Quatrain 20

گیرم تو به ادراک معمّا نرسد
در نکته‌ٔ زیرکان دانا نرسد
اینجا ز می لعل بهشتی می‌ساز
کانجا که بهشت است رسی یا نرسی

Dashti, quatrain 49, p. 253

giram to be edraak-e mo‘ammaa narasi
dar nokte-ye zirakaan-e daanaa narasi
injaa ze mey-e la‘l beheshti  misaaz
kaanjaa ke behesht ast rasi yaa narasi

O heart! that riddle thou wilt never read,
That point on which the wise are not agreed;
Quaff wine, and make thy heaven here below,
Who knows if heaven above will be thy meed?

Whinfield, quatrain 427

These problems you will never understand,
So leave them to the subtle men of science.
Make here your paradise with ruby wine;
That other you may see one day - or not.

Elwell-Sutton, In Search of Omar Khayyam, quatrain 49, p. 195

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:  The speaker appears to acknowledge that the only control is over the "now"; "you" can't solve the riddle of existence and you can't be sure where you will end up once life ends.  Another well-known bit of advice against the not-trying-to solve this riddle and what is more important to do is found in Hafez, ghazal 3 (in both the Qazvini, line 8, and Khanlari, line 5, editions):

حدیث از مطرب و می گو و راز دهر کمتر جو
که کس نگشود و نگشاید به حکمت این معمّا را

hadis az motreb o mey gu o raaz-e dahr kamtar ju
ke kas nagshud o nagshaayad be hekmat in mo‘ammaa raa

Let's talk of wine and music, not
Of fate, and how the heavens revolve-
Theirs is a riddle no man's wisdom
Has solved yet, or ever will solve.

Dick Davis, Faces of Love, p. 128-129

1 & 2. I concede/grant that you will not arrive at the understanding of the riddle/you will not grasp/solve the riddle & you will not reach it/get there through the subtleties of the learned problem-penetrators -- giram, "granted, allowing, given", 1st sing. of the present/future of gereftan- "I take it that". zirakaan: I think this means "those who get to the core of things and penetrate problems by their perceptiveness.  The conjunction of zirakaan-e daanaa, words of similar meaning, underscores the irony, the speaker conveys and the listener will understand, cf. weblog Quatrain 8, این بحر وجود and this quatrain, Dashti 3, p. 244:

آنانکه محیط فضل و آداب شدند
در جمع کمال شمع  اصحاب شدند
ره زین شب تاریک نبردند برون
گفتند فسانه‌ای و در خواب شدند

aanaanke mohit-e fazl o aadaab shodand
dar jam`-e kamaal sham`-e ashaab shodand
rah zin shab-e taarik nabordand berun
goftand fasaanei o dar khaab shodand

The saint and seer profound in wit and lore,
Who torch of knowledge 'mongst the sages bore,
Out of the darksome night could find no way;
Some tales they told, then went to sleep e'ermore.

Saidi, quatrain 57

The Revelations of Devout and Learn'd
Who rose before us, and as Prophets burn'd,
Are all but stories, which, awoke from Sleep
They told their comrades, and to Sleep return'd

FitzGerald, Stanza LXV, 4th ed.


3 & 4. Here, build a paradise of ruby wine/since there, which is paradise, you may or may not reach.

Quatrain 19

چون عمر بسر رسد چه بغداد و چه بلخ
پیمانه چو پر شود چه شیرین و چه تلخ
می نوش که بعد از من و تو ماه بسی
از سلخ به غرّه آید از غرّه به سلخ

Dashti, quatrain 48, p. 252

chon  ‘omr besar rasad che baghdaad o balkh
peymaane cho por shavad che shirin o che talkh
mey nush ke ba‘d az man o to maah-e basi
az salkh be ghorre az ghorre be salkh

Forughi-Ghani, quatrain 53, show this "inversion":

چون عمر بسر رسد چو شیرین و چه تلخ
      پیمانه چو پر شود چه بغداد و چه بلخ

cho ‘omr besar rasad che shirin o che talkh
peymaane cho por shavad che baghdaad o balkh

When life ends whether it's sweet or bitter,
when the cup fills up whether at Baghdad or Balkh?


And sour or sweet, why fuss since life shall fly,
At Balkh or Baghdad
—why care where we die?
Drink wine, for silv'ry Moon will keep its beat
From full to new long after you and I.

