Christensen - 1927
Critical studies in the Rubá'iyát of 'Umar-i-Khayyám. A revised text with English translation by Arthur Christensen. København, Host & Son, 1927.
Quatrains from Christensen's translation (1927) that correspond with the Bodleian Ms.
In my head may there be desire for the houri-like
idols. In my hand may there be the grape-juice through-out the year
People say to me: "May God give thee repentance!"
He will not give it. I will not practise it. May it be far from me!
I drink wine, and my opponents from left and right
say: "Do not drink wine, for it is the foe of faith."
Now that I know that wine is the foe of faith, by Allah!
I will drink the blood of the foe, for that is lawful.
Khayyam, if thou art drunk with wine, be merry! If
thou art sitting with a tulip-cheek, be merry!
Do not be sorry that thou shalt be naught to-morrow:
imagine thou art not, whilst thou art, and be merry!
To speak the truth and not as a metaphor, we are
the pieces of the game and Heaven the player.
We play a little game on the chessboard of existence.
Then we go back to the box of non-existence, one by one.
Before a night-attack is made upon my head, order
them to bring rose-coloured wine.
Thou are not gold, o heedless fool, that they should
hide thee in the earth and dig thee up again.
One cup of wine is worth a hundred hearts and faiths,
one draught of wine is worth the kingdom of China.
Apart from ruby wine there is not on the surface of the
earth anything bitter that is worth a thousand sweet lives.
Since our stay in this world is not a permanent rest, it
is a great mistake [to live] without wine and a beloved one.
How long shall I be in hope and fear as to [the problem]
of "beginningless" or "begun"? When I am gone,
what matter whether the world has a beginning or not?
This reason that walks the path of happiness, a
hundred times a day it says to thee:
"Find out this one moment of thy lifetime, for thou art
not like those pot-herbs which are picked and grow again."
From the account-book of life we must be wiped out;
by the claw of death we must meet our ruin.
o sweet-faced Sáqi, do not sit idle, bring me the fluid.
for [one day] we must become dust.
In the wine-house we cannot perform the ablution but
with wine. And that reputation which has grown bad
cannot be made good again.
Be merry, for this our veil of modesty has become so
badly torn that it cannot be repaired.
Know that thou shalt depart, deprived of thy soul; thou
shalt go behind the veil of the mystery of annihilation.
Drink wine: thou knowest not whence thou art come.
Be merry! thou knowest not whither thou shalt go.
Do not follow the Sunna and do not care for the
commands of faith, but withhold not from anyone that
morsel which thou hast in possession.
Speak not slander, nor afflict the heart of anyone, then
I warrant thee yonder world. Bring wine!
As often as ever I gaze on all sides, there flows in the
garden a stream of the waters of Kawthar.
The desert is become like Paradise. Speak not of Hell. Sit
down in [this] paradise with a being with a paradisaic face.
From all that is not amusing abstinence is best. And
wine, served with the hand of the idols in the tent is best.
Drunkenness and vagrancy and erring from the path are
best. One draught is best from Moon [above] to the Fish
"Wine is forbidden, it is true, but the question is: who
drinks? and then how much? and how and with whom
When those four conditions are observed altogether,
then, if a wise man does not drink, who drinks?
Alas for that heart in which there is no fire [of love],
which is not struck with distress for a heart-cheering being!
The day that thou spendest without wine, no day is
more lost to thee than that day.
The breath of the breeze of New Year on the face of
the rose is charming. The face of the heart-cheering one,
hidden amidst the flowers of the meadow, is charming.
What thou sayest of Yesterday, that is gone, is not
charming. Be merry, and speak not of Yesterday, for To
day is charming.
If we get but a loaf of wheaten-bread, a gourd of wine
and a leg of mutton.
and if I and thou be sitting in the wilderness, that
were a treat beyond the powers of most sultans.
In cell and college and monastery and synagogue there
are fearers of Hell and seekers of Paradise.
The person who has knowledge of the secrets of God
sows nothing of this seed within his heart.
Since my coming was not of my own choosing from
the first day, and my going has been irrevocably fixed without my will,
arise and gird thy loins, o nimble Sáqí, for I will
wash down the grief of the world with wine.
O heart, thou arrivest not at the secrets of the mystery,
thou arrivest not at the nice distinctions of the subtle thinkers.
Prepare a paradise here with wine and cup, for thither
were Paradise is, thou mayst arrive—or mayst not arrive.
If my coming had depended on me, I had not come, and
if, again, my going had depended on me, why should I go?
