How to Write a Ghazal
TheGhazalis a centuries-old, popular form of poem and song in Persia (Iran), Pakistan and India.It can be an interesting challenge, but fun, too.
A ghazal consists of a series of couplets (two-line verses), with each line containing the same number of syllables. Every verse ends with the same word or group of words (radif), preceded by a rhyme (qaafiya). Additionally,bothlines of the first verse end with the qaafiya and radif.
Decide what your radif is going to be.Every verse ends with the same word or group of words (radif). It makes sense to choose one that can be flexible in use and meaning, so you can use it in different ways in each verse.
Consider what your qaafiya is going to be.The qaafiya is a rhyme that precedes the radif. Again, pick something with lots of possibilities.
Get writing!A ghazal consists of a series of couplets (two-line verses), with each line containing the same number of syllables. Each couplet is a separate, complete mini-poem, so there's no need for any narrative progression, or any real connection between the couplets.Bothlines of the first verse end with the qaafiya and radif. See down the page for an example ghazal.
How should I start a ghazal, and what should be the topic?
How can I understand a Taqtee in Ghazal?
- Traditionally, the poet's pen-name was included in the last verse; this final couplet usually contains a 'turn', or change of tone, to something more personal or quirky.
- Another traditional topic is wine and drunkenness. When taken literally, this is quite something when you consider the time and place of origin of this poetic form! When taken metaphorically, wine represents the divine, or a connection or conduit to the divine. Drunkenness represents a meal of this food for the spirit.
- Traditional topics include love (where it's often deliberately ambiguous whether the poet is referring to divine, heterosexual, or even homosexual love).
- Remember, each couplet constitutes a separate little poem, so don't have one verse rely on a previous one to make sense.
- You're bound to make a few false starts, and you'll soon realise that your choice of radif is the single most important factor in determining how successful your ghazal is likely to be.
- If you write a ghazal you're proud of, why not send it to for possible publication?
In this example, the radif is "I do not know", while the qaafiya (the rhyme preceding it) is -ate, as inslate, fate, depreciate, etc. In the example, each line contains 14 syllables, but any length is fine - it's up to you.
Video: #JLF 2013: What is a Ghazal? Form, Structure, Spirit
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