baare dunyaa me;N raho ;Gam-zadah yaa shaad raho
aisaa kuchh kar ke chalo yaa;N kih bahut yaad raho

1) finally, in the world, whether you would remain grief-afflicted or would remain happy
2) do some such thing before you move on, here, that you would remain much remembered



baare : 'Once, one time, all at once; at last, at length'. (Platts p.151)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse there's 'mood' to such an extent that initially the attention doesn't focus on the meaning. But in fact here 'meaning-creation' too is in fine operation. Apparently he's said only as much as 'do some work in the world before you go', but in fact the ambiguity of aisaa kuchh kar ke chalo creates several possibilities. At first glance it's clear that the world is the realm of action, and life is the life in which some memorable deed would be done.

Now the first point is that you should live whatever kind of life, but die in such a way that it would be a memorial. Here Shakespeare comes to mind (Macbeth I:4, 7-11):

... Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it. He died
As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he owed
As 'twere a careless trifle.

(Consider also:


The second, and most important, point is that whether life passes happily or unhappily, this has no relationship to human achievement. That is, it's possible that a man's life would apparently be something [ordinary], but nevertheless he would be able to bring to fulfillment a great deed. For example, he might become a scientist or poet of a high order. Here Eliot's words come to mind-- that the human self that endures the sorrows and joys of existence is separate from the self that is a creative artist. That is, the creative artist does not express his own sorrows and joys, but rather his creative activity is higher than his everyday experience.

Thus according to Mir, it's possible that someone might live in the world any kind of life whatsoever, might endure happiness or grief, but still his creative self would remain active in its way. As Mallarme has said, it's truly possible that the character of someone's commonplace, everyday life would be one thing, and his creative character would be something else. Mir's verse too expresses this wisdom: that despite enduring the world's ups and downs, a person's creative disposition might remain active, and might be able to bring to fulfillment achievements of a kind that would become his monument.

Please also keep in mind the point that aisaa kuchh kar ke chalo yaa;N is in any case an ambiguous utterance, and in it there are other possibilities as well. For example, you might become famous in madness. You might do something that would shock people; no matter what you do, you would avoid the common rules and conventions, so that you would become famous as a nonconformist and radical individualist; and so on.

In the third divan, he has slightly changed the aspect, and has composed it like this [{1226,4}]:

kuchh :tara;h ho kih be-:tara;h ho ;haal
((umr ke din kisuu :tara;h bhar lo

[whether there would be some style, or your state would be devoid of style,
live out the days of your lifetime in some manner/style]

In the above verse there's vexation, disaffection with the affairs of life, and an emotion of contempt in that direction. There's also helplessness and acceptance. In the present verse too, there's no clamor about life, but there's definitely a clamor about proving oneself, and in this way obtaining control over life and death both. Nevertheless, in the verse there's no kind of boasting or self-exaltation. The mixture of mood and meaning, the breadth of experience, and in the tone a slight detachment (in the sense that in the verse there's no trace of instruction or moralizing, there's only the expression of a common opinion)-- all this has made it an accomplished verse.

On the theme of being remembered, see


in which the whole authority of poetic accomplishment is manifest. By contrast, in the verse below there's an extraordinary mixture of moods; from the fifth divan [{1713,8}]:

shi((r kiye mauzuu;N to aise jin se ;xvush hai;N .saa;hib-e dil
rove;N ka;Rhe;N jo yaad kare;N ab aisaa tum kuchh miir karo

[having harmonizied verses such that the heart-possessors are happy with them,
they will weep and suffer when they remember you-- now, Mir, do some such thing]

It's as if to make people happy through verses is a matter of time. Now one has to accomplish some deed such that when people remember it they would be sorrowful and weep. What deed it is, through the doing of which people will be sorrowful and will weep, he has not spelled out. But this deed doesn't seem to be poetry composition. It's possible that it might be something like giving up his life in his youth, or losing his senses in his passion for somebody. In any case, those deeds will be such that people will remember them. Poetry is apparently not such a deed.



The 'midpoint' positioning of the first raho in the first line, and the fact that raho can be either a familiar subjunctive or a familiar imperative, leads to two possible readings: the first is the one shown above in my translation, and the second is something more like an anti-suicide exhortation: 'After all, remain in the world-- sorrowful or happy, remain!'. Of course, this second reading turns out to have a much weaker 'connection' to the second line than the first one, but on an initial hearing, under mushairah performance conditions, there's no way for us to know that.

In the second line, the 'midpoint' positioning of yaa;N is really a bit awkward from both directions. To fit comfortably into the previous clause, it ought to precede chalo ; and to fit comfortably into the following clause, it ought to come after the kih . Between the listeners' achieving something (before they move on), and their being remembered (after they've moved on), what is positioned as a point of inflection is not a temporal 'now', but a a notably this-worldly 'here'. Perhaps this emphasis was in fact intended by Mir.