Tips On Writing A Ghazal!
This Article has been Written by:
Dr. M C Gupta "Khalish"
Borrowed, with thanks and with author's permission, from www.writing.com where it initially appeared
WHAT IS A GHAZAL AND HOW TO WRITE IT?
This topic is discussed under seven heads:
SOME FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS
EXAMPLES OF GHAZALS
HOW TO WRITE A GHAZAL
1.INTRODUCTION ---The Ghazal was developed in Persia in the 10th century AD. It was brought to India with the Mogul invasion in the 12th century. The Ghazal tradition is currently practiced in Iran (Farsi), Pakistan (Urdu) and India (Urdu and Hindi). In India, especially in Northern India, there are many people who may not know the Urdu script but can speak and understand a good amount of Urdu and can read and write the same in Hindi or Devnagari script.
Ghazals have been written in English also, but only sporadically. Often, these don’t have the strict traditional form. Some authors include include Adrienne Rich, W.S. Merwin and William Matthews.
2. GENERAL FORMAT --- A ghazal is a piece of poetic composition comprising of two line couplets, usually 4-10 in number. Each couplet is called a sher. Each couplet is an independent poem in itself. There need not be continuity of theme between one couplet and the next. The main common factor between various couplets is the refrain, which may be a word or a phrase. However, different couplets may be built around a common theme. Yet, each couplet must be a distinct grammatical unit.
A refrain (a repeated word or phrase) appears at the end of both lines of the first couplet and at the end of the second line in each succeeding couplet. In addition, one or more words before the refrain are rhymes or partial rhymes. The lines should be of approximately the same length and meter. The poet may use the final couplet as a signature couplet, using his or her name in first, second or third person, and giving a more direct declaration of thought or feeling to the reader.
3. SOME FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS ---
a. The refrain comprises the last word or, last two, rarely more than last three words at the end of second line of each couplet. The refrain is present in the opening line of the ghazal also. The technical term used for refrain is radeef.
b. The word preceding the radeef must be a rhyming one and is called Kaafiaa. This is an essential feature of ghazal. However, such rhyming is usually difficult while writing ghazal in English because of the language peculiarities of English as compared to Hindi or Urdu. When an original ghazal in Hindi or Urdu is translated into English, it becomes extremely difficult to observe the condition of kaafiaa.
The words radeef and kaafia are from Urdu language in which the ghazal form of poetry has reached great heights.
4. REFERENCES ---
“The Ghazal Verse Form by Len Anderson”
iii. ID 583818 by Blinky [Entry ID 211922, at item no. 4 of the journal]
5. EXAMPLES OF GHAZALS:
HOW TO LIVE—a ghazal
Why in life we go slow not?
Away all worries we throw not?
Virtues we should cultivate,
To evil we should go not.
We must think independent,
Others’ line we should tow not.
We must have a clear goal,
Vacillate to and fro not.
We must have high ambition
We should have the aim low not.
We must work hard and succeed,
Own trumpet we should blow not.
Pride certainly hath a fall,
Arrogance we should show not.
Humbly we should pray to Lord,
To all else we should bow not.
Without bowing to His will,
In spirit we shall grow not.
We reap only what we sow,
So evil we should sow not.
Khalish on leaving this world,
Where do we go I know not.
* A ghazal is characterized by couplets in which the last 1-3 words of both lines of the first couplet and each second line of the subsequent couplets are repeated as refrain [called radeef], while the word immediately preceding the refrain has to be a rhyming one and is called kaafia.
Please note that each couplet in a ghazal is supposed to be complete poem in itself, rather like a three line haiku. Though modern ghazal writers often tend to have a continuous theme through various couplets, this is by no means necessary or required.
6. TEN TIPS ON HOW TO WRITE A GHAZAL—
Various practical tips are explained with reference to my ghazal "MEMORIES--a ghazal" reproduced below:
My heart is in shock today.
I have mental block today.
In winding memory lane,
I so want to walk today.
In my mind flock today.
Bitter, I wish forgotten;
Sweet, in heart, I lock today.
With a pounding throb I heard,
On my door the knock today
Let me do as bid by heart,
And let wisdom mock today.
I’ll leave unturned for you,
No pebble, no rock today.
So far Khalish in silence
suffered, then, why talk today?
1. Think of a suitable topic and line for the ghazal. This line should be the one that should contain the refrain, the recurring word/s at the end. The usual recurring word is one that can fit in with several other sentences / lines of the poem. Examples are—will, was, is, not, why, at last, care, love, etc. In the above example, I thought of the first line as
‘My heart is in shock today’. The refrain in this line is the word ‘today’.
2. Concentrate upon the word that precedes the refrain or recurring word. . In the above example, this word is shock. Think of all the words that rhyme with shock. Write them down on paper alphabetically, such as:
block, cock, clock, dock, folk, flock, frock, fog, frog, flog, agog, hock, hollyhock, knock, lock, mock, pock, rock, sock, stock, slog, top, stop, yolk, walk, etc.
3. Think of other lines you can add to the poem, the line ending with the refrain preceded by rhyming word. Thus, think whether you can make a line with the following end words—block today, clock today, dock today, flock today, knock today, lock today, rock today, stock today, stop today etc.
4. Once you add a suitable line to the opening line, your first couplet is complete! In the example here, the second line is ‘I have mental block today’.
5. Think of using the rhyme-refrain combination [knock today, lock today etc.] in another line and, then, think of a suitable preceding line. Together, these form the second couplet! I chose the words ‘walk today’ to form the second line of the second couplet as ‘Indeed I want walk today’. This forms a part of the second couplet, which is:
In winding memory lane
I so want to walk today
6. The rest is easy. Keep on repeating the process till you reach the appropriate number of couplets.
7. If you wish, you may use your name or your nom-de-plume in the last couplet in a suitable manner. I have used it as:
So far Khalish in silence
suffered, then, why talk today?
8. You must take care of the meter and the number of syllables. The poem must be readable as a song. Free verse or blank verse has no place in ghazal writing. My favourite format is 7-7 [each line having 7 syllables]. You can choose your own meter and length, but it must be maintained throughout the ghazal.
9. Each couplet must be a complete grammatical unit in itself.
10. Each couplet is supposed to be an independent poem in itself, there being no necessity of a common theme through them. Beauty of theme and wizardry of words is the essence of ghazal. I find it more convenient to have a somewhat thematic ghazal.
Writing a ghazal is not difficult once one gets the knack of it, after writing a ghazal or two. It can even become a craze, like filling a cross-word puzzle! It is both fun and satisfaction.
Courtesy to writing.com