Ghazal originated in Iran in the 10th century A.D. It grew from the Persian qasida, which verse form had come to Iran from Arabia.The qasida was a panegyric written in praise of the emperor or his noblemen. The part of the qasida called tashbib got detached and developed in due course of time into the ghazal. Whereas the qasida sometimes ran into as many as 100 couplets or more in monorhyme, the ghazal seldom exceeded twelve, and settled down to an average of seven. Because of its comparative brevity and concentration, its thematic variety and rich suggestiveness, the ghazal soon eclipsed the qasida and became the most popular form of poetry in Iran.

-Excerpt from Masterpieces of Urdu Ghazal - From 17th to 20th Century, by K.C. Kanda

The modern Ghazal is a poem with seven couplets.
The purpose of this poem style is to connect every couplet with every other, in this pattern:

Many poets who write in English expand this into a series of seven quatrains. Because it's fun.

My own attempt at a ghazal. I hadn't researched it quite thoroughly enough, so I suspect this is actually rather stricter than it needs to be. The person who set the challenge to write a ghazal insisted that it include the theme of unrequited love, hence the title.

when I say unrequited I mean I love an empty wound

by the kitchen window a butterfly folds back into itself, a retreat
back into the hollow of the dry cocoon, a barren but easy retreat.

last summer a calf fed too long and hard at its mother’s teat,
and later we tracked the blood into the carpet in our hurried retreat.

in the mirror I examine the spreading curves of my newborn crow’s feet;
the creams and special soaps do nothing to aid their retreat.

there are orchids on the bureau: plastic flowers don’t smell so sweet,
but they are all that’s left after summer’s retreat.

for supper I clink the pots and pans: I have forgotten to buy meat.
he compares the table to my belly, hungry and bare. I sound the retreat.

on the patio there are sultry remains of the nights when we drink whisky neat,
and I roll it in my mouth, loathe to swallow it down and feel hope retreat

when I wake into the embrace of a tightly coiled early morning, I cheat
sleep and dig my hands into my womb, or rather the gash of a barren retreat.
Just log in with username 'coffee',
The password, of course, also 'coffee.'

Kiss me with your Sunday morning mouth
I want to taste that strong black coffee.

There is something I have to tell you.
I met someone, skin black as coffee....

Officials said the house was empty,
steam rising from two mugs of coffee.

From the exercise yard he looked back -
The smell of someone brewing coffee.

She moved the floor lamp a foot to the right,
but could not hide the stain of coffee.

The edge of a shaft of sun
bisects the surface of my coffee.

If there is any hope of heaven for us,
let it be a place with good coffee.

Hidden in the forest shadows,
a tiny plot planted with coffee.

The last Space Station resupply craft:
It brought but oxygen and coffee.

When I look into your nut-brown eyes
I need a couple cups of coffee.

She fainted on the waiting room floor
poisoned, they say, by so-called coffee.

We should never have opened her will;
terms burning hotter than fresh coffee.

The Rabbi spoke slowly for all to hear
"Your misdeeds call for tepid coffee."

When she was only a willful child
she laid schemes to get hold of coffee.

The Chinese invented many things,
but the one they forgot was coffee.

Two hands clasp a cracked mug of coffee.
You take your God. This fool takes coffee.

Ghaz"al (?), Ghaz"el (?), n. [Ar. ghazal.]

A kind of Oriental lyric, and usually erotic, poetry, written in recurring rhymes.


© Webster 1913.

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