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The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Rendered into English Verse by
Edward Fitgerald

Wake! For the Sun, who scatter'd into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav'n,
and strikes,
The Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light.

Before the phantom of False morning died,
Methought a Voice within the Tavern cried,
"When al the Temple is prepared within,
Why nods the drowsy Worshipper outside?"

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."

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

Iram indeed is gone all his Rose,
And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows,
But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine,
And many a Garden by the Water blows.

And Davide's lips are lockt, but in divine
High-piping Pehlevi, with " Wine!  Wine!  Wine!
Red Wine!"-the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That swallow cheek of hers to ' incarnaadine.

Come fill the Cup. and the fire of Spring
Your Winter garment of Repentance fling,
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter-and the Bird is on the Wing.

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.

Each Morn 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 Jamsyd and Kaikobad away.

Well let it take them! What have we to do
With Kaidodad the Great or Kaikhosru?
Let Zal and Rustum bluster as they will,
Or Hatim call to Supper-heed not You.

With me along the strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultian is forgot-
and Peace to Mhmud on his golden Throne!

A book of Verse underneath the Bough
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread- and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness-
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Some for the Glories of This World, and some
Sign for the Prophet's Paradise to come,
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of the distant Drum!

Look to the blowing Rose about us-"Lo
Laughing" she says," into the world I blow,
at once the silken tassel fo my Purse
Fear. and it Treasure on the Garden throw."

And those who husbanded the Golden grain,
And those who flung it to the winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
As , burred one, Men want dug up again.

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-was gone.

Think in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Portals arre alternate Night and Day
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour. and went his way.

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

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some Ceasar bled,
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her Lap frome some onece lovely Head.

And tyhis reviving Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the river-Lip on which we lean-
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

Ah, my Belove'd, fil 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.

For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from Vintage rolling Time hath prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.

And we, that now make merrry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new bloom.
ourselves must we heneath the Couch of Earth
Desend-ourselves to make a Couch-for Whom?

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!

Alike for those who for 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."

Why all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so wisely-they are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth, their Words to Scorn
Are scatter'd and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard grat argument
About it and about: but evermore
Cam out by the same door where in I went.

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow,
And this was all the Hearvest that I reap'd-
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

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 Wither, willy-nilly blowing.

What without asking, hither burred Whece?
And without asking, Wither burried hence!
Oh, many a Cup of this forbidden Wine
Must drown the memory of that insolence!

Up form Earth's Center through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the throwne of Saturn sate,
And many a Knot unravel'd by the Road,
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.

There was the Door to which I found no Key,
There was the Veil through which I might not see:
Some little talk awile of Me and Thee
There was- and then no more of Thee and Me.

Earth could not answere, nor the Seas that morn
In flowing Purple, of their Lord Forlorn,
Nor rolling Heaven, with all his Sighn reveral'd
And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn.

Then of the Thee in Me who works behind
The Veil, I lifted up my hands to find
A lump amid the Darkness, and I heard
As from Without-"The Me within The blind!"

Then to the Lip of this poor earthen Urn
I lean'd, the Secret of my Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur's -"When you live,
Drink!-for, once dead, you never shall return."

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answer'd, once did live,
Ank drink, and Ah! the pasive Lip I kisse'd,
How many Kisses might it take-and give!

For I remember stopping by the way
To watch a Potter thumping his wet Clay:
And with its all-obliterated Tongue
It murmr's- "Gently, Brother, gently, pray1"

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?

And not a drop that from our Cups we throw
For Earth to drink of, but may steal below
To quench the fire of Angusih in some Eye
There hidden-far beneath, and long ago.

As then the Tulip for her morning sup
Of heav'nly Vintage from the soil looks up,
Do you devoutly do the like, till Heav'n
To Earth invert you-like an enpty Cup.

Perplext no more with Human or Divine,
To-morrow's tangle to the winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The Cypress-slender Minister of Wine.

