Sunday, March 04, 2018

A Metrical Analysis of My Poems

Those who know me are well aware of my OCD-like obsession for the sanctity of meter (bahr) in poetry, especially urdu ghazals and nazms with rhyme. This obsession, however, is not very old though. As I have written  earlier, I had spent years writing poetry (or at least what I thought was poetry) with no understanding of meters. But once I learnt more about it, it became an obsession. Whenever I come across a ghazal or a nazm following a particular rhyming pattern, I first have to read a few lines to catch the rhythm of the meter before I can really dive into the words and their meaning. This is not to say that I have mastered the art and technique of prosody, Far from it, there is still a lot more to be learned. I still do not understand the technicalities behind the metrical feet in Urdu prosody and depend wholly on the rhythm, I still stumble on some finer nuances of scansion and end up making mistakes while writing (some have carried over to my published book), and there are still some meters that I cannot grasp easily. But that only strengthens my resolve to learn more.

Someone once asked me the number of different meters in which I have composed my ghazals and nazms. I was taken aback by this question, as I had never consciously counted or even felt the need to count the number. So I decided to do some mathematical analysis of my meter-based poems to check how frequently a particular meter appeared in my poetry. It was quite a revelation: in the 467 couplets of 68 ghazals and meter-based nazms that I have written, I have used 23 different meters (or 19 if you do not count the pairs that can coexist within a poem as separate). What was not surprising was that almost two thirds of my poems were written in just seven meters. These are meters towards whose rhythm I have natural affinity. Three out of these seven meters have been listed by both Shamsur Rahman Faruqi1 and G. D Pybus2 as being the among the most popular meters in all of Urdu poetry.

My choice of meters is driven by one or a combination of the following:

  • Combination of chosen rhyme words (qafiya) and/or refrain (radeef)
  • Meters whose rhythm come very naturally to me
  • Meters I have not used before (this has come into play only now when I clearly know which meters I have already used)

I am listing down the various meters I have employed in my poetry along with their technical names,metrical feet, syllable pattern(s) and examples, one from a poem or a song by a known poet/lyricist, and another from mine. I have used the standard symbols that many people use i.e = for a long syllable and - for a short one, with / denoting the end of a metrical foot and // representing a mid-point break or caesura in some meters.

I am also providing the metrical feet or arkaan (singular - rukn) that constitute a particular meter. These metrical feet are defined by way of meaningless words called afaa’iil (singular - f’el) that signify the presence of a long or short syllable.



Meter 1

Technical Name: Muzaar’e Musamman Akhrab Makfuuf Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: maf-‘uu-l / faa-‘i-laa-t / ma-faa-‘ii-l / faa-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: = = - / = - = - / - = = - / = - =

Usage: 10 ghazals & 4 nazms; 102 couplets

Example:

  1. barbaadiyo.n ka sog manaanaa fuzuul thaa
    barbaadiyo.n ka jashn manaataa chalaa gayaa
    (Sahir, Film: Hum Dono)
  2. rakkhega yaad ham ko ba-har-haal ye jahaa.n
    hastii hamaarii dard kii tamsiil ho ga.ii
    (Naaqid)


Meter 2

Technical Name: Rajaz Musamman Saalim

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: mus-taf-‘i-lun / mus-taf-‘i-lun / mus-taf-‘i-lun / mus-taf-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: = = - = / = = - = / = = - = / = = - =

Usage: 7 ghazals & 1 nazm; 45 couplets

Example:

  1. kal chaudhvii.n kii raat thii shab bhar raha charcha tiraa
    kuchh ne kahaa ye chaa.nd hai kuchh ne kahaa chehraa tiraa
    (Ibne Insha)
  2. dil luutne ka ye hunar seekhe to koii aap se
    is shahr me.n charche hai.n ab hai aap hii kii dhaak bhii
    (Naaqid)


Meter 3 & 4

Technical Name: Ramal Musamman Makhbuun Mahzuuf Maqtuu.a & Ramal Musamman Makhbuun Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: fa(a)-‘i-laa-tun / fa-‘i-laa-tun / fa-‘i-laa-tun / f‘e-lun or fa(a)-‘i-laa-tun / fa-‘i-laa-tun / fa-‘i-laa-tun / fa-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: =* - = = / - - = = / - - = = / = = and =* - = = / - - = = / - - = = / - - =

