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Whinfield - 1883

The quatrains of Omar Khayyám. The Persian text with an English verse translation by E.H. Whinfield. London, Trübner & Co., 1883.

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

7 [5]
Since no one can assure thee of the morrow,
Rejoice thy heart to-day, and banish sorrow
With moonbright wine, fair moon, for heaven's moon
Will look for us in vain on many a morrow.

10 [6]
Men say the Koran holds all heavenly lore,
But on its pages seldom care to pore;
The lucid lines engraven on the bowl, —
That is the text they dwell on evermore.

15 [4]
Whate'er thou doest, never grieve thy brother,
Nor kindle fumes of wrath his peace to smother;
Dost thou desire to taste eternal bliss,
Vex thine own heart, but never vex another!

22 [7]
Here in this tavern haunt I make my lair,
Pawning for wine, heart, soul, and all I wear,
Without a hope of bliss, or fear of bale,
Rapt above water, earth and fire and air.

28 [11]
Now with its joyful prime my age is rife,
I quaff enchanting wine, and list to fife;
Chide not at wine for all its bitter taste,
Its bitterness sorts well with human life!

30 [12]
To-day is thine to spend, but not to-morrow,
Counting on morrows breedeth naught but sorrow;
Oh I squander not this breath that heaven hath lent thee.
Nor make too sure another breath to borrow.

32 [9]
This jug did once, like me, love's sorrows taste,
And bonds of beauty's tresses once embraced,
This handle, which you see upon its side,
Has many a time twined round a slender waist.

35 [31]
'Twas writ at first, whatever was to be,
By pen, unheeding bliss or misery.
Yea, writ upon the tablet once for all.
To murmur or resist is vanity.

42 [19]
Behold these cups ! Can He who deigned to make them,
In wanton freak let ruin overtake them,
So many shapely feet and hands and heads, —
What love drives Him to make, what wrath to break them?

46 [23]
Khayyam! why weep you that your life is bad?
What boots it thus to mourn? Rather be glad.
He that sins not can make no claim to mercy,
Mercy was made for sinners—be not sad.

47 [29]
All mortal ken is bounded by the veil.
To see beyond man's sight is all too frail;
Yea! earth's dark bosom is his only home; —
Alas! 't were long to tell the doleful tale.

49 [24]
In synagogue and cloister, mosque and school,
Hell's terrors and heaven's lures men's bosoms rule,
But they who master Allah's mysteries,
Sow not this empty chaff their hearts to fool.

51 [27]
I dreamt a sage said, "Wherefore life consume
In sleep? Can sleep make pleasure's roses bloom?
Forgather not with death's twin-brother sleep,
Thou wilt have sleep enough within thy tomb!"

54 [30]
To knaves Thy secret we must not confide,
To comprehend it is to fools denied,
See then to what hard case Thou doomest men,
Our hopes from one and all perforce we hide.

77 [8]
This bosom friend, on whom you so rely,
Seems to clear wisdom's eyes an enemy;
Choose not your friends from this rude multitude.
Their converse is a plague 'tis best to fly.

83 [22]
Khayyám, who long time stitched the tents of learning,
Has fallen into a furnace, and lies burning,
Death's shears have cut his thread of life asunder,
Fate's brokers sell him off with scorn and spurning.

87 [26]
Make haste! soon must you quit this life below,
And pass the veil, and Allah's secrets know;
Make haste to take your pleasure while you may,
You wot not whence you come, nor whither go.

92 [33]
Skies like a zone our weary lives enclose,
And from our tear-stained eyes a Jihun flows;
Hell is a fire enkindled of our griefs;
Heaven but a moment's peace, stolen from our woes.

94 [40]
Did He who made me fashion me for hell,
Or destine me for heaven? I can not tell.
Yet will I not renounce cup, lute, and love,
Nor earthly cash for heavenly credit sell.

95 [38]
From right and left the censors came and stood,
Saying, "Renounce this wine, this foe of good";
But if wine be the foe of holy faith,
By Allah, right it is to drink its blood!

