ebooks

title page of 1909 Foulis edition: RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM

Look up the Rubaiyat, and you will often find Edward FitzGerald (1809–1883) listed as the author. There’s some merit to the attribution. Although this is not an Ossian-level literary hoax—FitzGerald didn’t invent the Rubaiyat out of whole cloth, and Omar Khayyam was a real person—the translation was definitely a free one. You can even find parallel editions showing Fitz­Gerald’s translation alongside other, more literal ones. For present purposes, we’ll compromise by calling it the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald. The intro­duction (below) to the facsimile edition gives a synopsis of the book’s history.

But never mind that. The 75 quatrains (rubaiyat, in Persian) became a frame­work on which publi­shers could hang a whole library of illustration, from watercolor paintings and line drawings to decorative borders, ornamental capitals and fancy lettering. The various illustrated editions—there are dozens—range from “kinda pretty” to over-the-top, drop-dead, unspeakably and inutter­ably gorgeous.

Illustrations

For this ebook, I’ve picked six of the more gorgeously illustrated editions. To keep things manageable, I used only the full-color (or at least greyscale) pictures. Many editions also had line drawing and a variety of decorations. It is no coinci­dence that two of the six came out in 1909; the year was both the centennial of FitzGerald’s birth and the fifty-year anniversary of the book’s original publi­cation.

The smaller, uncaptioned pictures from Hodder and Stoughton were printed directly above the quatrains. The larger ones, with caption, were randomly distributed through the book; I’ve put them before the quatrains they “belong” to. All other illustrations have been distributed evenly through the book, generally keeping them in their original order.

cover of Altemus edition
Altemus (Philadelphia)

The text of the 1899 Altemus edition is from FitzGerald’s 4th edition. The captions will therefore often read a little differently than the verses they belong to. The illustration after quatrain L (“Earth could not answer, nor the seas that mourn”, no. 33 in the 4th edition) doesn’t really correspond to anything in the first edition.

Altemus illustrations will be easy to recognize, as they are all greyscale plates. The artist is uncredited, and I couldn’t find a signature or monogram. Past experience suggests that it was a pirated text; no point in naming the artist if they’re not planning to pay him.

cover of 1909 Crowell edition   cover of later Crowell edition
Crowell (New York)
Willy Pogány signature

Hungarian-born Willy Pogány (1882–1955) must have liked the Rubaiyat—or must have liked Crowell’s pay scale. His name appears on two entirely different editions, not much more than ten years apart.

Crowell 1909: If you can find a copy for less than $1000 US, grab it. I’ve included it here because the pictures were too beautiful to omit, but be warned: the reproduction quality, or possibly the condition of the original book, is not what it might be.

title page of later Crowell edition

Crowell 1920: Like the earlier version, this Crowell edition—probably from around 1920—is undated. They seem to have changed cover designs every other year; the printing I used may be as recent as 1934. This version is a twofer: the whole text of the first edition, followed by the whole text of the 4th. For this etext I’ve included only the full-page, full-color pictures; the title page (above) gives some idea what the rest of the book looks like.

cover of 1909 Foulis edition   cover of 1911 Foulis edition
Foulis (London and Edinburgh)

Like Crowell, the Foulis company knew a money-maker when they saw one.

Their centennial version has only four illustrations, counting the title page (shown at the top of this page)—but they’re undeniably pretty. They’re the work of Maurice Greiffenhagen (1862–1931).

Maurice Greiffenhagen signature

Two years later, in 1911, it was the turn of Frank Brangwyn (1867–1956). Typographic trivia: In the printed book, each illustration was captioned twice: once on a page by itself, and again below the picture. The captions printed below the pictures were italicized and used “double quotes”; the ones printed on a separate page used plain text and ‘single quotes’. Go figure.

cover of 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition
Hodder and Stoughton (London)

In this 1913 edition every quatrain had its own illustration, whether a line drawing or full color. For the etext I’ve retained only the paintings. The smaller ones were printed at the head of the quatrain; the larger ones were full-page plates. All were the work of French-Irish René Bull (1872–1942)

Formalities

The text is taken from the 1859 first edition—which is to say, a facsimile of the first edition. Already in 1918, bibliophile A. E. Newton could write that the original printing was “worth its weight in gold”. It may have been hyperbole when he said it; today it is the literal truth. A copy recently sold for $20,000, which should get you a pound or so of gold at current prices. Even a facsimile will run into three digits if you’re looking at one of the two published in 1909.

