hote hai;N ;xaak-e rah bhii lekin nah miir aise
raste me;N aadhe dha;R tak mi;T;Tii me;N tum ga;Re ho

1) people/you [habitually] are even/also dust of the road; but not, Mir, in such a way
2) in the road, halfway up your body you are buried/sunken in dust



dha;R : 'Trunk (of the body), the body; a body, party, side'. (Platts p.543)


ga;Rnaa (of which ga;Rhnaa is a variant): 'To penetrate ... ; to be driven (into), to be firmly fixed (in); to sink (in or into); to be put (into the ground), to be buried'. (Platts p.908)

S. R. Faruqi:

For imagery and verses similar to this one, see


There, the verse under discussion is itself, in its own way, so full of meaning that it's almost impossible to rival it. But Mir often makes the impossible possible. Thus in the present verse there are some things that distinguish it from {1109,11}.

(1) There the desert is mentioned; here, the common highway (which is probably the beloved's street).

(2) There the reference is to the feet helplessly being in mud; here, it's to voluntarily being the dust of the road.

(3) There, through words like zaanuu , kamar , gil , aab he has removed the image somewhat from everyday life; here, by saying aadhe dha;R and mi;T;Tii me;N ga;Re honaa he brings the matter close to the immediate world.

(4) There the tone is sympathetic, but in it there's a bit of aloofness as well; here the tone is extremely homey and full of intimacy.

In the present verse, the implication is very effective that either (1) Mir is slowly sinking into the ground; or (2) he has buried himself in the ground, so that whoever passes would trample him underfoot or under a horse's hooves while passing. In this way he will mingle entirely into the dust of the road.

To go into the beloved's street and there find oblivion in death, or to turn into dust in the beloved's street, is a commonplace theme. To express it with so much intensity and terrifyingness, and to endow human will with a fate-like ineluctability, is Mir's genius. The very idea is upsetting-- that by the side of the road someone is half-buried in the ground, and people are passing over him, and this result he himself has chosen.

In the first line, the ambiguity of the addressee is also fine. One interpretation is that he is addressing 'Mir' and saying that 'People are [habitually] dust of the road-- but, oh Mir, not like you' (or, 'but not like Mir'). Another interpretation is there are two speakers. The speaker of the first line says a commonplace thing, that people are the dust of the road, but Mir is not such, or they are not like Mir. The second speaker addresses Mir directly and says, 'In the road you are half-buried in dust-- now look, why have you done this to yourself?'.

The intensity of the image, and this style of 'meaning-creation'-- it has not been vouchsafed to anyone except Mir.



SRF has highlighted the ambiguities of the first line, but it's worth taking a look in a little more detail. The first, truistic statement (with its present habitual verb form) has a colloquially-omitted subject: 'we', or 'they', or 'people', or 'you' could all be imagined for some set of people who are 'the dust of the road'; after all, Muslims in any case know they have been created from dust (see Qur'an 30:20); and there's also the self-deprecating language of courtesy (one's own house is a 'hovel', the other person's house is a 'palace', etc.).

Then comes the brilliantly unresolvable contrast: lekin nah miir aise . The phrase can be read in three ways:

='but not in such a way as Mir is'. (Mir is in a class by himself when it comes to being road-dust.)

='but Mir is not such'. (Others are road-dust; but Mir is something different.)

='but, Mir, not in such a way!' (Mir, you take this idea of being road-dust to absurd extremes!)

This crucial phrase mediates brilliantly between the 'people are road-dust' truism before it, and the second line with its astonishing, sinister vision of 'Mir' as half-buried in the dust by the side of the road. We are given no information whatsoever as to how this condition has come about; SRF seems to envision it as voluntary, but nothing in the verse necessarily leads to this conclusion.

As SRF emphasizes, it is the image itself, so ominous and strangely frightening in its very inexplicability, that is really the center of the verse. This is thus what I call a 'gesture' verse-- it shows a non-verbal, purely physical action that remains unexplained-- and, in the context of the verse, unexplainable.

Note for grammar fans: In the second line, tum ga;Re ho can be read either as a present perfect ('you have been buried'), or as short for the perfect participle tum ga;Re hu))e ho ('you are in a state of having been buried'). In the present verse it doesn't seem to make much difference.