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THE GHAZAL
The ghazal: a form of lyrical poetry
Originally exotic to South Asia
But like many long-transplanted exotics, the ghazal has been successfully adapted to South Asian
environment
First in Persian, in Delhi, then in Urdu, and now also in other South Asian languages, most prominently
Hindi
**
Recited at a mushaira, which comes from an Arabic word mušā'ara meaning vying poetry
**
Close analogies in Arabic poetry, but the ghazal is of Persian origin
Short lyric composed in a single metre with a single rhyme throughout
Has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its original central theme: love
Consisting of a seemingly infinitely adaptable combination of essentially simple elements, characteristic
of the Persianate civilization
Immensely popular for centuries and across a huge geographical area
Cultivated at least from early in the second millennium CE.
Especially so in literatures which were heavily shaped by Persian: in Ottoman Turkish and in Urdu
**
Seriously cultivated not in the courts of the sultans but at the centres of the Sufis
One of the first and greatest collections (divans) of mystical ghazals: by Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273) of
Konya
The ghazal soon came also to be cultivated by court poets who evolved an ingeniously ambiguous
combination of human romance with mystical love for the divine
Greatest master in the classic form was Hafiz (d. 1399) of Shiraz
India: Delhi Sultanate, most notably by Amir Khusrau (d. 1325) of Delhi
Khusrau: national icon, retrospectively credited with a huge variety of cultural achievements
Classical reputation as the parrot of India (tuti-e-hind) rested on his Persian ghazals.
**
Ghazal today associated in India and Pakistan primarily with Urdu, although this connection is relatively
recent
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Urdu ghazals were written in the 17th C in the Muslim courts of the Deccan, typically in an attractively
simple style which included some elements of indigenous Indian romantic poetry
Wali Muhammad Wali (16671707), aka Wali Dakhani
**
Ghazal rhyme and meter:
A series of rhymed verses (shi
r /sher), each symmetrically divided into two half-verses (misra).
Five verses usually reckoned the minimum; about a dozen being the normal maximum.
Sher: often described in English as a couplet, but the implied analogy with English poetry is
somewhat misleading.
The formal structure (tarah, zamin) of a ghazal is defined by its metre (bahr) and its rhyme, which are
both maintained consistently throughout the poem.
Thus, each half-verse is written in the same metrical pattern of alternating short (S) and long (L)
syllables.
**
From the Mir ghazal, the matla or opening shi’r (“sher”):
    ,     Blue: Qafiya
Ulti ho gayi sab tadbeere kuch ba dava ne kaam kiya Purple: Radif
  --     
Dekha is bimari e dil ne akhir kaam tamam kiya
**
Let’s look at the rhyme rules again with these lines from the same Ghalib ghazal:
Yeh na thee hamari qismat keh wisaal-e-yaar hota
Agar aur jeete rahtay yehi intezaar hota
Tere waade par jiyee ham to yeh jaan jhoot jana
Keh khushi se mar na jaate agar intezaar hota
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teree naazukee se jaana ki bandha tha 'ehed_booda
kabhee too na tod sakta agar oostuwaar hota
Yeh kahaan ki dosti hai bane hain dost naaseh
Koi chaarasaaz hota koi ghamghuzar hota
**
In the final sher or maqta…
Yeh masaael-e-tasavvuf yeh tera bayan ghalib Green: takhallus (poet’s name as signature)
Tujhe ham wali samajhate Joh na badaakhwar hota.
**
The Urdu ghazal continued to be highly Persianized in register with frequent use of the izafats which are
devices that are used to connect two words or phrases, like -e- (meaning of) and o (meaning
and.)
(Example: dil-e-nadaan or “heart of the the naïve person” and gul-o-bulbul or the flower (rose) and the
bulbul (singing bird)
Complex imagery and rhetoric previously evolved over many centuries in Persian.
Tension between the formal strictness of the ghazal and the discontinuity of the individual verses.
Famously described by Sir William Jones as Orient pearls at random strung
Normally united only in their ability to draw separately upon an immense store of well-established
imagery whose elements interlock with one another.
In these, the style favoured by the classical Urdu masters are given a top spin of rhetorical polish
**
Characteristic example of a highly aristocratic art form; intimately associated with late Mughal Urdu
culture
Ghazal verses were an integral part of the education and the conversation of the nawabi class.
An important performance art in several different settings
The serious male poet was heard in the competitive poetic symposium (musha
ira), which favoured
recitation either as rhythmic speech (taht ul lafz) or in the chanting style (tarannum)
Musical performance by professionals was also important.
Ghazals of a mystical inspiration were suited to the rhythmic performance at Sufi shrines called qawwali
Showing Page:
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Human romantic feelings evoked in all-male audiences at the salon performances (mahfil, mujra) by
professional courtesans (tawa
if).
The memory of all these and the more elaborate settings of performance at royal courts has itself come
to form a part of the romantic mystique of the ghazal.
**
More recent history: aristocratic order shattered after 1857, ghazal increasingly
Associated with the new middle class
The values of this class were influenced by late 19thC European upper classes
Elaborate rhetoric came to be seen as false and artificial
Seductive openness to extra-marital infatuation in all its varieties came to be regarded as shameful.
