How to Write a Ghazal


Today, I’m going to teach you about one of my favorite poetry forms- the Ghazal.

History of the Ghazal

Pronounced Guzzle, the Ghazal has a rich history that dates back to seventh century Arabia, but it wasn’t until the thirteenth and fourteenth century that Persian poets (such as Rumi and Hafiz) brought it to light.

Traditionally, the Ghazal deals with romantic love and loss and should invoke feelings of melancholy, longing, and metaphysical questions, making this one of the best poetry forms for songs and other spoken-word creations.

That’s because the first couplet will introduce the theme, the end words, and the future rhymes. Then, each subsequent couplet will echo the rhyme in the first sentence and the theme with the second sentence. Finally, the author of the Ghazal will sign it by inserting themselves (in first or third person) into the last couplet and close it out.

What’s In a Ghazal?

To write a Ghazal, you need these six elements:

  • A repeating end word- Ends the second line of your couplets
  • A rhyming word- Ends the first line of your couplet
  • An overall theme- love and loss
  • Lines of equal length (thought meter doesn’t matter)
  • An author insert in the last couplet
  • and five (to fifteen) couplets that could stand alone as individual poems.

Here’s an example:

Ghazal example

As you can see, my Ghazal, The Wonder of Books, has all the elements you need to craft this ancient poem. It’s on the shorter side at seven couplets, but the equal length and consistent syllables make up for it.

Your turn!

Though ancient, the Ghazal is a poetry form that has quickly become popular among poets and singers around the world for it’s structure, creativity, and emotion.

To write one, choose a theme with a good end word (like books), find a rhyming word with at LEAST five unique rhymes, and go for it! Just make sure to add in the six elements listed above!

To learn more about this romantic poetry form, check out Poetry Foundation or the Academy of American Poets!

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