How ever so many quatrains dealing with drinking came to be written indicates how prime the theme of wine was meant to be, or at least the useful connections to thereof, plus the connotation of drinking wine extending unto the enjoyment of life in in general through its drinking in. Nevertheless, descriptions of total drunkenness are unmistakable and ever-present.
To force myself to really get into it, instead of just tending to skim, I took on the daunting task of totally re-transmogrifying them, excluding FitzGerald’s, for the most part, to make them new and different, but great, too, by absorbing them all, then vaporizing them, and redistilling them, with some of my own take, too, into reflected but new Persia-fumes faithful to the spirit of Omar.
For more conciseness, preciseness, readability, and speakability, I also required ten-syllable lines and the usual rubaiyat rhyming scheme, but with different and even more difficult rhyme words when possible. FitzGerald employed only 35 directly, so there is much that is new, and many of those are quite astounding. What a windfall!
Let’s call FitzGerald’s renderings to be about 40, since he got two from a couple and also used bits and pieces. His Rubaiyat of 114 quatrains, of which about 70 he obtained from other manuscripts, made for the greatest poem in history. Coumans’ quatrain correspondence table at his fine website, showing the Bodleian Rubaiyat manuscript’s various public domain quatrains’ translations and/or stylizations, allows one to home in on the real Omar Khayyam by reading between the lines of literal and the poetic.
There is much that is new, beyond FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, by half or more, and many are quite astounding. What a windfall!
Here are my renderings:
Ne’er I’ve strung Thy rosarium deeds pearled
Nor swabbed sin’s dusty beads that soil my world;
Yet, I’m not hopeless of Thy pardon’s grace,
For I’ve not judged that Two is One unfurled.
The unlocked Secret gleams in the tavern,
But in the mosque the key endures unturned.
Oh, Thou Planner, Designer, and Mixer,
I’m Thy own recipe to love or burn!
Oh thou, with “Special Creation’s” conceit,
Thy pride judges the soused mystics you meet.
Bring not awake the vipers from their sleep;
For peace, hail those humble souls of the street.
Their lives are their own, not yours for distain;
If thou desires three worlds’ peace, then refrain
From smothering the kisses of their bliss,
Lest you agitate your own flame in vain.
Drain your goblet’s nectar of the moon’s shine,
While your light sparkles in this ‘now’ of thine;
Reign with Night’s Queen and drink of the King’s wine,
For the morrow may not find you in time.
The man-writ Koran is nought but a mime,
Lying unread, sprouting dust; but through wine,
Read from the cup mouth’s etched rim, the glowing
Words flow, in converse, from its lip to mine.
Of all that I owned, just my cup remains,
Yet I’m free of earth’s soiling toil, the rains,
The airs of haughty breath, and Hellfire—
Enkindled here, through fifth element gains.
The more friends one has, the more the fate
That unfulfilled expectations’ gait
May run to resentments, making for foes,
Or they’ve become rude, conditioned, or great.
This jug with whose arm I entwine my own
Was too of stardust strewn and outward blown,
And may have once snuggled a lover kissed,
Neck on neck, a hand on her bosom thrown.
Wandering along the romantic way,
With an houri who drinks life’s woes away,
I realize that the cost of a loveless life
Nor wine is much too high a price to pay.
Without the bitter there’s no balance sweet;
From my height of youth lies the valley deep.
Even the biting grape loses its tartness;
’Tis not the wine that changes, but’s my own feat.
Worries seldom come true, but if they do,
Thus they would, so then in them you must stew.
Past imperfect points to a future tense,
Yet ever only Nows does the Wheel brew.
The spirit breathes life with its holy might;
Spring blossoms replace winter’s snowy white;
Cloudy vapors coalesce into drops;
The airs the lovers with fragrance invite.
No matter how one tries to shake from boughs
The fruits of time’s truth from the Tree of Knows,
Computation makes not yet the morrows;
There’s naught else but lone, resultant Nows.
Who’s the scribe? What slab is written upon?
Where’s horrid Hell and gloried Heaven yon?
I asked Myself of which stylus and slate:
You’re both the dancer and the danced upon.
Let actions tell what words can never pass:
Pour thy rose-cheeks into my secret’s glass,
And thy mouth onto my fare, beloved;
My contrition’s been lost in húr morass.
Spring’s New Year unfolds the garden’s jewels—
The sweet rose, my Peri, and April Fools.
