The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam 1 - 250 (Whinfield Translation)

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At dawn a cry through all the tavern shrilled,
"Arise, my brethren of the revelers' guild,
That I may fill our measure full of wine,
Or e'er the measure of our days be filled."


Who was it brought thee here at nightfall, who?
Forth from the harem in this manner, who?
To him who in thy absence burns as fire,
And trembles like hot air, who was it, who?


'Tis but a day we sojourn here below,
And all the gain we get is grief and woe,
Then, leaving our life's riddles all unsolved,
And burdened with regrets, we have to go.


Khaja! grant one request, and only one,
Wish me God-speed, and get your preaching done;
I walk aright, 'tis you who see awry;
Go! heal your purblind eyes, leave me alone.


Arise! and come, and of thy courtesy
Resolve my weary heart's perplexity,
And fill my goblet, so that I may drink,
Or e'er they make their goblets out of me.


When I am dead, with wine my body lave,
For obit chant a bacchanalian stave,
And, if you need me at the day of doom,
Beneath the tavern threshold seek my grave.


Since no one can assure thee of the morrow,
Rejoice thy heart to-day, and banish sorrow
With moonbright wine, fair moon, for heaven's moon
Will look for us in vain on many a morrow.


Let lovers all distraught and frenzied be,
And flown with wine, and reprobates, like me;
When sober, I find everything amiss,
But in my cups cry, "Let what will be, be."


In Allah's name, say, wherefore set the wise
Their hearts upon this house of vanities?
Whene'er they think to rest them from their toils,
Death takes them by the hand, and says, "Arise."


Men say the Koran holds all heavenly lore,
But on its pages seldom care to pore;
The lucid lines engraven on the bowl--
That is the text they dwell on evermore.


Blame not the drunkards, you who wine eschew,
Had I but grace, I would abstain like you,
And mark me, vaunting zealot, you commit
A hundredfold worse sins than drunkards do.


What though 'tis fair to view, this form of man,
I know not why the heavenly Artizan
Hath set these tulip cheeks and cypress forms
To deck the mournful halls of earth's divan.


My fire gives forth no smoke-cloud here below,
My stock-in-trade no profit here below,
And you, who call me tavern-haunter, know
There is indeed no tavern here below.


Thus spake an idol to his worshiper,
"Why dost thou worship this dead stone, fair sir?
'Tis because He who gazeth through thine eyes
Doth some part of His charms on it confer. "


Whate'er thou doest, never grieve thy brother,
Nor kindle fumes of wrath his peace to smother;
Dost thou desire to taste eternal bliss,
Vex thine own heart, but never vex another!


O Thou! to please whose love and wrath as well,
Allah created heaven and likewise hell;
Thou hast thy court in heaven, and I have naught,
Why not admit me in thy courts to dwell?


So many cups of wine will I consume,
Its bouquet shall exhale from out my tomb,
And every one that passes by shall halt,
And reel and stagger with that mighty fume.


Young wooer, charm all hearts with lover's art,
Glad winner, lead thy paragon apart!
A hundred Kaabas equal not one heart,
Seek not the Kaaba, rather seek a heart!


What time, my cup in hand, its draughts I drain,
And with rapt heart unconsciousness attain,
Behold what wondrous miracles are wrought--
Songs flow as water from my burning brain.


To-day is but a breathing space, quaff wine!
Thou wilt not see again this life of thine;
So, as the world becomes the spoil of time,
Offer thyself to be the spoil of wine!


'Tis we who to wine's yoke our necks incline,
And risk our lives to gain the smiles of wine;
The henchman grasps the flagon by its throat
And squeezes out the life-blood of the vine.


Here in this tavern-haunt I make my lair,
Pawning for wine, heart, soul, and all I wear,
Without a hope of bliss, or fear of bale,
Rapt above water, earth, and fire, and air.


Quoth fish to duck, "Twill be a sad affair,
If this brook leaves its channel dry and bare ";
To whom the duck, "When I am dead and roasted
The brook may run with wine for aught I care. "


From doubt to clear assurance is a breath,
A breath from infidelity to faith;
O precious breath! enjoy it while you may,
'Tis all that life can give, and then comes death.


Ah! wheel of heaven to tyranny inclined,
'Twas e'er your wont to show yourself unkind;
And, cruel earth, if they should cleave your breast,
What store of buried jewels they would find!


My life lasts but a day or two, and fast
Sweeps by, like torrent stream or desert blast,
Howbeit, of two days I take no heed--
The day to come, and that already past.


That pearl is from a mine unknown to thee,
That ruby bears a stamp thou canst not see,
The tale of love some other tongue must tell,
All our conjectures are mere fantasy.


Now with its joyful prime my age is rife,
I quaff enchanting wine, and list to fife;
Chide not at wine for all its bitter taste,
Its bitterness sorts well with human life!


O soul! whose lot it is to bleed with pain,
And daily change of fortune to sustain,
Into this body wherefore didst thou come,
Seeing thou must at last go forth again?


To-day is thine to spend, but not to-morrow,
Counting on morrows breedeth naught but sorrow;
Oh! squander not this breath that heaven hath lent thee,
Nor make too sure another breath to borrow!


'Tis labor lost thus to all doors to crawl,
Take thy good fortune, and thy bad withal;
Know for a surety each must play his game,
As from heaven's dice-box fate's dice chance to fall.


