A Paradisical Garden
Baran Farooqi
TEMPLE LAMP: VERSES ON BANARAS (CHIRAGH-I DAIR) by Mirza Ghalib. Translated from the original Persian by Maaz Bin Bilal Penguin/Random House, 2022, 110 pp., INR 499
September 2023, volume 47, No 9

Masnavi is one of the three genres known to have been imported from Persian into the Urdu language, the other two being the Ghazal and the Rubayi. All three receive their respective nomenclature through distinct structural rules that they follow. The masnavi is a long narrative poem written in beits (distiches) made up of two poetic lines with the same vazn (prosody) known as mis’ra and supposed to be ‘hum qafiya’ (internally rhyming penultimate word of the mis’ra).Of all three, masnavi is regarded as the freest flowing, or, shall we say least binding in terms of structural rules, read conventions. The length of the poem is left to the poet to decide, and the slightly challenging business of having a last word refrain to each mis’ra is not there.

Continue reading this review