in the Deccan during the 15th and 16th
of the Deccan. Vali (1668-1744) contributed much to the structure of ghazal.
When the works of Vali reached Delhi in 1720, the town was in an uproar
and, within a decade, Urdu became the language of poetry.
    The works of many minor poets like Hatim, Naji, Mazmoon and Abru
actually formed the ground-work that cemented the structure of Urdu poetry
in the 18th century in Northern India, and particularly Delhi. The Urdu
ghazal became heavily Persianised and heralded the golden age of this poetic
genre, beginning with Mir Taqi Mir. The simplicity of emotions expressed in
earlier ghazals went through a metamorphosis, leading to the works of
Ghalib, perhaps the greatest Urdu ghazal poet.
    This transition from the 15th to 18th century was due not only to the
maturity of technique but to changes in the social order as well. For India, the
18th century was an age of transition. The last of the Great Mughals was
Aurangzeb (1707), after whom there was dismemberment of the empire. The
capital was invaded and destroyed by Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali,
followed by others. Finally, the British crept in with their deceptive plans.
    All of this changed the aura of the empire which had stifled human
thought. The uncertainties of the time caused many to raise questions and he
assertive. A revival of the arts and literature, a sort of renaissance period,
ensued for India in the 18th century. Urdu poetry benefited most from this
revolution of thoughts.
    The doubts and the uncertainties of the 18th century continued into the
19th century, and the Revolt of 1857 against the British left many indelible
marks on the social and cultural scene of Northern India. All this is reflected
melancholically by many poets, Ghalib included. Many new constructions of
language ensued, using old similes. The executioner and the rival were now
the British. Christ became a symbol of the ruling elite and new meaning was
given to the kalisa (church).
    The weak and powerless Bahadur Shah Zafar, a poet and dreamer,
became a symbol of the disintegrating and dying Mughal empire that he ruled
over. Mourning over lost glory became an off repeated topic for Urdu poetry.
    In brief, the Urdu ghazal finds its roots in the melancholic romantic era of
the Mughal period. It was through the rise of the Urdu ghazal as a medium of
expression that the Urdu language rose to great heights of popularity and
evolution, in a very short time.