Yester-now expired gifting the present;
‘Twould be naught to speak outside of what rules.
How shall we gild the air and pave the sea?
What the effigies of idolatry!
Who presupposes Khayyam’s doomed to Hell?
None from Hell or Heaven came to tell me.
Why would the All Knowing, Loving Expert
Compose with Power His designed concert,
Then decompose His meant Magnificat?
Because there’s none Such beyond the turret.
There are two days about which I needn’t ask,
The one that hasn’t come and the one that’s past.
As life flows like water and blows like wind,
The idyllic ‘now’ prevails, unsurpassed.
I asked not, but became, whither blowing,
My hither-going veiled to my knowing,
Hence thither I must live on wine glowing,
Absolved of worries, so freely flowing.
Fate Lachesis threaded Khayyam’s life long,
Thus Omar stitched his tent’s reasoning strong,
Clotho e’er spinning his essence along;
Atropos then sheared his rope for a song.
Khayyam, why fret o’er spilling drops of sin
From your temptation glass filled to the brim?
Play with that imaginary friend: Him;
What is mercy for but to save thy skin!
They believe, from fear of Hell’s misery,
Lured onward by Heaven’s reward to be,
Yet he who lives real, and thus knows what ‘IS’,
Never fires his heart from chaff’s smoke tree.
On spring’s green bank, my houri drinks with me,
Pouring love’s cup into our souls thirsty;
Would I then gasp for Heaven’s Paradise,
Then, I daresay, dogs whine better than me.
The bowl of life will drain you from your soul,
And hence you’ll pull the veil or be as coal,
So you might as well drink the wine of life;
One knows not what’s writ, or if, on Fate’s scroll.
A dream said to me, while I slumbered deep,
“You’re wasting on the threshold of Death’s keep;
Doth such in repose the rosebud blossom?
Entombed, you can for eternity sleep.”
The spirit to the causeless was near blind.
Quoth I, “If the Beginning you could find—
The Alif—of word, phrase, and uni-verse,
Thou needs not the alphabet—all’s been mined.”
We’ve approached the Mystery, and have found
That Beginnings can’t be, so what goes round
Must be all things, as there’s no point to impart
A design; so drink—to naught more we’re bound!
Some surmise ‘God’, and think the Mystery
Must be withheld, as must Futurity.
No matter. Good for good’s sake do, as just,
Your reasons left out of others history.
Outputs must have inputs, they in turning
Becoming inputs to more fates churning;
In that sense, all is writ, on every path,
As in ours, so what must be will e’er spring.
Those who dally on the soft river grass,
Drinking an houri’s morning breath, alas,
While the flowered Persia-fumes waft about,
Are free and saved from the mosque’s tiring mass.
The universe’s mantle binds us worn—
Tears feeding the river on which we’re borne.
Hell’s but an ember of our senseless fears;
Heaven’s the rose-breath of opening morn.
In Heaven, thy pleasure drums beat like rain,
Or so they claim, to relieve mortal pain;
But we needn’t pay for promise beyond:
Here, from wine’s currency, we’ve the same!
Drink; your doom is to e’er sleep in the tomb,
Without wine, friends, or love—an empty whom;
Come close, I will lift the dark secret’s veil:
Never again can withered flowers bloom.
Drink wine; ’tis thy life saver on storms’ sea;
Let the sorrows drown in your continued spree;
There be friends, lovers, and flowers to share—
Parentheses within eternity!
Give me wine, as balm to soothe the heart’s lull—
The salve, the boon that relieves all that’s dull;
There’s more cheer in a single drop than in
The Vault of Heaven hollow as a skull.
I drink the “foe of faith”; they-tell-me-so’s,
Right and left, expurgating, from their ‘knows’.
Well, then, by God, I swear, I will drink more;
It’s right that I should drink the blood of foes!
My heart’s blood gleams, like a melted ruby,
As wealth of mines—the gem that flows in me;
My goblet enshrines my wounded heart’s tears—
Wine is my soul and the cup my body.
I don’t know if what made me doth appoint
To Joy or Pain when this world I disjoint,
Or whether, but I do know life and verse;
Hence with love and wine I’ll myself anoint.
What ‘IS’ can no more not exist than it
Can rule any of what goes on in it;
Impute not thy blame, shame, or fame to it—
Fate’s Wheel’s as helpless as all within it.
