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.
IN THE MEMORIES OF YOUTH
Childhood dreams live in my memories of youth.
And love abides in the memories of youth.
Imaginations unbridled; the desires of hearts and minds
find a dwelling in the memories of youth.
Amidst the number of a family, large and vibrant,
a loving mother and father tyrant in the memories of youth.
All in perspective of a young child, point of view lower
and slower to process the responsibilities in the memories of youth.
But love did abide in the memories of days long gone,
parents long gone, but alive in the memories of youth.
Lessons were a way of life; the learning curve was in force
in the course of the memories of youth.
Success came in the learnings of life, rife with knowledge
and the fuel to power the memories of youth.
I learned at my father’s knee; me and a pouch full of nails,
the trials of an apprentice in the memories of youth.
Surrounded by brothers and sisters; a rambunctious bunch
of misses and misters in the memories of youth.
Surrounded still in the decline of numbers,
victims all in the memories of youth.
Hearts full and overflowing with the thoughts so inspired
never to be retired in the memories of youth.
The tragic part of Walt going back to the place where I was raised,
is finding myself as one of my own memories of youth.
But, they keep me grounded; they strengthen my resolve
with more of life’s mysteries to solve through the memories of youth.
(C) Walter J Wojtanik
A GHAZAL FOR GLENNA
A world of wonder defines your eyes;
ennui is sundered by your eyes.
Should mountains fall with tomorrow’s sun,
they all will rise to please your eyes;
should oceans fail their daily tides,
each one would resume and hail your eyes;
if Earth should lose the grace of green,
replacement resides in the gaze of your eyes;
if a star should refuse to share its light,
it will bow before the glare of your eyes,
and when love has forgotten its reason to be,
it need only believe the tears in your eyes.
And I? I hope someday to reprise
the gay, zestful way you smile with your eyes.
(C) William Preston – 2014