go be-kasii se ((ishq kii aatish me;N jal u;Thaa
mai;N juu;N chiraa;G-e gor akela jalaa kiyaa

1) although, out of helplessness, in the fire of passion I blazed/burned up
2) I, like a lamp on a grave, lonely/alone, always burned



be-kasii : 'Forlorn state, friendlessness, destitution'. (Platts p.203)


akelaa : 'Single sole; solitary, lonely; —akelāakele, adv. Alone, by oneself, singly, unattended, unfriended; apart'. (Platts p.68)

S. R. Faruqi:

The second line is so complete and brim-full that it was difficult for a line to be joined to it. Even Mir only managed it by the skin of his teeth. The word be-kasii has almost overdone [baat banaanaa] it. The double-meaningness of jalaa kiyaa , and for a 'proof' of be-kasii calling himself a lamp on a grave, are extremely fine. Then, since in a graveyard there's no population, the light of the lamp on a grave is wasted. In this way, in the verse the implication has been created of life being thrown away.

A famous verse based only on the image of the solitary lamp, has been attributed to Mir:

raushan hai us :tara;h dil-e viiraa;N me;N daa;G ek
uj;Re nagar me;N jaise jale hai chiraa;G ek

[in the desolate heart a single scar is radiant in such a way,
the way in a ruined city, a single lamp burns]

This verse is not Mir's, it's by Asalat Khan Sabit. If it is judged in comparison to the present verse, then Mir's style of operation becomes clear as well.

In the first line jal u;Thnaa is a proof of success. But since this burning up was caused by helplessness, my solitary burning was like a lamp on a grave. The word 'grave' has become a symbol for all hopelessness, grief-strickenness, and ill fortune, and the whole verse is an additional proof of this. Sabit's verse is devoid of these subtleties.

In fact, Mir has borrowed this theme from Shapur Taharani [in Persian]:

'The eye of no house was made radiant by our fire.
We, like a lamp on a grave, burned to extinction in the wilderness.'

Undoubtedly in Shapur Taharani's first line the attention to affinities is deserving of praise, but in Mir's second line the 'drama' and irrevocability [istimraar] of akelaa jalaa kiyaa are deadly. If one is going to borrow, then this is how it should be done.

[See also {456,8}; {1807x,1}; {1746,9}.]



Should the ((ishq kii be taken to modify be-kasii ('from the helplessness of passion'), or aatish ('in the fire of passion')? In this verse it doesn't seem to make that much difference. But it's clear that phrases with this kind of unresolvable flexibility (which for want of a better name I call 'midpoints') are a favorite device of Mir's. They create ambiguity without calling attention to themselves.

And in the second line the same 'midpoint' quality appears in akelaa too, which can be either an adjective ('I, alone') or 'alone like a lamp on a grave', or an adverb 'always burned alone'). Shades of these various possibilities haunt the second line, and are surely part of the effect of starkness and irrevocability to which SRF points.

For more on misattributed verses of the kind cited by SRF, see {1015,1}.