Apparent errors were corrected if and only if later editions—possibly including FitzGerald’s own second, third or fourth—had the expected form. Correc­tions are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the bottom of the page.

frontispiece from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain I

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

I.

Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night

Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:

And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught

The Sultán’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

II.

Dreaming when Dawn’s Left Hand was in the Sky

I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,

“Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup

“Before Life’s Liquor in its Cup be dry.”

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

III.

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before

The Tavern shouted—“Open then the door!

“You know how little while we have to stay,

“And, once departed, may return no more.”

illustration from 1909 Foulis edition

Foulis 1909

IV.

Now the New Year reviving old Desires,

The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,

Where the White Hand of Moses on the Bough

Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain V

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

V.

Irám indeed is gone with all its Rose,

And Jamshýd’s Sev’n-ring’d Cup where no one knows;

But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,

And still a Garden by the Water blows.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

OPEN THEN THE DOOR

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught

The Sultán’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

Foulis 1911

VI.

And David’s Lips are lock’t; but in divine

High-piping Péhlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!

Red Wine!”—the Nightingale cries to the Rose

That yellow Cheek of her’s t’incarnadine.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

VII.

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring

The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:

The Bird of Time has but a little way

To fly—and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

VIII.

And look—a thousand Blossoms with the Day

Woke—and a thousand scatter’d into Clay:

And this first Summer Month that brings the Rose

Shall take Jamshýd and Kaikobád away.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

IX.

But come with old Khayyám and leave the Lot

Of Kaikobád and Kaikhosrú forgot:

Let Rustum lay about him as he will,

Or Hátim Tai cry Supper—heed them not.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain X

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

X.

With me along some Strip of Herbage strown

That just divides the desert from the sown,

Where name of Slave and Sultán scarce is known,

And pity Sultán Máhmúd on his Throne.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

A JUG OF WINE, A LOAF OF BREAD—AND THOU

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XI

“And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XI.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,

A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness—

And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

XII.

“How sweet is mortal Sovranty!”—think some:

Others—“How blest the Paradise to come!”

Ah, take the Cash in hand and wave the Rest;

Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XIII.

Look to the Rose that blows about us—“Lo,

“Laughing,” she says, “into the World I blow:

“At once the silken Tassel of my Purse

“Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw.”

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XIV

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XIV.

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.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

XV.

And those who husbanded the Golden Grain,

And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,

Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn’d

As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

AND MANY A GARDEN BY THE WATER BLOWS

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XVI

“Abode his Hour or two, and went his way”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XVI.

Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai

Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,

How Sultán after Sultán with his Pomp

Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XVII

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XVII.

They say the Lion and the Lizard keep

The Courts where Jamshýd gloried and drank deep;

And Bahrám, that great Hunter—the Wild Ass

Stamps o’er his Head, and he lies fast asleep.

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,

A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness—

Foulis 1911

XVIII.

I sometimes think that never blows so red

The Rose as where some buried Cæsar bled;

That every Hyacinth the Garden wears

Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XIX

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XIX.

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green

Fledges the River’s Lip on which we lean—

Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows

From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XX.

Ah, my Belovéd, fill the cup that clears

To-day of past Regrets and future Fears—

To-morrow?—Why, To-morrow I may be

Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand Years.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

NOW HEED THE RUMBLE OF A DISTANT DRUM

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXI

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XXI.

Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and the best

That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,

Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,

And one by one crept silently to Rest.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

XXII.

And we, that now make merry in the Room

They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom,

Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth

Descend, ourselves to make a Couch—for whom?

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXIII

“Before we too into the Dust descend.”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XXIII.

