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omar khayyám

'The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám' is one of the great classics of Persian poetry. Written by mathematician, astronomer and poet Omar Khayyám (1048 - 1123), the original collection contains over a thousand quatrains (rubáiyát meaning quatrains). They have been translated and interpreted innumerable times.

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.

In English, the Rubáiyát is best known in the translation by Edward Fitzgerald, whose rendition apparently takes so much liberty as to almost be a new creation. Even so, as 19th century English poetry it has become a classic by itself. (The examples given here are his.)

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

In Dutch, the translations by poet Leopold are perhaps most notable. Though based on German and English translations, and probably not very faithful either, they too stand on their own as great Dutch poetry.

The extensive site of the Dutch Omar Khayyám Society (in Dutch) lists translations in many languages, most of which are available online.

While the Rose blows along the River Brink,
With old Khayyám the Ruby Vintage drink:
And when the Angel with his darker Draught
Draws up to Thee--take that, and do not shrink.


Master, serene All hours We waste, if in The wasting them, As in a jar, We set flowers. The beginning of Ricardo Reis' poem 'Mestre'. Reis was one of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa 's many heteronyms . More than just pseudo… Read the full post »

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