The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

by Omar Khayyam

1048-1131

trans. by Edward Fitzgerald 1859

I.
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

II.
Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a voice within the Tavern cry,
'Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry.'

III.
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted - 'Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.'

IV.
Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the White Hand of Moses on the Bough
Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

V.
Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose,
And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no-one Knows;
But still the Vine her ancient ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.

VI.
And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Pehlevi, with 'Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine! - the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek of hers to incardine.

VII.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

VIII.
Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

IX.
Morning a thousand Roses brings, you say;
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?
And this first summer month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.

X.
But come with old Khayyam, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobad and Kaikhosru forgot:
Let Rustum lay about him as he will,
Or Hatim Tai cry Supper - heed them not.

XI.
With me along the strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan is forgot -
And peace is Mahmud on his Golden Throne!

XII.
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise now!

XIII.
Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Promise go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!

XIV.
Were it not Folly, Spider-like to spin
The Thread of present Life away to win -
What? for ourselves, who know not if we shall
Breathe out the very Breath we now breathe in!

XV.
Look to the Rose that blows about us - 'Lo,
Laughing,' she says, 'into the World I blow: 
At once the silken of my Purse
Tear, and its Treasure in the Garden throw.'

XVI.
The Worldly Hope men set their hearts upon
Turns Ashes - or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two is gone.

XVII.
And those who husband the Golden Grain,
And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

XVIII.
Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two and went his way.

XIX.
They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:
And Bahram, that great Hunter - the Wild Ass
Stamps o'er his Head, but cannot break his Sleep.

XX.
I sometime think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth  the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely head.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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