Ghazal and Repitition
The Ghazal is a style of Arabic poetry with a specific type of form. This form is made up of “thematically independent couplets” that are “thematically and emotionally complete on itself (Ali 210).” What this means is that these couplets act independently and may seem to not have much thematic connection to one another. What develops a connection between these couplets is called a radif. A radif is repeated at the end of every couplet and helps hold the couplets together through repetition.
In the poem Sara’s Ghazal, written by Jonathan Musgrove, he uses the repetition of the radif “this body “ to exemplify the physical desire the speaker has towards what seems to be his love interest, Sara. The speaker of the poem is wanting Sara’s physical touch and attention. It is as if he once had the touch of his lover, but now lives with the guilt for he was to blame for the loss of Sara’s touch. He illustrates this desire in lines such as “…must I forsake this body” and “sharp talons of guilt rake this body (Musgrove 215).” The speaker is unsure if he will ever be able to have an intimate relationship with Sara if he is in his own body. The guilt he feels for losing her is weighing on his body physically, so much that he does not feel like he can take this pain much longer. The speaker feels that nothing besides Sara’s touch and affection will be able to evoke passion in himself again through the lines, “still, only your clumsy hands can wake this body” and “wind rattling stained glass will not shake this body (Musgrove 215).” Without the repetition of the radif “this body”, the speakers need of Sara’s affection would not be felt as such a dire situation. This repetition adds a tension between Sara and the speakers body that would not be as strongly felt without it.
An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. Eds. Anne Finch and Katherine Varnes. Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 2002. 210.
Musgrove, Jonathan “Sara’s Ghazal.” An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. Eds. Anne Finch and Katherine Varnes. Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 2002. 215.