This jug did once, like me, love's sorrows taste,
And bonds of beauty's tresses once embraced,
This handle, which you see upon its side,
Has many a time twined round a slender waist!


Days changed to nights, ere you were born, or I,
And on its business ever rolled the sky;
See you tread gently on this dust-perchance
'Twas once the apple of some beauty's eye.


Pagodas, just as mosques, are homes of prayer,
'Tis prayer that church-bells chime unto the air,
Yea, Church and Kaaba, Rosary and Cross
Are all but divers tongues of world-wide prayer.


'Twas writ at first, whatever was to be,
By pen, unheeding bliss or misery,
Yea, writ upon the tablet once for all,
To murmur or resist is vanity.


There is a mystery I know full well,
Which to all, good and bad, I can not tell;
My words are dark, but I can not unfold
The secrets of the station where I dwell.


No base or light-weight coins pass current here,
Of such a broom has swept our dwelling clear;
Forth from the tavern comes a sage and cries,
"Drink! for ye all must sleep through ages drear."


With outward seeming we can cheat mankind,
But to God's will we can but be resigned;
The deepest wiles my cunning e'er devised,
To balk resistless fate no way could find.


Is a friend faithless? spurn him as a foe;
Upon trustworthy foes respect bestow;
Hold healing poison for an antidote,
And baneful sweets for deadly eisel know.


No heart is there but bleeds when torn from Thee,
No sight so clear but craves Thy face to see;
And though perchance Thou carest not for them,
No soul is there but pines with care for Thee.


Sobriety doth dry up all delight,
And drunkenness doth drown my sense outright;
There is a middle state, it is my life--
Not altogether drunk, nor sober quite.


Behold these cups! Can He who deigned to make them,
In wanton freak let ruin overtake them,
So many shapely feet and hands and heads--
What love drives Him to make, what wrath to break them?


Death's terrors spring from baseless fantasy,
Death yields the tree of immortality;
Since 'Isa breathed new life into my soul,
Eternal death has washed its hands of me!


Like tulips in the Spring your cups lift up,
And, with a tulip-cheeked companion, sup
With joy your wine, or e'er this azure wheel
With some unlooked-for blast upset your cup.


Facts will not change to humor man's caprice,
So vaunt not human powers, but hold your peace;
Here must we stay, weighed down with grief for this.
That we were born so late, so soon decease.


Khayyam! why weep you that your life is bad?
What boots it thus to mourn? Rather be glad.
He that sins not can make no claim to mercy,
Mercy was made for sinners--be not sad.


All mortal ken is bounded by the veil,
To see beyond man's sight is all too frail;
Yea! earth's dark bosom is his only home:--
Alas! 'twere long to tell the doleful tale.


This faithless world, my home, I have surveyed,
Yea, and with all my wit deep question made,
But found no moon with face so bright as thine,
No cypress in such stateliness arrayed.


In synagogue and cloister, mosque and school,
Hell's terrors and heaven's lures men's bosoms rule,
But they who master Allah's mysteries,
Sow not this empty chad their hearts to fool.


You see the world, but all you see is naught,
And all you say, and all you hear is naught,
Naught the four quarters of the mighty earth,
The secrets treasured in your chamber naught.


I dreamt a sage said, "Wherefore life consume
In sleep? Can sleep make pleasure's roses bloom?
For gather not with death's twin-brother sleep,
Thou wilt have sleep enough within thy tomb! "


If the heart knew life's secrets here below,
At death 'twould know God's secrets too, I trow;
But, if you know naught here, while still yourself,
To-morrow, stripped of self, what can you know?


On that dread day, when wrath shall rend the sky,
And darkness dim the bright stars' galaxy,
I'll seize the Loved One by His skirt, and cry,
"Why hast Thou doomed these guiltless ones to die? "


To knaves Thy secret we must not confide,
To comprehend it is to fools denied,
See then to what hard case Thou doomest men,
Our hopes from one and all perforce we hide.


Cupbearer! what though fate's blows here betide us,
And a safe resting-place be here denied us,
So long as the bright wine-cup stands between us,
We have the very Truth at hand to guide us.


Long time in wine and rose I took delight,
But then my business never went aright;
Since wine could not accomplish my desire,
I have abandoned and forsworn it quite.


Bring wine! my heart with dancing spirit teems,
Wake I fortune's waking is as feeting dreams;
Quicksilver-like our days are swift of foot,
And youthful fire subsides as torrent streams.


Love's devotees, not Muslims here you see,
Not Solomons, but ants of low degree;
Here are but faces wan and tattered rags,
No store of Cairene cloth or silk have we.


My law it is in pleasure's paths to stray,
My creed to shun the theologic fray;
I wedded Luck, and offered her a dower,
She said, "I want none, so thy heart be gay."


From mosque an outcast, and to church a foe,
Allah! of what clay didst thou form me so?
Like skeptic monk, or ugly courtesan,
No hopes have I above, no joys below.


Men's lusts, like house-dogs, still the house distress
With clamor, barking for mere wantonness;
Foxes are they, and sleep the sleep of hares;
Crafty as wolves, as tigers pitiless.


Yon turf, fringing the margent of the stream,
As down upon a cherub's lip might seem,
Or growth from dust of buried tulip cheeks;
Tread not that turf with scorn, or light esteem!


