The book has 1,051 semiprecious stones,
Set in 18-carat gold, many in the cover alone,
5,000 separate pieces of collared leathers,
And 100 square feet of 22-carat feathered
Gold leaf in the tooling and the edges weathered.
It went down, down, the sounds whirling around,
When the ice broke through the Titanic’s crown.
Vivid illustrations by Elihu Vedder’s artistry
Adorn the passages of metaphysical poetry.
It is bound in morocco leather fine
And inlaid with a peacock design,
Beneath elaborate arches, exotically
Engulfed by a flowing grape vine tree.
Its cover is implanted with precious stones,
Including rubies, garnets, topaz, and amethysts,
And emeralds, each stone set in 18-carat gold.
It is a magnificent masterpiece of its kind,
With three peacocks in the heart of its bind,
Surrounded by vine sprays, a snake in an apple tree,
Roses and poppies, with the whole worked within
In leather and jewels, amid the verse pearls’ wisdom.
250 amethysts form the bunches of grapes,
And the decorative ground is pure gold scape.
Down it went, into the black, watery abysm,
Resting in the oak casket of its prison.
The specters of death and life’s impermanence
Permeate Omar’s quatrains, which themes thence
Are reflected in the tooling of the jeweled Rubaiyat,
Carried out by the firm of Sangorski and Sutcliffe.
Their front cover features
A resplendent peacock motif,
While the inside back cover
Centralizes the bony skull.
Phoenix-like, the glorious peacock spreads
His lustrous plumage through the years,
In further irony and emulation of Khayyam.
The ‘Great Omar’ jewel-encrusted edition
Of the Rubaiyat needed three renditions:
The first one’s yet deep in the Atlantic,
And the second was destroyed in the Blitz.
Stanley Bray salvaged the precious jewels
From the WW II bombed out bank’s vault,
And by 1989 had made a third one,
Which remains safe in the British Library.
That the first ‘Great Omar’ Rubaiyat
Had gone down with the Titanic
And the second one burned is all to do with
The transience of human existence.
Down, down, as the bottom draws the stone,
Where death reigns over all that is known.
Omar Khayyam went down in 1123,
And with him went a gifted philosopher,
Mathematician, celestial observer, and poet.