patte ke kha;Rakne se hotii hai hame;N va;hshat
kyaa :taur hai ham apne saaye se ramiido;N kaa

1) from the crackling of a leaf, we [habitually] feel wildness/panic/madness
2) what a manner/conduct/demeanor is there, of us who are terrified/agitated by our own shadow!



va;hshat : 'A desert, solitude, dreary place; —loneliness, solitariness, dreariness; —sadness, grief, care; —wildness, fierceness, ferocity, savageness; barbarity, barbarism; —timidity, fear, fright, dread, terror, horror; —distraction, madness'. (Platts p.1183)


:taur : 'State, condition, quality; kind, sort; manner, mode, way; conduct, demeanour'. (Platts p.754)


ramiidah : 'Terrified, alarmed, scared, horror-struck, disturbed, afflicted'. (Platts p.599)

S. R. Faruqi:

To carefully tie in the second line was a task fit only for a poet like Mir. In the whole ghazal the rhyme-words have been used with great informality and 'Urdu-ness' [urduu-pan]. It's surprising that Firaq Sahib, whose tongue never tired of praising the 'Urdu-ness' of the rhymes of Mus'hafi and Zauq, was unable to see this quality in Mir's poetry.

The meaningful aspect of this verse too is very fine. The one who would flee from his own shadow-- for him, the crackling of a leaf will surely cause wildness/panic. But if the one who flees from his own shadow goes into the wilderness itself, there leaves crackle from every direction. It's obvious that his wildness/panic will further increase. He was panicked by the city-dwellers, so he went into the wilderness; but there, there came to be an arrangement for further increasing his panic. He 'leaped from the frying pan into the fire' [ga))e the roze ba;xshvaane , ul;Tii namaaze;N gale pa;Rii;N -- 'we went to get excused from fasting, but instead were saddled with regularly doing namaz'].

In the verse, the subtle suspicion of humor/wit is also fine. Then, the person who would flee even from his own shadow-- at the crackling of a leaf, his panic would be something worth seeing! Thus the proverb 'A leaf crackled, the man recoiled' [pattaa kha;Rkaa bandah bha;Rkaa].



The second line of this verse is structurally quite similar to that of


In both cases the first line identifies a group of people who are obviously in dire straits, and the second line exclaims at the nature and severity of their predicament, while also linking it to the description in the first line. But the similarities mask significant differences. For {1098,1} relies on structural devices that are straightforward and easy to describe: the inexpressibility trope in the first line, and a multivalent use of kyaa in the second line that points up the very difficulties of expression that are invoked in the first line. In the present verse, by contrast, the first (and non-insha'iyah) line offers a striking example of sudden wild panic, and the second line exclaims at it while revealing further information about it.

Conspicuously (and unusually), the kyaa structure in the second line of the present verse isn't really multivalent like that in {1098,1}, but seems to be purely exclamatory along the lines shown in the translation; the 'tone' of the exclamation is left for us to decide. (The other grammatical possibilities seem to go nowhere, poetically speaking.) This means that despite their apparent parallelism, the two verses don't work in the same way. For {1098,1} relies on the mutual reinforcement of the inexpressibility trope in the first line, and the maximally multivalent expressiveness of kyaa in the second line.

By contrast, the present verse relies on the strikingly 'dramatic' image of sudden wild, hysterical panic in the first line; in fact, I'm surprised that SRF didn't use that word, since it's one of his favorite complimentary adjectives for Mir's effects. Then this image of panic is amplified and deepened by the further description in the second line. For the second line adds an even more hysterical and terrifying form of panic the poor lover is not only panicked by a crackling leaf, but is already, even beforehand, half-distraught and panicked at his own shadow.

The two forms of panic apparently augment each other, and thus are similar. But they are also implicitly contrasted: that of the first line is transient, while that of the second line is chronic; that of the first line is adventitious, while that of the second line is inescapable. It's left to us readers to decide how exactly to connect these two lines-- does the similarity predominate, or the contrast? And above all, it's left to us to ponder the meaning of such panic. Is the lover like a hunted animal who's been driven half-mad by the exhaustion of the constant flight that has been necessitated by constant pursuit? Is the lover thus simply hearing things, panicking wildly at every crackling leaf? Or is there in fact something ominous in the wilderness-- does that crackling leaf crunch under the footstep of the Hunter?