Home page | About this website | Sitemap
You are here: Home page » Translations

Rosen - 1928

The quatrains of 'Omar-i Khayyam. Persian text taken from the two newly discovered oldest manuscripts with an English prose version by Friedrich Rosen. London, Luzac & Co., 1928.

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

2 [5]
As no promise of a morn is ever given us,
Gladden for a moment this melancholy heart.
Drink wine, my Moon, in the light of the moon, for the moon
Will shine, time without end, and find us no more.

4 [6]
The Koran they call the best of texts,
Yet oft-times they do not read it with application.
Around the goblet is engraved a verse
Which everywhere is read incessantly.

8 [7]
I with wine and the beloved in this ruined abode,
Life, heart, goblet and garment pawned for wine,
Relieved from hope of grace and from fear of punishment,
Free from earth and air, from fire and water.

10 [19]
The parts which have united to form a goblet
Even the intoxicated refrain to break up again.
So many heads and tender hands;
By whose bounty were they united and through whose wrath were they
broken up?

12 [8]
Better make few friends in these times;
Keep the people of this world at a distance.
That person in whom you have placed full confidence,
Should you open the eye of reason, will prove your enemy.

14 [12]
To-day you have no hold on to-morrow,
And the thought of to-morrow is naught but sadness.
Waste not this breath if your heart be not mad,
For you know not the price of the rest of your life.

20 [9]
This jar, like myself, has been deeply in love,
It has been fettered by the tresses of a beauty.
And this handle which you see on its neck
Is a hand that has been on the neck of a beloved.

22 [10]
Oh woe to the heart in which there is no burning,
Which is not maddened by a passion that kindles the heart.
No day is more wasted and lost for you
Than the day which has passed without love.

24 [15]
Higher than the Spheres had my mind on the first day
Sought the Tablet and the pen and Paradise and Hell.
Then my master said with true judgment:
"Tablet and pen and Paradise and Hell are within thyself".

25 [17]
To the face of the rose the New Year's breeze is pleasant,
On the background of the meadow a beautiful face is pleasant;
Of bygone yesterday nothing you may say is pleasant;
Be merry, speak not of yesterday; to-day is pleasant.

29 [18]
How much longer shall I build unbaked bricks on the oceans?
I have become wearied with the idol-worshippers and the Church.
Who has said that Khayyám will be an inmate of Hell?
Who has gone to Hell and who has returned from Paradise?

38 [23]
Khayyám! why this complaint about your sins?
What matter if your distress be more or less?
For him who has not sinned there will be no forgiveness,
Forgiveness has been granted for sins, then why this distress?

39 [22]
Khayyam (the tentmaker), who used to sew tents of philosophy,
Has fallen into the furnace of distress and suddenly been burned.
The scissors of the death-hour have cut the rope of his life,
Broker fate has sold him for nothing.

42 [29]
No one has access to the veil of mystery;
Of this system of life no one has any knowledge.
Except in the heart of the earth there is no resting-place.
Listen, for these tales are not short.

43 [27]
I fell asleep, and a wise man said to me:
"Sleep has brought to no one the rose of bliss.
Why do a thing which is the twin of death?
Drink wine, for many a life-time you must slumber".

45 [24]
In hermitages, in schools, in monasteries and in synagogues
There are those who fear Hell and those who seek for Paradise.
But he who has knowledge of God's secrets
Will sow no such seed in his innermost heart.

47 [25]
If in the Spring a lovely one fair as a houri
Hands me a goblet on the edge of a sown field,
However much this may scandalize the people,
I should be worse than a dog if in such a moment I should remember

48 [43]
Wherever in the desert a bed of tulips has sprung,
Those tulips have been an Emperor's blood.
Wherever a violet grows out of the earth,
It is a beauty-spot which once has been on the face of a beloved.

53 [31]
Before now there have been signs of what is to come,
The pen never rests from good or evil.
Destiny has given you all that is to be,
Our worries and our endeavours are in vain.

54 [30]
Your secret you must keep hidden from all men;
Secrets should be hidden from fools.
See how you deal with others, for the same
That you do to others you must expect from them.

59 [33]
The Firmament is a girdle of our worn-out life,
The Oxus is a vestige of our tear-drained eyes,
Hell is a spark of (the fire of) our useless regrets,
Paradise is a window (giving a glimpse) of our happy moments.

62 [34]
They tell me Paradise with its houris is delightful,
I say the juice of the grape is delightful.
Grasp this ready money and let that credit go,
For to hear the sound of the drum from afar is delightful.