And if the Wine you drink the Lip you press,
End in what All begins and ends in-Yes,
Think then you are To-day what Yesterday
You were-To-morrow you shall not be less.

So when that Angel of the darker Drink
At last shall find you by the river-brink
And, offering his Cup, invite your Soul
Forth to your Lips to quaff-you shall not shrink.

Why, if the Soiul can fling the Dust aside,
And naked on the Air of Heven ride,
Were't not a Shame-were't not a Shame for him
In this clay carcass crippled to abide?

'Tis but a Tent where takes his one day's rest
A Sultan to the realm of Death addrest,
The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrash
Strikes, and prepares it for another Guest.

And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account, and mine, should know the like no more,
The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour'd
Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

When You and I behind the Veil are past,
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last,
Which of our Coming and Departure heeds
As the Sea's self should heed a pebble-cast.

A Moment's Halt-a momentary taste
Of Being from Well Amid the Waste-
And Lo!-the phantom Caravan has reach'd
The Nothing it set out from-Oh, make haste!

Would you that spangle of Existence spend
About The Secret-quick about it, Friend!
A Hair perhaps divides the False and True-
And upon what, prithee, may life depend?

A Hair perhaps divides the false and True
Yes, and a single Alif were the clue-
Could you but find it-to the Treasure-house,
And peradventure to The Master, too.

Whose secret Presence through Creation's veins
Running Quicksilver-like eludes your pains,
Taking all shapes from Mah to Mahi; and 
They change and perish all-but He remains;

A moment guessed-then back hehind the Fold
Imnerst of Darkness round the Drama roll'd
Which for the Pastime of Eternity,
He doth Himself contrive, enact, hehold.

But if in vain, down on the stubborn floor
Of Earth, and up to Heav'n's unopening Door,
You gaze To-day, while You are You-how then
To-morrow, when You shall be You no more?

Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute,
Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape
That sadden after nom, or bitter, Fruit.

You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
I made a Second Marriage in my house,
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter fo the Vin to Spouse.

For "Is" and "Is-not" though with Rule and Line
And "Up-and-down" by Logic I define.
Of all that one should care to fathom, I
Was never deep in anything but-Wine.

Ah, by my Computations, People say,
Reduce the Year to better reckoning?-Nay,
'Twas only striking from the Calendar
Unborn To-morrow and dead Yesterday..

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came shining through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder, and
He bid me taste of it, and 'twas-the Grape!

The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The two-and Sevventy  jarring Sects confute:
The sovereign Alchemist that in a trice
Life's leaden metal into Gold transmute,

The mighty Mahmud, Allah-breathing Lord,
That all the misbelieving and black Horde
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters before him with his whirlwind Sword.

Why, be this Juice the growh of God, who dare
Blaspheme the wsisted tendril as a Snare?
A Blessing, we should use it, should we not?
And if a Curse-why, then, Who set it there?

I must abjure the Balm of Life, I must,
Scared by some After-reckoning ta'en on trust,
Or lured with Hope of some Diviner Drink,
To fill the Cup-when crumbled into Dust!

Of threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least sis certain-This Life flies,
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies,
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
Before us pass'd the Door of Darkness though,
Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.

The Revelations of Devout and Learn'd
Who rose before us, and as Prophets burn'd
Are all but Stories, which awoke from Sleep
They told their comrades, and to Sleep return'd.

I send 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:"

Heav'n but the Vison of fulill'd Desire.
And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire,
Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves
So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.

We are sn other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadw-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held,
In Midnight by the Master of the Show,

But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

The Ball no questions makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss'd you down into the Field
He knows about it all-He knows-He knows!

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die.
Lift not your hands to It for help-for It
As impotently moves as you or I.

With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man knead,
And there of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed:
And the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last of Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

Yesterday This Day's Madness did prepare;
To-morrow's Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
Drink! for you not know whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you  go nor where.

