Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
I recently had the opportunity to read a couple of books on Omar Khayyam. His name always seemed familiar, and I’m glad I somehow stumbled on these two books – one is called Samarkand (novel by Amin Maalouf) which takes the reader on a temporal and spatial journey across Persia (Iran) following a fictional manuscript which eventually is lost in the sinking of the Titanic. I enjoyed reading the book, so I picked up Edward FitzGerald’s translation of Omar Khayyams rubaiyat. Here are a few favorites:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
Some for the Glories of This World;
and some Sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!
Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
And those that after some To-morrow stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
“Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There.”
Oh, threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain–This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.
Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
Before us pass’d the door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.
As under cover of departing Day
Slunk hunger-stricken Ramazan away,
Once more within the Potter’s house alone
I stood, surrounded by the Shapes of Clay.
Shapes of all Sorts and Sizes, great and small,
That stood along the floor and by the wall;
And some loquacious Vessels were; and some
Listen’d perhaps, but never talk’d at all.
But helpless pieces in the game He plays
Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days
He hither and thither moves, and checks … and slays
Then one by one, back in the Closet lays
The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and–sans End!