Oriental Pearls: Adaptation of Ghazals in Modern American Poetry

Arwa Hussein Aldoory


Ghazal poetry is a poetic genre which expresses the pains of loss and separation as well as the beauty of the beloved. The form is ancient, originating in Arabic, Hindu and Persian poetry. Ghazal poetry has been introduced into modern American poetry since the midst of the twentieth century after translating some Ghazal poems by the Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib. This paper examines the American adaptations of Ghazal poetry by outstanding modern American poets since the second part of the twentieth century. It argues that “transcultural Orientalism”, which is the product of integration between orientals and occidentals in cross-cultural societies, is a key factor that illustrates the reason behind the American adaptation of Ghazal poetry. Adaptation of Ghazal poetry, by modern American poets intensifies an attempt to dominate the “other” through revisiting the literary trends of its exotic culture. These poets also attempted to create a cultural dialogue through imposing a cross-cultural poetic genre. They introduced Ghazal poetry in a new context which suits more the contemporary issues. However, many American Ghazal poets fell in the trap of infidelity since they viewed it through an outsider’s eyes, ignoring its artistic value and its intellectual substance.


Adaptation; Exotic; Ghazals; Intellectual intersection; Love; Political issues; Separation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/9185


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