tab bhii nah sar khe;Nchaa thaa ham ne aa;xir mar kar ;xaak hu))e
ab jo ;Gubaar-e .za((iif u;Thaa thaa paa-maalii me;N gard hu))aa

1) even/also then, we hadn't drawn [upward] our head; finally we died and became dirt/dust,
2) now when the weak/wretched dust-cloud had arisen, in being trampled underfoot it became worthless/'dust'



;xaak : 'Dust, earth; ashes; —little, precious little, none at all, nothing whatever'. (Platts p.484


;Gubaar : 'Dust; clouds of dust; a dust-storm; vapour, fog, mist, mistiness; impurity, foulness; (met.) vexation, soreness, ill-feeling, rancour, spite; affliction, grief; perplexity'. (Platts p.769)


gard honaa : 'To be or become dust: —to be worthless or good-for-nothing; to be as dust, to be easily removed or overcome'. (Platts p.903)

S. R. Faruqi:

By saying tab bhii he has provided a whole world of possibilities. That is, when we were oppressed in various ways, or when various kinds of cruelty were shown toward us, or when we endured great harshnesses, even then we didn't lift up our head. By 'lifting up the head' can be meant 'to show arrogance' ( sar khe;Nchnaa is really a translation of [the Persian] sar kashiidan , and perhaps Mir was the only one to use it; it never managed to become common in Urdu). 'Not lifting up the head' can also mean that we kept our head bowed through weakness or carelessness; we didn't lift up our head to look our tormenter in the eye.

If the meaning of 'to lift up the head' is taken to be 'to reject', then too the same idea emerges: that we never at all rejected the idea of becoming dust or accepting death. The meaning of [the Persian] sar kashiidan az chiize is 'not to accept something'; this meaning too is appropriate. The inclination toward keeping the head bowed was so strong that when we became dust, then the dust itself didn't rise very high, and was crushed underfoot by passersby or by the beloved.

The thought in the second line is fine. Otherwise, the first line was so complete/perfect that apparently there was hardly the scope for a second one. In this ghazal there are only two verses, but both are very fine.

Janab Dr. Abd ur-Rashid has presented a number of examples of sar khe;Nchnaa from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It would be unfair not to do justice to his searching-out of them. But since after the eighteenth century this expression is not to be found, it's in any case clear that this literal translation of sar kashiidan was not able to become common in Urdu.



According to Steingass, sar kashiidan means 'to disobey' (Steingass p.666); rather than this extended sense, it's obvious that the literal meaning of 'to draw the head [upward]' is much more apropos, with its combination of literal sense and multiple metaphorical possibilities. It also makes for enjoyable wordplay with 'trampled under foot'.

The verse offers us three entirely different words for 'dust'. Their semantic domains largely, but not entirely, overlap; see the definitions above. Of course they fit into different metrical shapes and rhyme requirements, and they avoid repetition. (Though repetition is often an excellent force in a ghazal verse-- as in the rang repetitions in the previous verse, {1333,1}, among many other examples.) But are these three separate 'dust' words doing anything else? Are we meant to be sensitive to their nuances of difference, and to savor them as a counterpoint to the obvious similarities? Or if we tried, would we be over-reading? It's really hard to say. My instinct in this case goes in the latter direction.