Friday, March 10, 2017

Carpe Diem Universal Jane #12 mountain view

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Here it is our "weekend-meditation". This week I have a nice episode of our special feature in honor of Jane Reichhold (1937-2016), Universal Jane.

As you all know Jane was not only a great haiku and tanka poet, and a great renga master, but she also wrote several books and essays about haiku, tanka and other Japanese poetry forms. This week I love to inspire you with a poetry form I had never heard of until recently as I was preparing this new (weekend-edition) of Universal Jane. I didn't know that Jane wrote this poetry form herself too.

This month at CDHK we are exploring the Persian poets like Rumi and their poetry form they use often is called Ghazal. I found a nice article about this poetry form and so I leaned that Jane wrote Ghazal herself.

The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning.
Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians. The form has roots in seventh-century Arabia, and gained prominence in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century thanks to such Persian poets as Rumi and Hafiz. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu, a mix of the medieval languages of Northern India, including Persian.  Among these poets, Ghalib is the recognized master.
Let me give you an example of a Ghazal by Agha Shahid Ali. This Ghazal is titled "Even The Rain" and it gives you an idea of the Ghazal.

Even the Rain
What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain?
But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain.
“our glosses / wanting in this world” “Can you remember?”
Anyone! “when we thought / the poets taught” even the rain?
After we died--That was it!--God left us in the dark.
And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain.
Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house.
For mixers, my love, you’d poured--what?--even the rain.
Of this pear-shaped orange’s perfumed twist, I will say:
Extract Vermouth from the bergamot, even the rain.
How did the Enemy love you--with earth? air? and fire?
He held just one thing back till he got even: the rain.
This is God’s site for a new house of executions?
You swear by the Bible, Despot, even the rain?
After the bones--those flowers--this was found in the urn:
The lost river, ashes from the ghat, even the rain.
What was I to prophesy if not the end of the world?
A salt pillar for the lonely lot, even the rain.
How the air raged, desperate, streaming the earth with flames--
to help burn down my house, Fire sought even the rain.
He would raze the mountains, he would level the waves,
he would, to smooth his epic plot, even the rain.

New York belongs at daybreak to only me, just me--
to make this claim Memory’s brought even the rain.
They’ve found the knife that killed you, but whose prints are these?
No one has such small hands, Shahid, not even the rain.

© Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001)
A wonderful Ghazal of course written by one of the best modern Ghazal poets. This poem form is also used by Hafiz and we will see Ghazal by him later on this month.
Mountain view through the window (c) photo
As I told you above I wasn't aware that Jane also wrote Ghazal, but I have found a wonderful Ghazal written by her. This Ghzal is titled: "reversible towels".

Reversible Towels

out of my window rests a large mountain
and on the esplanade the women softly glow
with a few dragonflies the pond is a light
musical form as a disturbed state of mind
the letter with it said they could not come
even though the invitation was open-ended
in an ecstasy derived by turning from this world
sung in a birch's domed goldness rushing upward
as if god had made an aside – she was a woman
of life telling us anything so we can trust in some
eyes there is often an element of the grotesque
that drifts away with the plenitude of holidays
which last only for an hour or two or three a day
afraid about the other you who's with me still
some of life's mysteries can be solved by ampersands
or the quiet metals of tin boxes and old silver spoons
we humans should add a new dimension to the life
or stare at the canal where stone houses cast down
gently on the ground as if frightened of freedom
their shoulders even ask for the circles of a yoke
nobody ever took Jane a for muse
© Jane Reichhold (1937-2016)
A beautiful Ghazal I would say and it really amazed me that Jane used this poetry form so often and in a great way.
So for this weekend I love to challenge you to create a Ghazal, but if you don't want to use this poetry form than of course you can create haiku or tanka inspired on the Ghazals in this post. Have fun!
As you all know you can start responding on this episode next Sunday around 7.00 PM (CET). That gives you time to think it over or in other words to meditate and contemplate on your response.
You can submit until March 15th 07:00 PM (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, wounded heart, next Sunday around 7:00 PM (CET).



  1. Wow, the Ghazal by Agha Shahid Ali is so heartbreakingly powerful... And then this beautiful pearl by Jane you have found, Kristjaan! Quite a challange!

  2. Ghazal is an interesting form.I enjoyed writing this.Thank you !

  3. Thanks for introducing a new (old) and beautiful poetic form. I rhymed all of my lines...some of us always have to test the rules!