I tell you this-When, started from the Goal,
Over the flaming shoulders of the Foal
Of Heav'n Parwind and Mushtari they flung,
In my predestined Plot of Dust and Soul.

The Vine had struck a fiber: which about
It clings my Being -let the Darvish flout,
Of my Base metal may be filed a Key
That shall unlock the Dore he howls without.

And this I know: whether the one True Light
Kindle to Love, or Wrath-consume me quite,
One Flash of I within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.

What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke
A conscious Something to resent the yoke
Of unpermitted Pleasure, under pain
Of Everlasting Penalties, if broke!

What! from his helpless Creature be repaid
Pure Gold for what he lent dross-allay'd
Sue for a Debt he never did contract,
And cannot answer-Oh the sorry trade!

Oh Thou, who didst with pitfall and with gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestined Evil round
Enmesh, and then impute my Fall to Sin!

Oh Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And ev'n with Paradise devise the Snake:
Is blacken'd -Man's forgiveness give-and take!

As under cove of departing Day
Slunk hunger-stricken Ramazan away,
Once more within the Potter's house alone
I stood surrounded by the Shapes of Clay.

Shapes of all Sorts and Sizes, great and small,
That stood along the floor and by the wall,
And some loquacious Vessels were, and some
Listen'd perhaps, but never talk'd at all.

Said one amoug them- "Surely not in vain
"My substance of the common Earth was ta'en
"And to this Figure moulded, to be broke.
"Or trampled back to shapeless Earth again."

Then said a Second-"Ne'er a peevish Boy
"Would break the Bowl from which he drank in joy;
"And He that with his had the Vessel made
"Will surely not in after Wrath destroy."

"After a momentary silence spake
Some Vessel of a more ungainly Make,
"They sneeer at me for leaning all awry:
"What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?"

Whereat some one of the loquacious Lot-
I think a Sufi pipkin-waxing hot-
"All this of Pot and Potter-Tell me then,
"Who is the Potter, pray and who the Pot?"

"Why, " said another, "Some there are who tell
"Of one who threatens he will toss to Hell
"The luckless Pots he marr'd in making-Pish!
"He's a Good Fellow, and 'twill all be well."

"Well," murrured one, "Let whoso make or buy,
"My Clay with long Oblivion is gone dry:
"But fill me with the old familiar Juice,
"Methinks I might recover by and by."

So while the Vessells one by one were speaking,
The little Moon look'd in that all were seeking:
And then they jogg'd each other, "Brother! Brother!
"Now for the Porter's shoulder-knot a-creaking!"

Ah, with the Grape my fading life provide,
And wash the Body whence the Life has died,
And lay me, shrouded in the living Leaf,
By some not unfrequented Garden-side.

That ev'n bured Ashes such a snare 
Of Vintage shall fling up into the Air
As not a True-believer passing by
But shall be overtaken unaware.

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my credit in this World much wrong:
Have drown'd my Glory in a shallow Cup,
And sold my reputation for a Song.

Indeed, indeed. Repentance oft before
I swore-but I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

And much as Wine has play'd the Infidel,
And robb;d me of my Robe of Honor-Well,
I wonder often what the Vinters buy
One half so precious as the stuff they sell.

Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the  Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah whence, and wither flown again, who knows!

Would but the Desert of the Fountain yield
One glimpse -if dimly, yet indeed, reveal'd
To which the gainting Traveler might spring,
As spring the trampled herbage of the field!

Would but some winged Angel ere too late
Arrest the yet unfolded Roll of Fate,
And make the stern Recorder otherwise
Enregister, or quite obliterate!

Ah Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Ccheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits-and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

Yon rising Moon that looks for us again-
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane,
How oft hereafter rising look for us
Through this same Garden-and for one in vain!

And when like here, oh Saki, you shall pass
Amoung the Guests Star-scatter'd on the Grass,
And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made One-turn down an empy Glass!


You are the th traveler to these shores.