mausam aayaa to na;xl-e daar me;N miir
sar-e man.suur hii kaa baar aayaa

1) when the season came, then in the date-palm of the gallows, Mir,
2) the fruit/load of only/emphatically Mansur's head came



daar : 'Wood, a piece of wood; gallows, gibbet; impaling stake'. (Platts p.500)


baar : 'Load, burden; cargo; weight, heaviness; onus; pregnancy; fruit, produce'. (Platts p.120)

S. R. Faruqi:

Annemarie Schimmel says that the image of Mansur's head on the date-palm of the gallows was used first of all by Muhsin Fani Kashmiri [in Persian]. Annemarie Schimmel has not noted the verse, but it is given below. At my request, Asif Na'im went through the whole kulliyat of Muhsin Fani and searched out the verse; I am grateful to him:

'Mansur's head says in a far-carrying voice, at every moment,
That in its season, fruits appear even on the date-palm of the gallows.'

Muhsin Fani's first line is a bit limp, but it can't be doubted that Mir's verse is borrowed from Muhsin Fani's verse.

Mir has completed the idea in fewer words than Muhsin Fani, and the power and pleasure that are in the word hii --the Persian verse, or rather the Persian language, is devoid of it.

Moreover, in Mir's verse there's also a subtle difference in meaning. Muhsin Fani says that when its season comes, then fruits appear even upon the date-palm of the gallows. That is, in the verse the central position is given to the date-palm of the gallows. By contrast, Mir has said sar-e man.suur hii kaa baar , and has thus given central importance to Mansur. That is, apart from Mansur's head, no other head was worthy and able to become the fruit of the date-palm of the gallows. Thus it's also been proved that apart from Mansur no one else was worthy to have his head cut off (or to cause his own head to be cut off) so that the fruit of it would be able to hang on the date-palm of the gallows.

In Mir's verse there's a kind of melancholy helplessness, as if it was destined that when the fruit-bearing season of the date-palm of the gallows would come, then on it Mansur's head would hang. In Persian too, Mir has composed this theme, changing it only a little:

'When the tree of passion for you became prepared for fruiting,
Then in it the load/fruit of severed necks appeared.'

Putting both verses together, he has composed this in Urdu in the second divan [{939,8}]:

man.suur kii na:zar thii jo daar kii :taraf so
phal vuh dara;xt laayaa aa;xir sar-e buriidah

[since Mansur's gaze was toward the gallows, thus
finally that tree bore the fruit of a severed head]

From the third divan [{1305,5}]:

har ek shai kaa hai mausam nah jaane thaa man.suur
kih na;xl-e daar me;N ;halq-e buriidah baar aave

[every single thing has a season; no telling if it was Mansur's
that in the date-palm of the gallows the fruit/weight of a severed neck would come]

It's clear that the present verse is the best of all these. The image of a 'severed neck' he has used in the first divan as well; see


In Mir's present verse there's also the subtle point that the way a tree's creative purpose is fufillled when it would produce fruit, in the same way the creative purpose of the gallows is fulfilled when some head would hang upon it. And apart from Mansur's head, no other head is worthy, or no other head is so auspicious that it would be considered to have the right to be shown atop the gallows.

Aristotle thought that when something succeeds in accomplishing its creative purpose, only then does it arrive at its true nature. That is, the nature of anything is manifested, or is established, when it would be able to express the purpose of its creation (that is, its true function). Seen in the light of this thought, the interpretation of the verse seems to be that the nature of the gallows is that on it the fruit of Mansur should hang. As long as that fruit doesn't fructify upon it, its nature will remain half-achieved and its creation incomplete.

And the way that the appearance of fruit on a tree depends on its appropriate season, in the same way there's also a season for the head to hang upon the date-palm of the gallows; that is, there's some spiritual or supernatural power that, when the time comes, draws Mansur's head to the top of the gallows. As if this is not a quality of Mansur's, nor is it any excellence of the date-palm of the gallows. The whole game is based on the season-- that is, on fate. The fates of both have previously been prescribed.

But it's obvious that such a powerful and glorious fate does not belong to everyone. In the circumstances there's a melancholy inevitability, but this inevitability does not belong to everyone. Only the date-palm of the gallows, and Mansur's head, are braided together into this inevitable relationship. The honor of primacy certainly belongs to Muhsin Fani, but his verse is devoid of these subtleties.



SRF mentions the special pleasures of the hii in the second line, and indeed this verse gets the most from them. If we read hii as 'only', then perhaps the verse denigrates the date-palm of the gallows: it's basically sterile, for in what should be its time of fruition it cannot produce dates or anything else, but can only bear this one deadly sacrificial 'fruit' of Mansur's head. But then, if we read hii as 'emphatically', perhaps the verse compliments the tree: it has exerted its creative powers to the utmost, and instead of bearing mere commonplace dates it has wrapped up all its fruitfulness into the supreme form of Mansur's head.

'When the season came' can also be ambiguous-- the season of fruitfulness? the season of suffering and martyrdom? the season ordained by fate? Is it an ordinary (?) harvest season, or a specially charged mystical 'season'?

The tone of the verse-- melancholy? mystically rapturous? amazed? matter-of-fact?-- is thus left entirely for us to determine.

Note for translation fans: In English 'gallows' more often suggests hanging than decapitation, but there doesn't seem to be a better general word available. Both 'gibbet' and 'scaffold' have worse problems. And at least the folksong tradition does offer the suitable idea of someone being hanged 'on the gallows tree'.