A Ghazal and Paint Chip Prompt

It’s Valentine’s Day weekend coming up and so the second (of only three) entry in the G section of the poetry dictionary seems appropriate. It’s the ghazal. I wrote my first ghazal in 2013, in response to a lesson and prompt at dVerse Poets Pub. It is a beautiful form that lends itself to poetry of love.

The Challenge

Today I am challenging you to write a ghazal of at least five couplets. For the refrain phrase, I would like you to select one of the paint chip words or phrases below. Here is John Drury’s definition of the ghazal.

GHAZAL (guz’ -ul; Arabic, “talk about love” or “the cry of a gazelle when it is hunted down and trapped”) A lyric poem of at least five and up to roughly fifteen couplets, originally written in Persian, Arabic, Urdu, and other Middle Eastern languages. The form probably originated in Arabia in the seventh century. The couplets are not connected but stand as independent units within the poem. The poet is free to make associative jumps from one couplet to the next but not to enjamb between them. Only the first couplet (matla) rhymes (aa), but the second line of every succeeding couplet thymes with it (Xa). In the last couplet, the poet may insert his name, although this is sometimes omitted.

In traditional ghazals, the rhyme word (qifia) is usually followed by a refrain (radif) made up of a single word or phrase. This rhyme-and-refrain combination also occurs at the end of the first line of the opening couplet.

the poetry dictionary, p. 124.

If you want to read a few before you try one, examples of ghazals can be found here, here, and here. Ones I have previously written can be read here, here, and here.

The paint chip words and phrases you have to work with are sour grapes, arboretum, aura, coral, green light, blizzard, and primrose path. As mentioned above, I’d like you to choose one of these as the refrain for your ghazal. Use as many others as you choose.

If you can weave in a Valentine’s Day theme, extra bonus points for you.

My Poem

Since I’m short on time (as usual), I’ve decided to limit myself to a five-couplet ghazal. But I’ll try to make them good ones. The one weird thing about the ghazal is having each couplet be independent. We’re so used to poems being more cohesive.

The Impending Blizzard

Some people hope for the green light aura of a wizard
When the news portends a crazy winter blizzard.

I count on the warmth and strength of my Sweetie
When wind and ice threaten the chill of a February blizzard.

Swirling and growing in ocean depths the lovely coral
Are a plethora of sea creatures, a veritable blizzard.

Although it seems some days are sour grapes galore,
These trials pale in comparison to the deadliest blizzard.

Curled up by the fireside, a cup of tea, a book, and
My love by my side, I care not about the impending blizzard.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to write a lovely ghazal. You can share it in the comments. Or, if you prefer, post it on your blog and share the link in the comments. I look forward to seeing what you all come up with.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


17 Responses

  1. I never read any poems until I write mine, just to avoid repetition and influence. Love this Linda.
    You have hummingbirds in winter? I didn’t know they could stand the temperatures.

  2. No Wonder It’s Valentines Day

    A table set deep in The depths of her gizzard
    A snowbird survives despite the blizzard

    A hint of aura casts hues of violet and coral
    To ease the angst of an impending blizzard

    Halfway to spring is no primrose path
    When you stand in the wind of a whiteout blizzard

    Sour grapes sprinkled with sugar-glazed promises
    May fortify troops for a spontaneous blizzard

    Arouse not my love till winter is past
    Feast from His table though all loose is tossed in the blizzard

    My Ghazal is based on Psalm 23:5 and Song of Solomon 2:7-11
    I wrote one a few years ago for dverse. Interesting prompt and quite challenging.

  3. Nice blizzard ghazal. Are you getting blizzards up there or just ghazals? We’ve been spared (so far).

    I had an image that I intended to use in a Valentine poem and was hoping you might prompt us with a Valentine theme. The ghazal is a new form for me, but I think I unknowingly penned something very similar to it recently. Anyway, here is mine:

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