Greeting fellow poets, tis Paul Scribbles hosting tonight’s MTB. I have long adored the poetry of ancient Persia and the ghazal form is a fine example of this. Hafiz (Hafez) is widely known as a master of the form. Translation from the original is notoriously complex and there are countless versions available of Hafiz’s work and I have found more than one description of the form. (See below and take your pick)
The ghazal is a traditional Arabian verse form with the first two lines ending in the same refrain, which is then repeated at the end of each stanza. The ghazal consists of at least five, but often up to fifteeen, two-line stanzas.Each stanza should be independent, but should tie together with the whole. (Like a pearl on a necklace) The first two lines end with the same refrain. This refrain is repeated at the end of each stanza. The final stanza is a signature, where the author can use his/her name to seal the poem.The lines should be of similar length and rhythm. Themes are traditionally melancholy, introspective, loving, longing and thoughtful and in the Sufi tradition of Hafiz, directed to the Beloved [Source: Poetic Metre and Form: Octavia Wynne]
The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning. [Source: Academy of American Poets]
Below you can find an example in the classic style and something more contemporary.
Agha Shahid Ali: Even the Rain
What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain?
But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain.
“our glosses / wanting in this world” “Can you remember?”
Anyone! “when we thought / the poets taught “even the rain?
After we died–That was it!–God left us in the dark.
And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain.
Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house.
For mixers, my love, you’d poured–what?–even the rain.
Of this pear-shaped orange’s perfumed twist, I will say:
Extract Vermouth from the bergamot, even the rain.
How did the Enemy love you–with earth? air? and fire?
He held just one thing back till he got even: the rain.
This is God’s site for a new house of executions?
You swear by the Bible, Despot, even the rain?
After the bones–those flowers–this was found in the urn:
The lost river, ashes from the ghat, even the rain.
What was I to prophesy if not the end of the world?
A salt pillar for the lonely lot, even the rain.
How the air raged, desperate, streaming the earth with flames–
to help burn down my house, Fire sought even the rain.
He would raze the mountains, he would level the waves,
he would, to smooth his epic plot, even the rain.
New York belongs at daybreak to only me, just me–
to make this claim Memory’s brought even the rain.
They’ve found the knife that killed you, but whose prints are these?
No one has such small hands, Shahid, not even the rain.
Heather McHugh: Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun
Too volatile, am I? too voluble? too much a word-person?
I blame the soup: I’m a primordially
Two pronouns and a vehicle was Icarus with wings.
The apparatus of his selves made an ab-
The sound I make is sympathy’s: sad dogs are tied afar.
But howling I become an ever more un-
I need a hundred more of you to make a likelihood.
The mirror’s not convincing– that at-best in-
As time’s revealing gets revolting, I start looking out.
Look in and what you see is one unholy
The only cure for birth one doesn’t love to contemplate.
Better to be an unsung song, an unoc-
McHugh, you’ll be the death of me — each self and second studied!
Addressing you like this, I’m halfway to the
*Note that she chooses to rhyme the second-to-last word before “person”.
Enjoy this reading of a Hafiz ghazal in it’s original language.
So my friends our task is clear this fine night. Pen a ghazal. Don’t be overly concerned with perfection but aim to bring the spirit of the ghazal to the forum.
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