Mir Taqi Mir

Mir wrote more profusely than Ghalib and much of it, like Kabir and Insha, in simple words. There are a number of ghazals in the long behr, but the most memorable ones are in the short.His stress on feminine beauty (or, in other words, formalism) unlike in Ghalib, lead the late Ali Sardar Jafri to observe that Mir had one foot in modern and another in what in Urdu poetry is derisively called kanghi choti ki shayari.

Some of Mir’s sheyrs are hauntingly simple and touching:

nazuki uske lab ki kya kahiye
pankhadi ik ghulaab ki si hai

yeh jo mohlat jise kahain hai hum
dekho to intzaar sa hai kuch

And my favourite ghazal (rendered memorably by Mehdi Hassan- and according to me the finest ghazal ever sung):

dekh to, dil ke jaan se uthta hai
ye dhuan sa kahan se uthta hai

gor diljale ki hai ye falak
shola ik subha yaan se uthta hai

khana e dil se zeenhara se na ja
koi aise makaan se uthta hai

yoon uthe aah us gali se hum
jaise koi jahan se uthta hai

Mir could cast aspersions at the mullah, but is rarely as caustic or as direct as, say, Ghalib or Iqbal could be.

mazhab se mere kya tujhe, tera dayar aur
main aur, yaar aur, mera kaarobaar aur

He employs a mesmerizingly mystic, almost surrealitic imagery in these couplets:

bikhre hai zulf, us rukh e aalam faroz par
varna, banaav hove na din aur raat ka

uske farog e husn se, jhamke hai sub main noor
sham- e- haram ho yaan ke diya Somnath ka


I took to Mir Taqi Mir after I had (I trust) picked some finer nuances of Urdu poetry- but I did not read Mir in the same manner in which I read Ghalib and Faiz, whom I devoured in states of frenzy, torment and tempestuousness.

Mir brought calmness.

He was Beethoven, not Mozart. Chekov, not Dostoevesky.

Ghalib’s certificate of greatness that he gave to Mir may also have led me to Mir, though. My first copy of Diwan e Ghalib is dated 24 Nov 1991. That of Diwan e Mir is over a year later, 14 June 1993.

raikhte ke sirf tumhi nahin ho ustad Ghalib
suna hai agle zamane main koi Mir bhi tha

The dramatic shift in the times may also have played a part. The ferocity of hatred post Babri Masjid demolition lead one to Mir and Kabir. Nida Fazli started writing dohas at that time. Poetry sought to become a balm on the times, and we turned to Mir and Kabir.

The “Low Tradition” that Mir represented consisted, among others, of Kabir and Ibne Insha in contrast to the “High Tradition” represented by the Trinity of Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz- that often chose a more Persianized and more philosophical idiom.


Here are a few random selections, that have been marked on my copy of the Diwan, whose pages are now turning brown on the sides, much as my own hair is turning gray on the edges.

haath daman main terey maarte jhunjla ke na hum
apne jaame main agar aaj gharebaan hota

mir bhi dair ke logon hi ki si kehney laga
kuch khuda lagti bhi kehta, jo musalmaan hota

khula nashe main, jo pagdi ka peych uski mir
samand e naaz ko ik aur taaziyana hua

dekhiyo panj e mishgaan ki tuk aatash dasti
har sahar khaak main milte hain dur-e-tar kitne

hum mast ho kar bhi dekha, aakhir koi maza nahin
hoshiyari ke barabar koi maza nahin

And finally, a self description. Note how bombastic, arrogant and loud (nevertheless lovable) Ghalib sounds when he declares:

hain aur bhi duniya main sukhanwar bahut achche
kehte hain ki ghalib ka hai andaaz i bayan aur

as compared to Mir who submits much more subtly, softly:

Mir dariya hai, sune sheyr zabaani uski
allah allah re tabiyat ki ravani uski


The reason for this Proustian excursion into Mir today? Mohib’s insightful post on a beautiful couplet by Mir that is also his epitaph.

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19 thoughts on “Mir Taqi Mir

  1. Thanks, just read your post. You surprise me everytime with you nuanced appreciation of Urdu poetry.

    Keep on the momentum !

  2. Dear Sir.

    Thanks for this excellent post. You might be interested to learn that I am currently authoring the first full-length biography of Mir to appear in English.

  3. very nice post
    after reading an article comparing ghalib and mir, this was the first time i searched for mir on net and i must say that your post provided good insight for a noob like me.

  4. gentlemen,

    i’m trying to find a TV documentary on mir taqi mir. a (76 year old) friend remembers checking out a VHS from a karachi video store back in the 80s. all he was able to recall was “auraq” as either the title of the series or the company that produced it.

    any clues? any other documentaries on mir that you folks may be aware of. trying to enthuse an appreciation for urdu poetry with/in the kids!

    shall be extremely grateful.


  5. Mir described the life, love, sorrow & pain in simple & effective way.u cant find some one like him.the manner of his ghazal writing is somehow reflected in ghazal of kaleem ajiz-same lahja wa andaz.but kahan Mir aur kahan====.
    urdu ko mir si kahan shanshai mile
    ab to bas dhoondh rah hun rawish-e-mir
    -Dr abulais jaohar

  6. Plz dont mix .. mir Dard with mir taqe mir ……………

    raikhte ke sirf tumhi nahin ho ustad (shaeir) Ghalib
    suna hai agle zamane(waqton) main koi Mir bhi tha ……. was said for Mir Dard

  7. Thanks for a very interesting post. My personal favourite sher by Mir:
    kahein kya jo puchhe koi ham se, Mir
    jahaaN meiN tum aaye thay, kya kar chalay?

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