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Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Translated by Justin Huntly McCarthy. In the Strand, Nutt, 1889.
Full text online version

Quatrains from McCarthy's translation that correspond with the Bodleian Ms.


9 [5]
SINCE NO MAN DARES PLAY PROPHET
FOR TO-MORROW, HASTEN TO LIFT THY
HEAVY LADEN HEART. DRAIN, O DE-
LIGHTFUL MOON, A CRIMSON CUP, FOR
HEAVEN'S MOON WILL TURN A WEARY
WHILE AND FAIL TO FIND US.

 

18 [23]
O KHAYAM, WHY SO MUCH MOURN-
ING FOR YOUR SIN? WHAT CONSOLA-
TION CAN YOU FIND IN THUS PLAGU-
ING YOURSELF? HE WHO HAS NEVER
SINNED CAN NEVER TASTE THE SWEET
OF FOREGIVENESS. MERCY WAS MADE
FOR THE SAKE OF SIN, THEREFORE,
WHY ARE YOU AFRAID?

 

19 [29]
NO ONE HAS EVER PASSED BEHIND
THE VEIL THAT MASKS THE SECRETS
OF GOD. NO ONE SHALL EVER PASS
BEHIND IT; THERE IS NO OTHER
DWELLING-PLACE FOR US THAN THE
BOSOM OF THE EARTH. WOE'S ME
THAT THIS SECRET, TOO, SHOULD BE
SO SHORT.

 

24 [6]
THE KORAN, WHICH MEN CALL THE
HOLY WORD, IS NONE THE LESS READ
ONLY FROM TIME TO TIME, AND NOT
WITH STEADFAST STUDY, WHILE ON
THE LIP OF THE CUP THERE RUNS A
LUMINOUS VERSE WHICH WE LOVE
TO READ ALWAYS AND EVER.

 

39 [41]
ASCRIBE NOT TO THE WHEEL OF
HEAVEN THE WOE AND WEAL WHICH
ARE THE PORTION OF MAN, THE
THOUSAND JOYS AND THOUSAND
SORROWS WHICH FATE AWARDS US,
FOR THIS WHEEL, MY FRIEND, RE-
VOLVES MORE HELPLESS THAN THY-
SELF ALONG THE HIGHWAY OF THE
HEAVENLY LOVE.

 

45 [7]
YEA, IT IS I, WHO, IN THIS RUINED
TAVERN, SURROUNDED BY DRINKERS
AND DANCERS, HAVE STAKED, FOR
THEIR SAKES, ALL MY BELONGINGS,
SOUL AND HEART, AND WORDLY GEAR,
DOWN TO MY VERY DRINKING CUP.
THUS I SET MYSELF FREE FROM HOPE
OF HEAVEN AND FROM FEAR OF HELL.
THUS I AM ABOVE THE ELEMENTS,
EARTH, AIR, FIRE, AND WATER.

 

61 [94]
HERE, BELOW, WE ARE NAUGHT BUT
PUPPETS FOR THE DIVERSION OF THE
WHEEL OF THE HEAVENS. THIS IS
INDEED A TRUTH, AND NO SIMILE.
WE TRULY ARE BUT PIECES ON
THIS CHESSBOARD OF HUMANITY,
WHICH IN THE END WE LEAVE, ONLY
TO ENTER, ONE BY ONE, INTO THE
GRAVE OF NOTHINGNESS.

 

62 [24]
IN MOSQUE, IN SCHOOL, IN CHURCH,
IN SYNAGOGUE, MEN FEAR FOR HELL
AND HOPE FOR PARADISE, BUT THE
SEED OF THIS UNCERTAINTY HAS
NEVER SPROUTED IN THE SOUL OF
HIM WHO HAS PENETRATED THE
SECRETS OF THE ALL-WISE.

 

67 [27]
ONE NIGHT I BEHELD IN A DREAM
A SAGE, WHO SAID TO ME, "IN SLEEP,
O MY FRIEND, THE ROSE OF JOY HAS
NEVER BLOSSOMED FOR ANY MAN?
WHY DO YOU DO A DEED SO LIKE TO
DEATH? ARISE, AND DRINK WINE, FOR
YOU WILL SLEEP SOUND ENOUGH BE-
NEATH THE EARTH."

 

73 [9]
THIS JAR HAS BEEN, LIKE ME,
A CREATURE, LOVING AND UNHAPPY; IT
HAS SIGHED FOR THE LONG TRESSES
OF SOME FAIR YOUNG GIRL; THAT
HANDLE BY WHICH YOU HOLD IT NOW,
WAS ONCE A LOVING ARM TO LINGER
FONDLY ROUND SOME FAIR ONE'S NECK.

 

82 [101]
IF YOU WILL HEARKEN, I WILL GIVE
YOU GOOD COUNSEL. DO NOT DON
THE CLOAK OF HYPOCRISY FOR THE
LOVE OF GOD. ETERNITY IS OF ALL
TIME, AND THIS WORLD IS BUT OF A
MOMENT. DO NOT, THEN, BARTER FOR
A MOMENT THE EMPERY OF ETERNITY.

