maaraa pa;Re hai uns hii karne me;N varnah miir
hai duur gard-e vaadii-e va;hshat-shikaar-e ((ishq

1) he lies stricken/killed in showing/doing only/emphatically 'affection'-- otherwise, Mir

2a) it's far off, the wandering/dust/fortune of the valley of the wildness-hunting of passion
2b) it's far off, the wandering/dust/fortune of the valley-of-wildness-hunting of passion



uns : 'Sociableness; companionableness; familiarity, friendliness, friendship, love, affection; society, companionship, fellowship; cheerfulness'. (Platts p.92)


varnah : '(contrac. of va agar nah ), conj. And if not, otherwise, or else'. (Platts p.1189)


gard : 'Going round, revolving; traversing, travelling or wandering over, or through, or in ... ; —s.f. Dust; —the globe; —fortune'. (Platts p.903)


va;hshat : 'A desert, solitude, dreary place; —loneliness, solitariness, dreariness; —sadness, grief, care; —wildness, fierceness, ferocity, savageness; barbarity, barbarism; —timidity, fear, fright, dread, terror, horror; —distraction, madness'. (Platts p.1183)

S. R. Faruqi:

Someone wrote in a letter to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanavi Sahib, 'Formerly I used to obtain great pleasure and absorption from practices of worship, but for some days now that has not been the case. I haven't given up the practices of worship, but I no longer have the former enthusiasm and relish. I hope it's not-- God forbid!-- that I'm becoming hypocritical or black-hearted?' In reply, the Maulana wrote, 'One stage of passion is the one when there's restlessness and intense enthusiasm and relish. The stage beyond that one is that in the temperament a certain haltingness arises, that turbulence and enthusiasm and relish no longer remain.' Maulana wrote that this stage is construed as uns .

Now, in the light of this point, look at Mir's verse. Poor 'Mir' deliberately wanders very far from the 'wildness-hunting valley of passion'. But what can he do? For now, before the stage of passion, he is in the stage of 'affection'-- in that his life will definitely leave him.

In saying 'wildness-hunting valley of passion', there can be two meanings. The first is that the valley is so terrifying that in it even 'wildness' becomes a prey. In any case .sa;hraa , dasht , va;hshat have an affinity: when 'wildness' exists, then a person takes the road to the desert. But this valley is so terrifying that 'wildness' too becomes a prey in it, despite the affinity between 'wildness' and 'desert'.

The second meaning is that if va;hshat-shikaar would be taken as a quality of passion, and va;hshat-shikaar-e ((ishq would be taken as a compound substantive, it can be said that 'that passion that hunts down wildness-- Mir wanders very far from its valley'. But now in Mir there's no wildness at all-- he's at the stage of 'affection'. Whichever way we look at it, it's an entirely new theme.

Ghalib too has created an excellent theme for the desert of passion:


'Wolf's tail'-- that is, the 'crack of dawn'. But in Ghalib's verse, there's no theme of 'affection'.



Since multiple izafats must be interpreted in pairs, we have a choice of two possible pairings: 'the (A of B) of C', the 'valley-of-wildness-hunting of passion' (2b); or 'the A of (B of C)', the 'valley of the wildness-hunting-of-passion' (2a). I've put my own favorite reading first in the translation, but both are certainly possible. Technically, permutations with gard-e could also be included in a set of their own, but in this context I don't think that would add anything of interest. Not all izafats are poetically potentiated in every verse, even if their grammar would permit such elaborations.

The excellent ambiguousness of varnah is also in play here. All we can be sure of is that it always sets up an alternative, sometimes contrafactually and sometimes not. But what in the first line is being juxtaposed to what in the second, and how exactly? Here are some possibilities:

=The lover was struck down in the early stages of passion-- this was unexpected, since later stages are usually the dangerous ones.

=The lover was struck down in the early stages of passion, poor man, before he even had a chance to reach the later stages.

=He was struck down, poor affectionate man, despite his prudence in keeping far away from the dangerous valley of madness and passion.

=He was struck down by mere (?) 'affection', whereas most lovers are destined to be struck down in the mad wanderings of passion.

And of course, what exactly is 'affection'? There may be nothing 'mere' about it. It may, to particularly refined lovers, be as deadly as 'passion' is to more commonplace and unimaginative ones.