Roar of the Gazelle: Adrienne Rich speaks to Mirza Ghalib

Amrita Das

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademic


American Poet Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) writes in her book Leaflets (1969) "Ghazals: Homage to Ghalib": "I'm speakig to you as a woman to a man: / when your blood flows I want to hold you in my arms" (Rich, 1969, p. 109). Evocative words that speak of heterosexual love, perhaps even erotic. However, Rich was a half-Jewish as well as a lesbian poet, and the form which she chose - the ghazal - is an ancient Arabic form of poetry dating back to the 7th century written by men about women. The woman was the ghizaal (etymologically linked to the ghazal) or the gazelle; the ghazal was the dying cry of the gazelle as she succumbed to the hunter's arrows. This paper discusses why Rich manipulated the ghazal formally and thematically, and how her words change the cry to a feminist roar. 
Original languageEnglish
Article numberIII.13.
Pages (from-to)215-225
Number of pages10
JournalGender Studies: Transatlantic Visions
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • gender studies
  • Cultural mobility
  • Transnational poetry
  • ghazal
  • feminism


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