 

85 [102]
O KHAYYAM, WHEN YOU ARE DRUNK
BE MERRY; WHEN YOU ARE WITH
YOUR MISTRESS, BE GLAD; SINCE THE
END OF THIS WORLD IS NOTHINGNESS,
THINK THAT YOU ARE NOT, AND WHILE
YOU ARE, BE JOCUND.

 

86 [31]
ALL THINGS THAT BE WERE LONG
SINCE MARKED UPON THE TABLET OF
CREATION. HEAVEN'S PENCIL HAS
NAUGHT TO DO WITH GOOD OR EVIL.
GOD SET ON FATE ITS NECESSARY
SEAL; AND ALL OUR EFFORTS ARE
BUT A VAIN STRIVING.

 

87 [2]
I WOULD RATHER IN THE TAVERN
WITH THEE POUR OUT ALL THE
THOUGHTS OF MY HEART, THAN WITH-
OUT THEE GO AND MAKE MY PRAYER
UNTO HEAVEN. THIS, TRULY, O
CREATOR OF ALL THINGS PRESENT AND
TO COME, IS MY RELIGION; WHETHER
THOU CASTEST ME INTO THE FLAMES,
OR MAKEST ME GLAD WITH THE LIGHT
OF THY COUNTENANCE.

 

91 [80]
BEHOLD, THE TIME IS COME, WHEN
THE EARTH IS ABOUT TO CLOTHE IT-
SELF IN VERDURE, WHEN THE BLOS-
SOMS BREAKING FORTH OVER THE
BRANCHES, MAKE THEM BECOME AS
THE HAND OF MOSES, WHEN, AS IF
QUICKENED BY THE BREATH OF JESUS,
THE PLANTS SPRING FROM THE EARTH,
WHEN AT LAST THE CLOUDS OPEN
THEIR EYES TO WEEP.

 

98 [33]
THIS WORLD IS BUT A HAIR'S
BREADTH IN OUR WRETCHED LIFE.
THE SOUL BUT THE FAINT TRACE OF
OUR BLENDED TEARS AND BLOOD.
HELL IS BUT A SHADOW OF THE VAIN
TOILS WE TAKE UPON OURSELVES.
PARADISE IS BUT THE MOMENT'S REST
WE SOMETIMES TASTE HERE.

 

100 [19]
WHO CAN BELIEVE THAT HE WHO
MADE THE CUP WOULD DREAM OF
DESTROYING IT? ALL THOSE FAIR
FACES, ALL THOSE LOVELY LIMBS, ALL
THOSE ENCHANTING BODIES, WHAT
LOVE HAS MADE THEM, AND WHAT
HATE DESTROYS THEM?

 

115 [103]
YESTERDAY I VISITED THE WORK-
SHOP OF A POTTER: THERE I BEHELD
TWO THOUSAND POTS, SOME SPEAKING,
AND SOME HOLDING THEIR PEACE.
EACH ONE SEEMED TO SAY TO ME,
"WHERE IS THEN THE POTTER, WHERE
THE BUYER OF POTS, WHERE THE
SELLER?"

 

148 [47]
SINCE LIFE FLIES, WHAT MATTERS IT
WHETHER IT BE SWEET OR BITTER?
SINCE OUR SOUL MUST ESCAPE
THROUGH OUR LIPS, WHAT MATTERS IT
WHETHER IT BE AT NAISHAPUR OR
BABYLON ? DRINK, THEN, FOR AFTER
THOU AND I ARE DUST, THE MOON
WILL FOR MANY DAYS PASS FROM
HER LAST TO HER FIRST QUARTER,
AND FROM HER FIRST TO HER LAST.

 

165 [60]
THIS CARAVAN OF LIFE PASSETH IN
A STRANGE MANNER - BEWARE, OH,
FRIEND, FOR IT IS THE TIME OF THY
PLEASURE WHICH FLEETH FROM THEE
THUS. TROUBLE NOT THYSELF, THERE-
FORE, FOR THE GRIEF WHICH
AWAITETH OUR FRIENDS ON THE
MORROW, FOR BEHOLD HOW THE
NIGHT PASSETH AWAY!

 

180 [26]
BE ON YOUR GUARD, MY FRIEND,
FOR YOU WILL BE SUNDERED FROM
YOUR SOUL, YOU WILL PASS BEHIND
THE CURTAIN OF THE SECRETS OF
HEAVEN. DRINK WINE, FOR YOU KNOW
NOT WHENCE YOU COME. BE MERRY,
FOR YOU KNOW NOT WHERE YOU GO.

 

195 [51]
THIS WORLD HAS GAINED NOTHING
BY MY SOJOURN HERE BELOW, AND
ITS GLORY AND GREATNESS WILL NOT
BE LESSENED BY MY DEPARTURE. I
HAVE NEVER HEARD WITH MY EARS,
AND HAVE NEVER BEEN TOLD BY ANY-
ONE THE REASON OF MY COMING OR
GOING.

