Ghazal Form (Class Notes 3/1)

  • Components are as follows (5)
  • 1) Malta- opening couplet
  • 2) Qafia- rhyme scheme
  • 3) Radif- refrain
  • 4) Prosody — sound or measure of speech
  • 5) Makhta- the signature couplet
  • The opening couplet (matla) sets up a scheme rhyme (qafia) and refrain (radif) by having it occur in both lines — this scheme occurs only in the second line of each succeeding couplet
  • Each couplet in a ghazal is autonomous — thematically and emotionally complete in itself
  • Each couplet does not have to relate to the others, they are independently focused
  • Ghazal poetry can be rearranged without damage to the writing- aka it would still make sense. This challenges the typically flow of poetry. (page 212 in “An Exaltation of Forms”)
  • Because couplets are not related and can be rearranged, it makes this form of poetry somewhat intimidating to analyze — hard to predict, interpret.
  • A narrator is not being created, rather, the repetitions create a story that doesn’t have a start and end point but has many indeterminacies, thus many points.
  • “Stringently formal disunity” (Finch & Varnes 210)
  • Not originally an English form, originated from 7th century Arabia and was repeated orally. The form we are reading does not accurately represent ghazals due to this fact.
  • Concerned with the counting of syllabi, not the stress of them
  • Urdu meter- divides foot into sound units composed of long vowels and consonants.
  • Ghazal was originally an oral form- works with the quantitative pattern.
  • Example: Poem: Daniel Hall’s Souvenir — — 1) radif is “language” 2) couplets are autonomous but it also is being unified by the repetition of “language,” there is a paradox because the lines are disunified yet are held together by the radif.