In contrast to the Ouseley manuscript from the Bodleian Library, the text of the Calcutta Manuscript has never been completely translated into English. Parts of the Calcutta quatrains were translated by Edward Heron-Allen, published in "Edward Fitzgerald's Rubâ'iyât of Omar Khayyâm" (1899). Only those quatrains were translated that served as a basis for FitzGerald: the 101 quatrains in the fourth edition (1879) plus the quatrains from the various Introductions and Notes, the two quatrains that appeared in the first version only and nine quatrains that appeared in the second edition only.
A second source for translations of Calcutta quatrains into English is "The Romance of the Rubáiyát" by A.J. Arberry (1959). In this book we find sixty-nine Calcutta quatrains, apart from the translations of the Bodleian quatrains.


The London Library holds Heron-Allen's Rubáiyát collection together with material that he used for his studies. Part of this material are a number of notebooks in which Heron-Allen put down his translations of the Calcutta manuscript. These are dated 1897. The notebooks contain a preliminary version of the translations and a more decent version, probably in preparation for publication. Heron-Allen based his work on a copy of E.B. Cowell's copy of the Calcutta MS 1548. The notebooks also contain a chart of the Calcutta quatrain numbers collated with Whinfield, Nicolas, and Bodley numbers, plus lists of quatrains in B. and W. but not in C; in B. but not in W. or C; and in B. and C., but not in W.
As we know, Cowell had a copy of this MS made for FitzGerald, as well as a copy for himself. Both copies however were hard to decipher and caused FitzGerald great difficulties. When Heron-Allen started his enquiries, he ordered a proper copy of the original MS, but as it turned out that MS was now lost. New copies were now made from Cowell's copy, one copy to replace the lost MS in the Bengal Asiatic Society Library, and one copy for Heron-Allen himself. It is from this last copy that translations were put down in the notebooks, refered to above.



The quatrains in these notebooks have recently been transcribed into plain text by Douglas Taylor: the preliminary version as well as the more appropriate version. In that first version the following references are given by Heron-Allen:

  • Whinfield, 1883
  • Nicolas, 1867
  • FitzGerald, 1879
  • Bodleian MS
  • Calcutta MS
  • Payne, 1898

In this version the quatrains that also appear in the Bodleian MS are omitted, but they are included in the second draft. For this website, the two drafts have been used. As to the references, these are completed with references to

  • Heron-Allen, 1899
  • Thompson, 1906
  • Christensen, 1927


  • Heron-Allen
    The quatrains in Heron-Allen 1899 are numbered I-CI, corresponding with the FitzGerald numbering. For our purpose, we use 1-101. In many instances Heron-Allen shows more than one quatrain that serve as basis for FitzGerald. For instance quatrain #3 shows four quatrains, or parts of it. These are now numbered as 3a, 3b, 3c, and 3d. The same applies for the remaining quatrains, which results in nrs. 102-118.
  • Thompson
    The Calcutta MS has a number of quatrains written in the margins of the manuscript. In Thompson's edition, these are refered to in various ways: "C. p. 3 margin", etc. This might explain why the Thompson references to the Calcutta numbers do not match with reference numbers in other studies.

Concluding remarks

Although this section basically deals with the Calcutta quatrains taken from Heron-Allen's work, I have followed Heron-Allen where he also shows the text of the Bodleian quatrains. These quatrains are indicated with an *.

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