Back to 2004 Ghazals
by Majid MohiuddinA Muse meant to teach them to write, in my opinion.
Amusement! For they are not right, in my opinion.
Poor, awkward fledgling couplets of the other ghazals!
They're adrift like blinking Fireflies lost in the dark,
A fierce sher turns to lukewarm sheer by just a pen's stroke!
With no talk of the Beloved or love of religion,
There are strict rules to be followed to make the game fun,
Where's the dueling with word play? What I found was perverse
Diamonds are made from a form that's harder than cut-glass,
What is the point of declaring my love to the world?
Wisdom in poetry comes by studying our lives,
Shahzadah's keen eyes view the immense world from above:
by R. L. KennedyOn Tibet's plains humbly dwells the answer.
From quantum grains mutely swells the answer.
DNA contains life's spiral equation.
Lava's fine veins conserve its creation.
Moet's champagne's a giddy libation.
Logic explains the laws of negation.
Hermits abstain in search of salvation.
Planets sustain consistent rotation.
Lover's refrains explode with elation.
Doctor's domains demand firm vocation.
Insanity reigns with wild desperation.
by Robert B. GodwinShe could have played the tease through all those years
and kept him ill-at-ease through all those years.
Certainly her beauty held men fast,
His love amused her, though she did not laugh--
He had an artist's lonely fantasy,
His softly-whispered songs of love unbound
He held no hope his love would be returned
His love, as he well knew, would ever face
No matter that his love was doomed to fail:
When came the end, poor Robin could not win,
Cheval-de-frise: a medieval form of military defense against enemy
by Taylor GrahamHere he sits, in his new estate without a name,
to contemplate an old-folk’s state without a name.
His room has a window looking out on grass
He roams the halls by wheelchair, but each one
The meals are good, nutritionally balanced;
We visit and make jokes. He folds his features
He swiped a bar of soap, and sat before the pane
Walls of forgetfulness: he forgets nothing;
Each time we visit, he asks again to go away.
He’s home here. Nurses pat his head and laugh
Majid Mohiuddin gives all of us would-be ghazalers a challenge. In a way similar to Agha Shahid Ali, he challenges Western poets to engage the ghazal-tradition more fully and with greater awareness.
And playfulness: "Where's the dueling with word play?" Where indeed? Read this poem carefully with open ear. (Note that sheer means "lion.")
Majid published a collection of ghazals, An Audience of One, in 2001. I have just posted a review of it. The book is well worth your money and time spent reading it.
I offer that clever use of qafiya and radif are part of the word play proper to the ghazal. Bob Kennedy typically overdetermines qafiya and radif, giving the reader a richness of sonic resonance that even infects these comments! Rhyming qafiya and radif in each line and adding a rhyme to the first line of each sher after the matla, Bob shows us that English isn't really a rhyme-poor language after all.
This is Robert Godwin's first appearance in The Ghazal Page, and a good debut it is too. English is notorious for the inconsistency of its spelling. Various people--including George Bernard Shaw--have attempted to reform our spelling. However, look at Robert's qafiya, a set of full rhymes with quite varied spelling. Eye and ear work together here to get the sameness of the sound and the difference of the spelling. Personally, I find the texture of English orthography delightful even if frustrating.
In Part One of The Lord of the Rings, Tom Bombadil asks Frodo, "Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself, and nameless?" Zen masters like to insist that their disciples show the "true face" they had before they were born. A father of the Orthodox Church, Evagrius Ponticus, said much the same thing. Without a name is our fundamental condition, both disorienting and exhilirating. The "he" in Taylor Graham's ghazal lives in a world without nouns, yet he seems very aware of that condition. The "we" in this poem also is "without a name." Taylor leaves his condition "without a name," although we can be sure that society and the medical profession have names for it. But, sometimes, names are only so many pats on the head of the nameless.
I'd like to repeat my request that ghazals be submitted in plain text, unformatted email. The "smart" apostrophes etc provided by Microsoft aren't compatible with HTML and create problems in getting the text of the ghazal correct.