Hearts with the light of love illumined well,
Whether in mosque or synagogue they dwell,
Have their names written in the book of love,
Unvexed by hopes of heaven or fears of hell.


One draught of wine outweighs the realm of Tus,
Throne of Kobad and crown of Kai Kawus;
Sweeter are sighs that lovers heave at morn,
Than all the groanings zealot breasts produce.


Though Muslims for my sins condemn and chide me,
Like heathens to my idol I confide me;
Yea, when I perish of a drunken bout,
I'll call on wine, whatever doom betide me.


In drinking thus it is not my design
To riot, or transgress the law divine,
No! to attain unconsciousness of self
Is the sole cause I drink me drunk with wine.


Drunkards are doomed to hell, so men declare,
Believe it not, 'tis but a foolish scare;
Heaven will be empty as this hand of mine,
If none who love good drink find entrance there.


'Tis wrong, according to the strict Koran,
To drink in Rajab, likewise in Sha'ban,
God and the Prophet claim those months as theirs;
Was Ramadan then made for thirsty man?


Now Ramadan is come, no wine must flow,
Our simple pastimes we must now forego,
The wine we have in store we must not drink,
Nor on our mistresses one kiss bestow.


What is the world? A caravanserai,
A pied pavilion of night and day;
A feast whereat a thousand Jamshids sat,
A couch whereon a thousand Bahrams lay.


Now that your roses bloom with Sowers of bliss,
To grasp your goblets be not so remiss;
Drink while you may! Time is a treacherous foe,
You may not see another day like this.


Here in this palace, where Bahram held sway,
The wild roes drop their young, and tigers stray;
And that great hunter king--ah! well-a-day!
Now to the hunter death is fallen a prey.


Down fall the tears from skies enwrapt in gloom,
Without this drink, the flowers could never bloom!
As now these flowerets yield delight to me,
So shall my dust yield flowers--God knows for whom.


To-day is Friday, as the Muslim says,
Drink then from bowls served up in quick relays;
Suppose on common days you drink one bowl,
To-day drink two, for 'tis the prince of days.


The very wine a myriad forms sustains,
And to take shapes of plants and creatures deigns
But deem not that its essence ever dies,
Its forms may perish, but its self remains.


'Tis naught but smoke this people's fire doth bear,
For my well-being not a soul doth care;
With hands fate makes me lift up in despair,
I grasp men's skirts, but find no succor there.


This bosom friend, on whom you so rely,
Seems to clear wisdom's eyes an enemy;
Choose not your friends from this rude multitude,
Their converse is a plague 'tis best to fly.


O foolish one! this molded earth is naught;
This parti-colored vault of heaven is naught;
Our sojourn in this seat of life and death
Is but one breath, and what is that but naught?


Some wine, a Houri (Houris if there be),
A green bank by a stream, with minstrelsy;--
Toil not to find a better Paradise
If other Paradise indeed there be!


To the wine-house I saw the sage repair,
Bearing a wine-cup, and a mat for prayer;
I said, "O Shaikh, what does this conduct mean?"
Said he, "Go drink! the world is naught but air."


The Bulbul to the garden winged his way,
Viewed lily cups, and roses smiling gay,
Cried in ecstatic notes, "O live your life,
You never will relive this fleeting day. "


Thy body is a tent, where harborage
The Sultan spirit takes for one brief age;
When he departs, comes the tent-pitcher death,
Strikes it, and onward moves, another stage.


Khayyam, who long time stitched the tents of learning,
Has fallen into a furnace, and lies burning,
Death's shears have cut his thread of life asunder,
Fate's brokers sell him off with scorn and spurning.


In the sweet spring a grassy bank I sought,
And thither wine, and a fair Houri brought;
And, though the people called me graceless dog,
Gave not to Paradise another thought!


Sweet is rose-ruddy wine in goblets gay,
And sweet are lute and harp and roundelay;
But for the zealot who ignores the cup,
'Tis sweet when he is twenty leagues away!


Life, void of wine, and minstrels with their lutes,
And the soft murmurs of Iraqian futes,
Were nothing worth: I scan the world and see:
Save pleasure, life yields only bitter fruits.


Make haste! soon must you quit this life below,
And pass the veil, and Allah's secrets know;
Make haste to take your pleasure while you may,
You wot not whence you come, nor whither go.


Depart we must! what boots it then to be,
To walk in vain desires continually?
Nay, but if heaven vouchsafe no place of rest,
What power to cease our wanderings have we?


To chant wine's praises is my daily task,
I live encompassed by cup, bowl, and flask;
Zealot! if reason be thy guide, then know
That guide of me doth ofttimes guidance ask.


O men of morals! why do ye defame,
And thus misjudge me? I am not to blame.
Save weakness for the grape, and female charms,
What sins of mine can any of ye name?


Who treads in passion's footsteps here below,
A helpless pauper will depart, I trow;
Remember who you are, and whence you come.
Consider what you do, and whither go.


Skies like a zone our weary lives enclose,
And from our tear-stained eyes a Jihun flows;
Hell is a fire enkindled of our griefs;
Heaven but a moment's peace, stolen from our woes.


I drown in sin--show me Thy clemency!
My soul is dark--make me Thy light to see!
A heaven that must be earned by painful works,
I call a wage, not a gift fair and free.