Colonial period: the Urdu poet Hali (d. 1914) provided the most sustained critique along these lines
The poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) demonstrated the serious
possibilities of the ghazal
Challenge from the nazm, the thematic poem strongly influenced by 19C English
models, which became the chief vehicle for the expression of nationalist ideals in Urdu
The ghazal too had to become adaptable to conveying the message of nationalist poets
**
Christopher Shackle: The remarkable resilience of the Urdu ghazal was nevertheless mainly
demonstrated by its continuing dominant position as a medium for the expression of hat private
romantic sensibility which is everywhere so closely identified with the values of the middle class.
Shackle provides and example a short early poem by the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz (d. 1984), by
far the most popular Urdu poet of the later twentieth century, gives a good idea of the modern ghazal,
which is traditional in form, Persianized in language, and delicately modern in feeling
Donon jahan teri muhabbat men har ke
With both worlds forfeited through loving you
voh ja raha hai koi shab-e gham guzar ke.
there goes someone after a night spent in pain.
viran hai maikada khum-o saghar udas hain
The tavern is in ruins, the wine-jar and the goblet are sad:
tum kya gae ki ruth gae din bahar ke
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what a walk-out you staged to make the springtime sulk!
ik fursat-e gunah mili voh bhi char din
dekhe hain ham ne hausale parvardagar ke
I have seen the Provider’s plans for me
dunya ne teri yad se begana kar diya
The world has alienated me from memories of you,
tujh se bhi dilfareb hain gham rozgar ke
Even you are outcharmed by the worlds suffering
bhule se muskara to diye the voh aj Faiz
It was by mistake that she smiled today, Faiz
mat puch valvale dil-e nakardakar ke
Do not ask about the feelings of this clumsy heart.
(Shackle translates dilfareb as “charming” here, but fareb also has connotations of trickery.)
**
The ghazal and the media for the last 75 years
Successful stylistic transition of the poetic ghazal from an aristocratic to a middle-class environment
Adaptation as performance art: spread by 20
th
C new media
(As distinct from texts published in the nastaliq (Arabic/Urdu) script that fewer people are now familiar
with in India.)
Simplified form to meet the needs of the movie industry: the filmi ghazal, with its pared down lyrics
sung by playback artists to composed orchestral backing
New kinds of semi-classical ghazal performance developed; on cassette in the 70s and CDs in the 90s
large cross-national public of their own; also receptive to modern recordings of the different style of
ghazal performance in the qawwali.
To stimulate and to respond to this large market, new kinds of singers emerged, notably including both
male singers and husband-and-wife duos

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THE GHAZAL The ghazal: a form of lyrical poetry Originally exotic to South Asia But like many long-transplanted exotics, the ghazal has been successfully adapted to South Asian environment First in Persian, in Delhi, then in Urdu, and now also in other South Asian languages, most prominently Hindi ** Recited at a mushaira, which comes from an Arabic word “mušā'ara” meaning “vying poetry” ** Close analogies in Arabic poetry, but the ghazal is of Persian origin Short lyric composed in a single metre with a single rhyme throughout Has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its original central theme: love Consisting of a seemingly infinitely adaptable combination of essentially simple elements, characteristic of the Persianate civilization Immensely popular for centuries and across a huge geographical area Cultivated at least from early in the second millennium CE. Especially so in literatures which were heavily shaped by Persian: in Ottoman Turkish and in Urdu ** Seriously cultivated not in the courts of the sultans but at the centres of the Sufis One of the first and greatest collections (divans) of mystical ghazals: by Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273) of Konya The ghazal soon came also to be cultivated by court poets who evolved an ingeniously ambiguous combination of human romance with mystical love for the divine Greatest master in the classic form was Hafiz (d. 1399) of Shiraz India: Delhi Sultanate, most notably by Amir Khusrau (d. 1325) of Delhi Khusrau: national icon, retrospectively credited with a huge variety of cultural achievements Classical reputation as the ‘parrot of India’ (tuti-e-hind) rested on his Persian ghazals. ** Ghazal today associated in India and Pakistan primarily with Urdu, although this connection is relatively recent Urdu ghazals were written in the 17th C in the Muslim courts of the Deccan, typically in an attractively simple style which included some elements of indigenous Indian romantic poetry Wali Muhammad Wali (1667–1707), aka Wali Dakhani ** Ghazal rhyme and meter: A series of rhymed verses (shi’r /sher), each symmetrically divided into two half-verses (misra). Five verses usually reckoned the minimum; about a dozen being the normal maximum. Sher: often described in English as a ‘couplet’, but the implied analogy with English poetry is somewhat misleading. The formal structure (tarah, zamin) of a ghazal is defined by its metre (bahr) and its rhyme, which are both maintained consistently throughout the poem. Thus, each half-verse is written in the same metrical pattern of alternating short (S) and long (L) syllables. ** From the Mir ghazal, the matla or opening shi’r (“sher”): उल्टी हो गयीीं सब तदबीरें , कुछ न दवा ने काम किया Blue: Qafiya Ulti ho gayi sab tadbeere kuch ba dava ne kaam