96 [41]
The good and evil with man's nature blent,
The weal and woe that heaven's decrees have sent, -
Impute them not to motions of the skies, -
Skies than thyself ten times more impotent.

99 [42]
He, in whose bosom wisdom's seed is sown,
To waste a single day was never known;
Either he strives to work great Allah's will,
Or else exalts the cup, and works his own.

103 [44]
Dame Fortune's smiles are full of guile, beware!
Her scimitar is sharp to smite, take care!
If e'er she drop a sweetmeat in thy mouth,
'Tis poisonous, - to swallow it forbear!

104 [43]
Where'er you see a rose or tulip bed,
Know that a mighty monarch's blood was shed
And where the violet rears her purple tuft,
Be sure a black-moled girl hath laid her head.

105 [39]
Wine is a melting ruby, cup its mine;
Cup is the body, and the soul is wine;
These crystal goblets smile with ruddy wine
Like tears, that blood of wounded hearts enshrine.

106 [36]
Drink wine! 'tis life etern, and travail's meed,
Fruitage of youth, and balm of age's need:
'Tis the glad time of roses, wine, and friends;
Rejoice thy spirit - that is life indeed.

107 [35]
Drink wine! long must you sleep within the tomb,
Without a friend, or wife to cheer your gloom;
Hear what I say, and tell it not again,
"Never again can withered tulips bloom."

108 [34]
They preach how sweet those Houri brides will be,
But I say wine is sweeter - taste and see!
Hold fast this cash, and let that credit go,
And shun the din of empty drums like me.

109 [28]
Once and again my soul did me implore,
To teach her, if I might, the heavenly lore;
I bade her learn the Alif well by heart
Who knows that letter well need learn no more.

110 [21]
I came not hither of my own free will,
And go against my wish, a puppet still;
Cupbearer! gird thy loins, and fetch some wine;
To purge the world's despite, my goblet fill.

111 [18]
How long must I make bricks upon the sea?
Beshrew this vain task of idolatry;
Call not Khayyám a denizen of hell;
One while in heaven, and one in hell is he.

112 [17]
Sweet is the breath of Spring to rose's face,
And thy sweet face adds charm to this fair place;
To-day is sweet, but yesterday is sad,
And sad all mention of its parted grace.

113 [16]
To-night pour wine, and sing a dulcet air,
And I upon thy lips will hang, O fair;
Yea, pour some wine as rosy as thy cheeks,
My mind is troubled like thy ruffled hair.

114 [15]
Pen, tablet, heaven and hell I looked to see
Above the skies, from all eternity;
At last the master sage instructed me,
"Pen, tablet, heaven and hell are all in thee."

115 [14]
The fruit of certitude he can not pluck,
The path that leads thereto who never struck,
Nor ever shook the bough with strenuous hand;
To-day is lost; hope for to morrow's luck.

116 [13]
Now spring-tide showers its foison on the land,
And lively hearts wend forth, a joyous band,
For 'Isa's breath wakes the dead earth to life,
And trees gleam white with flowers, like Musa's hand.

117 [10]
Alas for that cold heart, which never glows
With love, nor e'er that charming madness knows;
The days misspent with no redeeming love; -
No days are wasted half as much as those!

134 [47]
When life is spent, what's Balkh or Nishapore?
What sweet or bitter, when the cup runs o'er?
Come drink! full many a moon will wax and wane
In times to come, when we are here no more.

135 [46]
O fair! whose cheeks checkmate red eglantine,
And draw the game with those fair maids of Chín;
You played one glance against the king of Babil
And took his pawns, and knights, and rooks, and queen.

136 [60]
Life's caravan is hastening on its way;
Brood not on troubles of the coming day,
But fill the wine-cup ere sweet night be gone,
And snatch a pleasant moment, while you may.

139 [69]
Comrades! I pray you, physic me with wine,
Make this wan amber face like rubies shine,
And, if I die, use wine to wash my corpse,
And frame my coffin out of planks of vine!