Did He who made me fashion me for hell,
Or destine me for heaven? I can not tell.
Yet will I not renounce cup, lute, and love,
Nor earthly cash for heavenly credit sell.


From right and left the censors came and stood,
Saying, "Renounce this wine, this foe of good";
But if wine be the foe of holy faith,
By Allah, right it is to drink its blood!


The good and evil with man's nature blent,
The weal and woe that heaven's decrees have sent--
Impute them not to motions of the skies--
Skies than thyself ten times more impotent.


Against death's arrows what are buckles worth?
What all the pomps and riches of the earth?
When I survey the world, I see no good
But goodness, all beside is nothing worth.


Weak souls, who from the world can not refrain,
Hold life-long fellowship with rule and pain;
Hearts free from worldly cares have store of bliss,
All others seeds of bitter woe contain.


He, in whose bosom wisdom's seed is sown,
To waste a single day was never known;
Either he strives to work great Allah's will,
Or else exalts the cup, and works his own.


When Allah mixed my clay He knew full well
My future acts, and could each one foretell;
Without His will no act of mine was wrought;
Is it then just to punish me in hell?


Ye, who cease not to drink on common days,
Do not on Friday quit your drinking ways;
Adopt my creed, and count all days the same,
Be worshipers of God, and not of days.


If grace be grace, and Allah gracious be,
Adam from Paradise why banished He?
Grace to poor sinners shown is grace indeed;
In grace hard earned by works no grace I see.


Dame Fortune's smiles are full of guile, beware!
Her scimitar is sharp to smite, take care!
If e'er she drop a sweetmeat in thy mouth,
'Tis poisonous-to swallow it forbear!


Where'er you see a rose or tulip bed,
Know that a mighty monarch's blood was shed
And where the violet rears her purple tuft,
Be sure a black-moled girl hath laid her head.


Wine is a melting ruby, cup its mine;
Cup is the body, and the soul is wine;
These crystal goblets smile with ruddy wine
Like tears, that blood of wounded hearts enshrine.


Drink wine! 'tis life etern, and travail's meed,
Fruitage of youth, and balm of age's need:
'Tis the glad time of roses, wine, and friends;
Rejoice thy spirit--that is life indeed.


Drink wine! long must you sleep within the tomb,
Without a friend, or wife to cheer your gloom;
Hear what I say, and tell it not again,
"Never again can withered tulips bloom. "


They preach how sweet those Houri brides will be,
But I say wine is sweeter--taste and see!
Hold fast this cash, and let that credit go,
And shun the din of empty drums like me.


Once and again my soul did me implore,
To teach her, if I might, the heavenly lore;
I bade her learn the Alif well by heart.
Who knows that letter well need learn no more.


I came not hither of my own free will,
And go against my wish, a puppet still;
Cupbearer! gird thy loins, and fetch some wine;
To purge the world's despite, my goblet fill.


How long must I make bricks upon the sea?
Beshrew this vain task of idolatry;
Call not Khayyam a denizen of hell;
One while in heaven, and one in hell is he.


Sweet is the breath of Spring to rose's face,
And thy sweet face adds charm to this fair place;
To-day is sweet, but yesterday is sad,
And sad all mention of its parted grace.


To-night pour wine, and sing a dulcet air,
And I upon thy lips will hang, O fair;
Yea, pour some wine as rosy as thy cheeks,
My mind is troubled like thy ruffled hair.


Pen, tablet, heaven and hell I looked to see
Above the skies, from all eternity;
At last the master sage instructed me,
"Pen, tablet, heaven and hell are all in thee. "


The fruit of certitude he can not pluck,
The path that leads thereto who never struck,
Nor ever shook the bough with strenuous hand;
To-day is lost; hope for to-morrow's luck.


Now spring-tide showers its foison on the land,
And lively hearts wend forth, a joyous band,
For 'Isa's breath wakes the dead earth to life,
And trees gleam white with flowers, like Musa's hand.


Alas for that cold heart, which never glows
With love, nor e'er that charming madness knows;
The days misspent with no redeeming love;--
No days are wasted half as much as those!


The zephyrs waft thy fragrance, and it takes
My heart, and me, his master, he forsakes;
Careless of me he pants and leaps to thee,
And thee his pattern and ensample makes!


Drink wine! and then as Mahmud thou wilt reign,
And hear a music passing David's strain:
Think not of past or future, seize to-day,
Then all thy life will not be lived in vain.


Ten Powers, and nine spheres, eight heavens made He,
And planets seven, of six sides, as we see,
Five senses, and four elements, three souls,
Two worlds, but only one, O man, like thee.


Jewry hath seen a thousand prophets die,
Sinai a thousand Musas mount the sky;
How many Caesars Rome's proud forum crossed!
'Neath Wasra's dome how many monarchs lie!


Gold breeds not wit, but to wit lacking bread
Earth's flowery carpet seems a dungeon bed;
'Tis his full purse that makes the rose to smile,
While empty-handed violets hang the head.


Heaven's wheel has made full many a heart to moan,
And many a budding rose to earth has thrown;
Plume thee not on thy youth and lusty strength,
Full many a bud is blasted ere 'tis blown.


What lord is fit to rule but "Truth "? Not one.
What beings disobey His rule? Not one.
All things that are, are such as He decrees;
And naught is there beside beneath the sun.


