Tag Archives: Agha Shahid Ali

Ghazal

On the flip side, as it were, from the fragmented, non sequitur, collage poetry I sometimes complain about, is the ghazal  (correctly pronounced, they tell me, something like a rhyme with “guzzle” but with a longer, throatier “gh” at the beginning).

Here are the first few couplets from the ghazal “Miscellany” by Nancy King:

Spread the tarot with care with me.
Future is daily fare with me.

Cats know eyeing can unnerve.
If you agree, come stare with me.

A confidence is heading here,
a dangerous need to share with me.

An Anjou lost no one an Eden.
Regard the innocent pear with me.

Ghazals are made up of anywhere from a few to many autonomous couplets with equal-length lines (be it meter, syllables, or beats) and a repeating rhyme (a qafia) and refrain (a radif) at the end of each 2nd line, which is introduced twice in the very first couplet (“care with me / fare with me”). Often the poet’s name is used in the very last couplet. The form dates back to the seventh century in a variety of Middle Eastern and other languages.

Pretty much all of my knowledge of the ghazal comes from Agha Shahid Ali‘s 2000 anthology Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English, Continue reading

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