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The Masnavi or Mathnawi or Muzdawwidj


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Arabic Verse

The Masnavi or Mathnawi is a long narrative, the ancient Middle Eastern epic form dates back to the 8th century. Although it is believed to originally be Persian, Masnavi's have been composed in Persian, Turkish, Urdu and Arabic (sometimes called the Muzdawwidj). The great poet Rumi used the stanzaic form to write 6 books containing 25000 verses which he titled Mathnawi. I am not sure if the books are named for the form or the form was named from the books, probably the latter. Apparently the Sufi Whirling Dervishes use verse from the books in prayer.

The elements of the Masnavi or Mathnawi  or Muzdawwidj are:

  1. a narrative, an epic.
  2. Composed with one of three themes, a heroic tale, religious or didactic story or a romantic tale.
  3. Long, much longer than any ghazal which usually ends after a maximum of 15 couplets. The Masnavi are usually in the hundreds or even thousands of couplets.
  4. Stanzaic, written in rhyming couplets. The couplets are complete and closed with one exception, the Arabic Masnavi or Muzdawwidj is written in triplets, complete and closed.
  5. Rhymed, the rhyme is never to be repeated throughout the poem rhyme aa bb cc dd ee ff gg etc. , in Arabic the rhyme is aaa bbb ccc ddd eee etc…
  6. Syllabic, Persian Masnavi stick to a strict 11 syllables per line. This tradition loosens up a bit in Turkish, Urdu and Arabic.
  7. Composed with alliteration, especially the Arabic Masnavi or Muzdawwidj.

    Just a Man

    Today we celebrate Martin Luther King;
    just a man, but a man, of whose works we sing.
    A man with a gift for inspiring with words 
    moved us with conviction needing to be heard.
    African-American raised in the South,
    born a preacher's son with a rebellious mouth.
    Early days, refusing to answer to "Boy",
    but he sang in a choir with fervor and joy.
    Husband and father nurtured love in his home,
    but his heart held much more, that's told in this tome.
    Called to be a blazing Baptist minister,
    preaching equality, nothing sinister.
    Violence was detrimental to protest,
    instead, peaceful sit-ins and marches were best.
    50s leader of the Civil Rights Movement,
    leading an errant nation to improvement.
    His speeches and actions still push us today,
    his work is not over, but someday, we pray.
    Too soon he was murdered for shining his beam.
    He was just a man, but a man with a Dream.
                                  ~~Judi Van Gorder

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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