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THE TERCET GHAZAL FORMAT

Gene Doty

The tercet ghazal” is a form that was developed by the poet Robert Bly for his collection The Night Abraham Called to the Stars (HarperCollins, 2001).

Bly replaces the two-hemistich shers of the Persian/Urdu ghazal with a tercet stanza. Each stanza is autonomous and in many of the poems, ends with the same word, the radif. Though this departs from the formal structure of the Persian ghazal, it is faithful to the idea that each sher is a poem in its own right strung together and unified with the others through a common rhyme (qafiya) and radif.

Normally, a tercet ghazal should have four to eight tercet stanzas using the formal guidelines outlined below:

I am not suggesting that they are necessary for all tercet ghazals. In fact, Robert Bly varies his observance of the radif and other formal elements in his own tercet ghazals. 

Robert Bly’s ghazal Dawn” is an illustrative example of this form. Bly uses the word dawn as the radif, which he also introduces at the end of the first line of the first stanza, in the tradition of the matla. 

EXPLORE EXAMPLES OF TERCET GHAZALS

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Web developer of Ghazal Page. Sometime pseudonymous ghazalkar.
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