, something extraordinarily dignified and sorrowful. From 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]

As though on one level the speaker/Mir acknowledges that he does not express complete power/accomplishment in his poetry, because his listeners are deficient. Another interpretation can also be that he himself possesses power/accomplishment, but his listeners are deficient and cannot arrive at his accomplishment. Urfi was probably under the sway of this emotion when he said [in Persian],

'The account of my intention is only under the breath,
For the people of the gathering are common people, and my conversation is mystical/elite [((urfii].*

Vali too has said,

ay valii qadr tire shi((r kii kyaa buujhe ((avaam
apne ash((aar ko hargiz tuu nah de juz bah ;xavaa.s

[oh Vali, how would the common people comprehend your poetry?
you must absolutely not give your verses, except to the elite]

[See also {1342,2}.]



The verse has the structure 'A is B, but C is D'. My 'verses' are 'elite-pleasing', but my 'conversation/speech' is 'with commoners'. That 'but' certainly seems to imply a contrast, but of which elements? 'Verses' when recited could after all be considered a form of speech or conversation; or else they could be something quite different. Something that is 'elite-pleasing' could also be offered in speech 'with commoners'-- or else replaced with something different (plainer, or more colloquial?).

The verse gives us no hint at all of whether the 'conversation with common people' happens through the poet's choice, or else for reasons beyond his control (perhaps his low social status or personal notoriety). Maybe the elite enjoy his performance of his verses, and then toss him a few gold coins or a small pension and send him back for the rest of the time to his home among the common people?

These ambiguities are all very well, but I much prefer its sibling