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,

Before we too into the Dust descend;

Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,

Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and—sans End!

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXIV

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XXIV.

Alike for those who for To-day prepare,

And those that after a To-morrow stare,

A Muezzín from the Tower of Darkness cries

“Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There!”

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

XXV.

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss’d

Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust

Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn

Are scatter’d, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

LOOK TO THE BLOWING ROSE ABOUT US

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXVI

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XXVI.

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise

To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;

One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;

The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XXVII.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument

About it and about: but evermore

Came out by the same Door as in I went.

illustration from 1909 Foulis edition

Foulis 1909

XXVIII.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,

And with my own hand labour’d it to grow:

And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d—

“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XXIX.

Into this Universe, and why not knowing,

Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:

And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,

I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green

Fledges the River’s Lip on which we lean—

Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows

From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

Foulis 1911

XXX.

What, without asking, hither hurried whence?

And, without asking, whither hurried hence!

Another and another Cup to drown

The Memory of this Impertinence!

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

ABODE HIS DESTINED HOUR, AND WENT HIS WAY

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXXI

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XXXI.

Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate

I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,

And many Knots unravel’d by the Road;

But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXXII

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XXXII.

There was a Door to which I found no Key:

There was a Veil past which I could not see:

Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee

There seem’d—and then no more of Thee and Me.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XXXIII.

Then to the rolling Heav’n itself I cried,

Asking, “What Lamp had Destiny to guide

Her little Children stumbling in the Dark?”

And—“A blind Understanding!” Heav’n replied.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXXIV

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XXXIV.

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn

My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:

And Lip to Lip it murmur’d—“While you live

“Drink!—for once dead you never shall return.”

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

And we, that now make merry in the Room

They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom,

Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth

Descend, ourselves to make a Couch—for whom?

Foulis 1911

XXXV.

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive

Articulation answer’d, once did live,

And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss’d

How many Kisses might it take—and give!

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

AH, LEAN UPON IT LIGHTLY

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XXXVI.

For in the Market-place, one Dusk of Day,

I watch’d the Potter thumping his wet Clay:

And with its all obliterated Tongue

It murmur’d—“Gently, Brother, gently, pray!”

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument

About it and about

Foulis 1911

XXXVII.

Ah, fill the Cup:—what boots it to repeat

How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:

Unborn To-morrow and dead Yesterday,

Why fret about them if To-day be sweet!

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

XXXVIII.

One Moment in Annihilation’s Waste,

One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste—

The Stars are setting and the Caravan

Starts for the Dawn of Nothing—Oh, make haste!

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XXXIX.

How long, how long, in definite Pursuit

Of This and That endeavour and dispute?

Better be merry with the fruitful Grape

Than sadder after none, or bitter, Fruit.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XL

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XL.

You know, my Friends, how long since in my House

For a new Marriage I did make Carouse:

Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,

And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

AH, MY BELOVED, FILL THE CUP

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XXXVIII

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XLI.

For “Is” and “Is-not” though with Rule and Line,

And “Up-and-downwithout, I could define,

I yet in all I only cared to know,

Was never deep in anything but—Wine.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XLII

“He bid me taste of it; and ’twas—the Grape!”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XLII.

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,

Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape

Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and

He bid me taste of it; and ’twas—the Grape!

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XLIII.

The Grape that can with Logic absolute

The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:

The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice

Life’s leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XLIV.

The mighty Mahmúd, the victorious Lord,

That all the misbelieving and black Horde

Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul

Scatters and slays with his enchanted Sword.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XLV

“But leave the Wise to wrangle”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XLV.

But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me

The Quarrel of the Universe let be:

And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,

Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG DID EAGERLY FREQUENT DOCTOR AND SAINT

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

XLVI.

For in and out, above, about, below,

’Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,

Play’d in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,

Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XLVII

“And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XLVII.

And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,

End in the Nothing all Things end in—Yes—

Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what

Thou shalt be—Nothing—Thou shalt not be less.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain XLVIII

“Take that, and do not shrink”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

XLVIII.

