Notes for Ghazal of the Ghazal
The recurring refrain or repetend at the end of the couplet.
Qaifiya: the rhyme that precedes the refrain. This form of 'double-rhyming' is extremely hard in English largely because Farsi, Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi all place the verb at the end of the line with multiple attribution options make it relatively rhyme rich.
(pronounced saaqi): A male character, usually a young boy; the beloved, the bar-tender, the cup-bearer, a page of the court who comes and pours the wine during a mehfil. The presence of Saqi listed in the dramatis personae associated with Urdu and Persian literary culture implies a homosexual tendency in the once male-dominated traditional literary scene. Ghazal couplets often invoke Saqi who has taken on metaphoric or mythological status starting from ancient Persian times.
a comic use of the ghazal form, also known as mazaahiyaa or mazaakiyaa shaayari. It is a highly popular form of light verse in Urdu and Hindi.
a line of a couplet or a longer verse is called a mishra. In a couplet, the first line is called misra-e-oolaa and the second line is called misra-e-saanii.
(pron: shey-r): a couplet. Each couplet represents a single idea and is complete in itself. The plural of sher is ashaar.
Beher (or bahar)
(pron: be-hair) poetic metre. Both lines of a sher (couplet) have to be of the same 'beher' or 'metre'. Also, all the couplets (ashaar) of a ghazal must use the same metre. There are 19 different metres that are used in Urdu poetry. In simple terms, they are divided into three categories - short, medium and long. In addition, despite his good efforts in widening awareness of the strict ghazal form in English, Agha Shahid Ali stopped short of introducing metre as an integral part of traditional ghazal pratice which weakened his case for writing the 'pure ghazal' compared with free verse off-shoots.
(pron. mai-hafil) using a very light 'a') an informal soiree, an 'art-party' most commonly held in a home. The word 'mehfil' has a deep metaphorical resonance in Urdu literary culture and is often referred to as a place where the poet sees from across the room the 'love-object' who may have been (traditionally) a veiled woman. Most likely, she would have been a member of the host's family. Talking casually with a woman in this situation would have been socially unacceptable, thus there is always an air of mystery and romantic excitement about a mehfil. Another common kind of mehfil would have been held in a courtesan's house. Mehfil is a broader term than 'mushaira': a symposium or gathering of poets where they are invited to recite their poems.
(pron: w or v+ah!) 'wow, wonderful, great, excellent!' Those listening ghazals at a 'mehfil' or more formally a 'mushaira' don't clap in appreciation, but answer with a chorus of wah-wah! wah-wah! This can happen after the rendition of any particularly appreciated couplet (sher). Clapping is regarded at a rather crude mood-breaker. They can also respond withkya baad hai! Hindi or Urdu for 'What about that!' meaning 'There's no words to describe it!' another term of praise or appreciation. It should be noted that the audience interact more during a ghazal gathering than is common during the contemporary English-language poetry reading (except for a poetry slam perhaps). The audience can also request for the couplet to be repeated at that moment, so all can savour it again. This is one of the most charming qualities I have observed at gatherings.
a word meaning 'love' or often 'the object of love'; a personified form equivalent to 'eros'; ishq is a term originating from Sufi mysticism. From my understanding, one's ishq may be equated with the 'higher self', pir (pron: peer), guru, icon or idealized form used for devotional meditation. It is said that those experiencing a high inner state may visualize their ishqlike a shadow mirroring their every action. They can converse with it, can be instructed by it and eventually the ishq merges with the lower self, and thus lover and beloved become One, a consciousness in divine union. ishq in literary usage has different levels of meaning depending on context. In my poem bearing the term as a radif, Ishq is referred to as a place somewhere on the Silk Road. Of course, there is no actual hamlet or village (to my knowledge). It is simply a way of creating a metaphorical way of discussing the tradition of ishqreferred to in traditional ghazals and Indo-Persian literary culture.
Sanskrit term for a small or personal Hindu altar; the act of devotional worship, ie doing puja.
ghazal+kar - one who writes ghazals.
The opening sher (couplet) which uses double qafiya and radif and acts at the 'drum roll or trumpet blast' opening of the ghazal from which many other elements of the ghazal derive, although not in a direct narrative sense as each sher should be a stand alone unit.
Theclosing couplet, the sign off, equilogue with a flourish or self-deprication, humour, prayerfulness or many other gestures.
The pen-name either real or assumed as an identity by the poet, in this case 'Bonehead'.
Other Poetic Conventions
Roses, enclosed gardens, interior locations, the street outside the house of the Beloved, wine real or ambrosial, candles, the Friend