He to whom reason has inscribed its script
Upon his self will revel unto the crypt.
Lest disposing his will to phantasms,
He navigates his heart’s ship well equipped.
Over the Ruler’s tomb bleeds Beauty’s rose,
While the tulip’s blood cups the Truth that knows,
As the violet’s marked Goodness grows;
Love’s braid untwined to us in spring’s disclosed.
If Fortune leads you to her masquerade,
Beware of the sweet desserts therein laid,
For, once lured by poison’s sandy mirage,
Envenomed, you can’t thwart the saber’s blade.
Wine, love, and kisses have left my purse bare;
In blame, obscure, in pledge I gladly err.
Who came back from Heaven or Hell to tell.
Of Heaven or Hell? We’re not from there!
Oh, Idol, whose cheeks reflect on the rose,
The King of Babylon as much as you knows.
He moves castles, pawns, knights, Bishops, & Queens,
Of You his glance and Yours back, through the rows.
What matters where, what, when, or even who?
In life’s fill, any narrative will do.
Drink in all phases of the lunar month,
The cup waxing and waning, just like you.
Some quaff wine deep, as the late hours creep,
And some all night in their mosque-vigil weep,
Who drift around the sea, blind to the shore;
Only One’s awake, while all others sleep.
To learn life, foremost, into thyself say,
As true, at least a hundred times a day:
You’re not as cut grass springing back anew—
When mowed down you’ll remain within the clay.
Parch not thy self with old arguments’ heat,
O’er ‘is’ or ‘is not’ on some hidden street;
Best drench thyself with the juicy grape,
Lest you sour, leaving dry raisins to eat.
Hither unto this fair Earth I was bred,
The Cosmos’ reflection not more ahead,
Then henceforth, my splendour rent asunder;
Yet to my ears the point remains unsaid.
Oh sweet, almond-eyed fortune of love’s glow,
Our life-streams flow toward the great below.
In Fate’s clutch, back into dust we must go,
So let us liquify ‘long life’s plateau.
Now my lovers but in memory remain,
And of old friends I have only a name,
So I reach out to my faithful compeer—
The wine cup e’er within my reach to drain.
Now’s pen inscribes, based on what was there,
Its destined words phrasing our sentence here.
Although it may spell to us right or wrong,
Even one letter’s change hasn’t a prayer.
Oh soul, for now, avoid the fallen frail,
Plus love’s commerce with eyes behind a veil;
Thus seek out the dervished, saintly beings,
For thy existence beaming they may hail.
You clutch the skirt of Heaven, on it borne,
While the stars that dim are at night reborn.
If Allah lives, and grants you a fresh morn,
You may one day the universe’s dress adorn.
The deceptive who make belief a law,
A distinction ‘tween soul and body draw,
Yet, on my split hairs I’ll place a wine jug,
Ev’n if they’d put a cock’s comb after all.
The circling orbs that in the night skies abound
The minds of the most learned ones confound.
Dare not loosen the grasp of wisdom’s thread;
Even the wise grow faint from the whirls around.
I fear not to pay the debt owed to death,
As here I’d not be if not for the breath
Extinguished in those who lived before;
Receive my future’s deed and none the less.
Morning springs thee over the wasteland’s brink,
And on time’s sand you the oasis drink.
Life’s strange caravan through the desert winds,
Back toward Nothing; drink—afore the stars sink.
I look back on my love of life, now old,
The captivating lure that made me bold;
What e’er vestments of penitence I’ve sewed
Have shredded—in the names of my loves told.
Ne’er the gems of Mars, Venus, and the moon
Can rival the jewels of wine drops’ boon;
What pearled treasures can the wine-sellers buy
One half so precious as sold in the saloon?
In the morning, Thou graced me with the glow,
And I’d the peace of the Heavenly flow;
Then after noon, scorn’s heat, then darkness falls;
What of Thy nature in me changed to ‘foe’?
Heart to my hand to lift the glass of wine;
Hand to heart to hold love’s houri so fine.
Dullards say, “Repent of thy overflow.”
Ha, I will none of it; I’m my own vine.
Once bred, the ideal of life’s morn is shorn;
So, it’s that the ablution, second born,
Is to rinse one’s stain with wine, and not mourn,
Since ne’er can be restored what’s worn so torn.
At the graven yard in Naishàpùr, I see
Blossoms in the dirt, blown from the rose tree.