149 [53]
Now of old joys naught but the name is left,
Of all old friends but wine we are bereft,
And that wine new, but still cleave to the cup,
For save the cup, what single joy is left?

165 [65]
Needs must the tavern-haunter bathe in wine,
For none can make a tarnished name to shine;
Go! bring me wine, for none can now restore
Its pristine sheen to this soiled veil of mine.

172 [64]
Forever may my hands on wine be stayed,
And my heart pant for some fair Houri maid!
They say, "May Allah aid thee to repent!"
Repent I could not, e'en with Allah's aid!

174 [67]
To-day how sweetly breathes the temperate air,
The rains have newly laved the parched parterre;
And Bulbuls cry in notes of ecstasy,
"Thou too, O pallid rose, our wine must share!"

175 [68]
Ere you succumb to shocks of mortal pain,
The rosy grape-juice from your wine-cup drain.
You are not gold, that, hidden in the earth,
Your friends should care to dig you up again!

176 [51]
My coming brought no profit to the sky,
Nor does my going swell its majesty;
Coming and going put me to a stand,
Ear never heard their wherefore nor their why.

182 [71]
This worldly love of yours is counterfeit,
And, like a half-spent blaze, lacks light and heat;
True love is his, who for days, months, and years,
Rests not, nor sleeps, nor craves for drink or meat.

190 [72]
What sage the eternal tangle e'er unravelled,
Or one short step beyond his nature travelled?
From pupils to the masters turn your eyes,
And see, each mother's son alike is gravelled.

191 [73]
Crave not of worldly sweets to take your fill,
Nor wait on turn of fortune, good or ill;
Be of light heart, as are the skies above,
They roll a round or two, and then lie still.

194 [77]
Drink wine to root up metaphysic weeds,
And tangle of the two-and-seventy creeds;
Do not forswear that wondrous alchemy,
'Twill turn to gold, and cure a thousand needs.

195 [78]
Though drink is wrong, take care with whom you drink,
And who you are that drink, and what you drink;
And drink at will, for, these three points observed,
Who but the very wise can ever drink?

197 [75]
True I drink wine, like every man of sense,
For I know Allah will not take offense;
Before time was, He know that I should drink,
And who am I to thwart His prescience?

201 [80]
Now is the time earth decks her greenest bowers,
And trees, like Musa's hand, grow white with flowers!
As 'twere at 'Isa's breath the plants revive,
While clouds brim o'er, like tearful eyes, with showers.

203 [81]
The showers of grape-juice, which cupbearers pour,
Quench fires of grief in many a sad heart's core;
Praise be to Allah, who hath sent this balm
To heal sore hearts, and spirits' health restore!

205 [84]
O comrades dear, when hither ye repair
In times to come, communion sweet to share,
While the cupbearer pours your old Magh wine,
Call poor Khayyám to mind, and breathe a prayer.

208 [62]
While Moon and Venus in the sky shall dwell,
None shall see aught red grape-juice to excel:
O foolish publicans, what can you buy
One half so precious as the goods you sell?

210 [82]
At dawn, when dews bedeck the tulip's face,
And violets their heavy heads abase,
I love to see the roses' folded buds,
With petals closed against the wind’s disgrace.

211 [74]
Like as the skies rain down sweet jessamine,
And sprinkle all the meads with eglantine,
Right so, from out this jug of violet hue,
I pour in lily cups this rosy wine.

212 [61]
Ah! thou hast snared this head, though white as snow,
Which oft has vowed the wine-cup to forego;
And wrecked the mansion long resolve did build,
And rent the vesture penitence did sew!

213 [59]
I am not one whom Death doth much dismay,
Life's terrors all Death's terrors far outweigh;
This life, that Heaven hath lent me for a while,
I will pay back, when it is time to pay.

214 [58]
The stars, who dwell on heaven's exalted stage,
Baffle the wise diviners of our age;
Take heed, hold fast the rope of mother wit
These augurs all distrust their own presage.

215 [56]
The people who the heavenly world adorn,
Who come each night, and go away each morn,
Now on Heaven's skirt, and now in earth's deep pouch,
While Allah lives, shall aye anew be born!

