Visualizing Ghazals (Week 9)


My fourth creative project is a mixed medium picture of a boy reaching out to his beloved as she flies away from him towards the moon. The moon is also an eye weeping green tears. Behind the boy, there is a tree with flame colored leaves. This picture is my attempt to visually depict the themes often used in ghazals.

As Agha Shahid Ali puts it, ghazals are about an ‘ashiq (lover) who is, “by definition, hopelessly in love with an indifferent, even cruel, beloved and is therefore generally miserable” (Ali 3). Therefore, a major theme in ghazals is that of separation. The ‘ashiq is in love with a woman he is far away from or cannot be with. Similarly, a commonly mentioned place where the ‘ashiq finds himself is, “the garden…where he sits alone…waiting in vain for a glimpse of her” (Ali 8). This is what inspired the figure of the boy sitting on a hill. He reaches towards his fleeing lover, arms stretched out in yearning to be with her. His devotion to her is so extreme that he has fallen to his knees, practically prostrating himself in desire to be with her.

Much of the imagery in ghazals focuses on the beauty and form of the ‘ashiq’s beloved. The beloved’s height and stature is often likened to that of a tall, elegant cypress tree or candle (Ali 6). Thus, in my interpretation, the black tree behind the ‘ashiq is my interpretation of a cypress tree. Cypresses are coniferous, so their leaves do not change colors. Thus while the red and orange coloring looks like foliage, it is actually the tree set aflame. This not only represents the ‘ashiq’s burning love for his beloved, but also likens the tree to a candle.

Commonly, the sight of the moon, “reminds him of his beloved’s beautiful, lustrous face” (Ali 4). I took this image to link the ‘ashiq and the fantasy of his beloved. While his beloved is flying away from him towards the moon, the moon itself is the ‘ashiq’s weeping eye. I ultimately wanted to suggest that the ‘ashiq could simply be remembering his beloved. The inversion of colors speaks to this affect. The grass is blue while the tears are green. This ultimately suggests that the ‘ashiq is not seeing clearly and in fact, may be imagining the image of his beloved while he gazes sadly up at the moon.


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