phaile shigaaf siine ke a:traaf-e dard se
kuuche har ek za;xm kaa baazaar ho gayaa

1) the cracks in the breast spread, from the {areas/districts // novelties/rarities} of pain
2) the street of every single wound/scar became a bazaar



a:traaf : 'Extremities, ends, sides, skirts, confines, environs, limits, boundaries; outlying districts, districts'. (Platts p.59)


i:traaf : 'Bringing something new and pleasing; viewing, inspecting'. (Steingass p.71)

S. R. Faruqi:

If, taking a:traaf to be the plural of :taraf , we read it with an initial 'a', then the meaning will be that the ultimate limits, the final borders, of pain spread out the cracks in the breast. That is, when pain ran throughout the body, then because of it the cracks in the breast spread out even wider. If we read i:traaf , then the meaning will be that pain brought various new things ( i:traaf = to bring things that are new, and especially those that are attractive and pleasing). That is, pain did a new task: it made the cracks in the breast more auspicious.

The point is that the breast had already been split open beforehand. It's possible that it was because the beloved pulled out the heart from the breast, and left a crack in it. Or the breast, because of griefs, had split open. Or there was so much burning in the heart that here and there the breast tore open. Now pain has begun to increase and spread.

To consider pain to be some visible and substantial thing, like for example water or fire, is also fine. Because then the spread of pain can split the breast open, at a time when pain too would have its own body and would be involved in trying to make a place for itself. Thus pain spreads like some living or substantial thing, and in order to make a place for itself splits the breast even further open. It's clear that the breast will be split most widely at the place where there would already be a road present. Because pain will spread in the direction that a road would already exist.

Now, for the occasion, Mir adopts the metaphor of the 'street of the wound'. A wound can be called 'open' or 'prominent'. From this affinity the poet imagined the wound as a street. Now when the street has become wider and more spread out, obviously it will become a bazaar, because by comparison to a street, a bazaar is more open. But in a bazaar there's also hustle and bustle and coming and going. In this way, for the breast to be split here and there, and for the splits to become more open, also becomes an interesting and amusing sort of thing. In the verse there's not the smallest suspicion of self-pity; in its place there's a bitter-ish good humor. This verse is also an excellent example of 'black humour' [mizaaj asvad].

He has versified this theme previously as well, but the black humour didn't come into it. The reason is perhaps that in the present verse the aspect of the 'black humour' is very eloquent, and the earlier verse, from the first divan, is devoid of this [{532,3}]:

hamaarii aaho;N se siine pah ho gayaa baazaar
har ek za;xm kaa kuuchah jo tang thaa aage

[through our sighs, on the breast it came to be a bazaar--
the street of every single wound, which previously was narrow]

In the fifth divan he has composed a theme something like this one, although he's presented it very finely [{1550,4}]:

aah se the ra;xne chhaatii me;N phailnaa un kaa yih sahl nah thaa
do do haath ta;Rap kar dil ne siinah-e ((aashiq chaak kiyaa

[the holes that were in the breast from sighs-- to spread them was not easy
with both hands, convulsively, the heart tore open the lover's breast]

The two hands of the heart, convulsive/'writhing'-- it's the kind of image that through its visual and sensory mood, and through its nearness to everyday life, has become unboundedly immediate, and outweighs a number of metaphors. It's a pity that the first line of this verse is not fully effective; or rather, it's more or less there for padding [bhartii].

For the two hands of the heart to writhe reminds us of the sand of the desert, for tens of yards, quivering/throbbing like a liver; see


In both cases the repetition of the counting-number [do do and das das] has given just the right pleasure of everydayness. Over this type of images Mir had an uncommon power; or rather, this art was confined to him alone.



In the first line I've tried to reflect SRF's two readings: a:traaf in the first alternative ('areas, districts'), i:traaf in the second ('novelties, rarities'). Really both meanings are so delightful and so fully activated that it's hard to choose between them: bazaars indeed spread out in all directions, as the space available to the merchants increases; but they also spread because they're full of 'novelties' and 'rarities'.

And in either case the idea of the 'streets' of the lover's wounded breast housing a large, flourishing series of bazaars, is funny in itself. It almost has that quality of deflationary down-to-earthness that Mir's 'neighbor' verses do-- but not quite, not really. Because the 'neighbor' has a real voice, as a person in the ghazal world, while the 'bazaars' on the lover's breast are obviously just a ruefully funny image for vigorous, constant, ever-increasing volatility.