v 6.10.00
20 Jun 2020
updated 9 Aug 2020

Note that the rubáiyát is a Persian form of several quatrains. Its name is derived from the Arabic plural of the word for "quatrain," rubá'íyah. This, in turn, comes from the Arabic word rubá, meaning "four." Rubai (the singular form) is a quatrain or a set of two couplets.

(Technically, a quatrain is a 4-line stanza written in iambic pentameter or tetrameter, with a rhyming scheme of aaba.)

Please note also that I've omitted the original publisher's and printer's details, and the lengthy and bafflingly complex introduction by the pre-publication reviewer. I've retained (but reformatted) the original textual Notes (author's or reviewer's, I'm not sure) and the antique font, but have omitted pagination details.


AWAKE! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:{1}
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultán's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky{2}
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{3} reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the WHITE HAND OF MOSES on the Bough
Puts out,{4} and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

Irám indeed is gone with all its Rose,{5}
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.

And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Péhlevi,{6} with "Wine! Wine! Wine!
"Red Wine!" – the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek{7} of her's to'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,{8}
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 Mahmúd 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 wave the Rest;
Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!{9}

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{10} 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 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.

They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshýd gloried and drank deep:{11}
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 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.{12}

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.

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,{13}
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.{15}

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{16} – 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,{14}
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{17} 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{18}
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 corner 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.{19}

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!{20}

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,{21}
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!

KÚZA-NÁMA ["Visit to the Potter's Shop", LIX – LXVI] Begins

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 Fansy, in an after Rage destroy!

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?

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 jogg'd each other, "Brother! Brother!
Hark to the Porter's Shoulder-knot a-creaking!

KÚZA-NÁMA ["Visit to the Potter's Shop", LIX – LXVI] Ends

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 Gardenside.

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 drown'd 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 a-pieces tore.

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.

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 Heav'n 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-scatter'd on The Grass,
And in Thy joyous Errand reach the Spot
Where I made one – turn down an empty Glass!

TAMÁM SHUD ["It is Finished"]


  1. Flinging a Stone into the Cup was the Signal for "To Horse!" in the Desert.
  2. The "False Dawn;" Subhi Kházib, a transient Light on the Horizon about an hour before the Subhi sâdhik, or True Dawn; a well known Phenomenon in the East. The Persians call the Morning Gray, or Dusk, "Wolf-and-Sheep-While." "Almost at odds with, which is which."
  3. New Year. Beginning with the Vernal Equinox, it must be remembered; and (howsoever the old Solar Year is practically superseded by the clumsy Lunar Year that dates from the Mohammedan Hijra) still commemorated by a Festival that is said to have been appointed by the very Jamshyd whom Omar so often talks of, and whose yearly Calendar he helped to rectify.

    "The sudden approach and rapid advance of the Spring," (says a late Traveller in Persia) "are very striking. Before the Snow is well off the Ground, the Trees burst into Blossom, and the Flowers start from the Soil. At Now Rooz (their New Year's Day) the Snow was lying in patches on the Hills and in the shaded Vallies, while the Fruit-trees in the Garden were budding beautifully, and green Plants and Flowers springing upon the Plains on every side –

    'And on old Hyem's Chin and icy Crown
    'An odorous Chaplet of sweet Summer buds
    'Is, as in mockery, set – ' –

    Among the Plants newly appear'd I recognized some old Acquaintances I had not seen for many a Year: among these, two varieties of the Thistle; a coarse species of the Daisy, like the Horse-gowan; red and white Clover; the Dock; the blue Corn-flower; and that vulgar Herb the Dandelion rear- ing its yellow crest on the Banks of the Watercourses." The Nightingale was not yet heard, for the Rose was not yet blown: but an almost identical Blackbird and Wood-pecker helped to make up something of a North-country Spring.