Usage: 3 ghazals & 4 nazms; 56 couplets

Example:

  1. ishq par zor nahii.n hai ye wo aatish Ghalib
    jo lagaa.e na lage aur bujhaa.e na bane
    (Ghalib)
  2. huu.n to hargiz nahi.n paaband-e-qawaa’id ‘Naaqid’
    apni awaargi pe mujh ko magar naaz nahii.n
    (Naaqid)


Meter 5

Technical Name: Muzaar’e Musamman Akhrab

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: maf-‘uu-l / faa-‘i-laa-tun // maf-‘uu-l / faa-‘i-laa-tun

Syllable Sequence: = = - / = - = = // = = - / = - = =

Usage: 5 ghazals & 2 nazms; 53 couplets

Example:

  1. saare jahaa.n se achchhaa hindostaa.n hamaaraa
    ham bulbule.n hain iskii ye gulsitaa.n hamaaraa
    (Iqbal)
  2. jo sham’a karti roshan taariik zindagi ko
    uj.Rii mazaar par kyuu.n tanhaa machal rahi hai
    (Naaqid)

Meter 6

Technical Name: Ramal Musamman Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: faa-‘i-laa-tun / faa-‘i-laa-tun / faa-‘i-laa-tun / fa-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: = - = = / = - = = / = - = = / = - =

Usage: 4 ghazals & 1 nazm; 34 couplets

Example:

  1. naqsh faryaadii hai kis ki shoKhi-e-tahriir kaa
    kaaGazii hai pairahan har paikar-e-tasviir kaa
    (Ghalib)
  2. liijiye diiwaan-e-naaqid aap hii ke naam hai
    ham kahaa.n in betuke ash’aar ko le jaae.nge
    (Naaqid)

Meter 7

Technical Name: No specific technical name, simply called Behr-e-Mir as Mir Taqi Mir was the one who experimented most with this meter, which otherwise is not present in Persian or Arabic prosody.

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: This meter does not exist in Arabic or Persian poetry. It can be represented in terms of standard feet (arkaans), but given the large number of variations allowed in this meter, I am not listing them down

Syllable Sequence: = ( = ) / = ( = ) / = ( = ) / = = // = ( = ) / = ( = ) / = ( = ) / = (any even numbered long syllable can be broken into two shorts, some of the = = feet can broken into - = -)

Usage: 2 ghazals & 1 nazm; 24 couplets

Example:

  1. ulTii ho ga.ii.n sab tadbiire.n kuchh na davaa ne kaam kiya
    dekha is biimari-e-dil ne aaKhir kaam tamaam kiya
    (Mir Taqi Mir)
  2. hamne taKhallus naaqid rakkha yaktaaii kii chaahat me.n
    tab jaana kuchh aur kalaam is naam se hai mansuub hua
    (Naaqid)

Meter 8

Technical Name: Hazaj Musamman Mazbuuz

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: ma-faa-‘i-lun / ma-faa-‘i-lun / ma-faa-‘i-lun / ma-faa-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: - = - = / - = - = / - = - = / - = - =

Usage: 3 ghazals; 19 couplets

Example:

  1. pukarta chalaa huu.n mai.n galii galii bahaar kii
    bas ek chhao.n zulf kii bas ik nigaah pyaar kii
    (Majrooh Sultanpuri; Film: Mere Sanam)
  2. na huu.n suKhanshinaas mai.n na lafzo.n kii koii samajh
    ye log mere she’ro.n par hain karte waah waah kya
    (Naaqid)

Meter 9

Technical Name: Hazaj Musamman Saalim

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: ma-faa-‘ii-lun / ma-faa-‘ii-lun / ma-faa-‘ii-lun / ma-faa-‘ii-lun

Syllable Sequence: - = = = / - = = = / - = = = / - = = =

Usage: 3 ghazals; 19 couplets

Example:

  1. hazaaro.n Khwaahishe.n aisi ki har Khwaahish pe dam nikle
    bahut nikle mire armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikle
    (Ghalib)
  2. jo hotaa hai yahaa.n dahshatnumaa 'aks-e-haqiiqat bhii
    hai laazim ye ki vaa baab-e-taKhayyul koi kartaa hai
    (Naaqid)

Meter 10

Technical Name: Hazaj Musamman Akhrab Nakfuuf Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: maf-‘uu-l / ma-faa-‘ii-l / ma-faa-‘ii-l / fa-‘uu-lun

