mile the miir se ham kal kinaar-e daryaa par
fatiilah-muu vuh jigar-so;xtah hai jaise atiit

1) we met with Mir yesterday, at the edge of the river
2) with dreadlocked/'wick' hair he, liver-burnt, is like a [Hindu] mendicant/ascetic



fatiilah : 'A wick; a match; a fuse'. (Platts p.776)


atiit : 'Wanderer. pilgrim, mendicant, ascetic, devotee (among Hindus)'. (Platts p.18)

S. R. Faruqi:

atiit = yogi, tirth-yatri, wanderer

For meeting with a yogi or a homeless person, there's no need to say how suitable a place the edge of the river is. Then, fatiilah-muu means someone with hair that's matted and would hang down like ropes or wicks. In this regard 'liver-burnt' too is very suitable, because the wick or fuse used to light a fire is also called fatiilah .

In :tilism-e hoshrubaa vol. 4, by Muhammad Husain Jah, consider the head-to-foot [saraapaa] description of a magician: 'his twisted ashy curls writhed on the ground, his fatiile fatiile locks unbound, his eyes as bright as torches' (p. 805).

It's possible that all these details [used by Jah] might have come from the present verse and this verse from the third divan:


This verse will be discussed in its place.

In the present verse, it's also very fine to bring together jigar-so;xtagii and the edge of the river. On the subtleties of usage and grammar in the second line, see the introduction to SSA, volume 2, p. 31 [reproduced here in full]:

The second line of the present verse can be rendered in prose in the following ways:

(1) that liver-burnt (person), like an ascetic, is wick-haired;
(2) that wick-haired (person), like an ascetic, is liver-burnt;
(3) he is liver-burnt like a wick-haired ascetic;
(4) he, like an ascetic, is liver-burnt and wick-haired;
(5) that wick-haired one is 'to such an extent, totally' [vuh] liver-burnt, like an ascetic;
(6) that liver-burnt (person) is wick-haired the way that an ascetic is;
(7) that wick-haired (person), like an ascetic, is liver-burnt.

If punctuation marks would be applied, then the meanings would become limited.

[See also {1853x,3}.]



I'm glad SRF had a go at dissecting the remarkable grammar of the second line; it's really quite a show of poetic force. In the translation I've tried to capture as much as possible of its flexibility; without punctuation, the result looks unusually clunky even by my standards.

Since all its possible meanings are very similar, though, what does the second line really achieve through those pyrotechnics (other than winning the admiration of grammar fans)? There's surely an effect of immediacy, of orality. It's as though the speaker, reporting his encounter to a friend, is giving a quick, sketchy word-picture of how Mir appears; in speech people often do rely on evocative phrases and punchy exclamations, counting on the listener's intuition to fill in the blanks. And perhaps too the effect is one of emotion, even of shock, at the mad lover's appearance, which is apparently unusually mad even by his own standards.

Does it matter that the word atiit so strongly evokes a Hindu ascetic? In {1139,7} the word jogii and the 'ash-smeared body' make the connection even clearer. But in the present verse too, the reference to the riverbank also works well, since such ascetics often haunt the riverbanks, where Hindus come to bathe, to pray, to give alms, to cremate their dead. Since the lover is a mad 'idol-worshiper' from the beginning, his resemblance to an atiit can't exactly be any kind of a religious shock. So perhaps it's just a shock, full of compassion and distress, at how systematically unkempt and burnt-out he looks. Or perhaps the speaker isn't shocked at all, but is simply reporting the latest on Mir's condition, in a pithy and descriptive way?

As so often, we're left to decide the 'tone' for ourselves. And who might the speaker be? That too is left for us to imagine for ourselves.