Born in Doru, Anantnag in Kashmir, Rassul Mir lived and wrote in the late 19th century. He was a romantic poet who drew greatly from metaphors of nature all around him. Given his surroundings, amidst springs, rivers, valleys and mountains in the Kashmiri countryside fabled for its flora and fauna, it is unsurprising that his poetry drew from all of these elements.

Little is known about his life with certainty and outside of folklore. The poet Mahmood Gami is said to have predicted a youthful death for Mir. He is said to have been in love with a Hindu maiden, and some of his poetry is attributed to his longing for her. Towards the end of his life, it is believed that he spent solitary time near the springs in his surrounding villages, pondering over the world and articulating his thoughts in verse. What we do know, for certain, is that the beauty of Kashmir lives in his floral, descriptive verses of love.

Rasul Mir chhuy Shahabad Durey,
aem chhu trovmut ashka dukan.
yiyiv ashkow cheyiv turi turaay.
me chu moorey lalvun naar.
 
Rasul Mir of Shahabad Doore,
Has opened shop of tears.
Come, lovers drink cupfuls away.
I have to nurture the fire of love everyday.
 
(trans. Shiban Kachru)
 
 //

 

He teh masval, bai yimberzal
barh gai tse kun vechaan
Chesmh siyah rokh vozaelee
Jamh chetiyey latiyey
 
Jasmine, Iris and Narcissus too,
looking at thee have withered away.
Thine eyes are black, face is red,
And robes are of the whitest hue.
 
(trans. RL Kaul)

His poems are rooted in physical spaces and find mention of many surroundings, especially springs. One often finds place markers like this one:

Ver Nagay nerye ba aagiye,
Achhaval ki posh sharey lagiye.
Grayi maran kot gachhakh kan duriye,
Wolay kosturiye par mai trav neeriye
 
I will leave Verinag early to attend to you
And adorn you with flowers from Acchabal.
Swaying, where are you going the pendant of my ear?
Come, my love, do not stroll around idly.
 
(trans. Shiban Kachru)

His poems also transcend the geographic boundaries of Kashmir, drawing not only from metaphors of places far away, but also from mythologies foreign to Kashmir.

Aaftabe Bulgaar
Mahtaabe Qandahar
Cha deeshith mandachhanay
Chhakh jaan jaananay

Chani sati Kasheer
Janat taseer
Samsara nata gam khanay
Chhakh jan jananay

Rosul ashik,
Chay path bila shak
Roztas meherbanay
Chakh jan jananay

 

You are like the sun of Bulgar,
And like the moon of Qandahar.
Seeing you, both are ashamed.
You are my love.

It is because of you
That Kashmir is a paradise.
The world without you is full of gloom.
You are my love.

Rassul is your lover,
Doubtlessly; so.
Be kind to him.
You are my love.

There is mention too, of native myths, like Kashmir’s famed fable, Himal and Nagrai, in his poems.

Laegith Nagrai buchhnas Himaal
Shahmar zulfi pechana vyesye
 
asi kun yitan hiy tan naavas
kosturay ta zafrana vyesye
 
dar gul chhu panay bulbul bahanay
bulbul ta gulistan vyesye
 
panay chhu Yusuf panay Zulekha
panas chhu aashik pana vyesye
 
Rasul soze dil wana has bozina
Pathu bronth rozi afsaana vyesye

 

As Nagrai
He has stung Himal.
My curls are like poisonous snakes,
My friend.
 
If he comes,
I will bathe his jasmine body
With saffron and musk,
My friend.
 
He is with the flower,
Pretending to be the bulbul.
He is himself both bulbul and flower,
My friend.
 
He is both
Yusuf and Zulaikha
In love with himself
My friend.
 
Rasul would bare his heart,
If he would listen.
Finally all this will end as a tale,
My friend.
 
(trans. Kachru)

Much of Mir’s poetry is about love. In this verse, he mentions his beloved, who was rumored to be Hindu, and in her praise, he refers to has henzi-yaen (Hindu girl):

Raza henzi-yani naaz kyah anzni garden
Ya illa-hi chesma bad-a nishi rachhtan
Gatsi kam kyah chani baargahi lo-lo
Rinda poshamal gindi-ney dra-yi lo-lo
 
How graceful the swan’s neck of looks,
spare her from evil eyes, my Lord,
Thy bounty, that won’t lessen, O God.
Lo, the love goes on a frolic outing

 

Rassul Mir wrote on themes often seen as worldly, like love and nature. Although he didn’t specifically delve into the metaphysical and spiritual world, he did keep religious metaphor alive in his language.

Chhus Kaba husnuk roae,
abroo taq bar taq.
Dar rahi aashq sajda rava
don bumun aamai.
 
That face is the Kaaba of beauty,
her lashes layered over and over.
In the path of love,
it is meant to bow to those two brows
 
 //

 

Kad chon alif, laam zulf, meem dahn chhoe
Por akli sabaq shakli alif laam nigaaro.
 
You are tall like alif, thy locks are long like laam, and thy mouth is meem itself;
from thy form came all knowledge, in shape of alif-laam
 
 //

 

Rosul chhuy zaenith deen-o-mazhab
rokh te zulf chon.
Koh zani kya gov
kufur to Islam nigaro
 
Rasul has conquered religion and faith,
Your face and your tresses.
What does he know about
Blasphemy and Islam, my love?
 
(All translations, Kachru and Bhat)
 

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