The ghazal (Bengali: গজল, Sylheti: ꠊꠏꠟ, Punjabi: ਗ਼ਜ਼ਲ, Urdu: غزَل , Hindi: ग़ज़ल, Persian: غزل, Turkish: Gazel, Pashto: غزل, Gujarati: ગઝલ,) is a form of amatory poem or ode,originating in Arabic poetry. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.
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The ghazal form is ancient, tracing its origins to 7th-century Arabic poetry. The ghazal spread into South Asia in the 12th century due to the influence of Sufi mystics and the courts of the new Islamic Sultanate. Although the ghazal is most prominently a form of poetry of many languages of the Indian sub-continent and Turkey.
A ghazal commonly consists of between five and fifteen couplets, which are independent, but are linked – abstractly, in their theme; and more strictly in their poetic form. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarchan sonnet. In style and content, due to its highly allusive nature, the ghazal has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation.
The ghazal is a short poem consisting of rhyming couplets, called Sher or Bayt. Most ghazals have between seven and twelve shers. For a poem to be considered a true ghazal, it must have no fewer than five couplets. Almost all ghazals confine themselves to less than fifteen couplets (poems that exceed this length are more accurately considered as qasidas). Ghazal couplets end with the same rhyming pattern and are expected to have the same meter. The ghazal's uniqueness arises from its rhyme and refrain rules, referred to as the 'qaafiyaa'and 'radif' respectively. A ghazal's rhyming pattern may be described as AA, BA, CA, DA, ... and so on.
In its strictest form, a ghazal must follow five rules:
- Matlaa: The first sher in a ghazal is called the 'matlaa'. Both lines of the matla must contain the qaafiyaa and radif. The matlaa sets the tone of the ghazal, as well as its rhyming and refrain pattern. .
- Radif/Radeef: The refrain word or phrase. Both lines of the matlaa and the second lines of all subsequent shers must end in the same refrain word called the radif.
- Qaafiyaa: The rhyming pattern. The radifis immediately preceded by words or phrases with the same end rhyme pattern, called the qaafiyaa.
- Maqtaa/Maktaa: The last couplet of the ghazal is called the maqtaa. It is common in ghazals for the poet's nom de plume, known as takhallus to be featured in the maqtaa. The maqtaa is typically more personal than the other couplets in a ghazal. The creativity with which a poet incorporates homonymous meanings of their takhallus to offer a additional layers of meaning to the couplet is an indicator of their skill.
- Bah'r/Beher: Each line of a ghazal must follow the same metrical pattern and syllabic (or morae) count.
Unlike in a nazm, a ghazal's couplets do not need a common theme or continuity. Each sher is self-contained and independent from the others, containing the complete expression of an idea. However, the shers all contain a thematic or tonal connection to each other, which may be highly allusive. A near-universal convention (although not a hard rule) that traces its history to the origins of the ghazal form is that the poem is addressed to a female beloved by a male narrator.
Origins in ArabiaEdit
The ghazal originated in Arabia in the 7th century, evolving from the qasida, a much older pre-Islamic Arabic poetic form.Qaṣīdas were typically much longer poems, with up to 100 couplets. Thematically, qaṣīdasdid not include love, and were usually panegyrics for a tribe or ruler, lampoons, or moral maxims. However, the qaṣīda's opening prelude, called the nasīb, was typically nostalgic and/or romantic in theme, and highly ornamented and stylized in form. In time, the nasīb began to be written as standalone, shorter poems, which became the ghazal.
The ghazal came into its own as a poetic genre during the Umayyad Era (661–750) and continued to flower and develop in the early Abbasid Era. The Arabic ghazal inherited the formal verse structure of the qaṣīda, specifically, a strict adherence to meter and the use of the Qaafiyaa, a common end rhyme on each couplet (called a bayt in Arabic and a sher in Persian).