That azure-colored vault and golden tray
Have turned, and will turn yet for many a day;
And just so we, impelled by turns of fate--
Come here but for a while, then pass away.


The Master did himself these vessels frame,
Why should he cast them out to scorn and shame?
If he has made them well, why should he break them?
Yea, though he marred them, they are not to blame.


Kindness to friends and foes 'tis well to show,
No kindly heart can prove unkind, I trow:
Harshness will alienate a bosom friend,
And kindness reconcile a deadly foe.


To lovers true, what matters dark or fair?
Or if the loved one silk or sackcloth wear,
Or lie on down or dust, or rise to heaven?
Yea, though she sink to hell, he'll seek her there.


Full many a hill and vale I journeyed o'er;
Yea, journeyed through the world's wide quarters four,
But never heard of pilgrim who returned;
When once they go, they go to come no more.


Wine-houses flourish through this thirst of mine,
Loads of remorse weigh down this back of mine;
Yet, if I sinned not, what would mercy do?
Mercy depends upon these sins of mine.


Thy being is the being of Another,
Thy passion is the passion of Another.
Cover thy head, and think, and thou wilt see
Thy hand is but the cover of Another.


From learning to the cup your bridle turn;
All lore of world to come, save Kausar, spurn;
Your turban pawn for wine, or keep a shred
To bind your brow, and all the remnant burn.


See! from the world what profit have I gained?
What fruitage of my life in hand retained?
What use is Jamshid's goblet, once 'tis crushed?
What pleasure's torch, when once its light has waned?


When life is spent, what's Balkh or Nishapore?
What sweet or bitter, when the cup runs o'er?
Come drink! full many a moon will wax and wane
In times to come, when we are here no more.


O fair! whose cheeks checkmate red eglantine,
And draw the game with those fair maids of Chin;
You played one glance against the king of Babil
And took his pawns, and knights, and rooks, and queen.


Life's caravan is hastening on its way;
Brood not on troubles of the coming day,
But fill the wine-cup ere sweet night be gone,
And snatch a pleasant moment, while you may.


He, who the world's foundations erst did lay,
Doth bruise full many a bosom day by day,
And many a ruby lip and musky tress
Doth coffin in the earth, and shroud with clay.


Be not beguiled by world's insidious wiles;
O foolish ones, ye know her tricks and guiles;
Your precious lifetime cast not to the winds;
Haste to seek wine, and court a sweetheart's smile.


Comrades! I pray you, physic me with wine,
Make this wan amber face like rubies shine,
And, if I die, use wine to wash my corpse,
And frame my coffin out of planks of vine!


When Allah yoked the courses of the sun,
And launched the Pleiades their race to run,
My lot was fixed in fate's high chancery;
Then why blame me for wrong that fate has done?


Ah! seasoned wine oft falls to rawest fools,
And clumsiest workmen own the finest tools;
And Turki maids, fit to delight men's hearts,
Lavish their smiles on beardless boys in school!


Whilom, ere youth's conceit had waned, methought
Answers to all life's problems I had wrought;
But now, grown old and wise, too late I see
My life is spent, and all my lore is naught.


They who of prayer-mats make such great display
Are fools to bear hypocrisy's hard sway;
Strange! under cover of this saintly show
They live like heathen, and their faith betray.


To him who would his sins extenuate,
Let pious men this verse reiterate,
"To call God's prescience the cause of sin
In wisdom's purview is but folly's prate. "


He brought me hither, and I felt surprise,
From life I gather but a dark surmise,
I go against my will;--thus, why I come,
Why live, why go, are all dark mysteries.


When I recall my grievous sins to mind,
Fire burns my breast, and tears my vision blind;
Yet, when a slave repents, is it not meet
His lord should pardon, and again be kind?


They at whose lore the whole world stands amazed,
Whose high thoughts, like Borak, to heaven are raised,
Strive to know Thee in vain, and like heaven's wheel
Their heads are turning, and their brains are dazed.


Allah hath promised wine in Paradise,
Why then should wine on earth be deemed a vice?
An Arab in his cups cut Hamzah's girths--
For that sole cause was drink declared a vice.


Now of old joys naught but the name is left,
Of all old friends but wine we are bereft,
And that wine new, but still cleave to the cup,
For save the cup, what single joy is left?


The world will last long after Khayyam's fame
Has passed away, yea, and his very name;
Aforetime we were not, and none did heed.
When we are dead and gone, 'twill be tie same.


The sages who have compassed sea and land,
Their secret to search out, and understand--
My mind misgives me if they ever solve
The scheme on which this universe is planned.


Ah! wealth takes wings, and leaves our hands all bare,
And death's rough hands delight our hearts to tear;
And from the nether world none e'er escapes,
To bring us news of the poor pilgrims there.


'Tis passing strange, those titled noblemen
Find their own lives a burden sore, but when
They meet with poorer men, not slaves to sense,
They scarcely deign to reckon them as men.


The wheel on high, still busied with despite,
Will ne'er unloose a wretch from his sad plight;
But when it lights upon a smitten heart,
Straightway essays another blow to smite.


Now is the volume of my youth outworn,
And all my spring-tide blossoms rent and torn.
Ah, bird of youth! I marked not when you came
Nor when you fled, and left me thus forlorn.


These fools, by dint of ignorance most crass,
Think they in wisdom all mankind surpass;
And glibly do they damn as infidel
Whoever is not, like themselves, an ass.


