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The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám by Omar…

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

by Omar Khayyam

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I have more editions of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám than any other book. I mainly buy new (to me, that is, as most of them are second-hand volumes) editions based upon either the quality of a book as an artefact, or due to the illustrations. The former is a relatively common bibliophilic phenomenon, of which I imagine many reading this review will recognise in themselves. The latter is, I think, due to an unfortunate tendency towards orientalism, a by-product of the cultural context of my youthful upbringing. I try to offset this tendency by somewhat extending my knowledge and (hopefully) understanding of other cultures, by which I justify my indulgence. So much for the mea culpas (culpi?).

What attracts me to FitzGerald's rendition is the beauty of his language, particularly in the first edition, and his ordering of the verses to develop themes (perhaps beyond what Khayyám intended? I'm not scholar enough to know for sure). FitzGerald/Khayyám building effects by re-presentation of the concepts of the impermanence of life; the fleeting nature of human existence; the sadness inherent in mortality; the essentially unknowable fate of us all, despite what the "two-and-seventy jarring sects" might say; the logic (that seems the right word, Khayyám being a mathematician, and FitzGerald a student of Greek philosophy) of living in the moment; the consolations of a right good piss-up (this last I might have blasphemously expressed if some interpretations of Khayyám are accepted).

I've no doubt myself that Khayyám was an atheist, notwithstanding claims that there is an underlying Sufi spiritual message in his poetry, though my belief is, admittedly, based upon a rendition of his works by a Westerner stepped in a Christian tradition, even if that tradition was one he ultimately rejected (not to avoid mentioning that I am an atheist myself, so possibly inclined to such a reading of the verses). I find something deeply human about this, looking to ourselves for meaning, or even an acceptance of being in a meaningless universe from which we are required to carve our own temporary meaning if we are to live as persons, even for so brief a time as we have to experience it. I feel in this a connection with Khayyám, though aware that it is mediated through FitzGerald. I've read a literal translation of Khayyám, which did not touch me so deeply. Perhaps it was the more direct phrasing and lack of a distinct thematic thread that I found lacking, or that I was distracted by trying to figure out which quatrains were the basis got FitzGerald's versions. I should read the direct translation again, I think, without the rose-tinted spectacles. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Feb 20, 2017 |
Voz da antiga Pérsia, rimar com o cheiro do vinho... Poeta que conta estrelas, Omar da cor do rubi. Khayyam, ó Khayyam... Sabias que a tua fala de barro ainda ronda o meu coração? Chocam-se os copos, os risos se ouvem e o vinho, teu adorado vinho se derrama nos cálices... E a copeira! Ai, os olhos dessa donzela! Cai a noite, a lua vai aparecendo e do cofre do Nada voltou a surgir o jogo, o caminhar que nunca termina... Será o crescer da relva, o canto do rouxinol... Ou o eco de um rubaiyat? Oleiro dos Céus, torno que nunca paras... O Livro folheias novamente... E eu apenas desejo esses lábios que me esperam e poder me enredar nos cabelos da minha doce bem-amada. Dá-me o vinho dos teus versos! Canta em minha alma... Omar Khayyam!
  melissa.gamador | Sep 5, 2014 |
Having loved Edward FitzGerald's free translation of these verses for many years, I wanted to read a more literal translation, which I got with this edition.

Initially, I wasn't taken: the verses were stark and plain for the most part, and there was no real connection between one quatrain and the next. But I persevered and as the memory of FitzGerald receded somewhat, I was able to enjoy the poems on their own terms. The humour and beauty of the "originals" (as close as a non-Persian speaker can get to the originals, anyway) shone through and won me over.

It was fun, too, to recognise some old friends in new clothes.

The translators' fascinating introduction and appendices were worth the price of the book by themselves, enhancing enjoyment of the verses by giving some context.

I guess I still prefer FitzGerald's translation because it's the one I've grown up with, but I will definitely revisit this edition, too. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Mar 29, 2013 |
This is the poetry of Omar Khayyam, a Persian poet and scientist who lived from 1048-1131. He actually wrote one of the most important treatises on Algebra before modern times. The very name "Ruba'yat" actually comes from an Arab word for "four" and refers to the quatrain structure and the title was given to a selection of Khayyam's poems by Edward Fitzgerald, who first popularized the poems in the West with his translations into English in editions published from 1889 to 1895. The most famous verses of this translation would be recognized by many:

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!

However famous though, Fitzgerald's version famously took many liberties. The translation I have on my shelves is by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs, and purports to be as faithful as possible to the original. So the lines above are rendered:

If chance supplied a loaf of white bread,
Two casks of wine and a leg of mutton,
In the corner of a garden with a tulip-cheeked girl,
There'd be enjoyment no Sultan could outdo.

The Avery/Heath-Stubbs version has the reputation of being more restrained, and I think that's captured in the two quotations. Actually, that does make me want to seek out Fitzgerald's version, even if it's more romantic Victorian than true to the original. But the Avery/Heath-Stubbs was the version through which I became acquainted with this poetry, and I found it beautiful. I picked it up because The Ruba'yat was on a list of "100 Significant Books" in Good Reading only to find myself entranced. It's a very slim volume of 104 pages of 235 quatrains. ( )
3 vote LisaMaria_C | Oct 16, 2012 |
The classic translation of the Central Asian poet. This is one of the finest pieces of nineteenth century English literature, for all that it is a translation.
  Fledgist | May 20, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (268 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Khayyam, Omarprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Avery, PeterTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
FitzGerald, EdwardTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heath-Stubbs, JohnTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alessandro BausaniEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ali-Shah, OmarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arberry, A.J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Areán, CarlosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balen, C.L. vanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balen, Chr. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burton, Richard FrancisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cadell, Jessie E. NashTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dulac, EdmundIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Göpel, KathleenÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Göpel, MarieliseÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graves, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grolleau, CharlesTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heath-Stubbs, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JeffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holden, Edward S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Housman, LaurenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hulsker, JanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karlin, DanielEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, Jessie M.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laade, Wolfgangsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Gallienne, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCarthy, Justin HuntlyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Metsier, LucasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monteil, VincentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nasr, Seyyed HosseinPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicolas, J.B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peno, AndrewIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rezvanian, Hassansecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richards, JowannTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robin, ArmandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosen, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saidi, AhmadTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayah, MahmoudIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schack, A. F. vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sherriffs, Robert StewartIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, Edmund J.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whinfield, E.H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, RabTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My work in this book is dedicated to my son, Ben Karlin, and my daughter, Katie O'Shea.
(Oxford University Press, 2009, ed. Daniel Karlin)
First words
Awake! For Morning in the Bowl of Night
Wake!  For the Sun, who scatter'd into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav'n,
and strikes,
The Sultan's turret with a Shaft of Light.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on;
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Disambiguation notice
This is a listing of versions of the Rubaiyat other than those of English poet Edward FitzGerald. FitzGerald's free rendering of the rubaiyat is famous as English poetry in its own right; it is more "inspired by" than "translated from" Khayyám's work. Please do not combine any of the numerous FitzGerald editions with this work, unless the book in question also contains more literal translations by other authors.
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Revered in eleventh-century Persia as an astronomer, mathematician and philosopher, Omar Khayyam is now known first and foremost for his "Ruba'iyat". The short epigrammatic stanza form allowed poets of his day to express personal feelings, beliefs and doubts with wit and clarity, and Khayyam became one of its most accomplished masters with his touching meditations on the transience of human life and of the natural world. One of the supreme achievements of medieval literature, the reckless romanticism and the pragmatic fatalism in the face of death means these verses continue to hold the imagination of modern readers.… (more)

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