Cowell - 1858
Article by E.B. Cowell in Calcutta Review, No. 59, March, 1858, pp. 149-162.
Full text online version
Quatrains from Cowell's translation that correspond with the Bodleian Ms.
Since life is all passing, what matter Bagdad or Balkh?
If our cup be full, what matter bitter or sweet?
Drink wine, for long after thee and me, yon moon
Will still fill to its full, and still waste to its wane.
Yon rolling heaven for our destruction, yours and mine,
Aims its stroke at our lives, yours and mine;
Come, live, sit on the grass - it will not be long
Ere grass grows out of our dust, yours and mine.
Wheresoever is rose or tulip-bed,
Its redness comes from the blood of kings,
Every violet stalk that sprlngs from the earth,
Was once a mole on a loved one's cheek.
This flask was once a poor lover like me,
All immersed in the chase of a fair face;
And this its handle you see on its neck
Was once a hand that clasped a beloved.
Sweet blows on the rose's face the breeze of the new spring,
Sweet down in the garden are the faces of the heart inflamers;
But nought is sweet that thou canst tell of a yesterday passed;
Come be glad, nor talk of yesterday, - to-day is so sweet.'
Oh heart, wert thou pure from the body's dust,
Thou shouldst soar naked spirit above the sky;
Highest heaven is thy native seat, - for shame, for shame,
That thou shouldst stoop to dwell in a city of clay!
My coming was not of mine own design,
And one day I must go, and no choice of mine;
Come, light-handed cupbearer, gird thee to serve,
We must wash down the care of this world with wine.
Come bring me that ruby in yon crystal cup,
That true friend and brother of every open heart;
Thou knowest too well that this life on earth
Is a wind that hurries by, - bring the wine.
Since none can promise himself to-morrow,
Make that forlorn heart of thine glad today;
Drink wine, fair moon-faced, by the light of yon moon,
For oft shall it look for us and find us not.
What though the wine rends my veil,
While I live, I will never tear me away;
I marvel much at the sellers of wine,
For what better thing can they buy than what they sell?
The caravan of life hurries strangely by,
Seize every moment that passes in joy;
Why, cupbearer, mourn for the morrow of thy friends?
Give the cup of wine, for the night hurries by.'
Some ruby wine and a diwan of poems,
A crust of bread to keep the breath in one's body,
And thou and I alone in a desert, -
Were a lot beyond a Sultan's throne.
Of all the world my choice is two crusts and a corner,
I have severed my desires from power and its pomp;
I have bought me poverty with heart and soul,
For I have found the true riches in poverty.
Oh my heart, since life's reality is illusion,
Why vex thyself with its sorrows and cares?
Commit thee to fate, contented with the hour,
For the pen, once passed, returns not back for thee!
I am not the man to fear annihilation;
That half forsooth is sweeter than this half which we have;
This life of mine is entrusted as a loan,
And when pay-day comes, I will give it back.
Heaven derived no profit from my coming hither,
And its glory is not increased by my going hence;
Nor hath my ear ever heard from mortal man, -
This coming and going - why they are at all?
Lip to lip I passionately kissed the bowl,
To learn from it the secret of length of days;
Lip to lip in answer it whispered reply,
"Drink wine, for once gone thou shalt never return!"
I went last night into a potter's shop,
A thousand pots did I see there, noisy and silent;
When suddenly one of the pots raised a cry,
"Where is the pot-maker, the pot-buyer, the pot-seller?"
In the view of reality, not of illusion,
We mortals are chess-men and fate is the player;
We each act our game on the board of life,
And then one by one are swept into the box!
Yon rolling heavens, at which we gaze bewildered,
Are but the image of a magic lanthorn;
The sun is the candle, the world the shade,
And we the images which flit therein.
Last night I dashed my clay cup on the stone,
And at the reckless freak my heart was glad,
When with a voice for the moment out spake the cup,
"I was once as thou and thou shalt be as I!"
If coming had been in my power, I would not have come,
If going had been in my power, I would not go;
Oh best of all lots, if in this world of clay
I had come not, nor gone, nor been at all!
Ere Death raises his night attack on my head,
Bid them bring the rose-red wine.
No gold art thou, poor brain-sick fool,
That once buried, they should dig thee out again!