Still be the wine-house thronged with its glad choir,
And Pharisaic skirts burnt up with fire;
Still be those tattered frocks and azure robes
Trod under feet of revelers in the mire.


Why toil ye to ensure illusions vain,
And good or evil of the world attain?
Ye rise like Zamzam, or the fount of life,
And, like them, in earth's bosom sink again.


Till the Friend pours his wine to glad my heart,
No kisses to my face will heaven impart:
They say, "Repent in time "; but how repent,
Ere Allah's grace hath softened my hard heart?


When I am dead, take me and grind me small,
So that I be a caution unto all,
And knead me into clay with wine, and then
Use me to stop the wine-jar's mouth withal.


What though the sky with its blue canopy
Doth close us in so that we can not see,
In the etern Cupbearer's wine methinks
There float a myriad bubbles like to me.


Take heart! Long in the weary tomb you'll lie,
While stars keep countless watches in the sky,
And see your ashes molded into bricks,
To build another's house and turrets high.


Glad hearts, who seek not notoriety,
Nor flaunt in gold and silken bravery,
Haunt not this ruined earth like gloomy owls,
But wing their way, Simurgh-like, to the sky.


Wine's power is known to wine-bibbers alone,
To narrow heads and hearts 'tis never shown;
I blame not them who never felt its force,
For, till they feel it, how can it be known?


Needs must the tavern-hunter bathe in wine,
For none can make a tarnished name to shine;
Go! bring me wine, for none can now restore
Its pristine sheen to this soiled veil of mine.


I wasted life in hope, yet gathered not
In all my life of happiness one jot;
Now my fear is that life may not endure,
Till I have taken vengeance on my lot!


Be very wary in the soul's domain,
And on the world's affairs your lips refrain;
Be, as it were, sans tongue, sans ear, sans eye,
While tongue, and ears, and eyes you still retain.


Let him rejoice who has a loaf of bread,
A little nest wherein to lay his head,
Is slave to none, and no man slaves for him--
In truth his lot is wondrous well bested.


What adds my service to Thy majesty?
Or how can sin of mine dishonor Thee?
O pardon, then, and punish not, I know
Thou'rt slow to wrath, and prone to clemency.


Hands, such as mine, that handle bowls of wine,
'Twere shame to book and pulpit to confine;
Zealot! thou'rt dry, and I am moist with drink,
Yea, far too moist to catch that fire of thine!


Whoso aspires to gain a rose-cheeked fair,
Sharp pricks from fortune's thorns must learn to bear.
See! till this comb was cleft by cruel cuts,
It never dared to touch my lady's hair.


Forever may my hands on wine be stayed,
And my heart pant for some fair Houri maid!
They say, "May Allah aid thee to repent!"
Repent I could not, e'en with Allah's aid!


Soon shall I go, by time and fate deplored,
Of all my precious pearls not one is bored;
Alas! there die with me a thousand truths
To which these fools fit audience ne'er accord.


To-day how sweetly breathes the temperate air,
The rains have newly laved the parched parterre;
And Bulbuls cry in notes of ecstasy,
"Thou too, O pallid rose, our wine must share! "

Ere you succumb to shocks of mortal pain,
The rosy grape-juice from your wine-cup drain.
You are not gold, that, hidden in the earth,
Your friends should care to dig you up again!


My coming brought no profit to the sky,
Nor does my going swell its majesty;
Coming and going put me to a stand,
Ear never heard their wherefore nor their why.


The heavenly Sage, whose wit exceeds compare,
Counteth each vein, and numbereth every hair;
Men you may cheat by hypocritic arts,
But how cheat Him to whom all hearts are bare?


Ah! wine lends wings to many a weary wight,
And beauty spots to ladies' faces bright;
All Ramadan I have not drunk a drop,
Thrice welcome, then, O Bairam's blessed night!


All night in deep bewilderment I fret,
With tear-drops big as pearls my breast is wet;
I can not fill my cranium with wine;
How can it hold wine, when 'tis thus upset?


To prayer and fasting when my heart inclined,
All my desire I surely hoped to find;
Alas! my purity is stained with wine,
My prayers are wasted like a breath of wind.


I worship rose-red cheeks with heart and soul,
I suffer not my hand to quit the bowl,
I make each part of me his function do,
Or e'er my parts be swallowed in the Whole.


This worldly love of yours is counterfeit,
And, like a half-spent blaze, lacks light and heat;
True love is his, who for days, months, and years,
Rests not, nor sleeps, nor craves for drink or meat.


Why spend life in vainglorious essay
All Being and Not-being to survey?
Since Death is ever pressing at your heels,
'Tis best to drink or dream your life away.


Some hanker after that vain fantasy
Of Houris, feigned in Paradise to be;
But, when the veil is lifted, they will find
How far they are from Thee, how far from Thee.


In Paradise, they tell us, Houris dwell,
And fountains run with wine and oxymel:
If these be lawful in the world to come,
Surely 'tis right to love them here as well.


A draught of wine would make a mountain dance,
Base is the churl who looks at wine askance;
Wine is a soul our bodies to inspire,
A truce to this vain talk of temperance!


Oft doth my soul her prisoned state bemoan,
Eer earth-born co-mate she would fain disown,
And quit, did not the stirrup of the law
Upbear her foot from dashing on the stone.


