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Rodwell, E.H. [1931]

'Omar Khayyám. The Persian text with paraphrase, and the first and fourth editions of FitzGerald's translation. By E.H. Rodwell. London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1931

On lofty roof the sun has cast his rays,
The King of Day to fill his cup essays
With wine; then quaff. The Muezzin of the dawn
"Drink Ye" has chanted forth "into the days".

One morn from out our tavern came a cry: -
"Rise! Tavern-haunting madman. Time doth fly.
Rise! Let us fill our measures with fresh wine
Ere Fate doth fill our measure 'neath the sky."

Now for the early draught and first Cock-crow!
Hurrah for wine and wine-shops that we know!
No time for good advice. O Saki. Hush!
Away with fasts! and let the wine-jug flow!

The jocund spring doth now the world delight,
And hearts attuned yearn for the country bright.
Each bough parades the sheen of Moses' hand
The breath of Christ is felt in zephyrs slight.

The spring has come, the world in green is dight,
Like Moses buds put forth their hands to light,
With Jesus' breath herbs from the ground arise
And flowers to weeping skies unveil their sight.

The air is temper'd and the day is fine,
A shower has wash'd the dust from herb and vine,
The Nightingale to yellow rose com-plains
"We must drink wine. We must. We must drink wine."

Each morn I promise penance for the night,
From cup and brimming goblet of delight;
But now, when roses bloom, grant me release,
Now hold, O Lord, penance for penance right.

Idol of happy feet! Bring forth, I pray,
The morning draught and on the viol play;
For spring and winter by their lapse, in dust,
Have many Jams, and Kais too, cast away.

In Baghdad or in Balkh need we complain
If our life passes well, or with some pain?
Drink wine, for after us, our measure filled,
Full many moons shall wax and many wane.

From warmth of Spring and Winter's biting cold
The leaves of Life are shrivelled, fold on fold.
Drink wine and be not sad, a Sage has said
Grief kills like poison, wine as cure we hold.

While sinews serve thee well, bones, veins, and thigh,
Keep in the limits where thy Fate doth lie;
Yield not thy neck if Rustum threaten thee,
Accept no favour from a Hátim Tai.

I know not if He who created me
Made me from hellish folk or heavenly;
A cup, a Mistress singing by the tilth,
To me were joy - and heaven be to thee!

If fortune favours me with bread of wheat,
A gourd of wine, sufficiency of meat,
With beauty sitting by me in the wild,
Kings in my happiness may not compete..

They tell of Paradise with Houris bright,
I say, for me the juice of grapes is right.
Oh! take the cash and let the credit go!
The sound of drums far off cannot affright.

List to the rose: "My gold I scatter wide
Laughing I blow upon the country-side,
And as I go I loose my purse's string
And every coin to strangers I divide."

Assume that miser's gold the world o'erlay,
That hoards in hundred's jewelled wealth display,
Then lo! a day or two and all is spent,
As on the desert snow that melts away.

Before men take thy life with murd'rous blow
Bid wine be brought of clear and rosy glow,
Thou art not gold, O Fool, that careful men
Should bury deep and then raise from below.

This ancient Inn, the world, as I would say,
Shelters the piebald horse of night and day.
A feast it is by Jamshids left behind,
A palace, too, where Bahráms pillow'd stay.

Great Bahrám's palace where he drank with zest!
In it the Fox has whelped and Lions rest;
And Bahrám that kept hunting the wild ass,
To-day the grave has caught and quite supprest.

In every desert where a Tulip glows
This Bloom from blood of some dead Monarch blows,
The Violet's leaf that springs from out the ground,
As mole from cheek of some dead beauty grows.

The verdure growing by the water-way
Springs from an Angel's lip, as Poets say.
Tread gently then, for every flower that blows,
Springs from the dust where some fair lady lay.

Come friend! Despair not for tomorrow's fears
But pluck the golden fruit the present bears.
To-morrow! when we leave this ancient house
We shall be one with seven thousand years.