kiya Purple: Radif दे खा इस बीमार-ए-ददल ने आद़िर काम तमाम किया Dekha is bimari e dil ne akhir kaam tamam kiya ** Let’s look at the rhyme rules again with these lines from the same Ghalib ghazal: Yeh na thee hamari qismat keh wisaal-e-yaar hota Agar aur jeete rahtay yehi intezaar hota Tere waade par jiyee ham to yeh jaan jhoot jana Keh khushi se mar na jaate agar intezaar hota teree naazukee se jaana ki bandha tha 'ehed_booda kabhee too na tod sakta agar oostuwaar hota Yeh kahaan ki dosti hai bane hain dost naaseh Koi chaarasaaz hota koi ghamghuzar hota ** In the final sher or maqta… Yeh masaael-e-tasavvuf yeh tera bayan ghalib Green: takhallus (poet’s name as signature) Tujhe ham wali samajhate Joh na badaakhwar hota. ** The Urdu ghazal continued to be highly Persianized in register with frequent use of the izafats which are devices that are used to connect two words or phrases, like -e- (meaning ‘of’) and –o (meaning ‘ and.) (Example: dil-e-nadaan or “heart of the the naïve person” and gul-o-bulbul or the flower (rose) and the bulbul (singing bird) Complex imagery and rhetoric previously evolved over many centuries in Persian. Tension between the formal strictness of the ghazal and the discontinuity of the individual verses. Famously described by Sir William Jones as ‘Orient pearls at random strung’ Normally united only in their ability to draw separately upon an immense store of well-established imagery whose elements interlock with one another. In these, the style favoured by the classical Urdu masters are given a top spin of rhetorical polish ** Characteristic example of a highly aristocratic art form; intimately associated with late Mughal Urdu culture Ghazal verses were an integral part of the education and the conversation of the nawabi class. An important performance art in several different settings The serious male poet was heard in the competitive poetic symposium (musha’ira), which favoured recitation either as rhythmic speech (taht ul lafz) or in the chanting style (tarannum) Musical performance by professionals was also important. Ghazals of a mystical inspiration were suited to the rhythmic performance at Sufi shrines called qawwali Human romantic feelings evoked in all-male audiences at the salon performances (mahfil, mujra) by professional courtesans (tawa’if). The memory of all these and the more elaborate settings of performance at royal courts has itself come to form a part of the romantic mystique of the ghazal. ** More recent history: aristocratic order shattered after 1857, ghazal increasingly Associated with the new middle class The values of this class were influenced by late 19thC European upper classes Elaborate rhetoric came to be seen as false and artificial Seductive openness to extra-marital infatuation in all its varieties came to be regarded as shameful. Colonial period: the Urdu poet Hali (d. 1914) provided the most sustained critique along these lines The poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) demonstrated the serious possibilities of the ghazal Challenge from the nazm, the thematic poem strongly influenced by 19C English models, which became the chief vehicle for the expression of nationalist ideals in Urdu The ghazal too had to become adaptable to conveying the message of nationalist poets ** Christopher Shackle: “The remarkable resilience of the Urdu ghazal was nevertheless mainly demonstrated by its continuing dominant position as a medium for the expression of hat private romantic sensibility which is everywhere so closely identified with the values of the middle class.” Shackle provides and example “a short early poem by the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz (d. 1984), by far the most popular Urdu poet of the later twentieth century, gives a good idea of the modern ghazal, which is traditional in form, Persianized in language, and delicately modern in feeling Donon jahan teri muhabbat men har ke With both worlds forfeited through loving you voh ja raha hai koi shab-e gham guzar ke. there goes someone after a night spent in pain. viran hai maikada khum-o saghar udas hain The tavern is in ruins, the wine-jar and the goblet are sad: tum kya gae ki ruth gae din bahar ke what a walk-out you staged to make the springtime sulk! ik fursat-e gunah mili voh bhi char din dekhe hain ham ne hausale parvardagar ke I have seen the Provider’s plans for me dunya ne teri yad se begana kar diya The world has alienated me from memories of you, tujh se bhi dilfareb hain gham rozgar ke Even you are outcharmed by the world’s suffering bhule se muskara to diye the voh aj Faiz It was by mistake that she smiled today, Faiz mat puch valvale dil-e nakardakar ke Do not ask about the feelings of this clumsy heart. (Shackle translates dilfareb as “charming” here, but fareb also has connotations of trickery.) ** The ghazal and the media for the last 75 years Successful stylistic transition of the poetic ghazal from an aristocratic to a middle-class environment Adaptation as performance art: spread by 20th C new media (As distinct from texts published in the nastaliq (Arabic/Urdu) script that fewer people are now familiar with in India.) Simplified form to meet the needs of the movie industry: the filmi ghazal, with its pared down lyrics sung by playback artists to composed orchestral backing New kinds of semi-classical ghazal performance developed; on cassette in the 70s and CDs in the 90s large cross-national public of their own; also receptive to modern recordings of the different style of ghazal performance in the qawwali. To stimulate and to respond to this large market, new kinds of singers emerged, notably including both male singers and husband-and-wife duos Name: Description: ...
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