As I dust my shoes, the clay speaks to me:
“Once I was like you; tread softly on me.”
The morn has bloomed, the warm day growing lush;
Past, the garden’s dust run from the rain’s gush.
Wine’s nightingale sings in tongue to the drooped;
Oh, pale rose, we both must drink to blush toward flush.
Ere Fate fells you dried up like an old leaf,
Course red wine through thy veins of life so brief.
Ne’er for treasured gold will you be dug up,
Nor even sought by an impoverished thief.
Whence my mystique has fled, wine-blush my cheek,
Wash my body with a vintage antique,
Wrap me in a grapevine leafed winding-sheet,
And frame my coffin of cask planks that’ll reek.
Oh, Shah, you were throned from Destiny Old,
The steeds of empire saddled as your fold,
And where thy charger plants its gilded hooves
On the dusty clay, the earth turns to gold.
Love that’s just imagined is but conceit—
Ashes from a bonfire that brings no heat.
The true lover, through all the days and nights,
Doesn’t need to drink, rest, speak, sleep, or eat.
Our being blocks the view of the Ultimate,
Nor to gaze at it can we our selves acquit.
Ev’n the wise can’t step beyond their nature—
All mothers’ sons stand helpless before it.
Dash quick away the trade of worldly gain,
Unlinking thy chain to the good and bane,
And with wine and kisses soothe ev’ry pain—
Till sky’s whirling wheel doth your roll restrain.
As clouds’ down to jasmine blossoms doth shred,
From violet unto the green garden bed,
Out of the bluish-purple grape, I pour
Into my lily-cup the wine bled so red.
Athirst, I quench and drench in wine’s romance,
Which troubles not Heaven’s glance, perchance.
Did the All-Seeing’s thoughts not grant the chance?
Then God’s All-Knowing is but ignorance.
Rend the mask of sorrows shrouding thy face,
And shear the cloth of grief’s idling chase;
Feast on her lips, wine, and verse; drain life’s bank,
Ere Earth enfold thee in a last embrace.
Let the two-and-seventy sects, all told,
Diverge in their tales of myth-takes so old;
One draught of alkīmiyā wine cures all ills,
Transforming life’s leaden dross into gold.
If wine they forbid, then naught for whose sake,
And of no companions life’s ills to shake,
Nor the genial company prolonged;
Seems those who drink are of reason wide awake.
Drink wine’s aquavita down into earth,
Whence, as a jug, you’ll find another birth;
Thus reckon not for Hell or Heaven’s berth;
The wise can ne’er be deceived; hold wine’s mirth!
Aft the cloud’s eyes water the soil that died,
The sun’s warm breath wakes up the seeds inside;
Hence, all the plants, trees, and flowers revive,
And o’er mead, stream, and wayside they preside.
The Cup-Bearer’s Self flows right to the brim,
Like ours, and can’t help but spill o’er the rim
Grape-juiced droplets that extinguish fired eyes;
Praise Allah; we’ve the balm for life’s pangs grim.
Each morning, dewdrops pearl the tulip’s face,
While the drooping violet bows in grace,
But fairest, the rosebud, does closely lace
Her skirt, to shield her blush from wind’s abase.
Oh, my friends, when you with such lively tread
Make your way through the garden of the dead
And reach the flowered bed where I made one,
Turn down an empty glass and break some bread.
Then, unto love’s moonlight tryst, arm in arm,
Aft taking delight in each others charm,
Raise thy glasses once more in blessing, and
Cheer the one who lived and died without alarm.
One wine draught out buys a Shah’s paradise,
All the sparkling jewels of the skies,
And China’s Kingdom—trifles unneeded;
What bitter drink beats a thousand sweets’ prize!
Oh, break the bonds of wife if you seek Him,
And sever thy children’s hold, limb from limb,
And, too, unfetter thyself from kinsmen,
For these hinder the singing of His hymn.
Bring thy ruby mined, in a crystal thrust,
The drink that raises one up from the dust,
For who knows what breezes blow into gales.
This world is but a passing whirlwind’s gust.
I’ve flips, trips, dips, and slips, coming to grips;
For antidote I prescribe in my eclipse:
Bring the rubied grape and the silk stringed lute—
Music to my ears and wine to my lips.
In the Bazaar, a potter ‘long my way,
A lump did so rudely pound into play
That it so quickly complained to say, “Hey!