Old Friends are gone; and we remain while they
Fell at Death's feet. For Life, as guests so gay
Had bid us to his Court, and they, one round
Or two, before us drank - and went their way.

Arise and be not sad for days so few
That pass - But pass thy days with pleasure due;
If the old order stood without a change
To thee from others nought would e'er accrue.

The weeping clouds again the verdure spray,
And we with purple wine our lives must stay;
The verdure that delights our eyes to-day,
Whom shall it please - enriched from our own clay?

Allow no grief to seize thee in its hold,
And let no vain regrets thy soul enfold;
Drink wine where verdure grows beside a stream,
Ere earth doth hold thee to its bosom cold.

Some folk immersed in faith and doctrine were
And some confused 'twixt doubt and truth appear.
Now, as he lurks, the Muezzin startling cries: -
"Fools! The right road is neither here nor there!"

All those that travelled on this road before
Have sunk to sleep in pride for ever more;
Drink wine, my friend, and hear the truth from me,
Their words were nought but wind that passes o'er.

Drink wine. For long thou'lt sleep within the tomb.
No friend, no wife shall share thy narrow room;
Beware! To none this mystery impart,
"The wither'd Tulip ne'er again shall bloom."

I came as Falcon from the secret sky
To fly with thee from lower depths on high,
But finding none that could explain - by that
Same door, by which I came - back I did fly.

In youth some time we with a Master spent,
And with our learning we were well content;
Ponder the end, the lesson that we learnt,
"We came from dust, and as the wind we went."

No one untied the everlasting knot,
No one has stepped a pace beyond his lot;
From Acolyte to Master I must look,
Each mother's son is helpless quite - God wot.

Me first confusedly to birth He brought,
Save wonderment at life increased nought;
In deep disgust we went. We do not know,
From coming, being, going, what is sought.

Unask'd of old they fixed my natal day,
My going too is fixed beyond gainsay.
Arise! and gird thyself, my servitor,
For I with wine will wash all griefs away.

From depth of Earth to Saturn’s height I shot,
To Heaven's problems too an answer got;
From every artifice I leaped forth free,
All knots untied, except of Death the Knot.

No one has found a road behind the veil,
No one to read God's secrets did prevail:
For two and sev'nty years I pondered well,
No explication came, not short the tale.

We do not know what was of old decreed
And this enigma we lack skill to read;
Behind the veil they speak of " me and thee
"But when it’s drawn - no more of us indeed!

With zest my lip to a Jug's lip I held,
By longing for some clue to life impell'd,
"Exactly such as thou I lived my life,
A moment bear with me," it gurgling spelled.

This jug, like me, its time in sighs did waste,
Ensnar'd by ringlets that some beauty grac'd.
The handle that you see upon its neck,
Was once an arm that some sweetheart embraced.

I chanc'd to watch a Potter yesterday,
Who struck with many blows the humid clay;
The clay in scarce-heard murmurs him besought
"I was as thou. Be gentle with me, pray!"

On New Year's day the dew glints on the rose,
Across the lawn my Sweetheart’s beauty glows.
Of yesterday the story is not sweet;
Then let it be. To-day most sweetly goes.

I pondered at a Potter's, where he wrought;
The Master stood beside his wheel in thought,
For top and handle of two pots of clay
A princes skull and beggar's hand he brought.

I saw a famous Potter t'other day,
Each moment brought of skill a fresh display.
Though men devoid of vision saw it not,
On every hand I saw my Father's clay.

Each drop the Saki to the ground doth throw,
May quench the fire in hidden eyes below.
Praise God! Thou thinkest wine a water that
Can free the heart assailed by woe on woe.

On New Year's day like Tulips raise the Cup
With one of tulip-cheeks (if so, thou'lt sup).
With merry cheer drink wine, for all at once
The Heav'n shall turn thee down – as earth ploughed up.

As one contented live and curb desire,
Let nothing over thee Command acquire.
Take wine and play with beauty's locks for soon
Shall pass for aye thy scheme of life entire.