Syllable Sequence: = = - / - = = - / - = = - / - = =

Usage: 3 ghazals; 17 couplets

Example:

  1. hai.n aur bhi dunyaa me.n suKhanvar bahut achchhe
    kehte hai.n ki Ghalib ka hai andaaz-e-bayaa.n aur
    (Ghalib)
  2. mumkin hai gavaaraa nahi.n hai unko ye suhbat
    warna ye hai kyaa maajara wo ham se hai.n Khaamosh
    (Naaqid)

Meter 11

Technical Name: Mutaqaarib Musamman Saalim

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: fa-‘uu-lun / fa-‘uu-lun / fa-‘uu-lun  / fa-‘uu-lun

Syllable Sequence: - = = / - = = / - = = / - = =

Usage: 1 ghazal & 2 nazms; 16 couplets

Example:

  1. muhabbat ki jhuuTi kahaanii pe ro.e
    ba.Rii choT khaa.ii jawaanii pe ro.e
    (Shakeel Badayuni; Film: Mughal-e-Azam)
  2. masaa.il ke yuu.n silsile to bahut hai.n
    liye aafate.n zalzale to bahut hai.n
    nahii.n chaahiye ham ko ek aur deewaar
    yahaa.n darmiyaa.n faasle to bahut hai.n
    (Naaqid)

Meter 12 & 13

Technical Name: Khafiif Musaddas Makhbuun Mahzuuf Maqtuu.a & Khafiif Musaddas Makhbuun Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: fa(a)-‘i-laa-tun / ma-faa-‘i-lun / f’e-l and fa(a)-‘i-laa-tun / ma-faa-‘i-lun / fa-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: =* - = = / - = - = / = = and =* - = = / - = - = / - - =

Usage: 1 ghazal & 1 nazm; 20 couplets

Example:

  1. naazukii us ke lab ki kyaa kahiye
    pankhuRi ik gulaab kii sii hai
    (Mir)
  2. nuur hotaa nahii.n jahaa.n me.n agar
    ’aks hote kahaa.n kahaa.n saa.e
    (Naaqid)

Meter 14 & 15

Technical Name: Mujtas Musamman Makhbuun Mahzuuf Maqtuu.a & Mujtas Musamman Makhbuun Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: ma-faa-‘i-lun / fa-‘i-laa-tun / ma-faa-‘i-lun / f’e-l and ma-faa-‘i-lun / fa-‘i-laa-tun / ma-faa-‘i-lun  / fa-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: - = - = / - - = = / - = - = / = = and - = - = / - - = = / - = - = / - - =

Usage: 2 ghazals; 15 couplets

Example:

  1. jahaan-e-dil pe hukuumat tumhe.n mubaarak ho
    rahii shikast to wo apne naam kar loo.ngaa
    (Kaifi Azmi, Film: Naunihal)
  2. Guruub-o-sharq hai.n taqdiir-e-Khur magar mujhko
    nasheb hii nazar aata hai ab faraaz nahii.n
    (Naaqid)

Meter 16 & 17

Technical Name: Hazaj Musaddas Akhram Ashtar Mahzuuf & Hazaj Musaddas Akhrab Maqbuuz Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: maf-‘uu-lun / faa-‘i-lun / fa-‘uu-lun and maf-‘uu-l / ma-faa-‘i-lun  / fa-‘uu-lun

Syllable Sequence: = = = /= - = / - = = and = = - / - = - = / - = =

Usage: 1 ghazal; 7 couplets

Example:

  1. dil pahlu me.n naa-tawaa.n bahut hai
    biimaar miraa giraa.n bahut hai
    (Mir Taqi Mir)
  2. Khaamoshi hai ittilaa.a detii
    bar-paa hogaa futuur aaKhir
    (Naaqid)

Meter 18

Technical Name: Hazaj Musamman Ashtar

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: faa-‘i-lun / ma-faa-‘ii-lun //  faa-‘i-lun / ma-faa-‘ii-lun

Syllable Sequence: = - = / - = = = // = - = / - = = =

Usage: 1 ghazal; 7 couplets

Example:

  1. ishq se tabiiyat ne ziist kaa mazaa paayaa
    dard kii davaa paa.ii dard be-davaa paayaa
    (Ghalib)
  2. shoKhiyo.n ne dil jiitaa qahqahe bhi raas aa.e
    ra.ng 'Naaqid' aaKhir ho guftagoo ka sanjiida
    (Naaqid)

