THE QUATRAINS OF OMAR KHAYYAM
One morning, coming from the tavern I heard a voice
which said: Come, joyous drinkers, youthful fools, arise,
and fill with me a cup of wine, ere Fate shall come to
fill the cup of our existence.
O Thou who in the universe art the object chosen
of my heart! Thou who art more dear than the soul
which gives me life, than the eyes which give me light!
O Idol, though in life there be no thing more precious
than this life, Thou art indeed a hundred times more
precious than that life.
Who led thee here this night, thus given up to wine?
Who, indeed, raising the veil which hid thee, has been
able to lead thee here? Who, finally, brought thee as
rapidly as the wind which fans the fire that still burned
in thy absence?
We meet but chagrin and misfortune in this world,
which serves us as a tent for the time. Alas! No problem
of creation has been solved for us, and behold! we
leave it with hearts full of regret at knowing naught
O Khadja, give us lawfully a single one of our desires;
reserve thy breath and lead us into the way of God.
Surely we walk aright, it is thou that seest crosswise;
heal, then, thine eyes and leave us here in peace.
Come, come, arise, and, for the healing of my heart,
one problem solve for me: yet quickly bring me a pitcher
of wine, and let us drink before they make pitchers out
of our own dust.
When I am dead, wash me with the juice of the vine;
in place of prayer, sing above my tomb the praise of
the cup and the wine, and, if you would find me again
at the day of doom, seek me in the dust of the tavern
Since no one has ever been able to answer thee from
one day to the next, hasten to glad thy heart filled with
sadness. Drink, O adorable Moon! drink from thy silver
cup, for long shalt thou turn in the firmament without
finding us here again.
Would that the lover [the true believer] were intoxicated
the whole year, mad, absorbed with wine, covered
with dishonor! For, when we have sound reason, chagrin
assails us on all sides; but when we are in wine, well,
let come what will!
In Heaven's name! with what hope does the sage attach
his heart to the illusory treasures of this palace of misfortune? Oh! that the One who gave me the name of
drunkard would recant his error, for how can he see the
tavern's sign from his exalted abode.
The Koran, which is but a name for The Sublime
Word, is, however, read only from time to time and not
with constancy; while ever on the brim of the cup
is found a verse full of light which one can read always
Thou that drinkest not wine shouldst not for this reason
blame the drunkard, for I am ready to renounce God,
myself, should He order me to renounce wine. Thou
glorifiest thyself for not drinking wine, but such glory
but ill befits those who commit acts a hundredfold more
reprehensible than drunkenness.
Though my body be beautiful, and the perfume it exhales
agreeable, though the color of my face rival that
of the tulip, and my figure be supple as the cypress,
it has not been demonstrated why my celestial author
placed me upon this earth.
I would drink so much wine that the odor should come
out of the earth when I have been returned to it, and
that drinkers who wish to visit my tomb may fall
senseless from the sole effect of this odor.
In the region of hope, form as many friends as you
can; in the time of existence, bind yourself to a perfect
friend, for, know well that a hundred Kaabas, made
of earth and water, are not worth one heart. Leave,
then, thy Kaabas and rather seek a heart.
When I take in my hand a cup of wine and, in the
joy of my soul, become intoxicate, then, in that state of
fire which devours me, I see a hundred miracles grow
real, and words, clear as the most limpid water, come to
explain the mystery of all things....
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