Monday, 21 February 2011

Ghazal primer

A ghazal is a love song originally Persian that deals in love gone bad, star-crossed lovers, separation (and sometimes the pleasures of drinking in such circumstances). A little bit of the courtly love troubadour. It can be dedicated to a man or a woman. In essence, a ghazal is an articulation of  the agony of loss or separation but love's beauty in spite of that pain.

In its strictest form, the ghazal has:
·         5 or more couplets.
·         Each couplet's second line uses the same word or phrase ends with the repetition of a refrain of one or a few words, so a ghazal's rhyme scheme is aa ba ca and so on.
·         Lines must be complete in themselves.
·         The poem maintains its metre throughout.
·         Each couplet is complete in itself but a theme can run throughout the ghazal.
·         Sometimes the poet namechecks him or herself (in the last couplet).

 Well-known examples can be found in many languages and in the works of Muhammad Iqbal, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Hardy, Adrienne Rich and W.S Merwin. Orhan Parmuk's work The museum of innocence (2009) might be considered a prose ghazal.

Here is a rather happy version from Mimi Khalvati which you can also listen to  here http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=5140. An altogether more painful but less formulaic version by Federico Garcia Lorca can be found here. Gacela is the Spanish for ghazal, if you prefer to hear it sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQo8mOh6AHc

  Gacela del amor desesperado

La noche no quiere venir
para que tú no vengas
ni yo pueda ir.

La noche no quiere venir
pero yo iré
aunque un sol de alacranes me coma la sien,
pero tú vendrás
con la lengua quemada por lluvia de sal.

El día no quiere venir
para que tú no vengas
ni yo pueda ir.

El dia no, no quiere venir
pero yo iré
entregando a los sapos mi mordido clavel,
pero tú vendrás
por las turbias cloacas de la oscuridad.

Ni la noche ni el día quieren venir
para que por ti muera
y tú mueras por mí,
para que tú mueras por mí...

Ni la noche ni el día quieren venir
para que por ti muera
y tú mueras por mí,
para que tú mueras por mí,
para que yo muera por ti...

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