The structure of Spires’s “Ghazal” will be addressed later in detail, but one cannot analyze the poem’s meaning without acknowledging the importance of its style. Contemporary writers of ghazals take some liberties with the original standard form but leave enough intact to make the framework recognizable. In this poem, Spires uses a pair of homonyms instead of rhyming words in the couplets, and the like-sounding terms she has selected greatly strengthen the work’s message and tone. “Morning” and “mourning” produce an intriguing play off of one another throughout, and the controlled shift from one to the other conveys the overall somber mood of both words.
In the first two lines, the setting is doleful, with the speaker hearing her “name in the black air,” or the darkness of “early morning.” She claims it is “called out,” but it is ambiguous as to whether her name is actually spoken by someone in the room or on the telephone or she has only dreamed she hears it. Line 2 suggests the latter, and it sets the tone of the remainder of the poem: “a future of mourning” brought on by a foreboding “premonition” of death and sorrow. These lines also mark the first use of the word “black,” which will appear twice more in keeping with the general melancholy of the work.
These lines introduce a second person into the poem, later disclosed as the speaker’s mother....
(The entire section is 1188 words.)
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