((ishq kiyaa so baate;N banaa))ii;N ya((nii shi((r shi((aar hu))aa
baite;N jo ve mashhuur hu))ii;N to shahro;N shahro;N rusvaa the

1) we felt/'did' passion, so we {talked grandiosely / 'created utterances'}-- that is, poetry became a method/practice
2) when those verses became famous, then in every one of the cities we were disgraced



baat banaanaa : 'To talk much; to make up a story; to invent excuses, to concoct, fabricate; to talk grandly, to boast'. (Platts p.117)


shi((aar : 'Mark, signal, sign, countersign, password, parole; habit, custom, practice; method, manner'. (Platts p.728)


bait : 'Abode, house, temple, edifice; couplet, distich, verse (in poetry)'. (Platts p.2050

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse several things are very fresh:

(1) When we felt passion, then as a result, we created 'utterances'; that is, passion made us eloquent and a poetry-creator. But the result of this eloquence and poetry-creation was that poetry became our method/practice. That is, poetry is nothing at all, it is only causing the 'parrots and mynahs' of words/ideas to fly around.

(2) This can be a case of sarcasm directed toward himself, sarcasm directed toward the whole pursuit of poetry, or sarcasm directed toward passion-- that passion too is a pursuit of this kind.

(3) Then, sau baate;N can mean 'a hundred words/ideas', and so baate;N banaa))ii;N can also mean 'therefore, accordingly' we created words/ideas.

(4) As a result of passion people sigh and lament, or make themselves wretched. Here, to feel passion and to create words/ideas are exactly the same kind of activity.

(5) Between shi((r and shi((aar there's the device of 'doubt about derivation'. On this basis the uncertainty/perplexity becomes strong, that in fact verse-composing and baate;N banaanaa are things of exactly the same species.

Ibn-e Insha probably made his verse on the basis of Mir's theme. In his verse there's a formlessness to the conversation, and in the tone is the rawness of youth, not a cleverness/trickery like Mir's:

be-dard sun'nii ho to chal kahtaa hai kyaa achchhii ;Gazal
shaa((ir tiraa ((aashiq tiraa inshaa tiraa rusvaa tiraa

[oh pitiless one, if you would hear, then come along-- what a good ghazal he composes!
your poet, your lover, your Insha, your disgraced one]

Mir established, in the second line itself, the grounds for his disgrace-- that is, he turned out to be a good poet, his poetry became famous, and this fame became the cause of his greater disgrace, since people in city after city learned about his passion.

But there's also an ambiguity in it. It's not necessary that the cause of the disgrace should be the speaker's story of passion. He says only that when that poetry of his became famous, then in city after city he became disgraced. That is, for him poetry was no grounds for pride: he became disgraced because his fame was as a poet.

On the theme of the fame of his poetry, and its spreading to many places, Mir has composed a number of verses. For example, from the fifth divan [{1746,3}]:

dakkhan uttar puurab pachchhim hangaamah hai sab jaagah
uudham mere ;harf-o-su;xan ne chaaro;N or machaayaa hai

[south, north, east, west, there's a turmoil in every place
my verses and poetry have raised a commotion in all four directions]

Also from the fifth divan:


This kind of verses are found in almost every one of Mir's divans. But the present verse is probably the first time when poetry and passion have both been said to be only a pursuit, and a thing of superficial eloquence. In this way the sarcasm is directed also at the worldly, that when in passion the speaker said desultory things, then they became famous among the people of the world.



What truly magnificent sound effects this verse has! There are baate;N that generate baite;N of course. But even more enjoyably, there's the whole sequence of 'sha' words that echo their fountainhead, shi((r (which is, surely not coincidentally, the first of them): shi((r , shi((aar , mashhuur , shahro;N shahro;N .

It's worth keeping in mind that to a true lover, such universal 'disgrace' could also be a paradoxical badge of honor, as in {1536,1}:

((ishq to bin rusvaa))ii-e ((aalam baa))i;s hai rusvaa))ii kaa
mail-e dilii us ;xvud-sar se hai jo paayah hai ;xvudaa))ii kaa

[passion, without disgrace in the world, is a cause of disgrace
he has dirt in his heart, that arrogant one who is a pillar of divinity]

Note for translation fans: It may seem tempting to translate ((ishq karnaa as 'to make love', but don't even think about it. In (modern) English, 'making love' is a sexual act between two people; in Urdu, 'doing passion' means something like 'becoming a lover', and doesn't necessarily require any participation from the other person. But while we're on the subject of odd resemblances, consider the contrasting case of so : it really does, at times, uncannily resemble the English 'so' in usage as well as sound.