Ghazal for a Gazelle: How to Write a Ghazal [Infographic]

The ghazal has been on my mind for a while now. Since I learned it was Tweetspeak’s theme for October, I’ve been dreaming of its long horns, its powerful and graceful legs that propel it at highway speeds through the lush grasslands of their natural habitat. (If the photographs on the Internet are any indication, though, the cheetah runs much faster. If I have any advice for you when being chased by a cheetah, it’s this: don’t turn. The cheetah will always take you down when you turn.)

So the joke’s on me. The ghazal is not a graceful beast from the savannah grasslands. The ghazal is a poem. No, that’s not even right. The ghazal, according to poet Agha Shahid Ali, is a series of stand-alone couplets which each represent “a stone from a necklace.” The ghazal, neither poem nor gazelle, is a string of poems, in effect, like a string of beads.

But then, the joke’s not on me. Turns out the joke I meant to tell, about the gazelle and the ghazal, is a workable joke after all, since word etymologists believe that gazelle is a derivative of ghazal, Arabic for love poem. Seems poets through the ages have compared their beautiful women to gazelles. (Clearly, they were not looking at National Geographic’s photographs of the cheetahs, because these were not the best days for the gazelle.)

Have you tried your hand at how to write a ghazal yet? We’re playing with the form all month long at Tweetspeak. If you’d like to write a ghazal, perhaps our new infographic can be of help.

And it’s no wonder all the ghazals sing of unrequited love. The gazelles keep falling prey to the cheetahs.

How to Write a Ghazal infographic
[click the image to view the infographic larger]

Want to share the infographic? Grab the code and paste it into your blog. It would make us happy if you link back to this page.

Photo by gaftels, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post and infographic by L.W. Lindquist.


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    • says

      I just got to thinking when I was browsing gazelle images in preparation for this project how often they were being snagged by cheetahs. While they’re known for such speed, apparently they are not the fastest in the grasslands.

      I’ll check out the link. :)

  1. says

    Here’s a challenge to break the rules and help create this in celebration of Halloween:

    Monstrous Ghazal

    Frankie’s got so tired of his nuts, he’s bolted.
    He’s bit Mummy’s finger, left it cut, not bolted.

    Weird spooky places fill with creepy creatures.
    Werewolf are you, in your hut? Have you molted?

    Vanquished Vampires make a mess of new blood.
    Witches stir up pots of guts. Aren’t you revolted?

    Ghosts lack bones, won’t appear to take a stand.
    Zombies lack a will or mind to shut, go unconsulted.

    Headless Horseman toward me rides by light of moon.
    Grim Reaper makes no time for buts. He’s so devoted.

  2. says

    This amuses me.

    And, it brings back fond memories of munching popcorn while watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with my cousins at my grandmother’s house.

    How on earth we were able to eat anything with all that gazelle slaughter going on, is beyond me.

    Love Maureen’s Monster Ghazal.

  3. Rehan says

    Dear sir,
    For the firts time i would like to thanks to you
    With whom i got this chance
    I am very thanksfully in my heart and soal

    “Seyasat ki zor se kamzor karti rahi rozgar har insaan ki
    Guzar raha hai guzarta rahega zindagi har insaan ki”


  4. says

    O beautiful wine-bearer, bring forth the cup and put it to my lips
    Path of love seemed easy at first, what came was many hardships.
    With its perfume, the morning breeze unlocks those beautiful locks
    The curl of those dark ringlets, many hearts to shreds strips.
    In the house of my Beloved, how can I enjoy the feast
    Since the church bells call the call that for pilgrimage equips.
    With wine color your robe, one of the old Magi’s best tips
    Trust in this traveler’s tips, who knows of many paths and trips.
    The dark midnight, fearful waves, and the tempestuous whirlpool
    How can he know of our state, while ports house his unladen ships.
    I followed my own path of love, and now I am in bad repute
    How can a secret remain veiled, if from every tongue it drips?
    If His presence you seek, Hafiz, then why yourself eclipse?
    Stick to the One you know, let go of imaginary trips.


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