The Story So Far

1. Foot, Metrics, Prosody and Scansion

1.1 General Overview

1.2 Anglophonic metrics

1.3 Romance languages

1.4 Classical languages

2. Verse Forms

2.1 Sestina

2.2 Villanelle

2.3 Pantoum

2.4 English Sonnet

2.5 Rondelet

2.6 Italian Sonnet

2.7 Pushkin Sonnet

Experimental Intermission

3.1. Iambic pentameter stanzas

2. Verse Forms

2.8 Terza Rima

A ghazal is a traditional Sufi/Persian form dealing with unrequited or unattainable love of an either earthy or divine kind (is there a difference?).

It consists of five or more couplets (usually between 4 and 10) of a strict rhyme and rhythm pattern, that otherwise might have nothing to do with each other. Each couplet is called a she(y)r, and the plural is ash-aar. Each sher is an independent poem in and of itself, in that case, though as this might be difficult for a newcomer, it’s okay if there is some connecting theme.

The rhyme, which remains the same throughout, is called the Kafiya. The refrain is called the Radeef, though a refrain is not a must. The first line contains both. The last couplet is called makta, and often contains the poet’s (usually pen)name.

If I remember correctly, someone told me that Adelle Stripe used the form in her recent Cigarettes in Bed, which is a reminder I need to get a hold of that book.


(The Redeef (refrain) is emboldened and the Kafiya (rhyme) underlined)

My love, please do not pain me.

I am dry, do not drain me

I was pure but in your heart

You could never contain me.

You wandered away yourself.

Why should you then refrain me?

Now I want to go afar

I wish none to restrain me.

I can be my own master;

Why should anyone reign me?

Let us be frank about it;

You cannot now regain me.

Love is a bad word, Khalish

It will forever stain me.

Stain of Love by Khalish

Let’s give it a go!

I suggest seven stanzas, which means we need seven rhyming words and one word to be repeated seven times. (I think I’ll stick with iambic pentameter.)

“Her” can be the redeef and the rhyme bank is: implore, ignore, impure, allure, insure, adore, to cure, assure, procure, obscure, inure

My brutal methods did not procure her

To my thoughtless ways did I inure her

Today my chambers have solely claimed me

It’s all I can do to reassure her

The box is playing static cold as snow

A siren’s signal that will allure her

The mantle-piece mirror carries a crack

That runs through the heart that would adore her

A saintly vision in a tombstone sky

I turn my head but cannot ignore her

The roads are long and hours are breaking

Like waves of stories that would implore her

Her father’s name on her grave, not Thompson

My lovers’ soul too bitter to cure her.

Laurence Thompson, 18/12/11

Closing thoughts

I really, really like this form! I really want to use it again. Once I’d picked the kafiya and redeef, the poem almost wrote itself. It ended far too soon!

The only question marks I have here are over the penultimate line, in which the placement of my name seems contrived, and upon the punctuation of the entire thing. I’m sure I read somewhere that, in Urdu, ghazals did not have punctuation, so I’ve tried to resist it here. I hope it’s not too confusing in English.


Published by

Laurence Thompson

Laurence Thompson is an English writer. He is almost certainly drunk.

4 thoughts on “Ghazal”

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