Week 9: Sufi Piety II – The Ghazal (love lyric) and Mathnawi (narrative epic)

Fifth Project (Video)

In the fifth project, I performed a translated version of a ghazal. In learning about poetry and more specifically, ghazals, it’s important to highlight the natural beauty of them, “Poetry as the product and source of mystical experience,” (Asani/Lecture 10/31). This beauty derives from not only the structure of the ghazals, “The form of the classical ghazal can be defined, first, by the formula of its rhyme, secondly, by the length of the poem and finally by its subject matter,” but, also, the intentional and purity placed into making them (Bruijn 53). 


Ghazals were overlooked, undermined, and not given the presence and light they deserved for a long period of time— specifically in terms of religion, the very founding basis of ghazals and, yet, they were ignored, “…hardly any specimen of an independent poem of this kind has survived. One of the reasons for this poor state of documentation may be that these love poems were not considered to be serious enough to be preserved in writing,” (Bruijn 55). In terms of Rumi’s perspective, a highly renowned poet, he became discouraged because of this as well. He didn’t want to steer people away from the beauty of words, “‘If I were not afraid of boring you I would sing a hundred verses,’” (Rumi). However, people came around and began to enjoy the power held within these ghazals. Audiences fell in love. People were able to recognize the role and opportunity that ghazals created. In fact, ghazals fostered the prosper of singers because of the ability that allowed ghazals to transform other aspects such as singing. This was demonstrated in the norm of ghazals always being sung, “ I should mention that a ghazal is often sung. Some of the great singers of of India and Pakistan have taken ghazals and placed them…” (Goodyear 8). 


Thus, in this project, the simple singing of a translated ghazal is supposed to demonstrate the ease at which ghazals can be interpreted. They can be interpretive in their meaning as long as they carry a consistent motif of love. They can also be interpretive in how you sing and perform them which is another way of understanding the dynamics of ghazals.