64 [14]
You say no fruit has grown on the Tree of Knowledge
Because no one is in the right path.
Every hand has grasped a fragile bough;
Know that to-day is as yesterday and to-morrow as the first day.

65 [39]
Wine is a pure ruby and the flask is the mine;
The goblet is the body and the wine its soul.
Yonder crystal flask that laughs with the wine
Is a tear in which a heart's blood is hidden.

67 [40]
I have no knowledge whether He who mixed my clay
Formed me to be an inmate of Paradise or of hideous Hell.
A fair one and a little food and some wine on the edge of the sown
These three are cash for me - yours the credit of Paradise.

70 [41]
The good and the bad in the nature of man,
The joy and the sorrow that lie in your fate,
Do not attribute them to the Wheel, for in the path of understanding
You will find the Wheel a thousand times more powerless than

74 [42]
Everyone upon whose heart has been inscribed the writing of reason
Will not let one moment of life be lost.
Either he will strive to acquire God's approval
Or he will choose his own pleasure and grasp the goblet.

75 [44]
Beware, for the world is full of spite,
Trust it not, for the blade of fate is sharp.
If Destiny should place a lozenge in your mouth,
Beware, swallow it not, for it is mixed with poison.

80 [46]
You to whose cheek the wild rose pays tribute,
To whose face Chinese idols must pay tribute,
Whose glances have forced the King of Babylon
To give you as tribute horses and towers and elephants, standards and
his Queen.

81 [47]
When life passes away, what if it be sweet or bitter?
When your measure is full, what matters it if you be in Baghdad or in
Drink wine, for after you and me this moon will many a time
Pass from first quarter to last and from last to first.

82 [57]
Those who have laid the foundation of their zeal on hypocrisy
Strive to draw a distinction between soul and body.
Hereafter I will place on the parting of my hair the goblet of wine,
Even if they place a comb like the cock's on my head.

90 [59]
I am not the man who fears the hour of death,
For that half seems to me preferable to this half.
God has given me my life as a loan;
I shall return it when the hour comes for returning it .

91 [58]
The stars that are the inmates of this vault
Are a puzzle to the wise.
Beware, lose not the thread of your reason,
For those who are the most enlightened have become giddy.

97 [60]
This caravan of life passes on with wonderful speed.
Prize the night that passes in rejoicings;
Sáki, why fret uselessly for the morning of resurrection?
Set the goblet before me, the night is passing!

119 [64]
Let beauties, like houris , be foremost in my mind;
May the juice of the grape be always in my hand.
They say to me: "May God give you repentance!"
As He Himself will not give it unto me, I will not repent, far be it
from me!

124 [68]
Before a night attack is made on your life,
Let them bring rose-coloured wine, my love.
You are not gold, my careless fool, that they
Should bury you under the earth so as to dig you up again.

125 [51]
From having brought me here Heaven will derive no benefit.
And from taking me away its glory and its splendour will not
Nor have my two ears ever heard from any one
The object in bringing me and in taking me away again.

126 [69]
See that they feed me with the wine-cup,
That they make this amber-coloured face like a ruby.
When I pass away let them wash me with wine
And let them make my bier from the wood of the vine.

129 [71]
Love that is (only) mystic has no lustre,
Like half-dead embers it gives no glow.
Lovers must be throughout year and month and night and day
Without rest and quiet, food and slumber.

133 [73]
Diminish your greed of the world and live merrily,
And from the good and evil of the world loosen the fetlocks.
Let your hand grasp the goblet and the tresses of your beloved,
For time revolves and not so many days remain.

141 [75]
I will drink wine, and whoever like me is a wise man
Will make light of my drinking.
My drinking was known to the All-Wise in the beginning;
If I were not to drink, God's knowledge would be ignorance.

145 [81]
Each draught that the cup-bearer pours into the goblet
Will quench the fire of your burning eyes.
Praise be to God that you Iook upon wine
As a water that frees your heart of a hundred pains.

147 [82]
Every morn that the face of the tulip is adorned with dew,
The violet of the meadow bends its head.
In truth I am pleased only with those buds
That draw their skirts about them.

148 [84]
My friends, when you are feasting together
And delighting in each other's charms,
When the Sáki takes in his hands the wine of the Magians,
Remernher then your poor friend and bless his memory.

149 [85]
One flask of wine is worth a thousand unbelievers,
One sip of wine is worth the Empire of China.
What on the face of the earth can be preferable to wine?
It is a bitter thing that is worth a thousand sweet lives.