Khayyám! If thou dost worship wine - rejoice!
If happiness in love is thine - rejoice!
Since at the last thou'lt perish - then this life
As non-existent hold - in fine - rejoice!

In heav'n that hides what we unlearnt must learn,
Exists a cup that we must drain in turn.
Drink with good heart and when thy time shall come,
Sigh not, nor shun the draught from hand so stern.

O soul! From earthy taint when purified,
As spirit free, thou shalt toward heaven ride;
Thy home the empyrean! Shame on thee
Who dost in this clay tenement reside!

Khayyám! Thy body stands just like a tent,
Thy soul as Sultan is toward Heaven bent;
The Sultan rises—and the Chamberlain,
Grim Death, strikes down the empty tenement.

Khayyám! Although the blue pavilioned sky
Its tent hath pitched, and holds its peace.
On high The Eternal Saki pours untold Khayyáms
That seem like bubbles in the cup –and fly.

Oh! The long years the world shall keep its frame,
When we have gone, and left no sign or name!
For ages we were not - and all was well,
And when we pass it will be just the same.

Know! From thy soul thy body shall depart,
Behind God's mystic veil thou'lt live apart.
Drink wine! Thou dost not know whence thou hast come.
Rejoice! Thou know'st not whither bound thou art.

Life's caravan moves past in wondrous-wise
Then make the most of time - in merry guise;
Why let the morrow sadden thee for friends
O Saki ? Pass the Cup. The night soon dies!

A single breath divides the false and true,
And doubt it separates from sureness too;
Then make the most of what the present yields,
The harvests of our life are ever scant and few.

My heart conveyed her strong desire to learn
How inspiration made the Prophets burn.
I "Alif" said. "Enough," said she, "If ONE
Is in the house, one letter serves the turn."

Stay me with wine, my heart with fervour glows,
And life as mercury unstable flows;
Arise! For thy good fortune is a dream,
And know, the fire of youth as water goes.

That mystic essence that in all inheres,
As herb or animal disguised appears,
And never dies, away with such a thought!
A nature known, and yet unknown it wears.

At times Thou hid'st Thyself from human view,
Again art seen in worldly forms anew;
Oh ! Manifest Thy glory to Thyself,
Thou the Spectator art and thing seen too.

If now of life the secrets were revealed,
In death God's hidden things were not concealed;
To-day you nothing know; To-morrow shall
To you, not you, the hidden doorway yield?

The hide-bound thralls of theory and thought
Have wrangled about Life, and come to nought.
Go, prudent youth, let wine suffice.
For these Raw minds from unripe grapes have rawness caught.

To-night I'll drink one cup for pleasure's sake,
Then with two cups myself I'll richer make;
At first my faith and reason I'll divorce,
The vine's red daughter then to spouse I'll take.

"To be" and "not to be" I hardly know
But well acquainted am with "high" and "low";
And yet I weary of my own concept
If higher aught than wine I try to show.

My foes misname me as "philosopher",
God knows I am not what they thus infer;
But in this dark abode the case is worse,
For who I am - I can't at all aver.

In drink I passed a tavern yesterday
And saw a drunkard on whose shoulder lay
A great wine jar. "Art not ashamed," said I.
"Mercy's from God," quoth he, "Drink while you may."

Drink wine, for it will rectify excess,
And solve the riddle of the sects no less.
Refrain not from this subtle alchemy,
One draught a thousand reasons will redress.

With worthy men in wine I take delight,
And drinking wine is harmless in their sight;
For God foreknew of old this very thing,
If I abstain his knowledge was not right.

"Abstain from wine," they say, "'twill bring distress,
In hell at last they'll fling thee merciless."
'Tis so. But sweeter than both worlds thou'lt find
The moment that from wine springs happiness.

Far wandered we past gates, or thro' the plain,
Through all the world our vagrant path has lain,
Nor heard from one who has retraced the road,
That travelled once, no one may pass again.

