Previous Page
Table Of Contents
Next Page

 

33

 

independent thought. The apparently discontinuous thoughts often become epigrams which find their way into conversation — living long after the poem has been forgotten. Nonetheless, the "pearls" or "beads" as these couplets are called, must be clasped on a string, as a necklace, which is the whole poem. The strand linking the couplets can be either that of rhyme or that of meaning — obvious or subtle.

 

The structure of the poem lends itself to thin interpretation. The first couplet is called the matla , which means orient or rising, and sets the color and mood and subject matter of the poem. Other couplets in other positions have other names, and the last couplet is known as the maqta or "point of section. " This must always contain the " takhallus " or pen-name of the poet, woven in as though it were natural. It is a sort of signature that verifies the authenticity of the poem, and the cleverer the poet is in weaving in his takhallus (often by plays on other meanings of the name), the more appreciated his poem is by the cognoscenti. The maqta also serves the function of tying together the strands of meaning of the poem — it is the point at which the "necklace" is clasped.

 

Why are the poetasters so jealous of Hafiz?

 

It is God-given, the gift to please by subtleties.

 

It is a typical Hafiz ghazal, which also indicates the degree to which the poet was imitated, even in his own time, by inferior poets.

 

The ghazal offers a striking contrast to our contemporary art, for it was accepted by all levels of society in its time — from common worker to courtier to spiritual aspirant, through use of "creative ambiguity " in common symbols with many levels of meaning. The term "ghazal" means a "lovers' conversation," or even "conversation among women," yet nearly all essayists in the form were men. But its message was to all mankind, and we can gain a valuable message from its meaning, its form, and its style as applied to art in our own time.

 

 

IMAGE AND MEANING IN THE GHAZAL

 

The factor of independent couplets has led to a great deal of confusion, especially on the part of Western scholars. It has been charged that the ghazal has no unity of theme, and that its unity of form is at best tenuous. It is true that many ghazals seem to be vague and disconnected, and that single couplets are often taken separately from the poem as a whole. As we said, the bayts (couplets) have been compared to beads, or pearls if they are good (indeed the rhetoric includes "jeweled " or "gemmed " for certain types of rhyme), strung upon the "necklace, " which is the poem itself. Scholars then can find a bead here and there, but the string eludes them.

 

One might advance a different idea, though the viewpoint is a subjective one, and unprovable save by those who can refer to the original poetry in the original languages. The fact that the ghazal consists of couplets with a fixed end-rhyme (Radif) binds them together in itself, and presupposes that some structure will suggest itself to the poet 's mind. This is to say that the necessity to use a radif imposes a formal structure, which would not be true in other forms of writing. Bearing in mind the tendency of the Eastern mind to be moved more by the heart than the intellect, it is entirely possible that symbolic and intuitive logic would replace the unity of theme familiar to the West. The Comte de Gobineau points out, as cited by E. J. W. Gibb, that the Western mind resolves paradox by selection and rejection, seeking homogeneity, while the Eastern mind tends toward syncretism, preserving and synthesizing each idea that comes.

 

An alternative explanation is simply that what appears to be a paradox on the

 

Previous Page
Table Of Contents
Next Page