153 [86]
If Him you seek, cut yourself off from wife and children.
Strive manfully, free yourself from relations and Connections.
Whatever exists, is a fetter on your path;
How can you walk with fetters? Cut the fetters off!

161 [89]
Yesterday I saw a potter in the market-place
Trampling down fresh clay with many a kick.
And this clay seemed to say to him:
"I was as you; deal gently with me ".

162 [90]
Drink of that wine which is the draught of etemity.
Drain the substance of the enjoyment of youth.
It bums like fire, but it assuages grief
Like the water of life, - drink!

163 [91]
Do not display piety and give God his due.
Do not withhold from anyone the morsel you may possess.
Do not slander or harm God's creatures,
As to yonder world - I guarantee - Bring wine!

168 [94]
This is not an allegory, it is reality:
We are the figures and the Sphere is the player.
We act a play on the boards of existence
And we go back into the box of non-existence one by one.

170 [95]
Oh heart, as in truth the world is but a delusion,
Why grieve so much at this dearth of kindness?
Give thyself up to fate and befriend thy sorrow,
For this pen will not retrace its writing for thee.

172 [2]
If I secretly discourse with Thee in the tavern,
It is better than if I perform my worship before the niche of prayer
without Thee.
Oh Thou the beginning, and Thou the end of all creation! -
Burn me or cherish me as it best pleaseth Thee.

174 [97]
Go, throw dust on the Sphere of this world,
Drink wine and court those whose face is resplendent like the moon.
What place is this for worship and for prayer?
Since from all who have left no news returns.

175 [99]
Since we have taken to the ways of profligates,
We have said the burial prayer over the five devotions.
Wherever there is a cup you will see us
Stretching our necks toward it like a wine-flask.

176 [1]
If I have not strung pearls of piety,
If I have not swept the dust of sin from my face,
I am not without hope before the threshold of Thy mercy
Because I have never called the One two.

177 [100]
I placed my lip on the lip of the jug and caught from it
The means of attaining a long life.
The jug then seemed to say to me:
"For a lifetime I have been as you; now, for a while, be my

183 [101]
I will give you good advice if you will lend me your ears:
For God's sake wear not the garment of hypocrisy.
The whole world is but an hour and your life but a breath;
Do not sell your eternity for this one breath.

186 [102]
Khayyám, if you are intoxicated with wine, be glad,
If you are sitting with one beautiful like the moon, be happy.
As the end of all things is non-existence,
Assurne that you are not and be happy that you still exist.

187 [103]
To the potter's workshop I went yesterday,
There I saw two thousand pots, speaking and silent.
Suddenly one of the pots exclaimed:
"Where are the pots, where is the potter and where is he who sells

190 [105]
Look on my virtues one by one and forgive my sins ten by ten,
Every past evil deed forgive for Allah's sake.
With the wind of annihilation inflame not the fire of the world,
Forgive us for the sake of the dust of Allah's Prophet.

207 [108]
This revolving sphere in which we stand bewildered
Is like unto a Chinese lantern,
The sun, its lamp and its shade the world,
We, the figures moving within it.

209 [109]
I am in constant conflict with my lusts - what can I do?
And I am pained by my deeds - what can I do?
Even if I admit that Thou in Thy mercy wilt pass over them,
With my shame that Thou hast seen all I have done ­ what can I do?

214 [111]
How long shall we remain the captives of every-day wisdom?
Whether we remain one day or a hundred years in this world,
Pour wine into the cup until we ourselves
Are turned into jugs in the workshop of the Potter.

219 [112]
Since there is no Iasting abode in this hostelry,
To live without wine and a beloved would be a capital sin.
Oh man of sound wit, how long will you discuss the "old" and the
When I shall be gone, what matters it whether the world was created
or pre-existent?

220 [116]
When I am thrown under the feet of the hour of death,
And when the hands of death will tear out my feathers Iike those of a
Beware, make nothing but a wine-jug from my clay,
Maybe, when they fill it with wine, I will come to Iife again.

221 [113]
For the sake of Thy Iove I will incur a hundred kinds of blame,
And if I break this promise I will atone for it.
If life remains true to me, maybe that your punishment
Will be somewhat less than what I have to endure until the day of

222 [115]
Although I came to the Mosque with a wish,
To say the truth, I came not to perform my devotions.
I had once stolen a prayer-carpet here;
That has now become old, therefore I have come again.

234 [120]
I know all that is perceptible in the visible and in the invisible
I know all that is hidden in every height and depth,
But with all my knowledge I am helpless
To tell the state that lies beyond intoxication.