Once I was man, then turned to dusty clay.”
Oh, Sorrow, drink wine from that well eterne;
Though it burn, its vintage your ills will turn.
As aquavita, it clears young and old;
What wiser prescription is there to learn?
Heed not Sunna Law, nor so-called Divine,
Yet to the poor your last morsel assign,
Afflict not, nor slander, and give love to all;
Of these I warrant thee future—bring wine!
Rubies from the vine’s mines are melted up,
As the moon-veil dissolved in the sun’s sup,
In pearled crystal goblets of the flow;
Oh, sparkle with life’s essence sweet—the cup!
I drink the wine of life, in the name of,
My blame, fame, and shame thrown away for love;
Reproach me not; folly and fault I aim;
As Heaven’s stream I’m as pure as a dove.
The wings of time are checkered black and white,
As fluttering round the day flies the night.
As chess pieces, we gamely play for life,
Until into the box we return, quite!
What be: thy output must form from input,
For naught else can stride the moving foot,
And surely naught from nought makes no ‘random’;
The pen can’t revise its scroll; “we’re” caput.
Twilight’s shadows have long since passed, and yet
The moon reflects the sun, lest we forget,
My sweet, and but a cloud shades thy rose light;
So let’s not sleep but with wine our throats wet.
From dust to dust, throw the more on His face,
Flinging prayer, praise, and rites for fair embrace;
Quaff the cup; what time for faith’s endeavor?
None have returned here from any Place.
This winter dawn gleams as white as the snow,
Color-blinding us. Seek the ruby’s glow,
And bring two logs, making of one a lute,
And the other into the fireplace throw.
Send into the graveyard the Five Hour Prayer;
We’re off to the tavern to live life’s dare.
When we gaze on a long-necked flask of wine,
We’ll stretch our necks in kind that wine to share.
I embraced the jug with joy and heart’s burn
Of Elixir’s secret wellspring to learn;
As kissed, it kissed back, and said, with its tongue,
“Drink, for once turned never will you return.”
Some counsel’s plea I received unto me:
Shred thy frail garment of hypocrisy,
The future is forever, Earth but now;
Sell not your one breath for ‘eternity’.
Pretend you’re dead—gone, siting on a star,
And regretting there an empty memoir…
“If only I might live it all again!”
Well, you’re alive; so smile, because you are.
In a potter’s shop, stood the earthen lot
Of vessels in converse, through some spoke not,
And lo! one lifted up his lid, and cried,
“Who is the Potter and who’s gone to pot?”
Why call wicked the nectar of the vine?
What bane is it to cure the heart with wine?
Bad water? Phish, ’tis Heaven’s good water.
Bring out the physic for this life of mine.
Relate my good deeds o’er and o’er again,
And forgive each fault, crime, and sin times ten.
Let’s not kindle, stir, blow, or fan the flame;
Grace is Divine; no need to ink the pen.
As thin as air, wine is spirit’s rare gift,
An ethereal sprite whose flow is swift.
Heavy-wits aren’t fit to leaden my float,
But heavy wine casks are so light to lift.
How long will they prate of eternity?
Why proclaim as sure an uncertainty?
’Tis yon the cape of man’s ability.
To unlock every door, wine’s the key.
We are phenomena’s projected face,
Well-painted from noumena’s unseen base;
It’s as a lamp lights up a paper shade,
We figures revolving around in space.
My nature is what it is, not tame,
As intended, making me not to blame,
Though some this don’t know, and throw pain & shame;
So I’ll claim mercy, too, and clear my name.
Oh, meddling thoughts that harp on reason’s plea,
My cheeks glow red from the loved one’s grape tree,
So to your face I throw my other hand,
And drop you into sleep, oh fantasy.
How long shall we be flushed, untying knots?
What boots if Fate a long or short life allots?
Pour out thy cup of life’s wine, since we’ll all
Become, under the workshop, earthen pots.
Since there’s no lasting abode on this sphere,
’Tis folly wine and loves away to steer;
Oh, voice for worlds’ creation or eterne,
What matters those realms neither there nor here.
Life’s cruelty satisfies all repentance,
So this credit give me when Thy sentence,
While here, too, I sin to cancel Your debt,
And away from the holy mosque jump the fence.
During the short Earthly shrift time is swift,
So in love and wine there’s no need for thrift;
They prate, “May God to thee grant penitence.”