Learning and letters they that grasped, adept,
As candles bright the way for others kept.
No road they found thro' this dark night of gloom,
They told a tale and then in dust they slept.

When first creation dawned beyond this sphere,
Of Heav'n and Hell, I sought some meaning clear;
Then the Preceptor spoke: "The Tablet, Pen,
And Heav'n and Hell in thine own self inhere."

The sky's a girdle from life’s rubbish swept,
Jihun's a mark of the pure tears we wept,
Hell's but a spark from clash of worries struck,
Heav'n but a moment's rest midst turmoil kept.

Priends of my youth. A word take from my pen,
Heed not the heaven's senseless might. And then
Apart from crowds contented stay and mark
The little game that heaven plays with men.

This wheeling sphere, that we with wonder know,
Resembles most a magic-lantern show;
The sun as lamp, the world as lantern turns,
And we, bewildered figures, come and go.

We are but chess-men in a game of chess
Played by great heaven in its waywardness,
Hither and thither on the board we move,
And singly reach the box of nothingness.

Thou, fallen like a ball to Fortune's blows!
Speed left and right, in silence, as it goes;
For He that threw thee down into the rush
He knows about it, and He knows. He knows.

The tablet bears a secret impress writ;
Of good or bad, the pen recks not one whit;
Whatever under Fate seemed right was giy'n;
'Tis vain to struggle and to fight with it.

The good and bad in thine own nature lie,
But fate decrees if you shall laugh or sigh;
To Heav'n impute it not. In reason's path
It far more helpless is than you or I.

Like an inverted cup the sky doth show,
Within it pent philosophers lie low;
Observe the bond that holds the flask and cup,
With lip to lip between them blood doth flow.

Dear heart! since truth itself is but pretence,
Why overborne by sorrow? Why and whence?
Confide in Fate. Fret not. The pen moves on,
Nor will come back, for all thy vehemence.

See also against LI, ist edition, and LXXI, 4th edition.

As to the 3rd and 4th lines of LXXIV, 4th edition, see against XLVI I,
4th edition, the last two lines of (a).

Lo! Yesterday they fixed to-day's career,
When all from thy deep longings was secure;
Be well content! Unmoved by thee they fixed,
What thou must do to-morrow – and must bear.

When first they saddled horses of the sky,
When Jupiter, the Pleiads too, on high
In splendour blazed - this was our lot from Fate;
For sin predestined how shall we reply?

In love eternal He created me
And first He taught the lore of charity.
Then from my heart He filed a key that might
Unlock the treasures of Reality.

In some low Inn I'd rather seek Thy face,
Than pray without Thee toward the Niche's place.
O First and Last of all! As Thou dost will,
Burn me in Hell—or save me by Thy grace!

Thy strict behest we cannot but fulfil
And yet Thou say'st "Flee from it - I so will"
Between Thy "Yea" and "Nay" we worldlings fail
To slant the cup and yet no liquor spill.

When God of our existence mixed the clay,
He knew full well what works we should display.
No fault have I save by His own decree,
Then why should He burn me at judgment day?

While for the mould they mixed my native clay
They caused in me the surge that I display.
Better than this I cannot be. For thus
They poured me from the crucible that day.

About my path Thou sett'st a thousand snares
And say'st "I'll catch thy footsteps unawares".
In everything Thy order rules the world, Yet me,
Thy creature, "rebel" it declares.

The quick and dead are in Thy wide domain,
Thou dost uphold the heav'n, unstable, vain;
If I transgress, nathless Thy slave am I
And Thou my Maker art - who shall arraign?

What pleasure hast Thou in a slave so base,
Whose darkened heart obscures Thy shining face;
If for Thy worship heaven is the meed,
'Tis naught but wages. Where Thy gift and grace?

Thou who dost know the secrets of each heart,
Thou who the Helper of the helpless art,
O Lord! Repentance give and take.
For Thou To all the grace of pardon dost impart.

I tarried at a potter's yesterday,
Two thousand pots speaking or silent lay:
In their pot-language all began to say
"Where's the pot-maker, -buyer, -seller, pray?"