The nature of the ghazals also changed to meet the demands of musical presentation, becoming briefer in length. Lighter poetic meters, such as khafîf, ramal, and muqtarabwere preferred, instead of longer, more ponderous meters favored for qaṣīdas (such as kâmil, basît, and rajaz). Topically, the ghazal focus also changed from nostalgic reminisces of the homeland and loved-ones, towards romantic or erotic themes – These included sub-genres with themes of courtly love (udharî), eroticism (hissî), homoeroticism (mudhakkar), and as a highly stylized introduction to a larger poem (tamhîdî).
Spread of the Arabian ghazalEdit
With the spread of Islam, the Arabian ghazal spread both westwards, into Africa and Spain, as well as eastwards, into Persia. The popularity of ghazals in a particular region was usually preceded by a spread of the Arabic language in that country. In medieval Spain, ghazals written in Hebrew as well as Arabic have been found as far back the 11th century. It is possible that ghazals were also written in the Mozarabic language. Ghazals in the Arabic form have also been written in a number of major West African literary languages like Hausa and Fulfulde.
Dispersion into PersiaEdit
Early Arabo-Persian ghazals (10th to 11th century)Edit
However, the most significant changes to the ghazal occurred in its introduction into Iran in the 10th century. The early Persian ghazals largely imitated the themes and form of the Arabian ghazal. These "Arabo-Persian" ghazals introduced two differences compared to their Arabian poetic roots. Firstly, the Persian ghazals did not employ radical enjambment between the two halves of the couplet, and secondly, the Persian ghazals formalized the use of the common rhyme in both lines of the opening couplet ("matla").The imitation of Arabian forms in Persia extended to the qaṣīda, which was also popular in Persia.
Because of its comparative brevity, thematic variety and suggestive richness, the ghazal soon eclipsed the qaṣīda, and became the most popular poetry form in Persia. Much like Arabian ghazals, early Persian ghazals typically employed more musical meters compared to other Persian poetry forms.Rudaki (858–941 CE) is considered the most important Persian ghazal poet of this period, and the founder of classical Persian literature.
Early Persian ghazal poetry (12th to early 13th century)Edit
The Persian ghazal evolved into its own distinctive form between the 12th and 13th centuries. Many of those innovations created what we now recognize as the archetypical ghazal form. These changes occurred in two periods, separated by the Mongol Invasion of Persia from 1219–1221 AD.
The 'Early Persian poetry' period spanned approximately one century, from the Ghaznavid era (which lasted until 1187) till a little after the Mongol Invasion. Apart from the movement towards brevity, this period also saw two significant and lasting changes to the ghazal form.
The first change was the adoption of the Takhallus, the practice of mentioning the poet's pen-name in the final couplet (called the 'maqta'). The adoption of the takhallusbecame a gradually accepted part of the ghazal form, and by the time of Saadi Shirazi(1210–1291 AD), the most important ghazal poet of this period, it had become de rigueur.The second marked change from Arabian ghazal form in Persian ghazals was a movement towards far greater autonomy between the couplets.
Late Persian poetry in the Early Mongol Period (1221–)Edit
The ghazal later spread throughout the Middle East and South Asia. It was famous all around the Indian subcontinent in the 18th and 19th centuries[unreliable source?]
Introduction into South Asia
The ghazal was spread from Persia into South Asia in the 12th century by the influence of Sufi mystics and the courts of the new Islamic sultanates. This period coincided with the early Islamic Sultanates in India, through the wave of Islamic invasions into the region in that period. The 13th century poet and musician Ameer Khusrow is considered the first Urdu poet.
During the reign of Sultan of BengalGhiyasuddin Azam Shah, the city of Sonargaon became an important centre of Persian literature, with many publications of prose and poetry. The period is described as the "golden age of Persian literature in Bengal". Its stature is illustrated by the Sultan's own correspondence with the Persian poet Hafez. When the Sultan invited Hafez to complete an incomplete ghazal by the ruler, the renowned poet responded by acknowledging the grandeur of the king's court and the literary quality of Bengali-Persian poetry.
It is said that Atul Prasad Sen pioneered the introduction of Bengali ghazals. Residing in Lucknow, he was inspired by Persian ghazals and experimented a stream of Bengali music which was later enriched profusely by the contribution of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Moniruddin Yusuf.
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