Saidi, quatrain 10

Whether at Naishápúr or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

FitzGerald, Stanza VIII, 4th ed.

Some FitzGeraldiana:
Arberry (Romance, 116) and Heron-Allen (p. 18-19) claim that FG was influenced by Nicolas in his choice of Naishápúr (Nicolas, quatrain 105, had written, in the second line, چه نشاپوُر و چه بلخ. And Whinfield, who also has نشاپور:

When life is spent, what's Balkh or Nishapore?
What sweet or bitter, when the cup runs o'er?
Come drink! full many a moon will wax and wane
In time to come, when we are here no more.

Whinfield, quatrain 134

Heron-Allen continues by translating lines three and four from Nicolas' quatrain 18. This is to demonstrate that Nicolas' rendition had a direct influence on FitzGerald's third line: Whether our Sākī  holds the neck of the bottle in his hand,/Or the soul of wine oozes over the rim of the cup.
For FitzGerald's fourth line, Heron-Allen believes that FitzGerald used the Calcutta MS 377, the first two lines which H-A translates: At the moment when I flee from destiny,/And fall like the leaf of the vine, from the branch.

In The Romance of the Rubaiyat, Arberry relates FitzGerald's use of Latin for his first translations of Khayyaam.  Arberry referred to FG's Latin style as "lazy Latin" (p.58). I think these "rough drafts" were useful in building a foundation for FitzGerald's English renditions.  We have this very stanza in Latin (Arberry, 59) with my translation below it:

Sive Babylonem, sive Bagdad apud, Vita ruit,
Sive suavi, sive Vino Poculum mordaci fluit:
Bibe, bibe: nam sub Terra
posthâc non bibendum erit;
Sine vino, sine
Sáki, semper dormiendum erit.

Be it Babylon or Baghdad, so life goes,
And the Cup with Wine sweet or biting flows.
Drink up
—in the Ground there's no time for bibbling,
Sans Wine, Sans Server, it's perpetual sleeping.

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1. When life comes to the end, whether (in) Baghdad or whether (in) Balkh? -- be sar rasidan = to come to the end; che ... che, I read as coordinating, "whether ... or", however, che may also mean "when", وقتی‌که , "when in Baghdad or Balkh".  Either way of course  conveys the meaning.  و /"o" here is یا , "or".  What does it matter: Baghdad, Balkh (or Nishapur) -- live in the west or east but when life is over...?  Saidi (238-239) has notes on Baghdad and Balkh, the importance of these two cities, gems of the west and east.  Nishapur may have found its way into MSS as the city of Khayaam's birth and death and where he spent most of his life.  Khayyaam may not have gone to Baghdad, but he was in Balkh according to Nizami (of Samarqand), where one evening Khayyaam was said to have regaled Nizami and others with the prediction that flower-blossoms would twice yearly shower his grave at Nishapur (see E.G. Browne, Literary History of Persia, 2. 246-247).

2. When the cup is full, whether/when it's sweet or bitter 3. Drink wine, since after me and after you (there will be) many moons/phases of the moon) 4. They will come/stretch from the waning moon to the new moon, from the new moon to the waning moon -- both salkh and ghorre are from Arabic.  salkh literally is the "stripped down month", the end of the month where the moon is "gone" and ghorre is the splendor of the new moon.  Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon on ghorre: "the night, of the month, in which the new moon is first seen ... likened to the ghorre (blaze) on the forehead of a horse." So, salkh is the last day of the lunar month, ghorre is the first day of the lunar month, salkh's "opposite".

Quatrain 18

ای آنکه نتیجهٔ چهار و هفتی
 وز هفت و چهار دایم اندرتفتی
می خور که هزاربار بیشت گفتم
بازآمدنت نیست چو رفتی رفتی

source,  Dashti 15, p.246

ey aanke natije-ye chahaar o hafti
vaz haft o chahaar daayem andartafti
mey khor ke hazaarbaar bishat goftam
baazaamadanat nist cho rafti rafti

O' you, the child of Seven and the Four,
In fray with Four and Seven evermore;
Drink wine! I warned a thousand times before,
Once gone, you shall return Here nevermore!

Saidi, quatrain 94

Child of four elements and sevenfold heaven,
Who fume and sweat because of these eleven,
Drink! I have told you seventy times seven,
Once gone, not hell will send you back, nor heaven.

Whinfield, quatrain 431

... une fois parti, tu es bien parti.
Nicolas, quatrain 389, the conclusion!

