The ghazal is one of the most popular forms of poetry in the Indian subcontinent. This form originated from Arabia in the seventh century and then spread into South Asia in the 12th century due to the influence of Sufi mystics.
The ghazal is a poem consisting of rhyming couplets, called Sher. A poem is considered a true ghazal if it has atleast five couplets(shers). Almost all ghazals confine themselves to less than fifteen couplets (poems that exceed this length are considered as qasidas). Ghazal couplets end with the same rhyming pattern and are expected to have the same meter. A ghazal’s couplets do not need a common theme or continuity. Each sher in itself is a like a micro poem, 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 ghazal’s rhyming pattern may be described as
aa, ba, ca, da…and so on and so forth.
A typical Ghazal must have these five elements:
Matlaa(the aa couplet) : 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/Kaafiya: It refers to the rhyming pattern. The radif is immediately preceded by words or phrases with the same end rhyme pattern, called the qaafiyaa.
Bah’r/Beher: Each line of a ghazal must follow the same metrical pattern and syllable count.
Maqtaa/Maktaa: The last couplet of the ghazal is called the maqtaa. It is common in ghazals for the poet’s pen name, known as takhallus to be featured in the maqtaa. The maqtaa is typically more personal than the other couplets in a ghazal.
Here’s my first attempt at a Hindustani(Hindi + Urdu) Ghazal in Devnagri Script.
जब इश्क़ अधूरा मुकम्मल हुआ, वो रूह से लिपटा रह गया
पर इश्क़ वो क्या इश्क़ ही जो, पन्नों में सिमटा रह गया
मौसमों ने पलट दी काया हर शाख की
वो पत्ता फिर पत्ता ही क्या, जो पतझड़ में सिमटा रह गया
दावतें हज़ार हुई, हमें एक ना बुलावा आया
सोच उसकी सोच ही क्या, जो छोटी सोच में सिमटा रह गया
राहों ने सुराग छोडे, मंजिलों को मिल गए
किनारा वो किनारा क्या, जो लहरों में सिमटा रह गया
सिसकियाँ धुंन बन गईं, गीतों का अंबार लगा
टूटा हुआ वो दिल जब उसकी यादों में सिमटा रह गया।
The same Ghazal in Roman Alphabet
Ishq adhura mukammal hua, woh jab rooh meri se lipta reh gya
Pr ishq woh kya ishq hi jo pannon mein simta reh gya
Mausmon ne palat di kaaya har shaakh ki
Woh patta fir patta kya jo patjhadon mein simta reh gya
Daawtein hazar hui, humko ek na bulawa aaya
Soch uski soch kya, jo choti soch mein simta reh gya
Raahon ne surag chode, manjilon ko mil gye
Kinara woh kinara kya jo lehron mein simta reh gya
Siskiyan dhun ban gyi, geeton ka ambar lga
Tutta hua woh dil jab uski yaadon mein simta reh gya
And finally, the English translation of the Ghazal
My love is complete, when in your soul I am wrapped
You can’t call it love though, if in pages, it’s trapped
Seasons changed the shape of every branch
You can’t call it a leaf if in autumn it’s trapped
A thousand dinners were arranged, but I was invited to none
A thought is meaningless if in narrow minds it’s trapped
Roads left the clues, destinations found them
You cannot call it a coast if amidst the waves it’s trapped
Whimpers turned into melody while songs rolled down my eyes
Because my broken heart still lives in her memories, in memories it’s trapped.