The Rubaiyyat



From the rubaiyyat of Omar Khaiyyam

translated by Edward Fitzgerald




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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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!


Heav'n but the Vision of fulfill'd Desire,

And Hell the Shadow of a Soul on fire,

Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves,

So late emerg'd from, shall so soon expire.


None answer'd this; but after Silence spake

A Vessel of a more ungainly Make:

"They sneer at me for leaning all awry;

What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?"


Indeed the Idols I have loved so long

Have done my Credit in Men's Eye much wrong:

Have drown'd my Honour in a shallow Cup,

And sold my Reputation for a Song.


� Arab World Books