 

212 [52]
OUR BEING MUST BE EFFACED FROM
THE BOOK OF LIFE, WE MUST EXPIRE
IN THE ARMS OF DEATH. OH, EN-
CHANTING CUP-BEARER, BRING ME THE
LIQUOR JOYFULLY, SINCE I MUST BE-
COME EARTH.

 

217 [109]
I WAGE A WARFARE WITHOUT END
AGAINST MY PASSIONS, BUT WHAT CAN
I DO? THE REMEMBRANCE OF MY
INIQUITIES IS LIKE A SORE BURDEN,
BUT WHAT CAN I DO? I BELIEVE
TRULY, THAT IN THY MERCY THOU
WILT BLOT OUT MY SINS. BUT THE
KNOWLEDGE THAT MY DISHONOUR IS NOT
HID FROM THEE REMAINETH -
WHAT CAN I DO?

 

245 [89]
YESTERDAY I BEHELD AT THE BAZAAR
A POTTER SMITING WITH ALL HIS FORCE
THE CLAY HE WAS KNEADING. THE
EARTH SEEMED TO CRY OUT TO HIM,
"I ALSO WAS SUCH AS THOU - TREAT
ME THEREFORE LESS HARSHLY."

 

266 [72]
NO MAN HAS PIERCED THE SECRETS
OF THE CAUSE. NO MAN HAS EVER
PASSED A STEP OUTSIDE HIMSELF. I
WATCH, AND I OBSERVE ONLY IMPER-
FECTION FROM THE PUPIL TO THE
MASTER, IMPERFECTION IN ALL THAT
IS BORN OF WOMAN.

 

277 [68]
O, BELOVED, BEFORE CARE SEIZETH
THEE, BID THEM SERVE US WITH WINE
THE COLOUR OF ROSES. THOU ART NOT
MADE OF GOLD, O THOUGHTLESS FOOL,
THAT THOU SHOULDST HOPE TO BE
DUG UP AFTER THOU ART LAID IN
THE EARTH.

 

283 [118]
BEHOLD THE DAWN ARISES. LET
US REJOICE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
WITH A CUP OF CRIMSON WINE IN
OUR HAND. AS FOR HONOUR AND
FAME, LET THAT FRAGILE CRYSTAL BE
DASHED TO PIECES AGAINST THE
EARTH.

 

296 [148]
THOU SETTEST SNARES AROUND US
MANIFOLD, AND SAYEST, "DEATH TO
YE, IF YE ENTER THEREIN." THOU
LAYEST THE LURES THYSELF, AND
THEN GIVEST OVER THY VICTIM TO
DOOM.

 

314 [40]
I KNOW NOT IF HE WHO CREATED
ME BELONGS TO HAPPY PARADISE OR
TERRIBLE HELL, BUT I KNOW THAT
A CUP OF WINE, A FAIR PARAMOUR,
AND A LUTE ON THE BORDERS OF A
PLEASANT LAND, REJOICE MY HEART
IN THIS PRESENT HOUR, AND THAT
THOU LIVEST ON THE PROMISE OF A
FUTURE PARADISE.

 

317 [157]
IF I WERE FREE TO USE MY WILL,
IF I WERE FREE FROM CARES OF GOOD
AND EVIL IN THIS WORTHLESS WORLD,
HOW WILLINGLY WOULD I CHOOSE
NEVER TO HAVE COME HERE, NEVER
TO HAVE LIVED HERE, NEVER TO DE-
PART HENCE.

 

323 [91]
THE COMMANDMENTS OF RELIGION
ONLY INSIST ON THE FULFILLING
OF THY OBLIGATION TO THE DEITY.
REFUSE NOT THY MORSEL OF BREAD
TO ANOTHER, REFRAIN THY TONGUE
FROM SLANDER, AND SEEK NOT TO
RENDER EVIL TO THY NEIGHBOUR.
IF THOU DOEST THIS, I MYSELF PRO-
MISE THEE THE FUTURE LIFE. - BRING
HITHER THE WINE!

 

341 [140]
THOSE THAT HAVE GONE HENCE
BEFORE US, O CUP-BEARER, ARE LAPPED
IN THE DUST OF PRIDE, O CUP-BEARER;
DRINK THEN THY WINE, AND HEAR
THE TRUTH I TELL; THE WORDS
THEY WHISPERED WERE BUT WIND, O
CUP-BEARER.

 

449 [149]
GIVE ME A FLAGON OF RED WINE,
A BOOK OF VERSES, A LOAF OF BREAD,
AND A LITTLE IDLENESS. IF WITH
SUCH STORE I MIGHT SIT BY THY DEAR
SIDE IN SOME LONELY PLACE, I SHOULD
DEEM MYSELF HAPPIER THAN A KING
IN HIS KINGDOM.

 

459 [145]
HEART, MY HEART, IF YOU FREE
YOURSELF FROM EARTHLY CARES, YOU
WILL BECOME PURE SOUL AND SCALE
THE SKIES. THEN WHAT A SHAME
AND SORROW TO HAVE DWELT ON
EARTH!

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