Monday, 21 April 2014

fouR, paRed, spaRe and maRvellous

is for Rubai (yat)

The rubai is quite simply a quatrain, with the 1st, 2nd and 4th line containing the rhyme words, while the 3rd remains unrhymed.  This nifty bit of assymmetry is what makes it absolutely irresistible imho.  It's a bit like a truncated and pared down version of the ghazal, just the matla and maqta, without having to even bother with a radif and all.  

A rubai can be stand alone, or be part of a themed set (ooh, now why didn't I think of that before? so much easier than hunting for forms beginning with a fresh letter everyday!). Or they can be strung together as stanzas to form a single poem.  

The rules are easy to follow, and easygoing enough to let anybody say what they want without hemming them in with hemistich sizes or sticking to any specific syllable counts and such. Here is my stand alone rubai:

Where are the shells falling today?

I haven’t baked the bread, I haven’t got the goblet 
my hair’s still undone, the midday inarticulate; 
A plume of smoke has bloomed on the distant horizon 
maybe it’s you, maybe it’s someone I’ve never met.

A long time ago I used to be a market researcher in the Gulf (I am still one, I find market research sticks for life, but I am no longer in the same place) and all the Arabic speakers who ever responded to my questionnaires there had “writing verses” down as a hobby in their profiles.  No wonder, because the rubai is originally an Arabic form, taken many centuries ago to Persia with the Islamic conquest.  The Arabs personify everypoet, I think.  Their everyday language itself is lyrical, and in a way that's rather similar to Bengali!  

I have never had the chance of looking at questionnaires filled by Iranians, the native speakers of Farsi, but I am pretty sure that “writing poetry” would be a leisure activity with them too. Probably even bigger time than Arabs. 

The most famous rubaiyat writers/poets are Rumi, Hafiz and Khayyam, all native Persian speakers.  The greatest, most moving expressions of love, faith, and spirituality captured in four exquisite and exquisitely short lines.

Posted for the A-Z Challenge.


  1. Lovely and thanks for the history lesson. I didn't know that about the Rubai, or poetry being so important to the Iranians and Persians... I've read some Rumi.

  2. Ooh this reminds me of this beautiful poetry book I have. Arabic poetry converted to English. Beautiful works.i hope I can share it with you someday :)

    1. Look forward to it, Sabeeha! :)

    2. Hehe tell you what, I'll click photos of my favourite ones as I read them and then send em to you.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog the other day! :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

  4. Now this was something I didn't know, but then I've never been a big poetry guy.

    John Holton