A tribute to the beauty of words: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyám was an 11th and 12th Century Persian poet mathematician and astronomer. “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”, which is said to be one of the ten best known poems in the world, and probably the most popular piece of Oriental literature, was originally written in Persian. The selected extractions below were translated into English by Edward Fitzgerald in  the late 19th Century.


“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it” (M)


“Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night

Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight” (M)


“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon

Turns Ashes — or it prospers; and anon,

Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face

Lighting a little Hour or two — is gone” (M)


“A book of verse, underneath the bough,

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou

Beside me singing in the wilderness –

Ah, wilderness were paradise now ” (N)

Bluebell Wood by Kathryn O'Reilly
Bluebell Wood (Kathryn O’Reilly, 2006)

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