Ghazal – Lapis


June 9, 2019 by petrujviljoen

a seed who doesn’t want to be worked on; a solemn stone
it was for symmetry and worked around; a quantum stone

the primitive yolk sack, embryonic holding solemn work-
ing natural, whole, around the sun an unbidden stone

a foreign body, bleeding knots for months, for years, nourished
the soil, spawned a growth beyond the kin of the possum: stone

the wild of this life unbidden, tempered while cossetted
but born bleeding, this primitive land holds a foreign stone

gardener and delight in the work of this symmetry;
inborn urge. Create! The nature of the heart: unborn stone

grief a burden but bird’s wild love was spawned beyond the land’s
meekness. Petru: were you whole? once; but inherent stone

rounding the sun, a holding close – the heartened foreign ear
winged by the wind listens to the current soil’s Mother stone


winged ears copy (350x291)

Copyright Petru J Viljoen


Linked to Dverse Poets Form Poetry – Ghazal

34 thoughts on “Ghazal – Lapis

  1. I really like this, it reads out loud well and I think has the wow factor that listeners would utter. When traditionally ghazals are listened to it needs to sound not just right but strike a chord. This certainly echoes the beauty and mystery of stone and I think very elegantly done. I guess enjambement does break up the flow of a line that might affect the way a ghazal is listened to. However, I think yours do not cut the flow in that way. My attempt is rather late, lumpy and long but I love ghazals.

  2. calmkate says:

    well written and deep!

  3. I have read the conversation between you and Susan. She illuminated all the rules of the form, and to my mind, you have met them and certainly, your poem has risen above them. This is a solid poem which for me overrides conformity. The poem resonates, has depth, meaning, substance, and like stones, seems to take on a different complexion when looked at in different ways. Taking in the universe by starting with a seed and ending with a birth is indeed a story of love. I liked this very much!

  4. Most fascinating, as is your discussion with Jane. (My understanding is that the enjambment rule does mean between couplets.)

  5. susanmehr says:

    I had to research the meaning of a Ghazal Poem to fully understand the poem. So much said, but I loved the last two lines.

    Here’s some useless information, from where my husband’s from a Lapis stone pendant necklace is given to the bride by her future Mother-in-law. The pendant gives the wearer protection and so much more, maybe it’s where the saying “… something blue originates from? I wish I could have met her.

    • I said to someone else and perhaps should’ve edited the post. I use the word lapis in the general sense, it being Latin for stone. In the work here there’s no Lazuli involved, unfortunately.

      • susanmehr says:

        Sorry, my misunderstanding. I think it ironic that the Lapis Lazuli stone/crystal offers emotional calmness embracing the struggle the poem speaks about. I know I’m thinking way too much. I still love the poem in its original meaning. 🙂

  6. memadtwo says:

    I enjoyed your conversation with Jane! and I learned a lot. I’ve stuck to tradition so far, but I mean to try a modern one before the month ends.
    I like the mystery here, a stone holds so much of it. I especially like the unborn stone couplet too. and the question: were you whole? but how can we be otherwise? (K)

  7. I really think you did great in this poem… using the stone as repeated word works so well.

  8. Grace says:

    I so enjoyed the traditional ghazal with the refrain word – stone. This part is my favorite read:

    gardener and delight in the work of this symmetry;
    inborn urge. Create! The nature of the heart: unborn stone

  9. ladynyo says:

    Hi Petru! So glad to catch up with you today. Two books in 6 months has destroyed me…but I am coming around and wanting very much to read your blog. My one attempt at a ghazel was shot down on dverse,but then again… study of the form was almost non existent. LOL.

    I like yours very much.

    Jane (lady Nyo)

    • Thanks Jane! Glad I caught you. You telling me you wrote two books in six months? Wow!

      • ladynyo says:

        No…they took me 12 years but I write 2 or 3 at a time. Started both Kimono and Bull’s Blood in 2007, big stretches of nothing and then…Kimono published in Oct. 2018, and Bull’s Blood to be published later this month. Thank you, sweetie!

