Book Reviews

The Art and Science Of Ghazal

Multiple Dimensional Literature on Ghazal

Mona is a well-known name in the field of ghazal writers. She has mastered the Ilm-e-Arooz under the guidance of her Guru late Shri R.P. Sharma ‘Mehrish’ who has written the Foreword for this book on Ghazal, pertaining to many dimensions known and unknown to some readers and writers of Ghazal like me.

Elizabeth Kurian ‘Mona’ has put utmost efforts to pen the outstanding facts of her study in the field of Ghazal and has dedicated her sincere and dedicated research to write on the introduction of Ilm-e-Arooz which is about the metric Structures in Urdu Ghazal following the rules of writing correctly which is Taghazul-soul of a good Ghazal-All in English. Depicting the art and science of Ghazal, She has systematically synchronized the flow of the required details of Ghazal Literature with a flaw and fragrance as graced by our mentor/Guru Shri. R.P. Sharma ‘Mehrishi’.

In his foreword for this book Mehrish ji writes - “The main components of the ghazal are it’s bahr (metre), qafiya (rhyme) and radeef (refrain) that combine to form the foundation of the ghazal structure or zameene-sher. The first couplet sher is matla, the last maqta. It can be said that “The ghazal has the lovely smile ofmatla on her rosy lips, the kaajal of qaafiya in her beautiful eyes, adorns the radeef in her hair, wears the rainbow coloured robe of ash’aar and dons the anklet of maqta on her feet. Her outward beauty is matched by her inward beauty of taghazzul.

Ilm-e-Arooz is the study of prosody of the Urdu ghazal especially its metrical patterns. This has been derived from Persian and the original terminology has been retained. Though the terms sound difficult, yet the rules are really not that complicated.”

Dr. Karim Ali Karim a poet and a well-known critic of Urdu Language and an expert in Ilm-e-Arooz has also satisfactorily expressed his views on the format and structure of this book.

The bifurcation of the understanding of the Basics of Ghazals, its terminology is arranged in nine chapters. The wonderful concept of this book is in fact the jist of all literature related to poetry and Ghazal. The effortless efforts can be seen in the minute detailing of study in different dimension of Poetry specially Ghazal created in different languages including English.

Another feature of this book is that the derivation of the meters of the ghazal have been explained in digital format as in -1 for short syllable and 2 for long syllable. A number of examples of scanning of ghazal-both regular ghazals and film songs have been given.

The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets, and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English.

The poetic form of the structural requirement of the gazal is similar to that of a sonnet the poetic form. A sonnet is a poem in a specific form which originated in Italy; invented by Giacomo da Lentini. By the thirteenth century it signified a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure. However the sonnet has one theme, while the Ghazal can have different themes in different couplets.

Numerous scholars and poets have attempted to translate ghazals from their original language to English. The task is very challenging though not impossible, as keeping the literal meaning of each poem while respecting the rhyme, refrain, and length of lines is difficult.

Writing a ghazal is like looking in a broken mirror. The refrain determines the subject, but each couplet is like one of the shade of glass, but always from a different perspective or lens. The Ghazal frees you up to approach the subject from different angles, from different places. You can build up a theme and thread it in all 5 or 7 couplets or each couplet can be free to express any thought in approached from as many angles as you want, but maintaining kafia and radeef.

Empowering the concept and putting light on the art of writing ghazal properly Mona says - “The present treatise will help not only the ghazal writers of Urdu to understand the art of writing ghazals properly, but also guide the ghazal writers of other allied languages like Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi etc. in which the genre of ghazal is gaining popularity day by day. This will also be useful to poets in English and other foreign languages who write in this genre and for comparative study of prosody. There are a number of books in the vernacular about Ghazal and prosody, but the same cannot be said about English. I feel it is my contribution to Urdu ghazal, which is the most attractive genre of Urdu literature, to pen a book about it in English which is now a global language, so that its light spreads beyond the ramparts of Urdu knowing community to the world at large.

Truth well expressed in her write up for this book in English is a foundation stone for many new ghazal seekers who are learning the art in Roman script following the parameters laid for this style of writing poetry.

Saluting Mona’s sincere efforts, that she has put together towards the compilation of this manuscript, and looking at the productive use of the themes in order that follow the minute details of the art of writing Ghazal, I sincerely wish Mona the best for the upcoming book and congratulate her for this unique presentation in English, which shall prove to be an achievement.


More by :  Devi Nangrani

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