A poetic form consisting of couplets which share a rhyme and a refrain.
(pronounced as "ghuzzle")
Ghazal is a Persian/Arabic /Urdu/Hindi and now English form of poetry between 5-15 rhyming couplets with or without refrain. (The refrain is the repeating part at the end of each couplet). Ghazal usually have one concept (like love, death, spring …) and that is usually ambiguous in nature, because each couplet is an independent poem in itself. Each couplet in ghazal has the same meter/ syllables that will follow throughout the poem. There are 19 different kinds of ghazals that can be categorized in three classes of short, medium, and long based on the number of syllables from 6 to 24. In ghazal, the poet usually places his/her alias in the last line and becomes a part of the poem. The rhyming in Ghazal ends like aA bA cA dA eA etc. If you choose to add refrain to your poem, the refrain comes after the rhyming in each couplet. In Ghazal, the first couplet must have the rhyming and the refrain in both halves of the couplet in subsequent couplets, only the second half of the couplet will follow the same scheme of rhyming.
A ghazal is a type of poem which is meant to express pain and the love that can persist through that pain. It was a popular form of poetry in the 1800s throughout Arabia and South Asia.
The ghazal has roots in Arabic poetic forms and grew in popularity after the birth and rise of the Islamic culture. Structurally, it may resemble a Petrarchan sonnet, but in style, it branches off to a place of its own. The expression of emotional pain and the beauty of love is unique to this form of poetry, and has been celebrated for many centuries.
Ghazal poems are typically constructed with a minimum of five and maximum of fifteen couplets. The range of couplets used depends on the theme and emotional intent of the author. These poems are often written from the point of view of someone whose love can’t be acquired, and they are usually melancholy in tone.
Ghazal Poem Example
Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell tonight?
Whom else from rapture’s road will you expel tonight?
Those “Fabrics of Cashmere—” “to make Me beautiful—”
“Trinket”— to gem– “Me to adorn– How– tell”— tonight?
I beg for haven: Prisons, let open your gates–
A refugee from Belief seeks a cell tonight.
God’s vintage loneliness has turned to vinegar–
All the archangels– their wings frozen– fell tonight.
Lord, cried out the idols, Don’t let us be broken
Only we can convert the infidel tonight.
Mughal ceilings, let your mirrored convexities
multiply me at once under your spell tonight.
He’s freed some fire from ice in pity for Heaven.
He’s left open– for God– the doors of Hell tonight.
In the heart’s veined temple, all statues have been smashed
No priest in saffron’s left to toll its knell tonight
God, limit these punishments, there’s still Judgment Day–
I’m a mere sinner, I’m no infidel tonight.
Executioners near the woman at the window.
Damn you, Elijah, I’ll bless Jezebel tonight.
The hunt is over, and I hear the Call to Prayer
fade into that of the wounded gazelle tonight.
My rivals for your love– you’ve invited them all?
This is mere insult, this is no farewell tonight.
And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell thee–
God sobs in my arms. Call me Ishmael tonight.
—Agha Shahid Ali