miir-e ;Gariib se kyaa ho mu((aari.z goshe me;N us vaadii ke
ek diyaa saa bujhtaa un ne daa;G-e jigar pah jalaayaa hai

1) why would there be an adversary of wretched Mir? in the corner of that valley/ravine
2) he has lighted something like a flickering/'being extinguished' lamp on the wound in his liver



mu((aari.z : 'Opposing; adverse; —an opponent, adversary, a competitor'. (Platts p.1045)


vaadii : 'A valley, vale; low-lying ground; an oasis (in a desert); a desert; —channel (of a river); a river'. (Platts p.1173)


bujhnaa : 'To be put out, extinguished (a fire, light, &c.); to be quenched (as thirst); to be allayed or satisfied (as hunger, or a feeling or passion); to be slaked (as lime); to be tempered (as steel); to be disinfected (as water, by having hot iron put into it); to be calmed, cooled, composed, tranquillized, &c.; to be damped (as the spirits, courage, &c.), to be dejected, downcast; to be tired or weary'. (Platts p.135)

S. R. Faruqi:

Here the word mu((aari.z is interesting because Mir had used it about fifty years earlier, in a very martial tone. From In the first divan [{585,7}]:

is fan me;N ko))ii be-tah kyaa ho miraa ma((aari.z
avval to mai;N sanad huu;N phir yih mirii zabaa;N hai

[in this art, how would any depth-less person be my competitor?
first, I am a 'warrant'; then, there's this language of mine]

The thought can't be avoided-- in the present verse, is there not any hidden sarcasm? It seems not, but nothing can be put past Mir.

The image of burning a wound on the liver Mir has also used elsewhere. From the fourth divan [{1510,6}]:

rang mu;habbat ke hai;N kitne ko))ii tumhe;N ;xvush aa))egaa
;xuun karoge yaa dil ko yaa daa;G-e jigar jalaa))oge

[how many styles of love there are! -- if someone would please you
you will either turn your heart to blood, or set alight the wound in your liver]

From the fifth divan [{1747,5}]:

naf((a kabhuu dekhaa nahii;N ham ne aise ;xarch u;Thaane par
dil ke gudaaz se lohuu ro))e daa;G jigar pah jalaa))e bhii

[we never saw profit from undertaking such an expenditure
from the melting of the heart, we wept blood; we even/also set alight the wound on the liver]

The image only of a burning lamp, Mir has used at various places, for example




Keeping in view these verses, it becomes even more difficult to say that in the present verse there will be a sarcastic aspect as well. Now let's consider those aspects that our view has been able to reach.

In the first line ;Gariib means 'helpless', and also has the sense of 'stranger'. 'Mir' is a single unknown traveler, who has no one to care about his situation. Thus even if anyone would pay attention to him, then it would be contemptuously-- that is, to interrogate him: 'Who are you? What are you doing here?' and so on.

The root of mu((aari.z is ((ar.z , which has many meanings: 'to present', 'to come before', 'to confront' are there of course. (From this latter came the sense of 'enemy, rival'.) But it also means 'mountain, foothills'. In this sense the affinity with 'valley' is obvious. Thus for someone's mu((aari.z to be in a vaadii has its own pleasure. For a mu((aari.z to be in a vaadii is not plausible.

Thus to the speaker the town/city itself seems to be so desolate and panic-inducing that he calls it a vaadii ; or else he is in some corner of the town/city that is situated in the foothills. The first possibility seems stronger. But the speaker considers himself to be so alone in the world that it's as if he would be in a corner of some valley. Or again, by 'valley' might be meant the 'valley of life' or the 'valley of passion'. In any case, the condition of 'Mir' is that of someone who is a stranger and helpless.

Support for this helplessness is found in the second line, for Mir has no equipment for light, hustle and bustle, activity. He has only a flickering/dying kind of lamp that is burning on the wound in his liver. For the wound in the liver to be radiant/alight like a lamp is comprehensible. But for a lamp to be lit on top of the wound in the liver-- this means that the wound in the liver too is extinguished and dead, and the dim kind of lamp that Mir has lit acts as a final/funeral lamp for that extinguished, dead wound in the liver.

There's also the possibility that the prose might be, un ne jigar pah ek diyaa saa bujhtaa daa;G jalaayaa hai . Since Mir has often used the idiom daa;G jalaanaa (for example, in


the meaning that he has lit a wound on the liver cannot be declared erroneous, but it is as dim as a flickering/dying lamp. Thus, what's the need to be an adversary of such a helpless man?

The complexity of image upon image, and the inclination of their effect, are worthy of praise. Now the character of 'Mir' comes before us as that of someone in whom all the inner fire has already been extinguished, and the memorial of that fire is a single wound in the liver, the heat and glow of which have already begun to dim. The memorial of this wound is a single flickering lamp which we can call the broken existence of 'Mir' himself.

This is among those verses of Mir's in which the darvesh-like dignity, the pride at one's brokenness, the finding of a way to keep one's head high even in failure, are not present. Rather, there is a light touch of regret/pity for oneself, a sorrow at the waste of one's inner fire. Even here, the personality has not been routed, but before the world there's also not a steadfast holding of ground. Instead, there's a longing to remain lost in oneself, and not to confront the outer world. In this verse the fatigue of old age makes itself heard.



Note for translation fans: We really need a good counterpart verb for bujhnaa , and we don't have one. 'To be extinguished' is the best we can do, and that means we can't use it in the present participial form that's exactly what we need in the second line for 'a being-extinguished lamp'. (There are grammatical issues of intransitivity vs. passivity that differ between Urdu and English in complex ways.) Another verb that I wish we had a counterpart for is pilaanaa .

From the other side, I wish Urdu could differentiate between 'to look' and 'to see', and between 'to listen' and 'to hear'. But above all, I wish it could differentiate between 'very much' and 'too' (in the sense of undesirable over-the-top-ness). It used to shock me to be told by South Asians that someone was 'too beautiful' or 'too intelligent', when all they really meant was 'very very'.