  4. Exodus iv. 6; where Moses draws forth his Hand – not, according to the Persians, "leprous as Snow," – but white as our May-Blossom in Spring perhaps! According to them also the Healing Power of Jesus resided in his Breath.
  5. Irám, planted by King Schedad, and now sunk somewhere in the Sands of Arabia. Jamshyd's Seven-ring'd Cup was typical of the Seven Heavens, 7 Planets, 7 Seas, &c. and was a Divining Cup.
  6. Péhlevi, the old Heroic Sanskrit of Persia. Háfiz also speaks of the Nightingale's Pehlevi, which did not change with the People's.
  7. I am not sure if this refers to the Red Rose looking sickly, or the Yellow Rose that ought to be Red; Red, White, and Yellow Roses all common in Persia.
  8. Rustum, the "Hercules" of Persia, whose exploits are among the most celebrated in the Shah-náma. Hátim Tai, a well-known Type of Oriental Generosity.
  9. A Drum – beaten outside a Palace.
  10. That is, the Rose's Golden Centre.
  11. Persepolis: call'd also Takht'i Jamshyd – THE THRONE OF JAMSHYD, "King-Splendid," of the mythical Peeshdádian Dynasty, and supposed (with Shah-náma Authority) to have been founded and built by him, though others refer it to the Work of the Genie King, Ján Ibn Jann, who also built the Pyramids before the time of Adam. It is also called Chehl-minar – Forty-column; which is Persian, probably, for Column-countless; the Hall they adorned or supported with their Lotus Base and taurine Capital indicating double that Number, though now counted down to less than half by Earthquake and other Inroad. By whomsoever built, unquestionably the Monument of a long extinguished Dynasty and Mythology; its Halls, Chambers and Galleries, inscribed with Arrow-head Characters, and sculptured with colossal, wing'd, half human Figures like those of Nimroud; Processions of Priests and Warriors – (doubtful if any where a Woman) – and Kings sitting on Thrones or in Chariots, Staff or Lotus-flower in hand, and the Ferooher – Symbol of Existence – with his wing'd Globe, common also to Assyria and Ægypt – over their heads. All this, together with Aqueduct and Cistern, and other Appur- tenance of a Royal Palace, upon a Terrace-platform, ascended by a double Flight of Stairs that may be gallop'd up, and cut out of and into the Rock-side of the Koh'i Ráhmet, Mountain of Mercy, where the old Fire-worshiping Sove- reigns are buried, and overlooking the Plain of Merdasht.

    Persians, like some other People, it seems, love to write their own Names, with sometimes a Verse or two, on their Country's Monuments. Mr. Binning (from whose sensible Travels the foregoing Account is mainly condens't) found several such in Persepolis; in one Place a fine Line of Háfiz: in another "an original, no doubt," he says, "by no great Poet," however "right in his Sentiment." The Words somehow looked to us, and the "halting metre" sounded, familiar; and on looking back at last among the 500 Rubáiyát of the Calcutta Omar MS. – there it is: old Omar quoted by one of his Countrymen, and here turned into hasty Rhyme, at any rate –

    "This Palace that its Top to Heaven threw,
    And Kings their Forehead on its Threshold drew –
    I saw a Ring-dove sitting there alone.
    And 'Coo, Coo, Coo,' she cried, and ' Coo, Coo, Coo.' "

    So as it seems the Persian speaks the English Ring-dove's Péhlevi, which is also articulate Persian for "Where?"

    BAHRÁM GÚR – Bahrám of the Wild Ass, from his Fame in hunting it – a Sassanian Sovereign, had also his Seven Castles (like the King of Bohemia!) each of a different Colour; each with a Royal Mistress within side; each of whom recounts to Bahrám a Romance, according to one of the most famous Poems of Persia, written by Amír Khusraw: these Sevens also figuring (according to Eastern Mysticism) the Seven Heavens, and perhaps the Book itself that Eighth, into which the mystical Seven transcend, and within which they revolve. The Ruins of Three of these Towers are yet shown by the Peasantry; as also the Swamp in which Bahrám sunk, like the Master of Ravenswood, while pursuing his Gúr.

  12. A Thousand Years to each Planet.
  13. Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven.
  14. A Laugh at his Mathematics perhaps.
  15. ME AND THEE; that is, some Dividual Existence or Personality apart from the Whole.
  16. The Caravan travelling by Night (after their New Year's Day of the Vernal Equinox) by command of Mohammed, I believe.
  17. The 72 Sects into which Islamism so soon split.
  18. This alludes to Mahmúd's Conquest of India and its swarthy Idolaters.
  19. Fanúsi khiyál, a Magic-lanthorn still used in India; the cylindrical Interior being painted with various Figures, and so lightly poised and ventilated as to revolve round the Candle lighted within.
  20. A very mysterious Line in the original;

    U dánad u dánad u dánad u –

    breaking off something like our Wood-pigeon's Note, which she is said to take up just where she left off.

  21. Parwín and Mushtara – The Pleiads and Jupiter.
  22. At the Close of the Fasting Month, Ramazán (which makes the Musulman unhealthy and unamiable), the first Glimpse of the New Moon (who rules their Division of the Year) is looked for with the utmost Anxiety, and hailed with all Acclamation. Then it is that the Porter's Knot may be heard toward the Cellar, perhaps. Old Omar has elsewhere a pretty Quatrain about this same Moon –

    "Be of Good Cheer – the sullen Month will die,
    "And a young Moon requite us by and bye:
    "Look how the Old one meagre, bent, and wan
    "With Age and Fast, is fainting from the Sky!"

FINIS. This [Wiki] page was last edited on 29 July 2019, at 19:00.