Translation and Discussion of the quatrain: Saidi has these notes on the Seven and Four: "Four refers to the four simple substances, i.e., earth, air, water and fire, of which, according to the ancient and medieval philosophers, all material bodies were believed to be compounded ... Seven refers to the seven heavenly bodies called  planets in Ptolemaic or geocentric astronomy, as they were observed to change their positions in respect to other heavenly bodies, the so-called fixed stars, which seemed to be stationary.  These bodies included the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, all of which were believed to revolve around the earth." (Saidi continues and notes the discovery of Uranus in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and in 1930, Pluto ... see www.centauri-dreams.org for all the newest myriad of celestial developments! 1) o' you who are the product of the four and seven (haft-i, 2nd singular verb ending) 2) and you who stay obsessed/hot and bothered/going about distracted over the four and seven, i.e., over the planetary influences and how they manifest themselves in the course of a lifetime. The verb is taftidan, "getting heated up" and the adverb, daayem, means "perpetually" - you who stay obsessed 3) drink wine! I told you a more than a thousand times, if we look at wine not as wine itself but as the "the wine of wisdom", then  we could translate "Wise up!" Saidi's text reads pishat rather than bishat: "I told you a thousand times before," rather than "I told you more than a thousand times" Either way the point is made and either way the verb object is supplied "suffixedly" in bish/pish-at 4) there is no coming back on your part, when you've gone, you've gone, the fourth line is the punch or payoff line as we've seen in fourth lines before. Note here the "-at" suffix in baazaamadan-at has the function of an indirect object (dative usage): "for you, there is not a coming back ..."

All said, the theme reminds me of FitzGerald's often quoted Stanza LXXI, 4th ed:

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.





Quatrain 17

جاوید نیم چو اندر این دهر مقیم
پس بی می و معشوق خطایی است عظیم
تا‌‌کی ز قدیم و محدث امّیدم و بیم
چون من رفتم جهان چه محدث  چه قدیم

Dashti, quatrain 47, p. 252

jaavid nayam cho andar in dahr moqim
pas bi mey o mashuq khataayist azim
taakey ze qadim o mohdas ommidam o bim
chon man raftam jahaan che mohdas che qadim

I am not here forever in the world;
How sinful then to forfeit wine and love!
The world may be eternal or created;
Once I am gone, it matters not a scrap.

Elwell-Sutton, In Search of Omar Khayyam, quatrain 47, p. 195

Since none remain forever in this Inn,
To be without belov'd and bowl is sin;
How long of Old and New, O Man of Wit

When dead, I care not new or old's the Inn.

Saidi, quatrain 9

Since our stay is impermanent in this Inn,
To be without wine and beloved is a sin;
akīm, why worry if the world is created or eternal,
Once dead, what if created or eternal the inn.

Aminrazavi, p. 130 (The Wine of Wisdom)

We shall not stay here long, but while we do,
'Tis folly wine and sweethearts to eschew;
Why ask if earth etern or transient be?
Since you must go, it matters not to you.

Whinfield, quatrain 324

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:  Of these renditions, Whinfield's is my favorite for its simplicity and elegance. 1. Since I am not a dweller/resident in this world forever -- Hedaayat (93) and Forughi (127) read: چون نیست مقام ما  در این دهر مقیم, chon nist maqaam-e maa dar in dahr moqim, "since there is no place in this world as residents." 2. So, (to be) without wine or beloved is a monumental sin. 3. How long (will be) my hope and fear over the eternal and the created - Saidi and Aminrazavi's source text has this variant:   تاکی ز قدیم و محدث ای مرد حکیم , taakey ze qadim o mohdas ey mard-e hakim, "how long the created and eternal o wise man?" ( Aminrazavi has this note on akīm, p. 362 (note 104) -- 'The word "akīm, which generally means "a wise man" in latter Islamic philosophy, became synonymous with a philosopher-theologian, a sage.") 4. When I have gone, the world, whether created or eternal?

 Peter Avery (quatrain 93) has this note on lines 3-4, "created or eternal": "The reference is to the dictum of Aristotle's neo-Platonic commentators that the world being coeval with the Unmovable Mover cannot have been created but must be eternal or 'continuous' with the One beyond Being." In the  Abrahamic tradition, God has created the world.  Philosophers, as Avery remarks, would have viewed a world without beginning or end, that is qadim or eternal.  

