The Rubaiyat of Omer Khayyam [Archives:2005/903/Culture]

December 15 2005

Translated by Edward FitzGerald
Awake! for morning in the bowl of night

Has flung the stone that puts the starts to flight:

And lo! the hunter of the east has caught

The sultan's turret in a noose of light.

Omar Khayyam was originally named Ghiyath al-Din Abul-Fath Omar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi. He was famous during his lifetime as a mathematician and astronomer.

Omar Khayyam is famous today not only for his scientific accomplishments, but for his literary works. He is believed to have written about a thousand four-line verses (Rubaiyat).

Edward FitzGerald: Recovering from the end of an unhappy marriage, a middle-aged Victorian gentleman named Edward FitzGerald set himself to the task of translating into English a hundred or so lyric stanzas written by Omar Khayyam.

FitzGerald found great consolation in Khayyam's skeptical, sensuous poems, which extol the virtues of living deeply in the present moment.

Preserving the Persian poet's graceful four-line verse form, FitzGerald edited, embellished, and arranged the quatrains in dramatic sequence, making his contribution far more than that of mere translator.

He published the Rubaiyat anonymously in 1859, and it was an immediate success.

It is ironic that the gifted recluse, an intimate friend of famous literary figures in the Victorian Age is remembered today as translator of another man's poetry.

This corner will be dedicated for Rubaiyat over the coming issues of Yemen Times.