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Deborah Guzzi travels for inspiration: China, Nepal [during the civil war], Japan, Egypt [two weeks before ‘The Arab Spring’], and most recently Peru. First published at the age of sixteen, she writes articles for Massage and Aroma Therapy Magazines. Her poetry has been accepted in the Literary Journals of Western CT. University, Inclement Magazine, Pyrokinections, Jellyfish Whispers, Grey Wolf’s Summer Legends Anthology, The Germ, Wilderness Literary Review, The Anthology Sweet Dreams & Night Terrors, Bitterzoet Magazine, haiku journal, Contemporary Haibun Online, Bella on line, The Autumn Sound, Eskimo Pie, and Ribbons, The Inwood Indiana Review, Five Poetry, Tanka Society of America Journal, and 50 haiku. She has published two illustrated volumes of poetry, The Healing Heart and Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell.

Ghazal's Old and New

Blog Posted:10/10/2013 8:59:00 AM
Morning all,

I can see you are having trouble with the form, Ghazal. As with so many forms originated in other countries and which have been around for centuries, the is much discussion on what IS a 'correct' Ghazal!

First we must know if the speaker is talking about the Ancient more classical form.

Second we must realize that in the 21st century, the form has 'morphed' to some extent.

Third, the is a whole new language of devices that we do know BUT they are called by different names in the culture of origin. [I have made an attempt to simplify by writing the western name for the device for you beside the Arabic word.] for now let's just learn three things [what I am telling you took me two weeks to distill to this with the help of an author from the Middle East]

Wikipedai says This*

*Ghazal is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. 

The refrain is the repeating WORD or PHRASE at the end of lines 1,2,4,6,8,10 in Arabic it is called the RADEEF/refrain

The end rhyme pattern which we would know as monorhyme is called the KAAFIYAA BOTH ..MUST appear in lines 1,2,4,6,8,10 etc [only lines 1 & 2 have the radeef in the   end of each line, the first line of each of the following couplets is not part of the kaafiyaa]
-lines 3,5,7,9 do not use the repeated word or phrase & do not have the rhyming word before the refrain.

Each couplet should be a stand alone, like a proverb, it should add to the whole but not need the whole.

*A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th-century Arabic verse

In style and content it is a genre that has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation. It is one of the principal poetic forms which the Indo-Perso-Arabic civilization offered to the eastern Islamic world.

Example from

Stranger at the Gate

Who cares about the stranger at the gate? I do not know
The poor orphan, abandoned to his fate? I do not know

Where once I had the answers, now my mind is full of doubt
How do these certainties depreciate? I do not know

From noon till night our ardent looks would scandalise the town
Why is it that your eyes are filled with hate? I do not know

It used to be that man respected man for what he did
These days are we just numbers on the slate? I do not know

The wisdom of the years is something valued now by none
The butt of standing jokes, this balding pate? I do not know

The saqi1 turns his back; how many skins will be required,
oh my love, this unholy thirst to sate? I do not know

Once upon a time Amir was counted a believer
To every question now I simply state, I do not know

1Saqi: a wine-server in a medieval Persian tavern
Released to Creative Commons by the author

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  1. Date: 10/11/2013 10:28:00 AM
    yes ruben the modern ghazal is MUCH MUCH easier because they took away almost all the initial requirements. BUT what I am telling you took me two weeks of email chats to get under my hat. I'd say the only requirements for the modern ones are groupings of 2 which stand alone BUT can be seen also as part of the whole and are about mystical thoughts [rhymed or unrhymed & that the length of the line is long & similar.

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  1. Date: 10/11/2013 10:20:00 AM
    nette my dear I am trying to do like a wee intro to the form so DEFINETLY .. NO internal rhyme within the line is needed!..[doesn't mean you can't do it, just means it doesn't not affect whether it to form or not]

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  1. Date: 10/11/2013 10:08:00 AM
    Pretty sure Nette that the only rhyme that matters is the repeating of the final word or phrase (the blue) and the monorhyme of the word that precedes that starting with the first line of couplet one and then with the last line of the other couplets (the red). That's why it's important to use a word that has many other words that rhyme with it to give you more flexibility because even if you only write the minimum 5 couplets you need 6 rhyming words and need to add one more for each additional couplet. Probably why there are not many longer poems in this form. But this is new to me too.

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  1. Date: 10/11/2013 6:55:00 AM
    debbie,your example has inner rhymes.. do we have to follow this, yipes!

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  1. Date: 10/10/2013 8:11:00 PM
    Hello, gorgeous! I read your blog and did (tried to do) some research ... it's too confusing. Many writers (I read many examples) don't use rhyme (not even the refrain) ... and they use dissimilar number of syllables in their couplets. I like your example and how you explain this form so ... I'm going to follow your explanation. I hope to have time to write a nice ghazal (just to impress you LOL) : D

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  1. Date: 10/10/2013 7:39:00 PM
    I gave the English word Craig, believe me it won't hurt to learn the same words in a foreign language to show respect for the forms creators and we have many writers on Soup from the Middle East, so I for one would like to 'sound' LOL a 'bit' educated.

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  1. Date: 10/10/2013 4:19:00 PM
    Debbie, just an idea--leave out all the foreign words--it just complicates things---whoever wants to explore the genesis may do so but first plant the seed and create an interest. Personally I would like to give a go with the original form, perhaps with a modern twist because in reality, just like the oriental forms don't work in translation.

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    Guzzi Avatar Debbie Guzzi Date: 10/10/2013 7:43:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    if you stray from a love poem to every day life you make it modern, if each couplet does not stand alone its modern, if you use enjambment it's modern, they were meant to be sung as well AND meant to be IN THE MOMENT like haiku ;)
  1. Date: 10/10/2013 2:46:00 PM
    Now everyone I KNOW this is not the only way to do a Ghazal, but I think it's a good introduction. I spent the last week or two wading through sites and what was the most confusing to me was the language difference! All those different words for things so I had to first put it in English for myself!! [I mean the terminology of the form ;)] there are about 6 -12 words uses in discussing different parts of the verse [too complicated for a first try for now just try this]

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  1. Date: 10/10/2013 2:24:00 PM
    Thanks for your help Debbie, when I first started to read about the form my brain started to freeze and my eyes were going more crazy than they already are, but now that I have studied it on line and with your help especially with the highlighted version of the poem it makes so much more sense. I don't know how most people learn but I am more of a visual learner (in other words show me a picture like your example of how it's done and I can rock it--at least the form). From there it is incumbent to take it to the next level--to put some meat in the bun so to speak--that to me is what Deborah wants--sooo me thinks that though my poem is correct in form I would like to kick it up calculating?

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  1. Date: 10/10/2013 2:03:00 PM
    Thanks Deb..that helps clarify it for going to give it a try one day soon. BG

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  1. Date: 10/10/2013 9:43:00 AM
    YES Andie you can use one of your old ones BUT correct it to comply to what I'm telling you. We will have a verse somewhere between classical & modern.

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  1. Date: 10/10/2013 9:22:00 AM
    debbie, I'm glad you said old or new. that will help out some of us who may already have a few. A long time ago someone asked us to use this form. I remember how difficult it was but I think it is a rather nice form!!

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