The Arabic poetry that gave rise to the ghazal is a type of amatory poem or ode. A ghazal can be interpreted as a poetic expression of the beauty of love despite the pain of loss or separation. The ghazal form dates back to Arabic poetry from the seventh century. The ghazal became popular as a form of poetry in many languages of the Indian subcontinent and Turkey in the 12th century thanks to the influence of Sufi mystics and the courts of the new Islamic Sultanate.
A ghazal typically consists of five to fifteen separate but interconnected couplets that are related to one another—abstractly, in their subject matter; and more precisely in the form of poetry. The primary necessities of the ghazal are comparative in rigidity to those of the Petrarchan poem. The ghazal has proven to be capable of an extraordinary variety of expressions centered on its central themes of love and separation due to its highly elusive nature, both in terms of style and content.
The term “Postmodern Ghazal” refers to a literary movement that originated in Iran in the 1990s and claimed to combine traditional Persian poetry arrangements with postmodern concepts. The ghazal is a short sonnet consisting of rhyming couplets, called bayt or sher. There are seven to twelve bayts in the majority of ghazals. A poem must have at least five couplets in order to be considered a true ghazal. Most ghazals have fewer than fifteen couplets (poems longer than this are more accurately referred to as qasidas).
Ghazal couplets end with a similar rhyming example and are supposed to have a similar meter. The ghazal’s rhyme and refrain rules, known as the “qaafiyaa” and “radif,” are what give it its distinctiveness. The rhyming pattern of a ghazal can be summarized as AA BA CA DA, etc.
In its strictest form, a ghazal must follow a number of rules:
Matla’a: The “matlaa” is the first sher in a ghazal. The qaafiyaa and radif must be on both matla lines.The ghazal’s rhyme scheme and refrain pattern are established by the matlaa.
Radif: The word or phrase in the refrain.The radif, the refrain word, must be used in the final line of the matlaa and all subsequent shers.
Qaafiyaa: The rhyme scheme. The qaafiyaa, or words or phrases with the same end rhyme pattern, come before the radif.
Maqta’a/Maktaa: The maqtaa is the last couplet of the ghazal. In ghazals, the maqtaa frequently features the poet’s nom de plume, or takhallus.In most ghazals, the maqtaa is more intimate than the other couplets. An indication of a poet’s skill is the inventiveness with which they incorporate the homonymous meanings of their takhallus to provide the couplet with additional layers of meaning.
Bah’r/Behr: Each line of a ghazal must follow the same metrical pattern and syllabic (or morae) count.
Misra-e-uulaa: The first line of each verse must be a statement.
Misra-e-sani: The second line of each verse must be the proof of the statement given in the first line.
Couplets in a ghazal do not require a common theme or continuity, unlike in a nazm. Each sher contains the complete expression of an idea and is distinct from the others. The shers, on the other hand, all have a thematic or tonal connection to one another that may be highly allusive. The narrator’s claim that the poem is addressed to a beloved is a common conceit that dates back to the origins of the ghazal form.
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