Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rubaiyat - Omar Khayyam (Edward Fitzgerald's translation)

This one by Jaico bought by my father, several decades ago as one can see, is such a pleasure to read for many reasons. What it means to me is one thing, what the book carries is another and it was a pleasurable read in every way. I enjoyed the stuff about the potter and the pot.

Omar Khayyam was apparently born Ghiyathuddin Abulfath Omar bin Ibrahm Al-Khayyami at Naishapur in Khorassan, Persia during the latter half of the 11th century. He was the son of a tent maker and though he continued his father's trade of tent making, he also pursued maths, astronomy and science, writing on algebra, revising astronomical tables, and even coming up with his own version of the calendar. Poetry he indulged himself when he had the time - and wine, he loved. He composed about 500 epigrams in quatrains or rubais - each an independent and self-contained idea, before he died in 1123. This work remained unknown for six centuries until Edward Fitzgerald, in his fiftieth year of a quiet life wrote a translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Starting slowly though, the book became a popular hit within a decade.

One remembers a quote - "He who does not love wine, woman and song, remains a fool his whole life long." Was it he who said it? Must have been? A quote I used often in my youth at college.

Some more, some not from the book as well (from the link.

“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.”

"And strange to tell, among that Earthern Lot
Some could articulate, while others not;
And suddenly one more impatient cried -
'Who is the potter, pray, and who the Pot?

'None answere'd this; but after Silence spake
A Vessel of a more ungainly Make:
"They sneer at me for learning all awry,
What? Did the Hand then of the Potter shake?'

Then said another with a long-drawn sigh
"My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry;
But fill me with the old familiar Juice,
Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!"

“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

“I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return'd to me,
And answer'd: 'I Myself am Heav'n and Hell”
“Dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows, why fret about it, if today be sweet.”
“As far as you can avoid it, do not give grief to anyone. Never inflict your rage on another. If you hope for eternal rest, feel the pain yourself; but don’t hurt others.”
“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 forever dies.”
 “It’s too bad if a heart lacks fire,
and is deprived of the light
of a heart ablaze.
The day on which you are
without passionate love
is the most wasted day of your life.”

 “When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow, I look back.”
“A book of verses underneath the bough
A flask of wine, a loaf of bread and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness
And wilderness is paradise now.”
“O friend, for the morrow let us not worry
This moment we have now, let us not hurry
When our time comes, we shall not tarry
With seven thousand-year-olds, our burden carry”
“There was a water-drop, it joined the sea,
A speck of dust, it was fused with earth;
what of your entering and leaving this world?
A fly appeared, and disappeared.”
 “Oh, come with old Khayyàm, 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.”
“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!

“How much more of the mosque, of prayer and fasting?
Better go drunk and begging round the taverns.
Khayyam, drink wine, for soon this clay of yours
Will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar.
 “When you are so full of sorrow
that you can't walk, can't cry anymore,
think about the green foliage that sparkles after
the rain. When the daylight exhausts you, when
you hope a final night will cover the world,
think about the awakening of a young child.”
“Poor soul, you will never know anything
of real importance. You will not uncover
even one of life's secrets. Although all religions
promise paradise, take care to create your own
paradise here and now on earth.”

“I value the lover's
sighs of happiness and I despise the hypocrite
mumbling his prayers.”
“When you have planted
the rose of Love into your heart
your life has not been in vain.”
"Paradise? For me it means
a moment of peace.”
“From the house of unbelief
to true religion
is a single breath;
From the world of doubt
to certainty
is a single breath;
Enjoy this precious single breath,
for the harvest
of our whole lives
is that same one breath.”
“I have not asked for life.
But I try to accept whatever
life brings without surprise.
And I shall depart again without having
questioned anyone about my strange
stay here on earth.”
 “Scholars really have nothing to teach you.
But from the soft touch of the eyelashes of
a woman you will know all there is to know about happiness.”

“It is a shame for anyone
to be well-known for righteousness.
It is a great disgrace to feel
distress at the injustice of
the turning of the wheels of fate.”
 “To wisely live your life, you don't need to know much
Just remember two main rules for the beginning:
You better starve, than eat whatever
And better be alone, than with whoever.”
“Don't pursue happiness!
Life is as short as a sigh.
The dust of people that were once famous
turn with the reddish clay on the wheel you are
looking at. The universe is a fata morgana;
life is a dream.”

“When your soul and mine
have left our bodies and we are
burried alongside each other,
a Potter may one day mould
the dust of both of us
into the same clay.”
 “When Allah created me, he knew that I
would drink a lot of wine. So if I didn't, the
omniscience of Allah would stand on its head.”
“Shall I still sigh for what I have not got,
Or try with cheerfulness to bear my lot?
Fill up my cup! I know not if the breath
I now am drawing is my last, or not!”
“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!”
“The creator of stars, heaven and earth
surpassed himself when he also created pain. Lips like rubies, delicious-smelling hair, blooming flowers, how many of you are
already buried in earthy soil?”

“Whether at Naishápúr 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.”
“We come into this world in the waters and leave it in the winds”

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