Thursday, 24 April 2014

camels dUly UndUlate

is for Urjuzah

That is an Arabic verse form, and it means couplets written in the rajaz meter.  The rajaz meter is lines written in two parts (or hemistich) of 12 syllables each with a break in between.  But we’re not done yet, there is a further twist. Each half-line of 12 syllables has three parts of 4 syllables each, with the third syllable unstressed and the other three stressed. 

Arabic and Persian poetry have many common features, and have fed into each other over centuries and influenced the poetic soups of the Indian subcontinent in many ways. Both languages had rigid rules about syllable counts and meters and feet which is a little different from contemporary poetry.

I have read that the rajaz is a meter that mimics the simple gait of camels across the deserts of Arabia, a bit fanciful, but hey, we are talking poetry here.  Fanciful goes.

Here’s my version of the Urjuzah:

Small moves

So many things I need to write, make clear or note
But you come in and I forget all pending jobs
I watch your face lit by the lamp, your shirtless throat
my pen just writes one crooked line, trails off and drops;

much of the time I make do fine with just your thought
much of the time the pens can stick to rules and daub
each verse and word correctly lined, amazed or not
what can be done if you come in? And so they stop.

A pulse point beats at my forehead, yours is a knot.
Exquisite breath, drawn in expelled in firefly strobe;
who’ll mark the one who sits and waits, carefully jots
all common things? No-one is keen to see them cope.

Caravans wait, outside the tents the loads are brought
and strapped on backs, hard trips and long, around the globe.
I too must move, though mine is small, loops on a spot
and poems to form on rhythms of winds, dust, dunes and slope.

Posted for the A-Z Challenge.


  1. Ooh Nila the first two stanza reminded me of these lines..."I ask for a moment's indulgence to sit by your side, the works I have in hand I will finish afterwards." Written by Tagore :) the last stanza took me to an old egyptian time..tents are built..camels ready to go..loved it!

    1. Tagore is layered into every Bengali psyche, from cradle to grave, or pyre as the case maybe. I am utterly thrilled to have my poem remind you of that poem of his! I like the original better than the translation though, it's more intimate. But then I am a Bong :)

    2. Haha yeah..I can only make do with translations no :)

  2. Beautifully done! I loved the imagery--I could picture everything in my head.