By Ashraf Lone
Mir Taqi Mir is considered one of the greatest poets of Urdu Literature. He is in the league of four poets- Mir Anees, Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Ghalib and Iqbal- who are considered pioneers of Urdu poetry. Although, we see a lot of literature/criticism on Ghalib and which is the reason why we often come across Ghalib’s poetry but Mir’s poetry gets ignored or we can say went into oblivion because of this ignorance from critics. But, over the years, much has been written on Mir which has helped literature lovers to have close look on Mir’s poetry.
The basic theme of Mir’s poetry is love and romance. It’s not kind of love copied from other poets’ or persons as was the trend during Mir’s days, but the true inner feelings of a poet. The theme is the nature of his love and betrayal thereof. This love has given Mir his identity and a unique place among the great romantic poets of literature. Mir was a true romantic and he believed in true romance rather to live in a fake world of romance. The treatment meted out to Mir by his step-brothers also made him more sensitive to harsh realities of life and this is the another reason we see intensity of pain and lamentation in Mir’s poetry.
Mir was the only son of his father, a Sufi saint called Mir Mutaqqi. Mir’s father had predicted in Mir’s childhood that his son’s heart was filled with the light of love. Mir grew in the atmosphere of Sufism and closely felt its gravity and empathy. The love of worldly things did not touch him . Another factor is that Delhi was always hit by some kind of tragedy. So, there was not a kind of atmosphere as was in Lucknow, where worldly love could take roots. After the devastation of Delhi by the invaders, Mir also had to migrate to Lucknow, but the Lucknow School of Thought didn’t have much influence on him and he continued to write in his own form nurtured under the Delhi School of Thought of Poetry.
At the time of his death, Mir’s father instructed him to “ adopt the path of love. A life without love is an ordeal and losing one’s heart in love is the real art. Though this path is riddled with difficulties, love is what drives the world.” Mir took these lines seriously and went on to become the king of romantic poetry of Urdu Literature and is rightly revered as “Khuday-e-Sukhan”(Lord of Poetry).
Ishq hi ishq hai jahan mei;
Saare aalam mei bhar raha hai ishq
(There is love just love wherever you look : The world is overflowing with love)
Be khudi le gayi kahan humko ;
Der se intizar hai apna
(Where has selflessness taken me : I have been waiting for myself for long)
Ibtidayi Ishq hai rota hai kya ;
Aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya
(It’s the beginning of the love; why do you wail : Just wait and watch how things unveil)
Mir has explored other themes as well as critics have rightly pointed out, like satire, humour, elegy e and so on but it is his romantic poetry which is filled with the pain of tragedy and betrayal which has defined him as one of the greatest romantic poet of literature. He has touched every angle related with the theme of love. Whether an unfaithful beloved or a disgruntled lover or a lover who is totally immersed in the love of his beloved, Mir has dwelt upon everything. He, in his unique style and poignancy of his emotions brought out a plethora of poetry which is gaining eminence with each passing day in these times of hatred and suffocation. The below mentioned couplets bring to us different shades of Mir’s romantic poetry and these also show why Mir is revered each time when a topic of love and romance and tragedy becomes prominent.
Deedni hai shikstagi dil ki ;
Kya imarat ghamoo’n ne dhaai hai
(Worth-watching is my heart’s siege : What a citadel have sorrows seized)
Baad marne ke meri qabr pe aye woh Mir;
Yaad aai mere Isaa ko dawa mere baad
(O Mir :she came to my grave after I had died : My Messiah came to my aid after I had died)
Bohut aarzoo thi gali ki teri;
So yahan se lahu mein naha kar chale
(To visit your street, I deeply wished : I leave it bathed in blood)
Mir in his poetry has expressed the tragedy and pain which falls on the lovers who have been betrayed. The power of Mir’s diction, metaphors, imagery and similes make looking this tragedy the tragedy of all humans and we all relate with Mir’s pain.
Mir was a poet with deep reverence for the art of poetry. He did not compromise with art. He chided many poets of his time for their lack of artistic depth. His wailings are not like sloganeering but a wail beautifully interwoven in his couplets. Mir used simple language and metaphors for his poetry as he used to call it a language spoken at the steps of Jama Masjid of Delhi. His poetry is filled with love, betrayal but at the same time with life as well. Mir laments his beloved’s betrayal and wails too on this tragedy but does not give up. He sees hope in betrayal, the hope on which he can conquer every obstruction.
Ashk aankh mein kab nahi ata;
Lahu ata hai jab nahi ata
(From my eye, when doesn’t a tear fall : Blood falls when it doesn’t fall)
Gor kis dil jale ki hai yeh falak;
Shola ek subh yaan se uthta hai
(What heart sick sufferer’s grave is this? O sky : An ember rises from here at dawn)
Pata pata bhoota bhoota haal haamrei jaane hai;
Jaane na jaane gul hi na jaane, bhaag tou sara jaane hai
(Every leaf every bud knows my state : Only the flower doesn’t know, rest of the garden does)
Mir is the poet of love, tragedy and desire . He mourns betrayal but yearns for love. He doesn’t lose hope. His poetry is filled with the different themes of love and romance. The greatness of Mir lies in his ability to bring his emotions and feelings into his poetry through plain language and diction and this is the reason his poetry is revered by both the elite and common class .He lived and wrote poetry in times when Urdu language was in its infancy so his contribution to Urdu poetry is much more than that what we normally assume. Mir stands among the great romantic poets of world literature — John Keats, Wordsworth and Coleridge. Even the great Mirza Ghalib had to acknowledge Mir’s greatness:
Rekhtey ke tumhi ustaad nahi ho Ghalib;
Kehte hain agle zamanei mein koyi Mir bhi tha
(You are not the only master of Urdu, Ghalib : They say there used to be Mir in the past)
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]