Elements of a Ghazal

bahr
This is the metre of the poem. This can loosely thought of as the length of the sher. Both the lines of a sher MUST be of the same ‘bahr’ or ‘metre’. Also, all the ashaar of a Gazal MUST be of the same bahr. There are 19 different metres that are used in Urdu poetry. In simple terms, they are divided into three categories – short, medium and long. For more details, refer to the article on ‘bahr’ in the Article Archive.
matlaa
This is the first sher of a ghazal, and both lines of the sher must end in the radiif. Usually a Gazal has only one matlaa. If a ghazal has more than one matlaa, then the second one is called ‘matlaa-e-saanii’.
maqtaa
A shaayar (poet) usually had a pen-name under which he wrote. The pen-name is called ‘taKhallus’ (takh-ul-lus). The sher in which the taKhallus is included is called the maqta. It is the last sher of the Ghazal.
qaaafiyaa
The rhyming pattern of the word(s) just before the radiif at the end of the line in a sher. This is a necessary requirment, followed even in the absence of other rules.
radiif
Word or phrase that is repeated at the end of the second line in EVERY sher. The SAME word(s) are repeated. The matlaa has both lines ending in the radiif.
sher (shey-r)
A sher is a couplet – a poem of two lines. Each couplet embodies a single thought and is complete in itself. The plural of sher is ashaar. A sher is also called a ‘bait’ (bay-t).

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