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Author Topic: A verse a day: 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam'.  (Read 37358 times)
carter
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« on: October 20, 2008, 03:01:00 PM »

I'm reading 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam' for the first time, and really enjoying sifting the depths of this magnificent poem. Thought it might be nice to have a thread where we can all read it together, and discuss as we go, almost like an online book club. To this end I'll be posting a verse a day. Please feel free to comment and discuss after each post. The version I'm posting is Edward Fitzgerald's first translation from 1859.

Note to mods: as far as I'm aware this work is in the public domain and free to be posted. Apologies if not.

First verse forthcoming...

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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2008, 03:04:52 PM »

1

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.
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2008, 08:37:05 AM »

2

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'.
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2008, 02:39:35 PM »

Quote
Note to mods: as far as I'm aware this work is in the public domain and free to be posted. Apologies if not.

I'm sure it's fine.  I Googled it and found a place where it can be read in its entirety.  The website also has the other editions by Fitzgerald and lines them up side by side.  Kind of interesting.

As for the poem, I'm not familiar with it.  Upon reading the first verse, the capitalization intrigues me.

Quote
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Hunter of the East, The Sultan's Turret, Noose of Light...are these alluding to something else I should be familiar with.  Sounds like characters in the night's stars.   
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Ploe
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2008, 04:17:38 PM »

Thought it might be nice to have a thread where we can all read it together, and discuss as we go, almost like an online book club.

What an idea! I like it.
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2008, 12:30:43 AM »

why not add the next stanzas to the original stanza post, so comments don't inevitably fracture the poem
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2008, 12:39:08 AM »

Quote
Note to mods: as far as I'm aware this work is in the public domain and free to be posted. Apologies if not.

I'm sure it's fine.  I Googled it and found a place where it can be read in its entirety.  The website also has the other editions by Fitzgerald and lines them up side by side.  Kind of interesting.

As for the poem, I'm not familiar with it.  Upon reading the first verse, the capitalization intrigues me.

Quote
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Hunter of the East, The Sultan's Turret, Noose of Light...are these alluding to something else I should be familiar with.  Sounds like characters in the night's stars.   

The capitalisation's interesting, isn't it? I've been careful to keep it and other formatting exactly as in the edition I'm taking it from. Initially I took this all at face value, with the Hunter of the East being the sun, however I agree that there could be more going on here. If anyone could shed any (ahem) light...   Wink

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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2008, 12:45:54 AM »

why not add the next stanzas to the original stanza post, so comments don't inevitably fracture the poem

Hey ad,

I thought about this. The main reason is that I can't: no editing of posts on here after a short grace period, as far as I can understand. That said, I'm unsure as to which would be the best approach: I agree with you that interspersing verses with comments might disrupt the poem, but then I don't want this to be just a big block of verses completely separate from our discussion... that just seems a little conventional, a little dull. I like the fact that this way we're discussing and interpreting the poem as it unwinds.

I dunno, I can see the benefit of both ways. I'm sure if we all wanted separation we could talk to the mods. What does everyone else think?

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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2008, 07:11:00 PM »

3

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.'
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2008, 08:40:41 PM »

I'm getting a life and death vibe from this imagery.
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2008, 09:17:18 PM »

So it's morning and people are wanting to get into the Tavern for Life's Liquor...is this a story about Jesus and his alcoholic disciples?  I'm wondering why the won't be able to return.
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« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2008, 11:00:53 PM »

I'm getting a life and death vibe from this imagery.

So it's morning and people are wanting to get into the Tavern for Life's Liquor...is this a story about Jesus and his alcoholic disciples?  I'm wondering why the won't be able to return.

I'm thinking along the lines of both of you, though I'm wondering if it may be simpler than you guess, Will. Maybe the tavern & revellers is a metaphor for us and the glorious aspects of life? We too have only a little while to stay, and once departed may return no more. Added to verse two's advice to fill the cup and drink before life's liquor be dry, this seems an exhortation to 'carpe diem', as Editor says.

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« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2008, 12:49:23 AM »

Drink up while you're still young enough to enjoy it. Amirite?
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« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2008, 07:18:21 PM »

Drink up while you're still young enough to enjoy it. Amirite?

Yes... as far as I can tell. Wink

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« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2008, 07:24:17 PM »

4

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.
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« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2008, 08:47:47 PM »

"Soul to Solitude"-perhaps the desire to be alone.

"WHITE HAND OF MOSES"-why does he mention white?  symbolic of peace or something?   

regardless, it sounds like someone's about to have a party   
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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2008, 12:31:13 PM »

"Soul to Solitude"-perhaps the desire to be alone.

"WHITE HAND OF MOSES"-why does he mention white?  symbolic of peace or something?   

regardless, it sounds like someone's about to have a party   

Agree with you about solitude, and I'm just as confused about the 'WHITE HAND OF MOSES'. I suspect this is one of those references that would have meant more in the 11th century. Any Levantine historians out there who have a clue?

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« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2008, 03:11:27 PM »

5

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.
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« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2008, 03:14:12 PM »

I've done some research this time to help with this verse.

Iram: a magnificent legendary garden situated somewhere in Arabia.

Jamshyd: Mythical Persian king whose capital was Persepolis (the one burned to the ground by Alexander, I think). Told to have reigned for 700 years.

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« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2008, 03:29:00 PM »

What's a Sev'n-ring'd Cup?  Perhaps a crown or a holy goblet?  Maybe if the garden and the cup are gone, it's alluding to the destruction of Persepolis.  I don't know.  The last two lines seem hopeful.  Any clues to what the Vine or the ancient ruby is? 
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« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2008, 03:38:16 PM »

What's a Sev'n-ring'd Cup?  Perhaps a crown or a holy goblet?  Maybe if the garden and the cup are gone, it's alluding to the destruction of Persepolis.  I don't know.  The last two lines seem hopeful.  Any clues to what the Vine or the ancient ruby is? 

Ooog. You got me. Perhaps the Sev'n-ring'd cup is some fabled goblet? Maybe i'm wrong, but I took the vine to be... well, just a vine... and the ruby to be the grape. Thinking of it's qualities and role in wine production, I'd imagine it'd be valued as much as a jewel in ancient times. Or am I completely off the mark?

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« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2008, 04:42:12 PM »

I was thinking wine too, but I didn't want to seem like an alcoholic. 
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« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2008, 11:35:36 PM »

6

And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Pehlevi, with 'Wine! Wine! Wine!
  Red Wine!' - the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek of her's to'incarnadine.
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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2008, 11:39:35 PM »

OK, some more background that I've found out.

I assume David to be the biblical king. Pehlevi was the language of Persia for most of the first millennium.

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« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2008, 11:42:51 PM »

7

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.
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