Written for: Carpe Diem Universal Jane #12 mountain view
The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning.
Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians. The form has roots in seventh-century Arabia, and gained prominence in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century thanks to such Persian poets as Rumi and Hafiz. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu, a mix of the medieval languages of Northern India, including Persian. Among these poets, Ghalib is the recognized master.
Even the Rain
What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain?
But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain.
“our glosses / wanting in this world” “Can you remember?”
Anyone! “when we thought / the poets taught” even the rain?
After we died–That was it!–God left us in the dark.
And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain.
Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house.
For mixers, my love, you’d poured–what?–even the rain.
Of this pear-shaped orange’s perfumed twist, I will say:
Extract Vermouth from the bergamot, even the rain.
How did the Enemy love you–with earth? air? and fire?
He held just one thing back till he got even: the rain.
This is God’s site for a new house of executions?
You swear by the Bible, Despot, even the rain?
After the bones–those flowers–this was found in the urn:
The lost river, ashes from the ghat, even the rain.
What was I to prophesy if not the end of the world?
A salt pillar for the lonely lot, even the rain.
How the air raged, desperate, streaming the earth with flames–
to help burn down my house, Fire sought even the rain.
He would raze the mountains, he would level the waves,
he would, to smooth his epic plot, even the rain.
New York belongs at daybreak to only me, just me–
to make this claim Memory’s brought even the rain.
They’ve found the knife that killed you, but whose prints are these?
No one has such small hands, Shahid, not even the rain.
© Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001)
Here is my attempt:
She waits each night on sandy shore
For ship to bank on sandy shore
Yearns for his touch, and end to war
She feels a chill at sandy shore
She gazes out across the sea
Her bare feet cold in sand at shore
Many believe she waits in vain
‘Tis hope keeps her at sandy shore
Sara’s love of sea will implore
you to join her at sandy shore