Breaking over the mountains comes the light of day.
The night, with its talking moon, will be lost with the coming of the day.
About the Sun, she knows nothing and has nothing to tell.
Until the light slips behind the Earth and ends the long day.
She battles for her right but loses as the birds call for dawn.
The casualties awaken renewed as the white flag is raised and begins the new day.
A child says the sky is blue, sometimes black, and sometimes nothing at all
But a chariot still pulls up life itself to begin to-day
After all the life is used, it’s time for that which only just started to end.
The moon’s turn has finally come after the death of day.
The ghazal, or love lyric, is a type of Urdu poetry, which involves a rhyming pattern of aa ba ca da ea fa, and so on. The rhyming ‘a’ word is always exactly the same. The couplets of a ghazal used to be connected through a narrative, but Ravishing Disunities explains that this practice has been almost completely discarded. It is now one of the ghazal’s most distinguishing characteristics that the couplets should depend on each other so little that it would not make a difference for one couplet to be moved around or completely removed. For this reason, ghazals are usually no more than about twelve couplets.
Our reading by C. M. Naim discusses the common theme among ghazals, which is usually the love of a beloved. Although this was a thread running throughout, the ideal was for poets to be as ambiguous as possible, so the poem could be experienced by a wide audience. These poems regularly used symbolism which was specific to the time, making the poems difficult to interpret for those who don’t understand historically common symbols signaling, for example, a beloved or a villain.
I tried to capture the essence of the ghazal in my poem. This most obviously manifests in the rhyme scheme, which establishes ‘day’ as the qafia in the matla. Although the poem breaks from the theme of lamenting love, it does remain extremely vague. On the surface, the poem seems to be about the changing between night and day. This is a beautiful but common and non-controversial event. The word choice and metaphors used throughout, though, are that of war. A child talks of a black sky and the sun and moon battle for their place. This shows why ghazals were so popularly used to disguise political criticisms. This poem would need minimal changes to discuss descent of a specific war, yet a poet could never get in trouble for its creation, as it’s just about the sun and moon. I also included a reference to a chariot pulling up life itself to keep with the idea of important contextual references, although this one is Greek rather than Persian. It refers to the myth in which the sun god Helios pulls the sun across the sky behind his golden chariot, and in this poem means daybreak.