He gives it not, nor would I take the gift.
Mosque for me is rare, yet there I repair,
So now I’m a prayer, of feint pious air.
I had stolen a fine prayer-carpet there
That’s now worn, so I need one more than fair.
After I’m tread in the stead of the dead,
And rooted up, after my blood’s drained red,
See to it that naught but a wine jug’s made,
For its scent will restore my spirit fled.
Whether where, ’twixt raw Divine and ripe wine?
Which the lure enshrine; which the snare intwine?
In taverns, incline, wise with love, than decline,
As dumb in the monastery confine.
When morning breaks, the rosy cup drain,
And dash fame’s crystal on the rocks again;
Thy lute is sweet, thy tresses soft as down;
Heaven is here, and future glory vain.
We choose the love nest over greed’s estates,
With romance, bread, wine, and verse as our traits;
Heart and soul buy poverty’s privacy;
Rich is the fortune that poorness creates.
I know what is, and what is not I show,
As myth of grace above and waste below;
But all this wisdom I will quick renounce,
If one a better place than drink can show.
Thrust into life, we seek the depths to know
The plots beyond the curtains of the show,
Learning naught but this whisper from the waste:
“We came as water and to dust we blow.”
What shall be, remedy or pain, or mix?
No contest, for we’re wise to change’s tricks,
And can expect sorrow and joy alike;
But who cares! They’ll pass; we all go to bricks.
Lay waste to the rites of prayer and fasting;
Shatter faith’s pious claims never lasting;
Slam fast the gate on myth-spells arriving.
Drink, and be kind to all of life’s casting.
From birth we can look forward to being host
To woe, and then to giving up the ghost.
Happy are they who quickly burn to toast,
And blessed are they who ne’er came to the roast.
Cast from thy glory that hindering veil,
Rather than give up thy body and fail;
Wear instead the old rug of poverty,
And such the same as a Sultan prevail.
Here the evil of the heavens is flung,
And laid barren by our friends’ passing young.
Mourn not yesterday, nor morrow unsung;
It’s To-Day, the best time to roll life’s dung.
Wooing the fair ones and draining the cup
Beats by far the fanatic’s zealous yup.
If drunkards and lovers are doomed to Hell,
Then none will e’er of Heaven take a sup.
Wear not thy heart away on worry’s stone,
For none can e’er rub up ‘gainst the unknown.
Since no one knows, cast away your millstones;
Reign high on thy throne in the living zone.
Yon Heaven’s Wheel flings its comet portent,
The plot to end our lives unimportant.
To the lawn, love, for one day we shall be
As the grass that grows about our tent.
E’en our smoke from ember’s ash fades away,
That warp of our woof and weave burned to clay.
How many beautiful hearts have melted here?
Where in heaven’s cosmic vault wefts their sway?
Though hewn for study of the stars I am,
And philosophy, too, hear Old Khayyam:
Best her tangled tresses attract your view;
Then enjoy wine, verse, and a leg of lamb.
With brows and beard I brush the tavern door,
And drop the worlds good and ill on the floor.
If they should bounce and roll to my own street,
I would quick kick them along all the more.
The best of all that is above the moon
And below the fish is beauty’s commune
In her wine poured and sipped, all else forgone,
From Mah to Mahi, raptured noon to noon.
The overturned bowl of Heaven’s dome traps
Those thereunder born crawling toward collapse.
Note the friendship of the bottle and cup:
Blood flows lip to lip, as might yours, perhaps.
The Rose’s skirt reveals, shorn by the breeze,
And Nightingales rejoice her in the trees;
Let us lay about the rose bush with ease,
For many have turned to dust just like these.
So what of the things I have or have naught,
Or if pass through life happy or distraught.
Fill my cup, for I don’t know if the breath
I now draw in will be my last, or not!
Give to one jasmine-bloomed and fairy-born
Thy heart, and of dear friends passed do not mourn,
But unto her glowing breasts rest thy head;
Cast not to the wind but flow on wine bourn.
One may live to sixty, but not much more,
So thy feet should tread but to tavern’s door,
And ere thy hollowed skull become a bowl,
Grasp thy glass, lest it drop unto the floor.
Old wine betters Kai’s kingdom’s palace new,
And far does it his golden throne outdo.
The cup a hundred times beats all realms, and
The wine-jar lid bests the crown of Khosrau.