Were it not better, if in this growth and decay I had
not come, nor gone, nor been?
This wheel of Heaven, for the sake of my destruction
and thine, has designs upon my pure soul and thine.
Sit down on the grass, o idol, for it will not be long
ere grass shall spring from my dust and thine.
Against the stone, last night, I flung the wine-bowl of
faience. I was drunk when I did that brutal action.
The bowl said to me in the language of bowls: 'I was
what thou art, thou also shall be what I am."
Like the water of the river and like the wind of the
desert, another day of my life-time has passed.
For two days I never cared: the day that has not
come, and the day that has gone.
This jar was like me a sorrowful lover, and it was in
search of the face of a fair one.
This handle that thou seeest upon its neck is a hand
that [once] lay upon the neck of a friend.
If, in the time of spring, an idol, houri-shaped, gives
me a cup of wine on the bank of the field.
— however much this saying may jar on the ears of the
vulgar —I were worse than a dog, cared I for Paradise.
When I am cast headlong into the grave of my hope,
and I am like a plucked bird under the hand of Death,
take care! from my clay make nothing but a wine
bottle. Perhaps, when I am filled with wine, I may revive.
The Qur'án, which people call the Best Word, they
read it from time to time, not constantly
On the lines of the cup a sacred verse is engraved
which they read everywhere and always.
Drink wine, for it will relieve thee of the Too-much
and ihe Too-little, and it will relieve thee of all care for
the seventy-two sects.
Avoid not that philosopher's stone, for if thou drinkest one
man thereof, it will relieve thee of a thousand maladies.
This vault [of Heaven] is like an inverted bowl, under
which all the wise have become helpless captives.
Look at the friendship of bottle and cup: their lips
meet, yet there is [red] blood between them.
It is better that thou fliest from all the lore of the sciences.
It is better that thou seizest the tip of the lock of the charmer.
Ere Time shall shed thy blood, it is better that thou
sheddest the blood of the refining vessel into the cup.
In every plain where there was a tulip-bed, the tulips
have sprung from the blood of a king.
Every shoot of the violet which grows from the earth
is a beauty-spot that has [once] been on the cheek of a fair one.
Those who are become the slaves of intellect and argument,
in anxious ponderings over existence and non-existence they are become naught.
Go, thou know-nothing, and choose the juice of the [ripe] grapes,
for those know-nothings from eating the unripe grapes [of wisdom] are become [like] dry raisins.
Since nobody gives [thee] surety of To-morrow, by
now make merry this sorrowful heart.
Drink wine by the light of the moon, o Moon, for many
times the moon will shine, and it will not find us here.
If I tell Thee my secrets in the tavern, it is better
than to perform the prayer in the mihráb without Thee.
O Thou, the beginning and the end of all creation.
burn me, if such is Thy will, cherish me, if such is Thy will.
How long shall we be captives in the prison of every
day reason? What matter whether we have come into the
world for a hundred years or for one day?
Pour wine into the cup, before we become pots in the
workshop of the potters.
Drink wine, for under the clay thou shalt sleep for long
without friend and companion and fellow and wife.
Take care! do not tell to anyone this hidden secret:
the tulip once withered will not blossom again.
I know not whether He who moulded me has predestined me
to be one of the people of Paradise or a dweller of hideous Hell.
A meal, an idol, and wine on the bank of the field, these
three are cash to me; thine be an order for Paradise.
Go! throw dust upon the head of the heavens and the
world. Drink ever wine and hover about the fair-faced ones.
What place is there for worship? what place for prayer?
for of all those who are gone not one has come back.
As far as thou canst, do service to the drunkards; lay
waste the foundations of prayer and fasting.
Hear then this true word from 'Umar-i-Khayyám: "Drink
wine, be a highwayman, but do good."
The celestial sphere is a girdle enclosing our tormented
life. The river Oxus is the trace of our [blood-]mingled tears.
Hell is a spark from our absurd sufferings. Paradise a
moment of our time of rest.
I dropped asleep. A wise man said to me: "From sleep
the rose of pleasure did never bloom for anyone.
Why do you meddle with that which is of a piece
with death ? Drink wine for we must sleep during many a lifetime."
Every draught that the Sáqí sheds upon the earth
stifles the fire of anguish in a burning eye.
God be praised! is then the water that frees thy heart
from a hundred pains nothing but air to thee?
Behind the veil of the secrets there is no way for anybody.
Of this scheme of things the soul of no man has any knowledge.
