Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

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IHas flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight: And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caughtThe Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

III heard a Voice within the Tavern cry, "Awake, my Little ones, and fill the CupBefore Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

IIIThe Tavern shouted--"Open then the Door! You know how little while we have to stay,And, once departed, may return no more."

IVThe thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires, Where the WHITE HAND OF MOSES on the BoughPuts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

VAnd Jamshýd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows; But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,And still a Garden by the Water blows.

VIHigh piping Pehleví, with "Wine! Wine! Wine!Red Wine!"--the Nightingale cries to the RoseThat yellow Cheek of hers to' incarnadine.

VIIThe Winter Garment of Repentance fling: The Bird of Time has but a little wayTo fly--and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

VIIIWoke--and a thousand scatter'd into Clay: And this first Summer Month that brings the RoseShall take Jamsh{'y}d and Kaikobád away.

IXOf Kaikobád and Kaikhosrú forgot:Let Rustum lay about him as he will,Or Hátim Tai cry Supper--heed them not.

XThat just divides the desert from the sown, Where name of Slave and Sultán scarce is known,And pity Sultán Mahmúd on his Throne.

XIA Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse--and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness--And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

XIIOthers--"How blest the Paradise to come!" Ah, take the Cash in hand and waive the Rest;Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!

XIIILaughing," she says, "into the World I blow: At once the silken Tassel of my PurseTear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw."

XIVTurns Ashes--or it prospers; and anon, Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty FaceLighting a little Hour or two--is gone.

XVAnd those who flung it to the Winds like Rain, Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'dAs, buried once, Men want dug up again.

XVIWhose Doorways are alternate Night and Day, How Sultán after Sultán with his PompAbode his Hour or two, and went his way.

XVIIThe Courts where Jamsh{'y}d gloried and drank deep: And Bahrám, that great Hunter--the Wild AssStamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep.

XVIIIThe Rose as where some buried Cæsar bled; That every Hyacinth the Garden wearsDropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

XIXFledges the River's Lip on which we lean-- Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knowsFrom what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

XXTO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears-- To-morrow?--Why, To-morrow I may beMyself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.

XXIThat 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.

XXIIThey left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom, Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of EarthDescend, ourselves to make a Couch--for whom?

XXIIIBefore we too into the Dust descend; Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and--sans End!

XXIVAnd those that after a TO-MORROW stare, A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries"Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There!"

XXVOf the Two Worlds so learnedly are thrust Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to ScornAre scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

XXVITo talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies; One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

XXVIIDoctor and Saint, and heard great Argument About it and about: but evermoreCame out by the same Door as in I went.

XXVIIIAnd 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."

XXIXNor whence like Water willy-nilly flowing:And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,I know not whither willy-nilly blowing.

XXXAnd, without asking, whither hurried hence! Another and another Cup to drownThe Memory of this Impertinence!

XXXII rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate, And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

XXXIIThere was a Veil past which I could not see: Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEEThere seem'd--and then no more of THEE and ME.

XXXIIIAsking, "What Lamp had Destiny to guide Her little Children stumbling in the Dark?"And--"A blind Understanding!" Heav'n replied.

XXXIVMy Lip the secret Well of Life to learn: And Lip to Lip it murmur'd--"While you liveDrink!--for once dead you never shall return."

XXXVArticulation answer'd, once did live, And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss'dHow many Kisses might it take--and give!

XXXVII watch'd the Potter thumping his wet Clay: And with its all obliterated TongueIt murmur'd--"Gently, Brother, gently, pray!"

XXXVIIHow Time is slipping underneath our Feet: Unborn TO-MORROW, and dead YESTERDAY,Why fret about them if TO-DAY be sweet!

XXXVIIIOne Moment, of the Well of Life to taste-- The Stars are setting and the CaravanStarts for the Dawn of Nothing--Oh, make haste!