The moon of Ramadan is risen, see!
Alas, our wine must henceforth banished be;
Well! on Sha'ban's last day I'll drink enough
To keep me drunk till Bairam's jubilee.


From life we draw now wine, now dregs to drink,
Now flaunt in silk, and now in tatters shrink;
Such changes wisdom holds of slight account
To those who stand on death's appalling drink!


What sage tne eternal tangle e'er unraveled,
Or one short step beyond his nature traveled?
From pupils to the masters turn your eyes,
And see, each mother's son alike is graveled.


Crave not of worldly sweets to take your fill,
Nor wait on turn of fortune, good or ill;
Be of light heart, as are the skies above,
They roll a round or two, and then lie still.


What eye can pierce the veil of God's decrees,
Or read the riddle of earth's destinies?
Pondered have I for years threescore and ten,
But still am baffled by these mysteries.


They say, when the last trump shall sound its knell,
Our Friend will sternly judge, and doom to hell.
Can aught but good from perfect goodness come?
Compose your trembling hearts, 'twill all be well.


Drink wine to root up metaphysic weeds,
And tangle of the two-and-seventy creeds;
Do not forswear that wondrous alchemy,
'Twill turn to gold, and cure a thousand needs.


Though drink is wrong, take care with whom you drink,
And who you are that drink, and what you drink;
And drink at will, for, these three points observed,
Who but the very wise can ever drink?


To drain a gallon beaker I design,
Yea, two great beakers, brimmed with richest wine;
Old faith and reason thrice will I divorce,
Then take to wife the daughter of the vine.


True I drink wine, like every man of sense,
For I know Allah will not take offense;
Before time was, He know that I should drink,
And who am I to thwart His prescience?


Rich men, who take to drink, the world defy
With shameless riot, and as beggars die;
Place in my ruby pipe some emerald hemp,
'Twill do as well to blind care's serpent eye.


These fools have never burnt the midnight oil
In deep research, nor do they ever toil
To step beyond themselves, but dress them fine,
And plot of credit others to despoil.


When false dawn streaks the east with cold, gray line,
Pour in your cups the pure blood of the vine;
The truth, they say, tastes bitter in the mouth,
This is a token that the "Truth " is wine.


Now is the time earth decks her greenest bowers,
And trees, like Musa's hand, grow white with flowers!
As 'twere at 'Isa's breath the plants revive,
While clouds brim o'er, like tearful eyes, with showers.


Oh burden not thyself with drudgery,
Lord of white silver and red gold to be;
But feast with friends, ere this warm breath of thine
Be chilled in death, and earthworms feast on thee.


The showers of grape juice, which cupbearers pour,
Quench fires of grief in many a sad heart's core.
Praise be to Allah, who hath sent this balm
To heal sore hearts, and spirits' health restore!


Can alien Pharisees Thy kindness tell,
Like us, Thy intimates, who nigh Thee dwell?
Thou say'st, "All sinners will I burn with fire."
Say that to strangers-we know Thee too well.


O comrades dear, when hither ye repair
In times to come, communion sweet to share,
While the cupbearer pours your old Magh wine,
Call poor Khayyam to mind, and breathe a prayer.


For me heaven's sphere no music ever made,
Nor yet with soothing voice my fears allayed;
If e'er I found brief respite from my woes,
Back to woe's thrall I was at once betrayed.


Sooner with half a loaf contented be,
And water from a broken crock, like me,
Than lord it over one poor fellow man,
Or to another bow the vassal knee.


While Moon and Venus in the sky shall dwell,
None shall see aught red grape-juice to excel:
O foolish publicans, what can you buy
One half so precious as the goods you sell?


They who by genius, and by power of brain,
The rank of man's enlighteners attain,
Not even they emerge from this dark night,
But tell their dreams, and fall asleep again.


At dawn, when dews bedeck the tulip's face,
And violets their heavy heads abase,
I love to see the roses' folded buds,
With petals closed against the wind's disgrace.


Like as the skies rain down sweet jessamine,
And sprinkle all the meads with eglantine,
Right so, from out this jug of violet hue,
I pour in lily cups this rosy wine.


Ah! thou hast snared this head, though white as snow,
Which oft has vowed the wine-cup to forego;
And wrecked the mansion long resolve did build,
And rent the vesture penitence did sew!


I am not one whom Death doth much dismay,
Life's terrors all Death's terrors far outweigh;
This life, that Heaven hath lent me for a while,
I will pay back, when it is time to pay.


The stars, who dwell on heaven's exalted stage,
Baffle the wise diviners of our age;
Take heed, hold fast the rope of mother wit.
These augurs all distrust their own presage.


The people who the heavenly world adorn,
Who come each night, and go away each morn,
Now on Heaven's skirt, and now in earth's deep pouch,
While Allah lives, shall aye anew be born!


Slaves of vain wisdom and philosophy,
Who toil at Being and Nonentity,
Parching your brains till they are like dry grapes,
Be wise in time, and drink grapejuice like me!


Sense, seeking happiness, bids us pursue
All present joys, and present griefs eschew;
She says, we are not as the meadow grass,
Which, when they mow it down, springs up anew.