There is no dwelling-place except in the heart of the dust.
Drink wine, for such tales are not short to tell.
To-day thou hast no power over To-morrow, and the
thought of To-morrow is to thee nothing but melancholy.
Do not forfeit this moment if thy heart be not insane.
for the worth of the rest of thy life is not evident.
Whosoever has got imprinted on his heart one character
of the script of reason has not lost one moment of his life.
whether he strives lo live after the pleasing of God, or
he chooses his own comfort and raises the wine-cup.
How long shall I pile up bricks upon the surface of
the sea? I am sick of the idolaters of the temple.
Who has said that Khayyám shall be a denizen of
Hell? Who has ever gone to Hell and who has come from Paradise?
I laid my lip to the lip of the wine-cup in the utmost
desire to seek from it the means of prolonging life.
It laid its lip to my lip and said mysteriously: "During
a whole life I was like thee; rejoice for a while in my company".
Here we are, and the wine and the bench of the tavern and the furnace in ruins.
We have put soul and heart and cup and cloak in pledge for wine
and got rid of the hope of mercy and the fear of punishment.
Careless we are of earth and air and fire and water.
Khayyám, who was stitching the tents of wisdom, fell into
the furnace of affliction and was burnt all of a sudden.
The shears of death cut the tent-rope of his life.
The broker of hope sold him for nothing.
Yesterday I saw a potter in the bazar. He beat the
fresh clay with many strokes,
and that clay said to him in its own language: "Once
I was [a being] like thee; so treat me gently."
Drink of that wine which is eternal life. It is the capital
of the pleasure of youth, therefore drink!
It burns like fire, but like the water of life it alleviates
sorrow. Therefore drink!
Nobody, since the revolving sphere has been visible on
heaven, has seen anything that is better than ruby wine.
I wonder at the wine-sellers, for what will they buy
that is better than that which they sell?
We cannot consume our merry heart with grief and
tear asunder the time of our happiness against the rock of affliction.
Who knows what will happen in time? Wine is whatwe need,
and the beloved one and repose after satisfied desires.
We have returned to the habit of debauchery. We
renounce the five daily prayers.
Wherever there is a goblet, thou mayst see us with our
necks stretched like the neck of the bottle towards it.
How long [shall we listen to] traditions about eternity
to come and eternity past? Theory as well as practice are
beyond the measure of my ability.
In the hour of joy there is no substitute for wine. Wine settles all difficulties.
It is not allowable for a man, [even when] drunk, to destroy
the composition of a cup which he has put together.
So many fair heads and feet, formed by His hand, for
love of whom did He make them? and for hate of whom
did He destroy them?
Good and evil that are in the nature of man, joy and
grief that are in fate and predestination,
do not impute them to the wheel of Heaven, for in
the way of reason the wheel is a thousand times more helpless than thou art.
From of old the scheme of all that must be has existed.
The pen of destiny has written good and evil without ceasing.
He has appointed in predestination all that must come.
We distress and bestir ourselves, but all to no avail.
When life vanishes, what then is Baghdad, what is Balkh?
When the measure of our cup is full, what matter if the drink be sweet or bitter?
Drink wine, for after me and thee this moon will pass many times from the last day of the month
to the first of the next and from the first to the last.
To Heaven it was of no profit to bring me hither, and
to take me away could not increase its magnificence and dignity.
Nor have my two ears ever heard from anyone for
what reason it brings me and takes me away.
This caravan of life passes by like a wonder. Mayst thou
discover the moment that passes by with delight.
Sáqí, why dost thou trouble thyself with the To-morrow
of thy fellows? Bring a cup, for the night passes by.
Beware! give me nourishment from the wine-cup,
and make this amber face [of mine red] as ruby.
When I shall depart this life, wash me with wine,
and make from the wood of the wine the planks of my coffin.
Though I never threaded the bead of obedience to Thee
and never wiped off the dust of sin from my face.
none the less I am not hopeless of Thy mercy, because
I never called the One Two.
Since the outcome for man in this salt-marsh is nothing
but to suffer grief or to uproot one's soul.
happy is the heart of the man who passes quickly
from this world, and at peace the man who came not at all into the world.
To him who has a knowledge of the conditions of the
world, the joy and grief of the world have become all the same.
Since the good and the bad of the world will be all
over, well! be all pain, then, or all remedy.
Where is the profit of our coming or going? and where
is the woof to the warp of the stuff of our life?
In the hoop of the wheel of Heaven the souls of so
many pure beings burn and become ashes, and where is the smoke?