About the meters used
in the Divan-e Ghalib
Ghalib was not very interested in metrical
innovation or experimentation. In the whole of his published Urdu divan
he has used only 19 meters, and all of them are well-established within
the traditional Perso-Arabic metrical system.
For the purposes of this project, I didn’t want to have to explain
the whole metrical system, but I did want to give the scansion of each
ghazal in some quick and convenient form. So I decided simply to number
the meters Ghalib used in his divan, in the order he used them. For
each ghazal, I provide a number from ‘G1’ through ‘G19’ that identifies
its meter as one of those given in the chart below. Long syllables (
= ) and short syllables ( - ) are marked, along with slashes for foot
boundaries and double slashes for quasi-caesura breaks (where an extra,
short ‘cheat syllable’ is allowed,
like the one allowed at the end of the line in all meters).
If you’d like to know more, check
Meter: A Practical Handbook*. It contains a thorough and pragmatic account of how the Urdu
metrical system works, with practice exercises for learning scansion,
and a bibliography of further readings. It was written for non-native-speakers
of Urdu, especially English-speakers, and should be of help if you want
to read classical or modern ghazal with full understanding.