Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Ghazal

Robert Bly has begun writing in a Sufi Muslim form, called a Ghazal.
A ghazal consists of 5 to 26 stanza's of three lines, And generally you repeat the same group of words at the end of every stanza. I haven't in this one. Since this form mostly manifested as an oral tradition, another standard practice was to mention your name in the last stanza.
The last rule was that each stanza must change subjects entirely.

I stand with one finger on my lips. This posture
is the only expression of the heavy sorrow
that has taken root. I wait and hold. Thus life begins.

She leaned forward with the long funnel of white
fuming delicately at her lip. She leaned forward
with no words. Coughed. Looked up.

This paint is special, of course, he said – fast-drying
and if one leaves it alone for even a short moment,
it is too late. No amount of solvent will thin it.

“I will come later,” he declared, and they partied
in a frenzy with one eye each cocked side-ways toward the door
knowing he would not come. When the last had left, then he came.

There was a knock at the door in the evening.
I jumped, let the sweat bead, the slowly crept over
and cupped my ear to the oak. Outside, Death breathed.

Justin, where is this music coming from? A song
that consists of no sound. The birds have stopped singing,
All sound has stopped, and yet music. Thus, life begins?

1 comment:

s.t.liaw said...

Thanks Justin for writing about the ghazal. I looked it up on google and found a different set of rules. The sites said that the ghazal consisted of 5-15 couplets. I didn't find anything about the subject changing entirely from one stanza to another either.

Anyway, it reminded me of how the psalms were written, with lots of refrains and tricks (there is a word for it that is on the tip of my tongue) for the oral tradition.

So...I like the first stanza a lot. Sounds like you. A beautiful and heavy, waiting. Then a sprout.

I wonder what you think about the stanzas being of an entirely different subject. It's hard to think of compiling words into a poem and then having the stanzas being completely irrelevant to each other.

But then if that is the case, should one be reading these stanzas as they stand on their own? If so, the images seem private, and arbitrary. Not that it has to all mean something, but that they are juxtaposed, or even recorded doesn't seem to denote movement or even beauty.