by Omar Khayyamtranslated by Edward Fitzgerald
XXI. And this delightful Herb whose tender Green Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean - Ah, lean upon lightly! for who knows From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen! XXII. 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. XXIII. Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and best That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest, Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before, And one by one crept silently to Rest. XXIV. And we, that now make merry in the Room They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom, Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth Descend, ourselves to make a Couch - for Whom? XXV. Ah, make the most of what we may yet 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! XXVI. Alike to those for who 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!' XXVII. Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust Like foolish Prophets forth; their Works to Scorn Are scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust. XXVIII. Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise To talk; One thing is certain, that Life flies; One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies; The Flower that once has blown forever dies. XXIX. Myself when Young did easily frequent Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument About it and about; but evermore Came out by the same Door as in I went. XXX. With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow, And with my own hand labour'd it to grow; And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd - 'I came like Water and like Wind I go. XXXI. Into this Universe, and Why not knowing, Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing; And out of it, as Wind along the Waste, I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing. XXXII. Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate, And many Knots unravel'd by the Road; But not the Master-Knot of Human Fate. XXXIII. There was the door to which I found no Key: There was the Veil through which I could not see: Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee There was - and then no more of Thee and Me. XXXIV. Then to the rolling Heav'n itself I cried, Asking, 'What Lamp had Destiny to guide Her little Children stumbling in the Dark?' And - 'A blind Understanding!' Heav'n replied. XXXV. Then to the Lip of this poor earthen Urn I lean'd, the secret Well of Life to learn: And Lip to Lip it murmur'd - 'While you live, Drink! - for, once dead, you never shall return.' XXXVI. I think the Vessel, that with fugitive Articulation answer'd, once did live, And merry-make, and the cold Lip I kiss'd, How many Kisses might it take - and give! XXXVII. For in the Market-place, one Dusk of Day, I watch'd the Potter thumping his wet Clay: And with it's all obliterated Tongue It murmur'd - 'Gently, Brother, gently, pray!' XXXVIII. And has not such a Story from of Old Down Man's successive generations roll'd Of such a clod of saturated Earth Cast by the Maker into Human mould? XXXIX. Ah, fill the Cup:- what boots it to repeat How Time is slipping underneath our Feet: Unborn To-morrow, and dead Yesterday, Why fret about them if To-day be sweet? XL. A Moment's Halt - a momentary taste Of Being from the Well amid the Waste - And Lo! The phantom Caravan has reach'd The Nothing it set out from - Oh, make haste!