Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Ghazal

09:00:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , , , , 2 comments
 by Ashley Lister

 Rather than force my political opinions on everyone, I thought I would take this opportunity to look at a poetic form from outside the gamut of traditional western culture. This is a ghazal from the poet Zahhar:

Offering – (ghazal #61)

I trudge now back through this grime for you
Because it may ease the climb for you.

Because you just might learn from my pain,
I re-walk that bitter rime for you.

I’m told there are riches deep within,
So I search this fetid slime for you.

I seek rubies in the cave of loss,
Yet I’m glad to spend the time for you.

The earth and stars all could have been mine,
But I’ve passed these chances prime for you.

I’ll peel the rind and my soul expose,
Then wait as a silent mime for you.

Pearls were buried with my heart, you see,
So I dig back through the lime for you.

If in your depths these words resonate,
Zahhar is sounding a chime for you.

Eric Folsom says: “The ghazal, many will tell you, is an ancient Persian form of verse. The OED notes that it is generally erotic in nature, limited in the number of stanzas, and uses a recurring rhyme. The western impression, dating back to the last century and earlier, is that ghazals celebrate love and wine, but it is interesting to discover that ghazals can be found today in modern pop music. The Indo-British singer known as Najma for instance, uses a number of ghazals (in Hindi if my memory is correct) as the lyrics of her songs. They are quite haunting, long soft syllables with tabla and saxophone solos, and gist of the words amounts to no more than the usual hyperbole of love song lyrics.

So here we have it: a poetic form from outside our typical culture.

The ghazal is a short lyric poem composed of a series of about 5 to 15 couplets.  Each couplet stands independently on its own as a poetic thought. The meter is not strictly determined but the lines of the couplets should be of similar length. Aside from the refrains and couplet structure the ghazal could also include the poet’s name or a meta-reference to the poet. To find out more I would strongly urge you to visit Gene Doty’s ghazal page and possibly enter one of the ghazal challenges.

Or, if you don’t fancy being so adventurous, we could have our own ghazal challenge here. I’ve written my own ghazal below. We have themes of politics and ice cream and dreams to play with this week. If you’re up for the challenge, why not write your own ghazal and post it in the comments box?

Stick another jumper on your grandma
Rub a tub of Ralgex on your grandpa

Heating costs are going through the roof
The Big Six act like they’re all gangstah

Winter is-a-coming. The bills are getting high.
The Tories kill more old folks than the cancer

Do I starve this year or maybe freeze?
I must beg advice from a financer

God, how did our country come to this?
I don’t think God has got an answer.



Anonymous said...

Wow, Offering is beautiful. It would work at a wedding I think.

What is Ralgex? Is it edible? Was that the erotic bit?
Was the meta-reference in the final couplet?

I will take up the challenge :-) this is based on the poem I read last night which featured frogs and mud (a recurring dream):

Between my little pigs
the tiny frogs are squished

Because I ate blue cheese
small frogs invade my sleep

From wall to wall I fear
Amphibians are smeared

My toes are smeared with slime
A gunge of peach and lime

Grim carpet of squished frogs
don't analyse this dream


Ashley R Lister said...

The erotic aspect is old people sex - possibly the best and cheapest porn available.

Don't try eating Ralgex at home. Or anywhere else.

Of course the final couplet contains a meta-reference. I'm rigid with these things.

And I'm impressed with the content of your dream. You've found a tight blend of the obscene and the attractively exotic to create something reminiscent of Bakhtain's ideas on the carnivalesque.