nah un logo;N kii baat sujjhii ga))ii
yih ;xalq aur un kii zabaa;N aur hai

1) those people's speech/idea was not perceived/apparent
2) this creation/population is different/other; their language is different/other



suujhnaa (of which sujhnaa is a variant): 'To be or become visible..., to be seen, to be perceptible, to appear; to seem, to look: to occur (to), to happen'. (Platts p.695)

S. R. Faruqi:

Apparently this verse seems to be connected to


But this is not the case, because the verse has multiple meanings, and if it is connected to the previous verse then its meanings would become limited. One meaning is that we don't understand those people's speech-- that is, the emphasis is on the idea that those people's language, their ways and manners, are different from ours. And people who are different are considered bad or inferior. The common practice of cultures is that customs and practices that are different from their own are considered bad. Every culture considers its own standards to be absolutely proper. Thus if we don't understand those people's speech, then the fault is theirs.

The word ;xalq of course means 'people', but it also contains an allusion to ;xilqat (meaning 'birth', and thus 'temperament, nature'). That is, those people have been born/created different from us. Thus if we don't understand their speech, then it's not strange. The very constitution of those people is different; perhaps they have been created along some other lines. What do we have to do with those people?

In the light of the above meaning, un logo;N kii baat nah sujjhii ga))ii means 'those people's speech was not understood'. In Urdu the passive voice is not often used, and even then there's usually a direct/clear understanding of the agent; for poetic beauty, the passive voice is used instead of the active voice. For example, Ghalib wrote to Taftah (August 1850), yih vaas:te tumhaare ma((luum rahne ke likhaa gayaa hai . Here what he meant was 'I have written these things for your information'. In the same way, in Mir's first line we can decide that it's in the active voice, and bring out the meaning that those people's ideas themselves were not worthy of being understood.

In the light of a second meaning, the fault is in the listeners' minds, that they didn't understand the speech of newly-arrived people, or unknown people, or people saying new things. They neither tried to understand their speech, nor did they manage to understand that those people were from some other country, or culture, or style of thought, so that to understand their speech some effort or special preparation was necessary. In the light of this meaning, the effect becomes something like that those people whose speech was not understood had brought some special message, or possessed the wealth of some special knowledge or wisdom. The people who didn't understand their speech lost the opportunity to receive this message or knowledge or wisdom. How well someone has said [in Persian],

'The horseman of eternal wealth came on the highway,
No one seized his bridle, and he passed on.'

In the light of the meaning mentioned above, let's read verses by Ghalib and Hali. Ghalib [in Persian]:

'If in this place there would be a speech-knower, then call him--
A stranger in the city has words to say.'

A ray from Mir is on Ghalib, and Ghalib's shadow is on Hali:

ko))ii mahram nahii;N miltaa jahaa;N me;N
mujhe kahnaa hai kuchh apnii zabaa;N me;N

[no intimate is available in the world
I have to say something in my own language]

Mir too has expressed this theme several times. For example, in the first divan [{463,1}]:

rahii naguftah mire dil me;N daastaa;N merii
nah is diyaar me;N samjhaa ko))ii zabaa;N merii

[my story remained unspoken in my heart
no one in this land understood my speech]

From the third divan [{1204,8}]:

kis kis adaa se re;xte mai;N ne kahe valek
samjhaa nah ko))ii merii zabaa;N is diyaar me;N

[with what-all styles I composed/'said' Rekhtahs, but
no one understood my speech in this land]

In Mir's present verse, in the light of both meanings there is a touch of bitterness and hopelessness. And if we assume that the speaker of the first meaning is the lover, then yet another aspect is created. People have put some conditions before the lover, or made some demands on him. For example, they made the condition that if he would renounce passion then they would give him much wealth. Or that if he wishes to live in the city, then he must renounce passion. Or they made some demands of this kind: that he cease to mention the beloved's name, or that he cease to go into the beloved's street.

At this, the lover tells himself, 'The people here are made of some different clay; their very speech is something different. Lord knows what they are saying! I haven't understood it at all.' In the light of this meaning, the bitterness of the verse becomes greater, and the lover becomes more established in the character of a stranger and an outsider.



The temptation to link this verse with {1882,2} is indeed strong, and surely SRF wouldn't want us to reject the possibility entirely. After all, if they are read together the two verses make considerable sense: The (implicitly wonderful) earlier generation, and their gathering/consensus, no longer remain, so that without them it's now a different world ({1882,2}); the legacy of their speech/ideas is now not comprehended at all-- for the present population is one thing, and those people's ideas are something else entirely ({1882,3}). As you get older you notice more often how the times they are a-changin', and this ghazal comes from Mir's sixth divan, compiled in the last couple of years of his life, when he was in his mid-eighties.

SRF develops two meanings, one of which rests on suspicion and disdain for 'those people' who are barbarians unable to use proper speech, while the other evokes a melancholy longing, since we will now never know what excellent things 'those people' would have imparted if we had taken the trouble to understand them. But really this is what I call a 'fill-in' verse-- in fact, it's the third of three in a row in this ghazal. You can imagine it to be about any group of 'those people' you like, and about how and why their speech has not been understood.

Is the process of incomprehension invidious (those people aren't worth understanding), or regretful (if only we could understand those people!)? Or might it be a neutral observation about the power of time, or the difficulty of crossing linguistic and cultural barriers? The emotional resonance finally comes down to a question of tone-- and as so often we're invited, and also compelled, to invent the tone for ourselves. This open-endedness of tone makes for an intriguing contrast with {1882,2}, in which a tone of nostalgia tends to make itself felt.

Note for meter fans: The tashdiid on the jiim in sujjhii has to be there to accommodate the meter. It's one of the permissible situations in which a final consonant can be doubled if desired.