Repetition Within Ghazal Poetry
The form of poetry that is ghazal seems to be very unique and unlike many other, more common forms of poetry. One of the most unique aspects of ghazal poetry is the repetition it includes at the end of each couplet, and repetition is mainly what brings the ideas of a ghazal poem together.
Based on the ghazal poetry that I have read, the repetition of certain words or phrases at the end of each couplet brings the poem together, especially if the words in each couplet don’t exactly relate, which they often don’t exactly. To explain what I mean, Agha Shahid Ali writes, “Notice that with the exception of the first and last couplets, the poem would not in any way suffer by a rearrangement of the couplets” (Ali 212). What this tells us about ghazal poetry is that often the words or ideas of each couplet are often random or unrelated in some ways, but one way in which they do often relate is through the final words which are repeated and the same. For example, in Jonathan Musgrove’s poem “Sara’s Ghazal” he writes in the third couplet “Still, only your clumsy hands can wake this body” (Ali 215) and in the fourth writes, “Wind rattling stained glass will not shake this body” (Ali 215). The repeated words in the couplets of this ghazal are “this body” and the repetition of those words is what keeps all the poem connected as each couplet is saying something different, but the end of each always includes something about “this body”. Each couplet is “independent”, as Ali says, paying attention to the repeating words in each can help an audience understand and figure out what the poem is about, as well as what they can take away from it.
Musgrove, Jonathan. “Sara’s Ghazal.” An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. Edited by Anne Finch and Kathrine Varnes, U of Michigan P, 2002, p. 215.