216 [50]
Slaves of vain wisdom and philosophy,
Who toil at Being and Nonentity,
Parching your brains till they are like dry grapes,
Be wise in time, and drink grape-juice like me!

217 [49]
Sense, seeking happiness, bids us pursue
All present joys, and present griefs eschew;
She says, we are not as the meadow grass,
Which, when they mow it down, springs up anew.

218 [158]
Now Ramazán is past, Shawwál comes back,
And feast and song and joy no more we lack;
The wine skin carriers throng the streets and cry,
"Here comes the porter with his precious pack."

222 [48]
The joyous souls who quaff potations deep,
And saints who in the mosques sad vigils keep,
Are lost at sea alike, and find no shore,
ONE only wakes, all others are asleep.

234 [83]
Comrades! when e'er you meet together here,
Recall your friend to mind, and drop a tear;
And when the circling wine-cups reach his seat,
Pray turn one upside down his dust to cheer.

235 [63]
That grace and favor at the first, what meant it?
That lavishing of joy and peace, what meant it?
But now thy purpose is to grieve my heart;
What did I do to cause this change? What meant it?

236 [57]
These hypocrites who build on saintly show,
Treating the body as the spirit's foe,
If they will shut their mouths with lime, like jars,
My jar of grape-juice I will then forego.

244 [91]
Heed not the Sunna, nor the law divine;
If to the poor his portion you assign,
And never injure one, nor yet abuse,
I guarantee you heaven, and now some wine!

252 [89]
I saw a busy potter by the way
Kneading with might and main a lump of clay;
And, lo! the clay cried, "Use me gently, pray;
I was a man myself but yesterday!"

256 [86]
If you seek Him, abandon child and wife,
Arise, and sever all these ties to life;
All these are bonds to check you on your course
Arise, and cut these bonds, as with a knife.

257 [95]
O heart! this world is but a fleeting show,
Why should its empty griefs distress thee so?
Bow down, and bear thy fate, the eternal pen
Will not unwrite its roll for thee, I trow!

262 [2]
In taverns better far commune with Thee,
Than pray in mosques, and fail Thy face to see!
O first and last of all Thy creatures
Thou,'Tis Thine to burn, and Thine to cherish me!

267 [97]
Go to! Cast dust on those deaf skies, who spurn
Thy orisons and bootless prayers, and learn
To quaff the cup, and hover round the fair;
Of all who go, did ever one return?

268 [1]
Though Khayyam strings no pearls of righteous deeds,
Nor sweeps from off his soul sin's noisome weeds,
Yet will he not despair of heavenly grace,
Seeing that ONE as two he ne'er misreads.

269 [99]
Again to tavern haunts do we repair,
And say "Adieu" to the five hours of prayer;
Where'er we see a long-necked flask of wine,
We elongate our necks that wine to share.

270 [94]
We are but chessmen, destined, it is plain,
That great chess player, Heaven, to entertain;
It moves us on life's chess-board to and fro,
And then in death's dark box shuts up again.

274 [100]
I put my lips to the cup, for I did yearn
The hidden cause of length of days to learn;
He leaned his lip to mine, and whispered low,
"Drink! for, once gone, you never will return."

280 [101]
I pray thee to my counsel lend thine ear,
Cast off this false hypocrisy's veneer;
This life a moment is, the next all time;
Sell not eternity for earthly gear!

282 [102]
Khayyam! rejoice that wine you still can pour,
And still the charms of tulip cheeks adore;
You'll soon not be, rejoice then that you are,
Think how 'twould be in case you were no more!

283 [103]
Once, in a potter's shop, a company
Of cups in converse did I chance to see,
And lo! one lifted up his voice, and cried,
"Who made, who sells, who buys this crockery?"

288 [105]
Tell one by one my scanty virtues o'er;
As for my sins, forgive them by the score;
Let not my faults kindle Thy wrath to flame;
By blest Mohammed's tomb, forgive once more!

