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Types of Urdu Poetry

See also the article: Forms of Urdu Poetry

Ghazal

Definition

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.

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


Hamd

Definition

Hamd is a poem in praise of Allah. The word "hamd" is derived from the Qur'an, its English translation is "Praise".

Example

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Madah

Definition

Poem written in praise of royalty, patrons, etc.

Example

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Manqabat

Definition

A poem written in praise of members of the family of the holy Prophet

Example

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Marsiya

Definition

Pronounced (muhr-see-yaa)

An elegy written to mourn the death of a great man or a dearly loved person. In its stricter sense, traditionally accepted in Urdu, Marsiya (or elegy) is nearly always on the death of Hasan and Husain and their families, but occasionally on the death of relatives and friends.

It is usually in six-lined stanzas with the rhyme aaaabb. The recitation of these elegies in the first ten days of Muharram is one of the greatest event in Muslim life. A fully developed marsiya is always an epic. The famous marsia writers who inherited the tradition of Mir Anis among his successive generations are Mir Nawab Ali 'Munis', Dulaha Sahab 'Uruj', Mustafa Meerza urf Piyare Sahab 'Rasheed', Syed Muhammad Mirza Uns, Ali Nawab 'Qadeem', Syed Sajjad Hussain "Shadeed" Lucknavi, Allama, Dr.Syed Ali Imam Zaidi, "Gauher" Luckhnavi the(great grandson of Mir Babber Ali Anis).

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Masnavi

Definition

Masnavi, in the majority of cases a poetic romance. It may extend to several thousand lines, but generally is much shorter. A few masnavis deal with ordinary domestic and other occurrences. Mir and Sauda wrote some of this kind. They are always in heroic couplets, and the common metre is bacchic tetrameter with an iambus for last foot. The Religious masnavi Histori of Islam (Tarikh-e-Islam Az Quran) written by Dr. Syed Ali Imam Zaidi Gauher Lucknavi.

Example

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Munaajaat

Definition

A lyrical poem written as a prayer to God.

Example

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Musaddas

Definition

A poem in which each unit consists of 6 lines. The most well known poet of this style of writing was Maulana Altaf Husain Hali.

Example

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Naat

Definition

Naat is a poetry that specifically praises the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Example

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Nazm

Definition

Nazm Urdu nazm is a major part of Urdu poetry. From Nazeer Akarabadi, Iqbal, Josh, Firaq, Akhtarul Iman to down the line Noon Meem Rashid, Faiz, Ali Sardar Jafri and Kaifi Azmi. They have covered common life, philosophical thinking, national issues and the precarious predecament of individual human being.As a distinct form of Nazm many Urdu poets influenced by English and other European poets took to writing sonnets in Urdu language. Azmatullah Khan (1887-1923) is believed to have introduced this format to Urdu Literature. The other renowned Urdu poets who wrote sonnets were Akhtar Junagarhi, Akhtar Sheerani, Noon Meem Rashid, Zia Fatehabadi, Salaam Machhalishahari and Wazir Agha.

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Qasida

Definition

Qasida, a kind of ode, often panegyric on a benefactor, sometimes a satire, sometimes a poem dealing with an important event. As a rule it is longer than ghazal, but it follows the same system of rhyme.

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Rubaiyat

Definition

The Rubaiyat is a Persian form of several quatrains. Its name derives from the Arabic plural of the word for "quatrain". This, in turn, comes from the Arabic Rubá, meaning "four."

This Persian form of poetry is a series of rhymed quatrains. In each quatrain, all lines rhyme except the third, leading to this pattern:

a
a - 2nd line rhymes with the first.
b
a - 4th line rhymes with the first and second

Example

These are some of the favorite quatrains from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam translated by Edward Fitzgerald:

Wake! For the Sun who scattered into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heaven and Strikes
The Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light.
[Stanza 1]

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
The Winter garment of Repentance fling;
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
[Stanza 7, 1st edition]

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread -- and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness --
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
[Stanza 12]

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
[Stanza 71]


Salaam

Definition

A salutory poem written in praise of the holy Prophet. It can also be a poem describing the incidents of Karbala. It is recited standing up.

Example

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Seharaa

Definition

A song sung at the time of tying the seharaa during the wedding ceremony. It is usually in praise of the bride/groom and their relatives.

Example

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Vaasokht

Definition

A poem describing the displeasure and carelessness of a lover.

Example

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