Sakí, they who so discussed and fussed,
Have long since bow’d their sleepy heads to crust;
Go thou fetch wine, but hear the truth from me,
Their lore be wind, their lofty themes are dust.
Thou hast dropped my jug, now broken, oh Lord,
And it drains its wine into the greensward,
My bliss shattered from Your bung-stumbling.
O Lord, drink You drunk too much from the gourd?
To miserly creatures Thou hast given
Baths and waterways in the earth riven,
Yet we must pledge our goods for nightly bread;
Who would give a fig for such a Heaven?
Oh heart, here the Fount of Truth does not rain,
Nor do we from the subtle sages gain.
’Tis here that with a loving heart Heav’n’s made,
For thou may’st ne’er another Heaven attain.
Creation’s smoke burns evermore thy meat,
E’en ‘fore one cinders from the deeper heat.
Ah, shun what bane you may of the kitchen;
Take no stock in trade; all sweet profits eat.
If spirit, freed from mortal coil, could soar
Back through cold, empty space to Heaven’s door,
Its native home lies far beyond the sky,
And shame it was to bear this foreign shore.
This night my cup I smote against a stone.
Low was the act, my head with wine was flown.
The cup cried out to me in mystic tone,
“I was like thee, my fate will be thine own.”
Oh, my desire, bring thy cup and let’s go,
O’er lawns to play where crystal waters flow;
Malicious Heaven these lovely faces
A hundred times as pots and cups will show.
Many a snare Thou placed into life’s way,
And into our nature temptation’s sway,
Thus against Your entrap, all should beware.
’Tis not my debt; Thou should much greater pay.
So much sweeter sounds are my lover’s sighs
Than the groan of war that wins great prize.
One taste of love’s dear wine by far out buys
A Sultan’s wealth in some rich paradise.
No longer embrace your grief and despair,
But in this biased world be just and fair,
And since the end of worldly things is naught,
Think you are naught, and so shake off dull care!
For those who see, grass and stream meet the eyes,
In mead and desert, where Heaven’s realm lies;
While there, life’s Hell has gone away, you’d say,
As you consort with maids of Paradise.
Rejoice, for your goose was cooked long ago,
Your future eggs laid ‘fore you were aglow .
Ne’er can be recalled the bird that has flown,
So love life’s flight, on the winds that must blow.
Draw pure the blood from the throat of the jug,
And stain the tulip-hued wine on your mug.
Where could you find a better friend than wine,
So pure, so snug? Well, not on a prayer rug.
Fate’s Wheel soft whispers in my ear, “I know
What’s been decreed—just ask and I will show.”
Were mine the hand that made myself revolve,
I should have saved myself from reeling so.
Have we gourds, bread, and a leg of mutton,
While writing verse in the wilderness, yon,
Oh tulip-cheeks, lovelier than the moon,
It’ll treat beyond the bounds of a Sultan.
Where there be friends to drink two wells of wine,
These festive assemblies never decline;
For whoso does thus, sets his spirit free
Of such as thy mustache or beard like mine!
If coming had been choice, I’d not have come,
If going be in my power, I‘d not leave from;
But best of lots, of this world of clay, is:
I’d come not, nor gone, nor been at all one!
Ramadan’s now past, and Shawwál comes back,
So feast, song, and pleasure no more we lack;
Now porters with their loads stand back to back,
“Here comes the camel with his precious pack.”
The impossible dream you’d of your fate
Was to outwit life’s expiration date,
To be deathless and somehow carry on;
You’ll live, anon, in the lives you’ve touched, mate!
Bless your soul with tongues of fire; Holy Spirit burn;
Leave no trace of man’s desire; Holy Spirit turn.
Oh, man, why detest thy constitution;
Doth thou think Nature has a lot to learn?
Oh, those imaginings that can ne’er be,
Such as Nought, Stillness, and Infinity,
As well as Random, Beginning, and End,
Plus Full Solidity, Free Will, and He.
Though we can ne’er know the Ultimate named,
From that fact something profound is still framed;
It’s that when one can’t know, one must still live,
And as such in that life cannot be blamed.
So Nature got it wrong, the pious say,
In man’s constitution, erring its essay,
Granting so many ways to go astray;
Well, then, Who, do they say, penned this world’s play?
What the meaning to this play we’re befit,
From dirt to dust within the script that’s writ?
The wise in search have thrown themselves to waste;
Experience alone is the benefit.