The ghazal—did you study this kind of poetry in your college literature classes? If your classes were anything like mine, chances are you’d never heard of a ghazal until Tweetspeak announced its October theme. Chances are, also, that when you first heard the word “ghazal, ” your response was similar to mine—“gesundheit!”
I set out to explore this poetic form that originated somewhere around the sixth century, and found that its structure lends itself to song writing. Though more often used in Arabic cultures, the couplets include internal rhyme, a strong sense of rhythm, and a refrain. The verses are often melancholic and introspective.
Armed with the knowledge provided by Tweetspeak, and the good folks at Wikipedia, I set out to pen my own ghazal, a piece about the love, faith, and the interaction of the two in shaping a life. And as I wrote the piece, I found myself sinking into the rhythms, counting syllables with finger on desk. It was a gratifying exercise, and the strictures of the form produced a poem that speaks, perhaps, more true than I could have hoped.
November Pyres (A Ghazal)
Under currents we first live—before pulse and child breathing.
The smallest seed, the mustard grain, the wild shape of being.
I knew you once, before burning to air, before charred scent.
Adorned with best guess, I dressed in the mild faith of being.
Under an Ozark moon, maple fires flamed in November.
It burned through—spirit, marrow—to defiled taint of being.
We were phoenixes maybe? Nests and necks all ashen gray?
Rising maybe—the inspired reincarnate of being?
Naught were we though, but two separate pyres, smoking, dying.
It, a prying—love from faith, from beguiled shape of being.
Have you tried penning a ghazal this month? Have you plumbed the depths of this form of poetry to see what you might find? Give it a shot. You’ll be glad you did.