A cup there is that wisdom lauds enow,
And for its beauty kisses on its brow.
So rare a cup the World's Great Potter makes,
And shatters on the ground again, I trow.

He who the pieces of a cup combined,
The same to shatter them had ne'er designed;
Such subtle handiwork, could He thro' love
That perfect made - destroy thro' malice blind?

When from God's hand our human natures came
Why thrust He them to needless loss and shame?
If they were good - why shatter them at all?
If bad - for failure who must take the blame?

They say a search shall darkness all dispel
In that last day. The "Friend", too, shall repel.
But from "The Perfect Good" no ill can come.
Be of good cheer. The end shall all be well.

When Death has placed his foot on me amain,
And every hope of life from me is ta'en,
A wine-jug you shall make of me; perhaps
With wine if filled, I yet may live again.

Ram’zán has gone, Shawwál is at the door,
Fresh joys shall gladden us and tales of yore.
The porters stride with heavy loads of flasks
And cry - "Give way. The Porter comes once more."

Take heed, my friends, and stay my heart with wine,
And make these amber cheeks like rubies shine;
And when I pass bathe me in wine - and make
My coffin from the wood of an old vine.

Bathe me in wine, when I have passed away,
With purest wine the burial service say;
If you would see me in the day of doom
Seek me in dust beside the Inn's doorway.

My thirst in wine I'll quench with such intent
My very dust of wine shall waft the scent;
And Topers passing by their sense shall lose
Bemused by fragrance from such tenement.

To prayer and fast my spirit did incline,
Salvation full and sure I thought was mine.
Alas! My cleansing by the wind was spoilt,
My fast was broken by a drop of wine!

Each day I promise penance for the night
From cup and brimming goblet of delight;
But now, when roses bloom, grant me release,
Now make, O Lord, penance for penance right.

Though wine has rent ray honour all awry
I'll never part from wine until I die:
Astonished at the wine-sellers am I,
Better than what they sell, what can they buy?

Alas! the book of forceful youth must close!
My purple spring is changed to winter snows;
The Bird of mirth whose name was "Prime of Life"
When thrilled its song? When ceased it? No one knows.

Ah! that for respite we might find a room,
Or gain our goal by this long road of gloom!
That after untold years a hope there were
That we like verdure from the earth might bloom!

Oh! would that God might alter this world quit !
And do it now that I might see the sight!
That He would cross my name from out His roll,
Or from His store increase my means so slight!

If I like God the heavens could constrain,
The same I'd shatter from their tyrant reign;
And other heav'ns I'd build of such a kind
That thou, made free, thy wishes might attain.

We cannot count upon to-morrow's morn,
Now cheer my love-sick heart with smarts o'er-borne.
Ah Moon! By moon-light drink – for oft the moon
Shall seek us long and find our place forlorn.

When you, my friends, your kindly greetings make,
It well behoves old memories to wake;
And when you quaff choice wine and my turn comes
A cup turn down, for "auld acquaintance sake".

When you, my friends, in gatherings agree
Each others graces, too, rejoice to see,
And when the Saki brings the Magian wine,
Repeat a benison for hapless me.

When tulips “cheeks" are washed at New Year's day
By clouds in travail, rise without delay,
The goblet fill. This verdure now so fair
Will spring as fair to-morrow from your clay.

Said a fish near death in the pitiless sun,
"Does a stream refill when it ceases to run?"
Quoth a duck : "What matters the source or the sea
When we are cooked to death and quite undone?"

He who the earth and sky and heavens made
Sore hearts not few with added soreness frayed;
And ruby lips and locks as dark as musk,
In hollow'd earth and chamber'd mould He laid.

In that last day when all shall be repaid
Thy worth on character shall be assayed;
In virtue strive or on that day thy doom
On qualities acquired shall be laid.

To-morrow when the fortunate are blest
Me, too, a vagabond they will invest;
If I arise as "good" they'll count me so,
As "bad" a special grace shall on me rest.