Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam -11th century

Omar, following his father’s trade of tent-making he graduated to science and mathematics, and in his days he was far better known as a mathematician and astronomer than as a poet. He wrote a standard work on algebra; he revised the astronomical tables; he prompted the Persian Sultan Malik-Shah to make a drastic reform of the calendar.
During the few intervals when he was free of his computations, Omar indulged himself in the pleasures of poetry. He celebrated two intoxicants : verse and the vine. Before he died in 1123 he had composed some five hundred epigrams in quatrains, or rubais, peculiar in rhyme and pungent in effect.
— Louis Untermeyer
** *** ** ** *** ** **** **
——- — —- — — —
A book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A jug of Wine, a Loaf of bread –and Though
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
— * —- * —- * — * —
Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-Day of past Regrets and future Fears:
To-morrow–why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday ‘s Sev’n thousand Years.
—- * —- * — * —- * —-
With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow,
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d–
“I came like Water. And like Wind I go.”
—- * — * — * — * —
There was the Door to which I found no key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see;
Some little talk awhile of ME and THEE
There was –and then no more of THEE and ME.
—- * — * — * — * —
Then of the THEE IN ME who works behind
The Veil, I lifted up my hands to find
A lamp amid the darkness; and I heard,
As from Without — ” THE ME WITHIN THEE BLIND.”
— * — * — * —- * —-
Translated by EDWARD FITZGERALD

2 thoughts

  1. My favorite is:

    One Moment in Annihilation’s Waste,
    One moment, of the Well of Life to taste–
    The Stars are setting, and the Caravan
    Starts for the dawn of Nothing–Oh, make haste!

    They say that Fitzgerald took lot of liberty with translation. Even if he did, it is good poetry in its own right. BTW, ‘Shoonya’ has done great job with translating Rubaiyat in Gujarati. When you get chance, take a look at : http://layastaro.com/?cat=36

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