While the Rose blows along the River Brink,

With old Khayyám the Ruby Vintage drink:

And when the Angel with his darker Draught

Draws up to Thee—take that, and do not shrink.

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

For in the Market-place, one Dusk of Day,

I watch’d the Potter thumping his wet Clay:

Foulis 1911

XLIX.

’Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days

Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:

Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,

And one by one back in the Closet lays.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

L.

The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,

But Right or Left as strikes the Player goes;

And He that toss’d Thee down into the Field,

He knows about it all—He knows—HE knows!

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

EARTH COULD NOT ANSWER, NOR THE SEAS THAT MOURN

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain LI

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

LI.

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.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain LII

“Lift not thy hands to It for help”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

LII.

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,

Whereunder crawling coopt we live and die,

Lift not thy hands to It for help—for It

Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain LIII

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

LIII.

With Earth’s first Clay They did the last Man’s knead,

And then of the Last Harvest sow’d the Seed:

Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote

What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LIV.

I tell Thee this—When, starting from the Goal,

Over the shoulders of the flaming Foal

Of Heav’n Parwín and Mushtara they flung,

In my predestin’d Plot of Dust and Soul.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

LV.

The Vine had struck a Fibre; which about

If clings my Being—let the Súfi flout;

Of my Base Metal may be filed a Key,

That shall unlock the Door he howls without.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

AT LAST SHALL FIND YOU BY THE RIVER-BRINK

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,

Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape

Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder

Foulis 1911

LVI.

And this I know: whether the one True Light,

Kindle to Love, or Wrath consume me quite,

One glimpse of It within the Tavern caught

Better than in the Temple lost outright.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LVII.

Oh Thou, who didst with Pitfall and with Gin

Beset the Road I was to wander in,

Thou wilt not with Predestination round

Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain LVIII

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

LVIII.

Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,

And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;

For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man

Is blacken’d, Man’s Forgiveness give—and take!

KÚZA—NÁMA

illustration from 1911 Foulis edition

But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me

The Quarrel of the Universe let be:

And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,

Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

Foulis 1911

LIX.

Listen again. One Evening at the Close

Of Ramazán, ere the better Moon arose,

In that old Potter’s Shop I stood alone

With the clay Population round in Rows.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

LX.

And, strange to tell, among the Earthen Lot

Some could articulate, while others not:

And suddenly one more impatient cried—

“Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

THE BALL NO QUESTION MAKES OF AYES AND NOES

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXI.

Then said another—“Surely not in vain

“My substance from the common Earth was ta’en,

“That He who subtly wrought me into Shape

“Should stamp me back to common Earth again.”

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXII.

Another said—“Why, ne’er a peevish Boy,

“Would break the Bowl from which he drank in Joy;

“Shall He that made the Vessel in pure Love

“And Fancy, in an after Rage destroy!”

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXIII.

None answer’d this; but after Silence spake

A Vessel of a more ungainly Make:

“They sneer at me for leaning all awry;

“What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?”

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXIV.

Said one—“Folks of a surly Tapster tell,

“And daub his Visage with the Smoke of Hell;

“They talk of some strict Testing of us—Pish!

“He’s a Good Fellow, and ’twill all be well.”

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXV.

Then said another with a long-drawn Sigh,

“My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry:

“But, fill me with the old familiar Juice,

“Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!”

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

I STOOD, SURROUNDED BY THE SHAPES OF CLAY

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain LXVI

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

LXVI.

So while the Vessels one by one were speaking,

One spied the little Crescent all were seeking:

And then they jogg’d each other, “Brother, Brother!

“Hark to the Porter’s Shoulder-knot a-creaking!”

illustration from 1909 Foulis edition

Foulis 1909

LXVII.

Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,

And wash my Body whence the Life has died,

And in a Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,

So bury me by some sweet Garden-side.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXVIII.

That ev’n my buried Ashes such a Snare

Of Perfume shall fling up into the Air,

As not a True Believer passing by

But shall be overtaken unaware.

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

LXIX.

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long

Have done my Credit in Men’s Eye much wrong:

Have drown’d my Honour in a shallow Cup,

And sold my Reputation for a Song.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXX.

Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before

I swore—but was I sober when I swore?

And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand

My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

illustration from 1899 Altemus edition

AND IN YOUR JOYOUS ERRAND REACH THE SPOT

Altemus 1899

illustration from 1920 Crowell edition

Crowell 1920

LXXI.

And much as Wine has play’d the Infidel,

And robb’d me of my Robe of Honour—well,

I often wonder what the Vintners buy

One half so precious as the Goods they sell.

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXXII.

Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!

That Youth’s sweet-scented Manuscript should close!

The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,

Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain LXXIII

“Ah Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire”

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

LXXIII.

Ah Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire

To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,

Would not we shatter it to bits—and then

Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

illustration from 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition: quatrain LXXIV

Hodder and Stoughton 1913

LXXIV.

Ah, Moon of my Delight who know’st no wane,

The Moon of Heav’n is rising once again:

How oft hereafter rising shall she look

Through this same Garden after me—in vain!

illustration from 1909 Crowell edition

Crowell 1909

LXXV.

And when Thyself with shining Foot shall pass

Among the Guests Star-scatter’d on the Grass,

And in thy joyous Errand reach the Spot

Where I made one—turn down an empty Glass!

TAMÁM SHUD

Notes and Corrections

IV

and Jesus from the Ground suspires
[In case anyone wondered, the name is spelled Isa in Persian.]

VI

That yellow Cheek of her’s t’incarnadine
text has to’incarnadine

XI

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough
[In the second edition, the opening line changes to

Here with a little Bread beneath the Bough

In the third edition—in which this is no. XII—the quatrain becomes the now-familiar

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness—

Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow! ]

XII

Ah, take the Cash in hand and wave the Rest;
spelling unchanged; later editions have the expected waive

LVI

Kindle to Love, or Wrath consume me quite
text has Wrathconsume as one word
[Some later editions also interpolate a dash or hyphen. It is not easy to guess what the author intended—but it is fairly safe to say he did not consider “Wrath­consume” to be a single word.]

LVII

with Pitfall and with Gin
[And here I was, thinking gin was a 17th-century European invention.]

LXVII

And in a Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt
one word, as shown
[Later editions hyphenate the word; by the 4th edition the whole phrase is changed to “shrouded in the living Leaf”.]

More about the Text

The facsimile of the Rubaiyat first edition includes an introduction by the anonymous 1909 editor (A. E. Newton, according to the Internet Archive). It turns out the copy whose scans I used has the world’s most impeccable prove­nance. Item: The facsimile was made from a copy in the posses­sion of Charles Dana Burrage. Item: According to the bookplate of the scanned copy, the book was a gift to the University of California from . . . Charles Dana Burrage. You can’t top that.

“Quaritch” is Bernard Quaritch, the publisher and bookseller. Edward Byles Cowell was Cambridge University’s first professor of Sanskrit.

One Spring day in 1856 Edward B. Cowell discovered in the Bodleian library at Oxford a manuscript containing 158 quatrains of Omar Khayyam which he transcribed and sent to his friend and pupil Edward FitzGerald. Later Cowell sent him from India a transcript of the so-called Calcutta manu­script. In 1857 FitzGerald completed his first draft of the poem and in January, 1858, sent it to Fraser’s Magazine. After many months, in January, 1859, FitzGerald recovered his neglected manuscript and made a re-draft of the poem, which he printed privately in an edition of 250 copies, most of which he gave to Quaritch, who had ill success in disposing of them, and the remainder were sold from a clearance box at a penny each.

Since the appearance of this modest book more than two million copies have been sold in over two hundred editions, and it has been translated into almost all the tongues of modern Europe, as well as into Greek and Latin.

A soiled and penciled copy of the rare original would readily bring $300, while an uncut copy is priceless.

This facsimile is made from the fine copy owned by Charles Dana Burrage, to whose interest and courtesy Omarians owe so much.

The original of this text has been in the public domain for years
in the U.S. and most other parts of the world.
All I’ve done is put it online.