Garner - 1898
The stanzas of Omar Khayyam. Translated from the Persian by John Leslie Garner. Philadelphia, Coates and Company, 1898.
Quatrains from Garner's translation that correspond with the Bodleian Ms.
Where minstrels sing and goblets clink I dwell,
My clothes, my heart, my soul for wine I sell;
Sorrow and wrinkled care I banish far
Together with all thoughts of heaven and hell.
A book, a flask of wine, a crust of bread,
To every care and worldly sorrow dead,
I covet not when thou, oh, Love, art near,
The jeweled turban on the sultan's head.
Our life will end, it flies on foot amain;
What boots it whether passed in joy or pain
At Balk or Nishapur? Come, fill your cup -
We die, but still the moon will wax and wane.
The Koran's word, oft called "the word sublime,"
Is seldom read, and not in every clime;
But on the goblet's rim there is a verse
Men read in every place and through all time.
Yes, bid the saki fill the brimming measure;
Fear not to make thy God the God of Pleasure!
For when thy clay beneath the turf is laid,
'T will ne'er be sought as some long buried treasure.
Life's caravan unheeded glides away,
And barren hopes alone remain, - but nay, -
Fear not the pain the future has in store,
But drink, - upon us steals the twilight gray.
Snow white like Moses' hand the branches grow,
While clouds rain tears upon the earth below;
The tender buds revived by Jesus' breath,
Upon the air their subtile fragrance throw.
And since the future's riddles none can guess,
Come, fill the cup, the cup that drowns distress,
Ah, love, yon Moon will often rise again,
Will rise and miss us in her lonelines.
A sighing bit of breathing clay, this vase
Once humbly bowed before a woman's face;
This earthen handle fixed about its neck
Did oft in love a cypress form embrace.
Again into the potter's shop I strayed
Where jars and pots a-many were displayed,
And all cried out, "Where is the potter now,
And those who bought and sold, where are they laid?"
I saw a potter at his work to-day,
Shaping with rudest hand his whirling clay, -
"Ah, gently, brother, do not treat me thus,
I too was once a man," I heard it say.
The place where you a bed of tulips seek
Did erstwhile with the blood of Bahram reek,
And every purple leaf the violet bears
Was once a mole on some fair maiden's cheek.
Whatever is, by Fate was erst designed,
The Maker now his labor has resigned,
And all our striving can avail us naught,
Fot all our acts were long ago defined.
Ah, do not think the skies our souls enthrall.
The griefs, the joys that to us mortals fall,
Come not from thence, nor are they known to fate, -
Heaven is far more helpless than us all.
Upon this checkerboard of joys and woes
The wretched puppet hither and thither goes,
Until the mighty Player of the skies
His plaything back in the casket throws.
Whatever laws the pen of Fate has traced
For tears of man will never be erased;
Support thy ills, do not bemoan thy lot,
Let all of Fate's decrees be boldly faced.
Thou hast prepared a way with many a snare
And decked with many a prize to lure us there.
And yet. Oh, God, 'tis said Thou wilt not spare
The man whose footsteps stumble unaware.
Last night I dreamed I met a sage who said:
"Doth e'er in sleep the rosebud lift its head?
Why sleep, for sleep is but akin to death,
And thou shalt sleep enough when thou art dead?"
Why let thy sins of old torment thee so,
What gain to thee from all this crushing woe?
The man who God's commandment ne'er transgressed
Can ne'er God's all-forgiving kindness know.
This universe is but a mantle worn,
The Jehun from our flooding tears is born,
And hell a fire enkindled of our sins.
And heaven a respite from our life forlorn.
In youth my thoughts on wisdom e'er were bent
And with my learning was I well content,
Until a whisper reached me from the waste:
"From the dust I came, and into the wind I went."
What profit from our coming and our going;
And from the seed of hope that we are sowing?
Where now are those who lived and passed away? -
Their whereabouts transcends all human knowing.
Would that my soul might leave its earthen home,
And wing its flight through heaven's mighty dome!
What shame, what shame to feel itself confined
Within a tenement of basest loam!
Ah, brother, but a little while and thou shalt find
Eternal rest, the secret veil behind;
Rejoice thy heart and banish grief, for know -
Thy source, thy goal, has never been divined.