Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Playing With Form: Ghazal

Thanks to my Poet friend, Marie Deer, mistress of the Ghazal form, for inspiring these attempts during a recent day of writing.   Valentines Day was approaching.  And so, these baby steps. 


Love the quiet, liquid dark, skin shine after a storm
It washed in lately with me and mine after a storm

Blue chairs on beaches, sea oats, lonely mailbox delivery
Walking the strand this time after a storm

Turtles move with tides, my tiny one sleeps and cries
Time passes lightning strikes far off after a storm

Puzzle pieces strewn round kitchen table jumble
Test my mental metal reach for rhymes after a storm

Far off blue, this part of you, I cannot touch or know
Billows gently on Beth’s morning laundry line after a storm


Chocolate drops drip, my tongue trips we fall down inside my mind
Valentines daze me, roses, daisies candied lips inside my mind

Velvety sheets, deep red wine, blood spit shine
Love letters galore will not quit inside my mind

Coast of Maine, shuttered windows, stuttered words, the old days
Twang and thrum and hearts well lit inside my mind

Too many days and water over bridges, what’s yours is mine,
And every single hurt and sweetness sticks inside my mind

Elephant memory, trumpet vine, we wrap we warp we
Intertwine, the ways of forgiveness candle lit inside my mind

So give Beth a rose, for real and true and a beating heart
This year from you, all sadness gone, no petals ripped inside my mind

About Ghazal:

The ghazal is a love lyric of from five to 12 verses. The content is religious, secular, or a combination of both.

Scholar Gene Doty writes:
 here are what I understand to be the basic features of a ghazal in Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, etc.:
  • A ghazal is a series of couplets. Each couplet is an independent poem, although a thematic continuity may develop. T
  • Traditional themes that focus on romantic love and mysticism.
  • Both lines of the first couplet (called the "matla") and the second line of each succeeding couplet have the same monorhyme ("qafia") and refrain ("radif").
  • The refrain (radif) is the same word or short phrase (or even syllable, according to Ali).
  • A. J. Arberry says that each couplet of the Persian ghazal ends in a monorhyme (words ending with the same vowel+consonant combination), but he does not mention the refrain.
  • All the couplets are in the same meter. (Ali does not mention meter.)
  • The poet "signs" the last couplet ("makhta") by including her/his name or pen name ("takhallus").
Poems published in English as ghazals usually have only the first feature. Agha Shahid Ali insists that a poem cannot be a ghazal without inclusion of all the features. He especially insists on the radif/refrain. Avachat says that sometimes the radif is omitted. John Drury's description of the form, like others I've seen, is not clear on these specifics, but does encourage experimentation.

BLR for the Poplar Grove Muse

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