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Ghazal: The Use of Repetition & The Importance of It

Throughout the first few pages of An Exaltation of Forms, the author’s Annie Finch and Kathrine Varnes, stress the importance of form and brings attention to the different perspectives certain words used, create for readers. She describes this situation perfectly saying, “The same word or phrase may scan differently in a new context..the same poem scanned by two readers may not produce identical results, especially if one emphasizes a particular word in favor of an alternative meaning” (Finch & Varnes 7). This particular quote highlights the bigger message, seen in Agha Shahid Ali’s writing, “Ghazel: To Be Teased into DisUnity” but personally, I believe we saw a similar issue in Friday’s class discussion using our “Crowd Source Analysis” together. Correspondingly, Arbor and Shahid Ali, raise important interpretations of this week’s theme of repetition and word choice. Shahid Ali explains this like, “each couplet is autonomous, thematically…complete in itself…it could go on forever” (Shahid Ali 210–211). The unique form of a ghazal is what ultimately draws readers in, calling their attention to each individual line and even word of the poem. This is seen quite frequently throughout the poem. The word, “end” is repeated as the last word on every couplet in Hollander’s writing (212). Hollander’s repetition of the word “end” adds to his overall arching theme of the meaning behind death, but also confirms Arbors claim, emphasizing the importance of leaving interpretation up to each individual reader. The end of his poem reads, “At the game he’s been wasting his time at. The End” (Shahid Ali 212). In this specific line from his poem, we can theorize this is the end of Qafia Radif’s life, since the other inferences of the use of the words “the end” have led us to interpret this poem’s overall theme as life v.s death. Word choice, and even the repetition of certain words or word has an everlasting effect on the complete work as a whole.

Ali, Agha Shahid. “Ghazal: To Be Teased Into Disunity.” An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. Eds. Anne Finch and Kathrine Varnes. Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 2002.

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