Beher (Arabic/Persian/Urdu: ) in Urdu poetry is the meter of a sher (couplet). Essentially, beher is a specific pattern, combining the arkaans (dummy meaningless words) of Urdu prosody that define the "length" of a sher. However, generally beher is categorized in three classes: Short, medium, long, depending upon the length of the sher of the ghazal.
For a ghazal, since all the shers in it should be of the same beher, determining the beher of one sher (or even one line of the sher) is enough to determine the beher of the entire ghazal. For example, in this ghazal of Ghalib, the length and meter of the ashaar is same throughout. In terms of the European method of scansion, the metre can be written as follows (where "x" = long or short, "u" = short, "-" = long, "u u" = one long or two short syllables):
The ghazal above is written in a beher called: khafiif musaddas makhbuun mahzuuf maqtu (Meter G8). This is a ten-syllable beher and by the standards of Urdu poetry, is a chotii (small) beher.
As with the scansion of Persian poetry, a syllable such as miid or baat consisting of a long vowel plus consonant, or sharm consisting of a short vowel and two consonants, is "overlong", and counts as a long syllable + a short one.
In Urdu prosody, unlike Persian, any final long vowel can be shortened as the metre requires, for example, in the word kaabaa in the last verse above.
There exist many behers, but mainly there are 19 behers used in Urdu poetry. These behers are further distributed in different types, but they are not described here. The names are:
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