239 [122]
To him who has understood the secrets of this world
Its joys and its sorrows have become alike.
Since in this world good and evil must come to an end,
Let it all be suffering, let it all be remedy.

246 [124]
As all that man reaps from this desert covered with salt
Is naught but engulfing sorrow, and departing from life,
Happy is he who has left this world early,
Blessed he who never came into it.

249 [126]
Behold the evil deeds of this revolving dome,
And behold the world empty of all your friends.
For the time you are allowed to be yourself
Look not for to-morrow, yearn not for yesterday, see the present

253 [128]
Wear not away your happy heart with cares,
Waste not your joyful time by rubbing it on the stone of worry.
Who in this world knows what is to be?
You will be at rest only with wine and a beloved, both to your
heart's desire.

256 [127]
Drinking wine and wooing fair ones
Is a better thing than the hypocrisy of fanatics.
If all who drink wine were to go to Hell
No one would then behold Paradise.

259 [130]
In our coming and going what is the use?
And of the woof of our lifetime where is the warp?
In this world so many heads and feet of fair and delicate ones
Are being burnt to ashes-where is the smoke?

262 [129]
This Wheel of the Spheres revolves for your annihilation and for
It has evil intentions on your pure soul and on mine.
Rest on the meadow, my Iove, for not much time will pass.
Until grass springs from your dust and from mine.

266 [133]
It is better to be short of everything except wine.
Wine is even better than the tresses of the beauties of the King's
Drunkenness, revelry and losing the right path is better,
Even one draught of wine is better than all that lies between the
Moon and the Fish.

267 [138]
Count not on a life-time of more than sixty,
Wherever you take a step, do not take it unless intoxicated.
Before they mould your dust and your clay into jugs
Place the jug before you, and Iet not the cup leave your hand.

269 [134]
This Sphere is like unto an inverted bowl
In which all the wise are prisoners.
Look at the friendship between the bottle and the goblet,
Who keep lip on lip and blood flows between.

270 [135]
Behold, the robe of the rose has been torn by the zephyr,
The nightingale is inspired by the beauty of the rose.
Rest in the shadow of the rose, for many of its leaves will the rose
Shed on the earth while we lie under the earth.

272 [136]
How long shall I worry whether I have or have not,
And whether I shall spend this life in happiness or not?
Fill the goblet with wine, for no one knows
Whether we shall breathe out again this breath we draw in, or not.

273 [137]
Give not yourself up to sorrow about this unjust world,
Recall not the grief about what has passed.
Set your heart on naught but the tresses of a fairy,
Be not without wine, and give not your life to the wind.

282 [139]
One draught of old wine is better than a new kingdom,
And from all that is not wine, the path leading away from it is
One gobletful is a hundred times better than the kingdom of Feridún;
The brick that covers the jar is better than the crown of Kaikhusrou.

285 [141]
Thou hast broken my wine-jar, oh Lord.
Thou hast shut the door of my joy, oh Lord.
I drink wine and it is as if Thou wert intoxicated.
Oh fill my mouth with earth, oh Lord, if I question Thy sobriety.

294 [142]
Oh Wheel of the Spheres, thou givest something to every miser,
Thou givest him baths and mills and water-courses.
The noble-minded must pawn something to have his evening loaf,
One should show contempt for such a Sphere.

295 [143]
Oh my heart, you will not reach the secrets of the great mystery,
You will not reach the point which the cleverest among the wise have
Make then here your paradise with goblet and wine,
For that place where Paradise is, you may reach or not.

299 [146]
Yesterday I knocked my earthenware wine-jug against a stone.
I must have been inebriated to have committed such an offence.
It seemed as if the jug thus spoke to me:
"I have been as thou and thou wilt be as I".

308 [152]
Be merry, for (the bricks of) your sorrows have been baked long
They have been placed beyond the reach of all your desires long
Live happily, for without your asking it
The fate of your to-morrow has been fixed, long since.

318 [157]
If my coming into this world had depended upon me, I should not have
And had my leaving depended on me, how could I have left it?
It would have been better if into this world of strife
I had never come, nor lived in it, nor gone from it.

320 [155]
If you have a loaf made from the marrow of wheat,
Of wine two gallons and of lamb a joint,
And if you are sitting in the wildemess with one whose face is
beautiful like the moon.
That would be bliss not attainable by a Sultan.

321 [156]
If thou hast two gallons of wine,
Drink at every festive union.
For He who made the world is not in need
Of a moustache like yours, nor of a beard like mine.