Meter 19

Technical Name: Hazaj Musaddas Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: ma-faa-‘ii-lun / ma-faa-‘ii-lun / fa-‘uu-lun

Syllable Sequence: - = = = / - = = = / - = =

Usage: 1 ghazal; 7 couplets

Example:

  1. kahe kyaa haa.e zaKhm-e-dil hamaara
    dahan paayaa lab-e-goyaa na paayaa
    (Zauq)
  2. chala chal sar uTha kar yaar Naaqid
    lagii ab tak ko.ii tuhmat nahii.n hai
    (Naaqid)

Meter 20

Technical Name: Ramal Musaddas Mahzuuf

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: faa-‘i-laa-tun / faa-‘i-laa-tun / fa-‘i-lun

Syllable Sequence: = - = = / = - = = / = - =

Usage: 1 ghazal; 7 couplets

Example:

  1. raah-e-daur-e-ishq me.n rotaa hai kyaa
    aage aage dekhiye hotaa hai kyaa
    (Mir Taqi Mir)
  2. shaa’irii ke husn ko aazaad kar
    ’naaqid’ apnaa bahr kii paabandiyaa.n
    (Naaqid)

Meter 21

Technical Name: Mutaqaarib Musamman Asram

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: f’e-lun / fa-‘uu-lun //  f’e-lun / fa-‘uu-lun

Syllable Sequence: = = / - = = // = =  / - = =

Usage: 1 ghazal; 7 couplets

Example:

  1. usne koii Khat likkhaa nahii.n hai
    usko likhe hai.n mai.n ne ka.ii Khat
    (Bhatnagar ‘Shadab’)
  2. mat Dhuu.nDh Naaqid hai.n wo kahaa.n jo
    qaa’il ho.n tere ‘arz-o-bayaa.n ke
    (Naaqid)

Meter 22

Technical Name: Hazaj Musamman Akhrab

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: maf-‘uu-l / ma-faa-‘ii-lun //  maf-‘uu-l / ma-faa-‘ii-lun

Syllable Sequence: = = - / - = = = // = = - / - = = =

Usage: 1 ghazal; 6 couplets

Example:

  1. hangaama hai kyuu.n bar-paa thoRii si jo pii lii hai
    Daakaa to nahii.n Daala chorii to nahii.n kii hai
    (Akbar Allahabadi)
  2. kirdaar chamakne me.n ik umr si lagtii hai
    baazaar me.n ae jaahil tahziib nahii.n miltii
    (Naaqid)

Meter 23

Technical Name: Mutaqaarib Musaddas Muzaa’af Maqbuuz Aslam

Metrical Feet (Arkaan) and Afaa’iil: fa-‘uu-l / f’e-lun / fa-‘uu-l / f’e-lun / fa-‘uu-l / f’e-lun

Syllable Sequence: - = - / = = / - = - / = = / - = - / = =

Usage: 1 ghazal; 6 couplets

Example: I am unable to find this exact meter among works of known poets, but a similar meter with two extra feet does appear in the famous works. The technical name of that meter is Mutaqaarib Musamman Muzaa’af Maqbuuz Aslam. The Amir Khusro example quoted below has 8 feet, whereas mine has 6.

  1. ze-haal-e-miskii.n makun taGaful duraa.e nainaa.n banaa.e batiyaa.n
    ki taab-e-hijraa.n nadaaram ai jaa.n na lehu kaahe lagaa.e chhatiyaa.n
    (Amir Khusro)
  2. chiraaG kab tak yahaa.n jalegaa ye kaun jaane
    hawaa ki raftaar tai karegii jale ki ho gul
    (Naaqid)


References:

  1. Urdu Meter: A Practical Handbook by Frances W. Pritchett & Khaliq Ahmad Khaliq
  2. A Textbook of Urdu Prosody and Rhetoric by Captain G. D Pybus
  3. Bah'r: The Backbone of Shaayari by Irfan ‘Abid’
  4. Ilm-e-Arooz: Rekhta Foundation tutorials  by Bhatnagar Shadab
  5. A Desertful of Roses: Frances W. Pritchett’s site on Ghalib’s ghazals
  6. A Garden of Kashmir: Frances W. Pritchett’s site on Mir’s ghazals