  10. Anna says:

    This is a clever way to incorporate the meaning of your name into the ghazal. You speak beautifully of loss, how time and the elements can erode even bedrock. As we travel toward our potential in life we face a countervailing urge to be unmovable, to resist growth.

    • Thank you very much! I presented it as a classic or traditional ghazal and if you have any criticism or feedback on the form itself I’d like to hear about it please?

  11. I like this, the energy of it, in contrast to the idea of ‘stone’. I’m not sure how a contemporary ghazal would differ from this, which a loose version of the ghazal anyway. I think you’ve struck the right balance.

    • Oh. I was fairly confident presenting this as a traditional ghazal! I read, what I thought of as a contemporary ghazal by Edil Hassan which I enjoyed tremendously. From the Poetry Foundation which is, I think, the go-to site for what is accepted poetry forms?

      • Dunno. I’ll go have a look. The way I understand it the traditional ghazal has to have a refrain, the word just before the refrain has to rhyme all the way through, and each couplet is complete in itself. Yours is between the strictest interpretation and some of the contemporary ones that seem to have no rules at all. Whatever it is, I enjoyed it 🙂

        • In the explanation of the ghazal first posted it says ” … it has always had a strong association with unrequited love be it a lover or God.” In the poem by Rumi there is indeed a phrase or refrain in ” … think will happen” at the end of the second line of each stanza. Goethe’s poem in the same post as an end-word ”drunkenness” preceded by a rhyming word for some of the stanzas but not all of them. And then there is an example of the word ‘brown’ used in each couplet but not necessarily at the end of the second line preceded by a rhyming word.

          In my effort I used the word stone at the end of each line in the first couplet and then at the end of the second line in each successive stanza and attempted a rhyme word or near-rhyme word preceding the repeating word.

          I made the effort to connect to a divine love in mentioning the Mother stone at the end, referring to the Great Mother.

          What you think?

        • I used Wikipedia as my reference

          and stuck to that for the form. For the content, times have changed. The original ghazal was written by a man to his beloved, so that’s one rule that has to go, and the divine love stuff, I’m not sure we’re on the same wavelength these days.
          I like your poem and I hadn’t realised you were after rhymes in the word that precedes the refrain word. I’m not very good at half-rhymes and I didn’t hear them. The rhythm isn’t strict, which I think it ought to be for a traditional ghazal, but it’s a rule that you’ve bent, like the rhyme and it doesn’t detract from the overall effect of the poem.
          I’m very boring about these poetry forms. If it has to be written in a certain way, I stick to it. Opting out of some of the hard bits seems like a cop out to me, and although some (very good) poets manage to get away with it, most of us just end up with something completely different. If we’re doing ghazals, I stick to all the rules. It doesn’t make the poem any better, but I have the satisfaction of having worked it out.
          I couldn’t, in a million years, have written your stone poem. I’d have been too obsessed with finding rhymes for the preceding words and getting all the lines the same length 🙂

        • Thanks! After we talked yesterday I realised I broke another rule, that of enjambment. Will edit today. I don’t mind t all your sticking to the rules. I for once am listening and in the edit will see how I an tighten it up without losing the meaning or some of the content. That’s one thing I dislike about rhyming. Having to find a rhyming word can change the meaning of the poem. If I have to bend the rules a bit in order to keep the content I’ll do it. Thanks again. Also, on the Poetry Foundation they say the word is pronounced guzzle, while on Dverse it is gha-ZAL. Weird.

        • I forgot about the enjambment rule. I’d have to check, but I seem to remember that the example of a great ghazal the Poetry Foundation gives (Tonight) used enjambment. Maybe it just means enjambment between couplets?
          I agree with you about the rhyme. When it’s the same rhyme all the way through, there’s the temptation to use a word that has nothing to do with the poem, just because it rhymes.
          To be honest, how we pronounce ghazal is the least of our problems. Getting an ancient Persian love rant to work in modern English is the real trial 🙂

        • I did keep to the syllable count though.

        • Have you tried keeping to beats rather than syllables? To my mind, a poem sounds a lot more satisfying if it has a rhythm rather than a set number of syllables, which don’t necessarily flow easily.

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