Simple analytic notes on Ghazal by Mimi Khalvati

This was a poem in the poetry anthology section of relationships that I had to study for my GCSE English and so I thought to share my simple notes, which may be helpful to those who have just started looking at Ghazal written by Mimi Khalvati

If I am the grass and you the breeze, blow through me.

If I am the rose and you the bird, then woo me.

  • Alliteration of plosives (letters ‘b’ and ‘p’) “breeze” and “blow” create an effect of the power of love but its also harsh and destructive.
  • The imperative (command) “blow through me” tells us that the female persona in the poem is the one in control because she is the one giving the commands. However, “woo me” suggests that the female persona is passive and the male persona is the powerful one as he is active.
  • The use of natural imagery, “grass” “breeze” suggests that love is natural, perfect, simple, tranquil, sweet and open

If you are the rhyme and I the refrain, don’t hang

on my lips, come and I’ll come too when you cue me

  • “rhyme and I the refrain” – the poem produces images in pairs…the poem is shaped in couplets
  • “come and I’ll come too when you cue me” = sexual innuendo
  • “blow through me” = sexual innuendo
  • “woo me” = courtly love, romance

If yours is the iron fist in the velvet glove

when the arrow flies, the heart is pierced, tattoo me

  • “iron fist” “arrow flies” “tattoo me” = powerful imagery
  • “heart is pierced” = romance
  • this implies that love is violent, destructive, dark, dangerous, strength and dominant, painful, passionate, private

If mine is the venomous tongue, the serpent’s tail,

charmer, use your charm, weave a spell and subdue me

  • “venomous” “serpent” = powerful imagery
  • “use your charm, weave a spell” = magic, magical imagery
  • the persona is entranced? a spell has been cast upon them and they no longer have control?

If I am the laurel leaf in your crown, you are

the arms around my bark, arms that never knew me

  • “arms that never knew me” perhaps suggests love at first sight? Or an affair/fling?

Oh would that I were bark! So old and still in leaf.

And you, dropping in my shade, dew to bedew me!

What shape should I take to marry your own, have you

– hawk to my shadow, moth to my flame – pursue me?

  • “marry” – pun (play on words) about two people suiting/fitting each other. their love is perfect
  • “moth to my flame” – love is death?

If I rise in the east as you die in the west,

die for my sake, my love, every night renew me.

  • “die for my sake” – sacrificial, powerful imagery. love is sacrifice? love is for each other
  • “my love” = romantic
  • “every night renew me” = sexual innuendo
  • “every night renew me” – successful relationship? poem is like a riddle, there are many opposite meanings…a paradox?

If, when it ends, we are just good friends, be my Friend,

muse, lover and guide, Shamsuddin to my Rumi.

  • “if” – there is doubt that this love will be eternal
  • the ‘voice’ of the persona doesn’t seem too infatuated

Be heaven and earth to me and I’ll be twice the me

I am, if only half the world you are to me.

  • “heaven and earth” – love is eternal?
  • love/ the male character brings out the best in her/makes her more than she is
  • she perhaps isn’t as infatuated as he is?
  • even if he doesn’t give all himself to her, she will give twice herself?
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