291 [106]
In truth wine is a spirit thin as air,
A limpid soul in the cup's earthen ware;
No dull, dense person shall be friend of mine
Save wine-cups, which are dense and also rare.

304 [107]
Peace! the eternal "Has been" and "To be"
Pass man's experience, and man's theory;
In joyful seasons naught can vie with wine,
To all these riddles wine supplies the key!

310 [108]
This wheel of heaven, which makes us all afraid,
I liken to a lamp's revolving shade,
The sun the candlestick, the earth the shade,
And men the trembling forms thereon portrayed.

320 [111]
Let us shake off dull reason's incubus,
Our tale of days or years cease to discuss,
And take our jugs, and plenish them with wine,
Or e'er grim potters make their jugs of us!

322 [109]
Against my lusts I ever war, in vain,
I think on my ill deeds with shame and pain;
I trust Thou wilt assoil me of my sins,
But even so, my shame must still remain.

324 [112]
We shall not stay here long, but while we do,
'Tis folly wine and sweethearts to eschew;
Why ask if earth etern or transient be?
Since you must go, it matters not to you.

325 [115]
In reverent sort to mosque I wend my way,
But, by great Allah, it is not to pray;
No! but to steal a prayer-mat! When 'tis worn,
I go again, another to purvey.

327 [113]
For Thee I vow to cast repute away,
And, if I shrink, the penalty to pay;
Though life might satisfy Thy cruelty,
'Twere naught, I'll bear it till the judgment-day!

329 [114]
The world is false, so I'll be false as well,
And with bright wine, and gladness ever dwell!
They say, "May Allah grant thee penitence!"
He grants it not, and, did he, I'd rebel!

330 [116]
When Death shall tread me down upon the plain,
And pluck my feathers, and my life-blood drain,
Then mould me to a cup, and fill with wine;
Haply its scent will make me breathe again.

332 [118]
'Tis dawn! my heart with wine I will recruit,
And dash to bits the glass of good repute;
My long-extending hopes I will renounce,
And grasp long tresses, and the charming lute.

336 [120]
I know what is, and what is not, I know
The lore of things above, and things below;
But all this lore will cheerfully renounce,
If one a higher grade than drink can show.

353 [121]
I studied with the masters long ago,
And long ago did master all they know;
Here now the end and issue of it all,
From earth I came, and like the wind I go!

365 [122]
Souls that are well informed of this world's state,
Its weal and woe with equal mind await:
For, be it weal we meet, or be it woe,
The weal doth pass, and woe too hath its date.

368 [123]
Hear now Khayyám's advice, and bear in mind,
Consort with revelers, though they be maligned,
Cast down the gates of abstinence and prayer,
Yea, drink, and even rob, but, oh! be kind!

381 [127]
To drain the cup, to hover round the fair,
Can hypocritic arts with these compare?
If all who love and drink are going wrong,
There's many a wight of heaven may well despair!

382 [128]
'Tis wrong with gloomy thoughts your mirth to drown, -
To let grief's millstone weigh your spirits down;
Since none can tell what is to be, 'tis best
With wine and love your heart's desires to crown.

386 [126]
Behold the tricks this wheeling dome doth play,
And earth laid bare of old friends torn away!
O live this present moment, which is thine,
Seek not a morrow, mourn not yesterday!

387 [124]
Since all man's business in this world of woe
Is sorrow's pangs to feel, and grief to know,
Happy are they that never come at all,
And they that, having come, the soonest go!

390 [390]
O Love, forever doth heaven's wheel design
To take away thy precious life, and mine;
Sit we upon this turf, 'twill not be long
'Ere turf shall grow upon my dust, and thine!

393 [130]
We come and go, but for the gain, where is it?
And spin life's woof, but for the warp, where is it?
And many a righteous man has burned to dust
In heaven's blue rondure, but their smoke, where is it?

404 [133]
'Tis best all other blessings to forego
For wine, that charming Turki maids bestow;
Kalendars' raptures pass all things that are,
From moon on high down into fish below!

