Birth: Mir was born as Meer Muhammad Taqi in Agra to Muhammad Ali. His birth date is a matter of speculation but it is widely accepted to be in August or September of 1723 (1135 Hijri). Mir was of Arab ancestry. His ancestors migrated from Hejaz (now in Saudi Arabia) and his great-grandfather settled in Agra (erstwhile Akbarabad) while some of his relatives settled in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. His father was a dervish and lived in a house outside the city of Agra when Mir was born. Mir mentions nothing about her mother, but he had a brother Muhammad Razi and a sister. He also had a step brother from his father’s first wife, Muhammad Hasan.
Early Life: Mir’s grandfather was a Faujdar in Akbarabad and he died at fifty leaving two sons Mir’s father and his uncle who had a mental illness died young. His father studied religious aspects with Shah Kalimullah Akbarabadi, he died when Mir was in his teens. He left debt to be paid which Mir paid and later left for Delhi leaving his younger brother at home. He was introduced to Nawab Amir-ul-Umara and he was granted a daily allowance of one rupee per day until the Nawab was killed in a battle in 1739. Mir met a person named Sa’adat Ali from Amroha who urged him to write verses in Rekhta. Soon his couplets became very popular and he was seen as an authority by the local poets.
Poetry: Mir’s verses express the impermanence of life and the grief at the loss of love, beauty and spring. At the same time, his poems underline the transcendent experience and journey of love through the colours of the garden, the movement of the stars and heart of man.
pattā pattā buuTā buuTā haal hamārā jaane hai
jaane na jaane gul hī na jaane baaġh to saarā jaane hai
Mir’s themes of love and beauty and pain and separation established the conventions of classical Urdu poetry and his style inspired later poets like Ghalib (1797-1869). He also helped establish Urdu as a literary language. Mir reviewed and refined the use of Urdu in the musha’ara of Delhi and naturalized its use of Persian expressions. He wrote, moreover, in the everyday language of the city, making the language of Delhi, the language of poetry.
Migration To Lucknow: Mir stayed in Delhi for most of his life. He lived in Kuchha Chelan in Old Delhi. But Delhi was broke after the invasion of Nadir Shah, many poets moved to Lucknow including Mir. He arrived in Lucknow in 1783 and Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah fixed him a stipend of rupees 200. He was treated as an old fashioned by fellow courtiers and subsequently his relationship with Nawab ended. He lost his wife and children and lived a lonely life in Lucknow until his death.
Death: Mir died in Lucknow in the neighbourhood called Suthatti on September 21, 1810. He was buried at Akhara Bhim (now City Station), a well known graveyard at the time, near the graves of his relatives. Mir’s grave was situated before the Chhatte Wala Pul until half a century ago near the City Station railway tracks. Today, there is a slum in that area and there are no signs of his grave. There is this stone erected in a park marked with ‘Nishaan-e-Mir’ in Lucknow.