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The Rubiayat of Omar Khayyam
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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 Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.



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."



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."



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.



Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose, 

And Jamshyd'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.





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 hers t' incarnadine.



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.




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.



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.




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.



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.




"How sweet is mortal Sovranty!" — think some:

Others — "How blest the Paradise to come!"

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

Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!



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."



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.






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.



Think, in this battered Caravanserai

Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,

     How Sultán after Sultán with his Pomp

Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.






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.



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.






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



Ah, my Beloved, 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.






Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and 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.



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?



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!



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!"



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.





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.



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.



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."



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.



What, without asking, hither hurried whence,

And, without asking, whither hurried hence!

     Another and another Cup to drown

The memory of this Impertinence!






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.



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 seemed — and then no more of THEE and ME.






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.



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."



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!



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!



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!








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!



How long, how long, in infinite Pursuit

Of This and That endeavour and dispute?

     Better be merry with the fruitful Grape

Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.




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.



For "IS" and "IS-NOT" though with Rule and Line,

And "UP-AND-DOWN" without, I could define,

     I yet in all I only cared to know.

Was never deep in anything but — Wine.




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!



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.



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.





But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me

The Quarrel of the Universe let be:

     And, in some comer of the Hubbub coucht,

Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.



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.



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.





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.



'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.





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!



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.



And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,

Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,

     Lift not thy hands to It for help — for It

Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.



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.



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.





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.



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.






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?



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!



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.



And, strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot

Some could articulate, while others not:

     And suddenly one more impatient cried —

"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"





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."



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!"





None answered 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?"


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."




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!"



So while the Vessels one by one were speaking.

One spied the little Crescent all were seeking:

     And then they jogged each other, "Brother!


Hark to the Porter's Shoulder-knot a-creaking!"



Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide.

And wash my Body whence the Life has died.

     And in a Winding-sheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,

So bury me by some sweet Garden-side.



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.



Indeed the Idols I have loved so long

Have done my Credit in Men's Eye much wrong.

     Have drowned my Honour in a shallow Cup,

And sold my Reputation for a Song.





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.



And much as Wine has played 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.





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?



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!




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

The Moon of Heaven is rising once again:

     How oft hereafter rising shall she look

Through this same Garden after me — in vain!



And when Thyself with shining Foot shall pass

Among the Guests Star-scattered on the Grass,

     And in thy joyous Errand reach the Spot

Where I made one — turn down an empty Glass!




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