آن قصر که بر چرخ همیزد پهلو
بر درگه او شهان نهادندی رو
دیدیم که بر کنگرهاش فاختهای
بنشسته همیگفت که کو کو کوکو
Dashti, quatrain 31, p. 249
aan qasr ke bar charkh hamizad pahlu
bar dargah-e u shahaan nehaadandi ru
didim ke bar kongoreash faakhtei
benshaste hamigoft ke ku ku ku ku*
From that royal palace which once rose to the sky
monarchs in splendor faced the world.
But on its turrets I have seen a ring-dove seated,
cooing, cooing over and over: where, where?
Michael Hillmann, Iranian Culture, 51
The Palace to Heav'n his pillars threw,
And kings the forehead on his threshold drew--
I saw the solitary Ringdove there,
And "Coo, coo, coo," she cried; and "Coo, coo, coo."
FitzGerald, Stanza XX, (2nd edition only)
That palace vied with heaven to heaven surpass
with kings on display in court and pomp.
Perched high on a turret, we saw a dove ,
coo-coo her refrain, gone where, gone where ?
* ku, which is the sound of cooing, also means "where" in Persian!
Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:
1. That palace which rivalled heaven ... the sense here is that this great palace, quite likely the palace at Ctesiphon, during its existence seemed to rival heaven ("tall as the skies" and magnificent). hami is a verbal prefix denoting habitual past action. The usage is classical and so is the suffix in "2" (nehaadandi) which also serves the same purpose as hami. 2. In its court kings used to appear ... I am translating رو نهادندی/ ru nehaadandi "used to show up/be in attendance/present themselves (show their face)"; ru nehaadandi may also mean ؛to do homage؛ by extension of its literal meaning. The verbal suffix, ی/i, indicates repetitive action -- kings came there over a long period of time (and see Hillmann, Iranian Culture, 51 and Hedaayat, ترانههای خیام /Taraanehaa-ye Khayyaam, 46 -- where Hedaayat asks whether this very quatrain was not the inspiration for (the 12th century Persian poet) Khaaqaani's qaside, Ayvaan-e Madaayen, "The Palace at Ctesiphon", which Michael Hillmann translates in his Iranian Culture, 48-50. We saw upon its turret(s) a ring-dove 4. Perched (who) kept cooing, ku, ku, ku, ku -- as the footnote above, the Persian "ku" also means "where".
My weblog entry, Quatrain 55, is included in the Update to weblog Quatrain 24. I quote Michael Hillmann's comment also found in this Update: "As Khayyām sees it, if the all-powerful Iranian emperors Jamshid and Bahrām were unable to remain in the world for longer than their appointed time, then more ordinary mortals should be that much more certain of their own mortality and insignificance." [This goes for the Sasanian dynasts at Ctesiphon as well.] Michael Hillmann, Iranian Culture, 56.