ko))ii :taraf yaa;N aisii nahii;N jo ;xaalii hove us se miir
yih :turfah hai shor-e jaras se chaar :taraf ham tanhaa ho;N

1) no direction, here, is such that it would be empty of Him, Mir
2) this is a wonder/rarity-- like the sound of a bell, [when in all] four directions, we would be alone



:turfah : 'Novel, rare, strange, extraordinary, wonderful; —a pleasing rarity; a novelty, a strange thing, a wonder'. (Platts p.752)

S. R. Faruqi:

In the Qur'an [2:115], God the Most High has said that 'No matter in which direction you might turn your face, you will see My face'. Taking up this theme, Mir has merged it with his favored metaphor (the sound of a bell) for solitude and friendlessness, and created something new. The sound of a bell spreads afar, but no one goes along with it. The sound goes somewhere, and the caravan goes somewhere else. Not even the caravan itself knows how far the voice of the bell has spread.

Then, the voice is present, but no one hears the owner of the voice. Or someone far off hears the noise of the bell, but does not know where the bell and the caravan are. To express these situations, Baudelaire has created the metaphorical image of 'a call of hunters lost in great forests' ['un appel de chausseurs perdus dans les grands bois', from 'Les Phares'].

Mir, to express these things, has often used the metaphor and image of the sound of a bell. For the present, let's consider only three verses from the first divan. The first verse:


The second verse [{463,2}]:

bah rang-e saut-e jaras tujh se duur huu;N tanhaa
;xabar nahii;N hai tujhe aah kaaravaa;N merii

[in the style of the sound of a bell, I am far from you, alone,
you know nothing, ah! of my caravan]

The third verse [{562,4}]:

.saut-e jaras kii :tarz bayaabaa;N me;N haa))e miir
tanhaa chalaa huu;N mai;N dil-e pur-shor ko liye

[like the sound of a bell, in the desert, alas, Mir
I have moved on alone, taking the clamorous heart]

In the present verse, to see oneself alone despite the presence of God is an absolutely new theme. The meaning of chaar :taraf tanhaa is that solitude is around me in all four directions. In this there's also the point that in whichever direction I might go, I will remain alone. The 'tajnis' of :taraf and :turfah too is superb.

Sa'ib has taken this theme, that God's face is in every direction, and given it a twist, and said [in Persian]:

'Oh you who have turned the faces of a world toward you,
Why do you not turn your face toward the heart-lost Sa'ib?'

In Sa'ib's verse, in solitude there's arrogance; in Mir's present verse, in solitude there's fatigue and also sarcasm about the arrangement of the universe. Both verses have 'mood', but in Mir's verse both mood and meaning are greater than in Sa'ib's, because in Mir's verse there is also amazement at a mystery-- that despite God's being present in every direction, why am I fatigued and alone?



In this verse, what exactly is the 'wonder/rarity' [:turfah]? The grammar leaves it up to us to decide, and none of the possibilities really works very well.

Is the wonder the sound of the bell? When we hear a distant bell, we often can't see the source, but the sound is clearly identifiable, and not perplexing to an experienced traveler. We recognize the sound as that of a bell, we know that sound can travel long distances in the desert, so that we may hear a bell that we can't see, and there's no particular 'wonder' involved.

Is the wonder the universal presence of God, in every direction? The first line simply announces it as a fact, presumably on religious grounds. If we believe it as a basic religious fact, why would it be a 'wonder' or a 'rarity'?

Is the wonder our feeling of being 'alone'? Why would this be a wonder? If we have a (Muslim) religious belief that God is everywhere, the same religious belief includes the idea that God is invisible and beyond all sensory perception, so it can't surprise us that we don't have God with us in the flesh as a companion. Where is the 'wonder' in this?

Is the wonder that while we hear the distant bell, we don't perceive the infinitely near God? If we don't perceive God, then why is it strange that we would be, or feel, alone? And what remains of the resemblance to hearing the bell?

Rationally, the logic of the verse just doesn't work, no matter how it's sliced and diced. The analogy drawn in the verse between the bell-sound and the presence of God is simply not very satisfactory.

The verse must therefore win our admiration in another way-- through our emotions, as a verse of 'mood'. And in that domain it's strikingly effective. The imagery of the bell-sound vibrating in the endless desert plugs in to our feelings. It evokes romantic and mystical emotions that soar past all rationality and take us to a beautiful, resonant, sensuous, melancholy plane-- or plain, in the solitary desert. Is there also a sense of the (mystical) caravan, calling out to us to travel onward?

Note for grammar fans: Here se is of course short for jaise .