407 [138]
Count not to live beyond your sixtieth year,
To walk in jovial courses persevere;
And ere your skull be turned into a cup,
Let wine-cups ever to your hand adhere!

408 [134]
These heavens resemble an inverted cup,
Whereto the wise with awe keep gazing up;
So stoops the bottle o'er his love, the cup,
Feigning to kiss, and gives her blood to sup!

409 [132]
I sweep the tavern threshold with my hair,
For both world's good and ill I take no care;
Should the two worlds roll to my house, like balls,
When drunk, for one small coin I'd sell the pair!

411 [136]
Shall I still sigh for what I have not got,
Or try with cheerfulness to bear my lot?
Fill up my cup! I know not if the breath
I now am drawing is my last, or not!

412 [137]
Yield not to grief, though fortune prove unkind,
Nor call sad thoughts of parted friends to mind;
Devote thy heart to sugary lips, and wine,
Cast not thy precious life unto the wind!

414 [135]
Bulbuls, doting on roses, oft complain
How froward breezes rend their veils in twain;
Sit we beneath this rose, which many a time
Has sunk to earth, and sprung from earth again.

426 [131]
Vain study of philosophy eschew!
Rather let tangled curls attract your view;
And shed the bottle's life-blood in your cup,
Or e'er death shed your blood, and feast on you.

427 [143]
O heart! can'st thou the darksome riddle read,
Where wisest men have failed, wilt thou succeed?
Quaff wine, and make thy heaven here below,
Who knows if heaven above will be thy meed?

428 [140]
They that have passed away, and gone before,
Sleep in delusion's dust for evermore;
Go, boy, and fetch some wine, this is the truth,
Their dogmas were but air, and wind their lore!

432 [148]
With many a snare Thou dost beset my way,
And threatenest, if I fall therein, to slay;
Thy rule resistless sways the world, yet Thou
Imputest sin, when I do but obey!

436 145]
O soul! could you but doff this flesh and bone,
You'd soar a sprite about the heavenly throne;
Had you no shame to leave your starry home,
And dwell an alien on this earthly zone?

439 [144]
From this world's kitchen crave not to obtain
Those dainties, seeming real, but really vain,
Which greedy worldlings gorge to their own loss;
Renounce that loss, so loss shall prove thy gain!

446 [146]
Last night I dashed my cup against a stone,
In a mad drunken freak, as I must own,
And lo! the cup cries out in agony,
"You too, like me, shall soon be overthrown."

452 149]
Give me a skin of wine, a crust of bread,
A pittance bare, a book of verse to read;
With thee, O love, to share my lowly roof,
I would not take the Sultan's realm instead!

459 [151]
Behold, where'er we turn our ravished eyes,
Sweet verdure springs, and crystal Kausars rise;
And plains, once bare as hell, now smile as heaven:
Enjoy this heaven with maids of Paradise!

464 [153]
Cupbearer, come! from thy full-throated ewer
Pour blood-red wine, the world's despite to cure!
Where can I find another friend like wine,
So genuine, so solacing, so pure?

478 [156]
Wherever you can get two maunds of wine,
Set to, and drink it like a libertine;
Whoso acts thus will set his spirit free
From saintly airs like yours, and grief like mine.

479 [155]
So long as I possess two maunds of wine,
Bread of the flower of wheat, and mutton chine,
And you, O Tulip cheek, to share my hut,
Not every Sultan's lot can vie with mine.

489 [152]
Cheer up! your lot was settled yesterday!
Heedless of all that you might do or say,
Without so much as "By your leave" they fixed
Your lot for all the morrows yesterday!

490 [157]
I never would have come, had I been asked,
I would as lief not go, if I were asked,
And, to be short, I would annihilate
All coming, being, going, were I asked!

492 [142]
O skyey wheel, all base men you supply
With baths, mills, and canals that run not dry,
While good men have to pawn their goods for bread:
Pray, who would give a fig for such a sky?

500 [150]
No longer hug your grief and vain despair,
But in this unjust world be just and fair;
And since the issue of the world is naught,
Think you are naught, and so shake off dull care!