Now Ramadan is past, Shawwal comes back,
And feast and song and joy no more we lack;
The wine-skin carriers throng the streets and cry,
"Here comes the porter with his precious pack. "


My comrades are all gone; Death, deadly foe,
Has caught them one by one, and trampled low;
They shared life's feast, and drank its wine with me,
But lost their heads, and dropped a while ago.


Those hypocrites, all know so well, who lurk
In streets to beg their bread, and will not work,
Claim to be saints, like Shibli and Junaid,
No Shiblis are they, though well known in Karkh!


When the great Founder molded me of old,
He mixed much baser metal with my gold;
Better or fairer I can never be
Than I first issued from his heavenly mold.


The joyous souls who quaff potations deep,
And saints who in the mosques sad vigils keep,
Are lost at sea alike, and find no shore,
One only wakes, all others are asleep.


Not-being's water served to mix my clay,
And on my heart grief's fire doth ever prey,
And blown am I like wind about the world,
And last my crumbling earth is swept away.


Small gains to learning on this earth accrue,
They pluck life's fruitage, learning who eschew;
Take pattern by the fools who learning shun,
And then perchance shall fortune smile on you.


When the fair soul this mansion doth vacate,
Each element assumes its primal state,
And all the silken furniture of life
Is then dismantled by the blows of fate.


These people string their beads of learned lumber,
And tell of Allah stories without number;
Yet never solve the riddle of the skies,
But wag the chin, and get them back to slumber.


These folk are asses, laden with conceit,
And glittering drums, that empty sounds repeat,
And humble slaves are they of name and fame,
Acquire a name, and, lo! they kiss thy feet.


On the dread day of final scrutiny
Thou wilt be rated by thy quality;
Get wisdom and fair qualities to-day,
For, as thou art, requited wilt thou be.


Many fine heads, like bowls, the Brazier made,
And thus his own similitude portrayed;
He sets one upside down above our heads,
Which keeps us all continually afraid.


My true condition I may thus explain
In two short verses which the whole contain:
"From love to Thee I now lay down my life,
In hope Thy love will raise me up again.


The heart, like tapers, takes at beauty's eyes
A flame, and lives by that whereby it dies;
And beauty is a flame where hearts, like moths,
Offer themselves a burning sacrifice.


To please the righteous life itself I sell,
And, though they tread me down, never rebel;
Men say, "Inform us what and where is hell?"
Ill company will make this earth a hell.


The sun doth smite the roofs with Orient ray
And, Khosrau like, his wine-red sheen display;
Arise, and drink! the herald of the dawn
Uplifts his voice, and cries, "Oh, drink to-day!"


Comrades! when e'er you meet together here,
Recall your friend to mind, and drop a tear;
And when the circling wine-cups reach his seat,
Pray turn one upside down his dust to cheer.


That grace and favor at the first, what meant it?
That lavishing of joy and peace, what meant it?
But now thy purpose is to grieve my heart;
What did I do to cause this change? What meant it?


These hypocrites who build on saintly show,
Treating the body as the spirit's foe,
If they will shut their mouths with lime, like jars,
My jar of grape-juice I will then forego.


Many have come, and run their eager race,
Striving for pleasures, luxuries, or place,
And quaffed their wine, and now all silent lie,
Enfolded in their parent earth's embrace.


Then, when the good reap fruits of labors past,
My hapless lot with drunkards will be cast;
If good, may I be numbered with the first,
If bad, find grace and mercy with the last.


Of happy turns of fortune take your fill,
Seek pleasure's couch, or wine-cup, as you will;
Allah regards not if you sin, or saint it,
So take your pleasure, be it good or ill.


Heaven multiplies our sorrows day by day,
And grants no joys it does not take away;
If those unborn could know the ills we bear,
What think you, would they rather come or stay?


Why ponder thus the future to foresee,
And jade thy brain to vain perplexity?
Cast off thy care, leave Allah's plans to him--
He formed them all without consulting thee.


The tenants of the tombs to dust decay,
Nescient of self, and all beside are they;
Their sundered atoms float about the world,
Like mirage clouds, until the judgment-day.


O soul! lay up all earthly goods in store,
Thy mead with pleasure's flowerets spangled o'er;
And know 'tis all as dew, that decks the flowers
For one short night, and then is seen no more!


Heed not the Sunna, nor the law divine;
If to the poor his portion you assign,
And never injure one, nor yet abuse,
I guarantee you heaven, and now some wine!


Vexed by this wheel of things, that pets the base,
My sorrow-laden life drags on apace;
Like rosebud, from the storm I wrap me close,
And blood-spots on my heart, like tulip, trace.


Youth is the time to pay court to the vine,
To quaff the cup, with revelers to recline;
A flood of water once laid waste the earth,
Hence learn to lay you waste with floods of wine.


The world is baffled in its search for Thee,
Wealth can not find Thee, no, nor poverty;
Thou'rt very near us, but our ears are deaf,
Our eyes are blinded that we may not see!


Take care you never hold a drinking-bout
With an ill-tempered, ill-conditioned lout;
He'll make a vile disturbance all night long,
And vile apologies next day, no doubt.


The starry aspects are not all benign;
Why toil then after vain desires, and pine
To lade thyself with load of fortune's boons,
Only to drop it with this life of thine?


O comrades! here is filtered wine, come drink!
Pledge all your charming sweethearts as you drink;
'Tis the grape's blood, and this is what it says,
"To you I dedicate my life-blood! drink! "

© Omar Khayyám