“Cheap Valentine” speaks of love being truly unfulfilled; whereas, its companion poem “Ghazal: Of My Love” celebrates love to the fullest.
But what is a ghazal?
Pronounced ‘guzzle’, it is an early Arabic/Persian form. We’re talking early, like around 900 to 1300 A.D. or before, depending on the source you read (see Bibliography). The main theme of a ghazal is that of love, erotic and/or mystic. English poets seemed to have taken an interest in the form in the last quarter of the 20th century, giving their unique twist to it.
The form itself is very specific (most “forms” are). I’ll give you the basics as I understand them. A series of couplets, usually 7 to 15, though no set quantity; each couplet should stand on its own, meaning it could be a poem by itself. Each couplet ends with the same word or set of words, a refrain. The refrain is actually repeated in both lines of the first couplet. Before each refrain is a rhyme; therefore, each couplet second line rhymes. The final couplet contains a reference to the poet–their name, pen-name or nickname, or a play on their name–something to form a “signature”.
These are most of the structural rules of a ghazal. There are others related to rhythm and meter and other matters, but you get the idea. I think I captured the essence of the style.
Here’s my first attempt at a ghazal, the companion poem to “Cheap Valentine“. Two of the couplets incorporate imagery of Indian/Hindi dress, style, and culture. Of course, red is the traditional color of Indian wedding dresses. Another aspect of early ghazals is the incorporation of much drinking of wine, so I started there. I hope you enjoy.
Ghazal: Of My Love
To the wine cellar! Tap into the kegs of my love!
Drink deeply! Drink deeply! Down to the dregs of my love!
My love’s a basket of fresh, ripe fruit—aromatic
pomegranates and apples, dates and figs of my love.
Crimson lehenga hugs her hips, tapers to her toes.
Satin holds tightly together the legs of my love.
Hand painted embroidered dupatta hides her bosom;
a true sign. Highly favored, the world brags of my love.
See how my arms are stretched taut in an open embrace.
Look closely at the holes made by the pegs of my love.
Scott has received the invitation sent to all.
Come. Come and drink freely at the feast, begs of my love.
Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey
Avachat, Abhay. “What is a Ghazal?” http://smriti.com/urdu/ghazal.def.html 21 February 2015
de Bruijn, J. T. P. “Gazal i History” December 15, 2000 Encyclopaedia Iranica February 3, 2012 http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/gazal-1-history 21 February 2015
“Ghazal” AHA Poetry http://www.ahapoetry.com/ghazal.htm
“Glossary Terms: Ghazal” The Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-term/ghazal 21 February 2015
“Poetic Form: Ghazal” American Acacemy of Poets http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poetic-form-ghazal 21 February 2015