Literary Arts (Mar 2021)

A Study of Significant Rhetorical and Innovative Techniques in Attar’s Ghazals (Lyric Poems): Rhetoric Complying with Mystical Concepts

  • Parvin Rezaei

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 13, no. 1
pp. 43 – 58


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The purpose of this study is to examine the prominent rhetorical techniques of Attar's ghazals. The main question here is what style he has applied in the structure of the elements of a verse, using the science of innovation and expression. It looks necessary to know the most frequent ways of arranging Attar's ghazals and the style of linking them to his fundamental and mystical thoughts. In composing ghazals, he apparently attached great importance to adorning the language, applying the figures of speech in the field of gentle innovation and spirituality and its methods of similes. Seemingly, he knew a more effective speech is the one that is more adorned. Hence, with the aim of emphasizing mystical themes, he created another effect and function of all kinds of pun, simile, ambiguity- proportional and coherent- repetition, personality-oriented allusions, axial paradoxes, etc., that goes beyond the mere rhetoric and embellishment of verses. Perhaps, Attar's goal was to highlight his thoughts through such literary techniques. As the result, he made his ghazals more musical and influential with his knowledge, insight, and mastery of the functions of rhetoric and innovation. For him, even the most trivial innovative point appeared to be a medium for the effective induction of his mystical thoughts. Attar is also known as a content-oriented and mystical poet who paid special attention to the processing and arrangement of his words in poetry. The most important feature of his ghazals is the proportion of form to meaning. (Shafi’ee Kadkani, 2001: 60) Every talk of fade and finitude is aligned with innovative verbal and spiritual figures of speech, as much as possible; for example, to make the concept of "losing one's head" and "knowing one's secret" influential, he used pun and repetition (see Attar, 2013: 363). To sum up, his using simile, ambiguity-proportional, coherent or contradict-pun, repetition, and allusions in his ghazals seems to be a way of artistic expression of his main mystical concepts and thoughts such as epiphany of God and His manifestation and concealment- seeking, love, knowledge, satiety, manifestation, existence and non-existence, poverty and annihilation, fade and finitude, conversion death and part moving towards the whole or immersion in the essence of the beloved (employing the similes of candle, butterfly, particle, sun, drop, sea, ball, and polo, etc.).