XXXIXOf This and That endeavour and dispute? Better be merry with the fruitful GrapeThan sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

XLFor a new Marriage I did make Carouse: Divorc'd old barren Reason from my Bed,And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

XLIAnd "UP-AND-DOWN" without I could define, I yet in all I only cared to know,Was never deep in anything but--Wine.

XLIICame stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; andHe bid me taste of it; and 'twas--the Grape!

XLIIIThe Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute: The subtle Alchemist that in a TriceLife's leaden Metal into Gold transmute:

XLIVThat all the misbelieving and black Horde Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the SoulScatters and slays with his enchanted Sword.

XLVThe Quarrel of the Universe let be: And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

XLVI'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show, Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.

XLVIIEnd in the Nothing all Things end in--Yes-- Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but whatThou shalt be--Nothing--Thou shalt not be less.

XLVIIIWith old Khayyám the Ruby Vintage drink: And when the Angel with his darker DraughtDraws up to Thee--take that, and do not shrink.

XLIXWhere Destiny with Men for Pieces plays: Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,And one by one back in the Closet lays.

LBut Right or Left as strikes the Player goes; And He that toss'd Thee down into the Field,He knows about it all--HE knows--HE knows!

LIMoves 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.

LIIWhereunder crawling coop't we live and die, Lift not thy hands to It for help--for ItRolls impotently on as Thou or I.

LIIIAnd then of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed: Yea, the first Morning of Creation wroteWhat the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

LIVOver the shoulders of the flaming Foal Of Heav'n Parwín and Mushtara they flung,In my predestin'd Plot of Dust and Soul

LVIf clings my Being--let the Súfi flout; Of my Base Metal may be fil'd a KeyThat shall unlock the Door he howls without.

LVIKindle to Love, or Wrath consume me quite, One Glimpse of It within the Tavern caughtBetter than in the Temple lost outright.

LVIIBeset the Road I was to wander in, Thou wilt not with Predestination roundEnmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

LVIIIAnd who with Eden didst devise the Snake; For all the Sin wherewith the Face of ManIs blacken'd, Man's Forgiveness give--and take!

LXIOf Ramazán, ere the better Moon arose, In that old Potter's Shop I stood aloneWith the clay Population round in Rows.

LXIISome could articulate, while others not: And suddenly one more impatient cried--"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"

LXIIIMy Substance from the common Earth was ta'en, That He who subtly wrought me into ShapeShould stamp me back to common Earth again."

LXIVWould break the Bowl from which he drank in Joy; Shall He that made the Vessel in pure LoveAnd Fancy, in an after Rage destroy!"

LXVA Vessel of a more ungainly Make: "They sneer at me for leaning all awry;What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?"

LXVIAnd daub his Visage with the Smoke of Hell; They talk of some strict Testing of us--Pish!He's a Good Fellow, and 'twill all be well."

LXVII"My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry: But, fill me with the old familiar Juice,Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!"

LXVIIIOne spied the little Crescent all were seeking: And then they jogg'd each other, "Brother! Brother!Hark to the Porter's Shoulder-knot a-creaking!"

LXIXAnd wash my Body whence the Life has died, And in a Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,So bury me by some sweet Garden-side.

LXXOf Perfume shall fling up into the Air, As not a True Believer passing byBut shall be overtaken unaware.

LXXIHave 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.

LXXIII swore--but was I sober when I swore? And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-handMy thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

LXXIIIAnd robb'd me of my Robe of Honour--well I often wonder what the Vintners buyOne half so precious as the Goods they sell.

LXXIVThat Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close! The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

LXXVTo grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits--and thenRe-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

LXXVIThe Moon of Heav'n is rising once again: How oft hereafter rising shall she lookThrough this same Garden after me in vain!

LXXVIIAmong the Guests Star-scatter'd on the Grass And in thy joyous Errand reach the SpotWhere I made one--turn down an empty Glass!

© Edward Fitzgerald