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Tapa, landay, misr'a

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Explore the Craft of Writing
Arabic Verse

Tapa, Landay or Misr'a is folk poetry, a Pashto couplet. Landay means "short" in Pashto. The Landay is mostly found in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is called Tapa in the more eastern Pashto dialects.

I discovered this form while reading I Am Malala, a book written by a 14 year old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for pursuing an education and for promoting education for all girls. In telling about her grandmother, Malala describes her as often reciting tapas which she called Pashto folk couplets. This sent me searching and I found a verse form that began in oral tradition and is commonly known as a woman's form of verse even though it was often written by men. The couplets are usually anonymous giving women in a male dominated society the opportunity to express feelings without censure.The voice is often a woman addressing a man to demonstrate a more tender sentiment, a more profound sorrow or a sweeter voice than that of the man. Each couplet is a stand alone poem but like many Arabic forms, couplets can be grouped together by one theme. The subject can cover any aspect of Pashtun life.

The elements of the Tapa or landay are:

  1. A distich. a poem in 2 lines.
  2. syllabic 9-13 syllables.
  3. unrhymed.
  4. In pashtun the end syllabes are ina . u͂na . a͂na or a͂ma.

    Found at afghanforms.com Posted June 15, 2007

    Zuma pa tashi khanda masta
    Ka khula me darkra lewanai ba shi mayana
    You've become intoxicated with my empty smile;
    You will verily rave if I were to give you a kiss.

    Khula ba da khodai pa raza darkam
    Mangai me wali shorawee landa de karma
    I will give you a kiss for God's sake,
    Let go of shaking my jug, you splashed water over my clothes.

    .Janan pa zen ke rata kog sho
    Dah jasto soki lagawam khula warkawama
    My beloved bent himself down to me from the saddle;
    I will give him a kiss on tiptoe.

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