baate;N hamaarii yaad rahe;N phir baate;N aisii nah sunyegaa
pa;Rhte kisuu ko sunyegaa to der talak sar dhunyegaa

1) let the things I say/compose be remembered-- then/again you won't hear such things!
2) if you listen to someone reading/reciting, then for a long time you'll 'beat your head'



S. R. Faruqi:

Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam have, in Three Mughal Poets, declared this ghazal to be very important. They say that the poet, in the final stage of his life, is alerting the people of the world that with his own passing, the style and manner that he had adopted will also pass away. In the tone is a proud confidence, and in order to express his accomplishment the poet has also adopted some innovations in meter, and these innovations are so successful that only/emphatically they can be declared to be the proof of his greatness as a poet.

As far as the first idea goes, there's no doubt that in this ghazal from late in his life glimmers the poet's awareness that his end is near, and also his feeling that after his going this style of poetry won't be vouchsafed to anyone. But it's only a coincidence that these verses come from the last stage of his life, because Mir felt the lastingness of his poetry right from the beginning. Thus he says in the first divan:


Thus the thing that Mir had said at the age of thirty or so, he also said (though with more dignity and 'connection') at the age of fifty-plus. To the extent that it's a question of meter, there's no innovation, it's just the same characteristic 'Mir's meter'; and in it are the same attractive and subtle qualities that he had cultivated from the very beginning. Undoubtedly the 'ground' [zamiin] is very difficult. The rhymes are so limp/flimsy [phusphuse] that to bring out flowering verses in it was not a task that could be done by just anybody. Mir managed to pull out from those rhymes four praiseworthy verses. Three of them are included in this anthology.

In the second line of the present verse sar dhunyegaa is very fine, because this sar dhun'naa can be because of grief, that 'alas, this great poet is not among us'. This can also be because of the pleasure of the verse. Or again, the effect of the verses will be so pain-evoking that the hearer will 'beat his head' for a long time. The phrase der talak brings the verse close to conversation and everyday life.

One very major excellence of Mir's is that even in the midst of hyperbole [mubaala;Ghah], he so evokes everyday life that the verse comes to have its own reality, and its effect too becomes immediate and natural. For example, this verse from the first divan [{537,1}]:

jab rone bai;Thtaa huu;N tab kyaa kasar rahe hai
ruumaal do do din tak juu;N abr tar rahe hai

[when I sit down to weep, then what deficiency remains?
my handkerchief, for three or four days, like a cloud, remains wet]

Muhammad Hasan Askari and Salim Ahmad have praised this verse very much, but they've overlooked the fact that the human 'appeal' [tavajjuh-angezii] of this verse is because of the word 'handkerchief'. This single word has lifted (or brought down) the verse's hyperbole from the level of hyperbole, and placed it on the level of everyday human experience.

In the same way, in the present verse the phrase der talak has at once joined the whole affair to human society. Here there's no hyperbole, but rather that 'understatement' [subuk-bayaanii] that is the opposite of hyperbole, but works the way only/emphatically hyperbole works. Even the act of listening to someone recite it puts the verse in the world of our commonplace experience. We are engaged in some task, or are going somewhere, and suddenly nearby someone passes, reciting or singing the verses of Mir. We awaken from our self-serving projects and arrive in the world in which Mir had composed those verses.

As in others of his most characteristic verses, here too Mir has made absolutely no use of 'self-dramatisation' [;xvud-tara;h;humii]. He has composed a very excellent verse.

In the sixth divan too he has conveyed this theme in two verses, but there these subtleties are not present [{1808,1}]:

su;xan-mushtaaq hai ((aalam hamaaraa
bahut ((aalam karegaa ;Gam hamaaraa

[the world is ardent for our poetry
the world will grieve much for us]

[From the same ghazal, {1808,2}]:

pa;Rhe;Nge shi((r ro ro log bai;The
rahegaa der tak maatam hamaaraa

[people will sit reciting verses and weeping--
for a long time mourning for us will remain]



This ghazal is one of the small minority that have no refrain; but the rhyme unyegaa is so obtrusive, potent, and demanding that it almost feels like a refrain.

This verse and the next one, {1791,2}, feel very much like a small 'verse-set', though they are not marked as such. Both can very well stand on their own, and don't require each other's company for completeness. Still, their shared subject-matter gives them a conspicuous bond. They both make predictions for what will happen in the realm of poetry after Mir's death. And they are sequential: the present verse imagines the grief that will follow the loss of Mir, while {1791,2} adds stern but practical advice for aspiring poets who want to follow in Mir's footsteps. Then both the remaining verses in this four-verse ghazal further emphasize the grief that people will feel, with the closing-verse specifically invoking Mir's 'hot' verses as its source; see {1791,3} for discussion. The four verses thus perhaps form a kind of 'continuous ghazal'.

The English terms 'appeal', 'understatement', and 'self-dramatisation' are provided in roman script by SRF himself, as glosses on his Urdu counterpart terms given above. Of the three, it's only the final one that I find a little dubious, since the Urdu ;xvud-tara;h;humii might more literally be translated as 'self-pity'. But I wanted to keep SRF's own rendering, especially because the English import 'dramaticness' [;Draamaa))iyat] is a term of praise that SRF uses for a quality he considers especially characteristic of Mir. Since SRF shapes his own tool-kit of terms, the nuances of his choices are always worth noting. I of course shape my own terms more radically than he does; both of us are motivated by the inability of the terminology of traditional Indo-Persian poetics to capture the poetic effects we perceive in the verses.

The double meaning of phir works powerfully here-- either 'then', after the speaker is gone, the listener will never hear such things; or else 'again', other than in the speaker's poetry, they'll never be heard anywhere else.

If someone listens to someone 'reading' or 'reciting' verses, why would he 'beat his head'? Of course, perhaps because the recitation of Mir's verses is so moving, especially after he's gone, and the sorrow of losing him is so poignant. Or perhaps because some lesser poet might be reciting his own, inferior verses. The line carefully doesn't specify the nature of the recitation-- or the nature of the emotion, which is reflected only in a wordless gesture.

Note for grammar fans: The hyper-polite imperatives suni))egaa and so on are often used as something like suggestions-- if you might wish to listen, and so on. Or as hyper-polite future forms-- for example, look at suni))egaa itself in the first line, where it has to mean something like a future tense, like sune;Nge ; and similarly dhuni))egaa is used as if it were dhune;Nge .

Note for meter fans: The spelling of the all those hyper-polite imperatives throughout the ghazal reflects the adjustments necessary for proper scansion within 'Hindi meter'. I know it looks funny, but I want to help meter-learners much more than I want to reflect modern standard spellings.