sar ab lage jhukaane bahut ;xaak kii :taraf
shaayad kih miir-jii kaa dimaa;Gii ;xalal gayaa

1) he's now begun to bend his head very much toward the dust
2) perhaps Mir-ji's mental derangement has gone



;xalal : 'Break, breach, chink, gap; hiatus; interruption; rupture; disorder, derangement, unsoundness, corruptness; confusion, disturbance; ruin'. (Platts p.493)

S. R. Faruqi:

When Mir speaks of himself from an impersonal point of view, he usually obtains the advantage that a distance opens up between Mir as writer and 'Mir' as person. Thus in what's said about Mir as a person, the aspect of sarcasm, insinuation, sympathy, anger, grief, etc. takes on an expositoriness. To be sarcastic about himself is a special characteristic of Mir's, but few people have noticed that in the manifestation of this characteristic, Mir has been greatly aided by the 'distancing' that he establishes by speaking of himself in an impersonal form. Besides [in Persian] Hafiz and here and there Khusrau, he has no equal in this skill. And both of them have very rarely used it for sarcasm or laughter at themselves.

In the present verse, the sarcasm is twofold. On the one hand it's aimed at the people of the world, who construed Mir's self-regard, pride, and determination to hold his head up as 'mental derangement'; on the other hand it's aimed at Mir himself, who began with a great show of self-regard and high-headedness, but then was reduced to weakness and submissiveness.

In his bending his head toward the dust, there's also the implication that dust is the origin of humankind, so that Mir too now recognized his origin. As long as he was mentally deranged, his mind was on the sky. Now that he's come to himself, he's returning toward his origin. [As the Qur'an says,] 'Every thing returns to its origins'.

The technique of the impersonal voice Mir has also used very well in the following verse from the third divan [{1070,9}]:

kahtaa thaa kisuu se kuchh taktaa thaa kisuu kaa mu;Nh
kal miir kha;Raa thaa yaa;N sach hai kih divaanah thaa

[he said something to someone, he stared at someone's face--
yesterday Mir was standing here; it's true that he was mad]



The address 'Mir-ji', such a mixture of affection and respect, puts this verse into the 'neighbors' category-- that special group of verses in which the speaker is an ordinary real-world person, not any of the hyperbolic denizens of the ghazal universe. The speaker can only deduce Mir's mental state from a distance, by noting and analyzing his physical behavior. Is that because he's too crazed to speak? Or is it because the speaker it too respectful to bother him? Or is it because his temperament is so unstable that a sensible person might not wish to get too near?

In any case, the piquant center of the verse is the idea that the only indication that he might be returning to his senses is that he's bent down his head. Is he tired? Is he sick of the grandiosity of lovers' pretensions? Is he physically worn out, or ill, or perhaps even dying? Was he so thoroughly mad that his madness would leave him only when his strength did? Or does his returning sanity cause him shame, when he recalls his mad behavior?

Or of course, the poor neighbor might be unduly optimistic. There are plenty of aspects of the lover's life that could cause him to sit with his head lowered toward the dust (or for that matter, even to roll around in the dust). So we're left with only speculations. Mir has grabbed our attention with this powerful gesture and left us something to guess about-- but with no way whatsoever to go beyond guessing.

Compare Ghalib's much brisker observer and sanity-judge:


Note for translation fans: Because of that 'now', look how necessary in English the present perfect is: 'he's begun', 'has gone'. The literal Urdu perfect ('began', 'went') would be intolerable. This is just one more striking example of how between Urdu and English the tenses do not entirely converge.