Aminrazavi sums up the wisdom in this poem (p. 130): "What distinguishes this mode of being [being in the present, in the here and now] from a mode of knowledge is precisely the admission that amidst uncertainty, ignorance, and impermanence, it is not what you know that matters but how you live that matters, and this howness, to the dismay of metaphysicians, requires a wisdom that is fundamentally human."

Quatrain 16

ایّام  زمانه  از کسی دارد ننگ
کو در غم ایّام نشیند دلتنگ
می نوش در آبگینه با نالهٔ چنگ
زان پیش کت آبگینه آید بر سنگ

Dashti, quatrain 57, p. 254

ayyaam-e zamaane az kasi daarad nang
ku dar gham-e ayyaam neshinad deltang
mey nush dar aabgine baa naale-ye chang
zaan pish kat aabgine aayad bar sang  

Life scorns him
who sits sorrowing
over the days of his life.
Let the lyre wail and lament--
you sit and drink a glass of wine
before your glass goes smashing on the rocks.

The days of time disdain him
Who sits sorrowing over the grief of time:
Drink a glass of wine to the notes of the harp,
Before all glasses are smashed on the rock.

Avery, quatrain 127

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1. The days in a lifetime hold someone/him in disrepute/scorn someone/him -- ayyaam-e zamaane will mean the days alloted to mortals.  ayyaam-e zamaane may simply be translated as "life" or even "the world". 2. Because he sits in sadness over the days, gloomy and care-worn -- ku = ke + u, که + او, ke is causal 3. Drink wine in a glass to the plaint of the lyre -- I prefer letting the lyre do the mourning while others drink, in contrast to those pining over the alloted days to the "notes of the harp" as Avery translates. 4. Before your glass will come/go against the rock -- I am taking the -at of zaan pish kat (ke + at) as the qualifier of aabgine -- "your glass".  

This quatrain again speaks to the shortness of life and urges enjoyment in the now, before it is too late.  Not an unfamiliar theme, but from a different aspect: life itself, fate, sits in judgment and disdains those who bemoan their lot. The last couplet is an exhortation of sorts to wake up and take pleasure in what time is left. 

Saidi doesn't translate the quatrain, and FitzGerald apparently did not use it for any of his stanzas.

Quatrain 15

ای پیر خردمند پگه‌تر برخیز
وان کودک خاک‌بیز را بنگر تیز
پندش ده و گو که نرم نرمک می‌بیز
مغز سرکیقباد و چشم پرویز

Dashti, quatrain 38, p. 251

ey pir-e kheradmand pagahtar barkhiz
vaan kudak-e khaakbiz raa bengar tiz
pandash deh o gu ke narm narmak biz
maghz-e sar-e keyqobaad o cheshm-e parviz

O wise old man, rise up earlier in the morning and carefully watch that child who sifts the dust.  Counsel him and say: 'Gently, gently sift the brain of Kai-qūbad's head and the eyes of Parvīz!'
Forughi, quatrain 112, translated by Parichehr Kasra in her edition

O Wise Graybeard! Awake to morning breeze;
Behold the boy who sweeps the dust, and please,
Counsel him thus: "O gentle, gentle be
With head of Qobad and eyes of Parveez."

Saidi, quatrain 87

See Saidi's notes, p. 248-249 on the ancient hero Key-Qobad, founder of the Keyanian dynasty, and Khosrow Parviz (Khosrow the Conqueror) or Khosrow II, Sasanian dynast who ruled from 590-628, C.E. On the Keyanian dynasty and Key-Qobad and also for Khosrow Parviz  see the online Encyclopaedia Iranica  articles highlighted. 

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1. O wise old man, get up early in the dawn (see on pagahtar below). 2. The boy who sweeps the ground/the boy, the groundsweeper/the groundsweeping boy, keep a sharp eye on him - khaakbiz can be a compound noun, like the English "streetsweeper" or maybe it should be regarded as a compound adjective (biz is the present stem of the verb bikhtan appended to khaak).  As often noted on this site, these compounds are frequent and add richness and color to the language.  Following Sanskrit classification, this is a tat purusha compound, where the first element has an object relationship to the second, here "sweeper of the ground" similar to English "streetsweeper".  3. Advise him and say/by saying "gently, gently sweep ... the quote is direct and introduced by ke. gu ke may be translated  "by saying"The imperative mibiz -- this form usually takes no prefix or it will have be prefixed, but sometimes mi as here (for the sake of meter?).  4. the brain of Keyqobad and the eye(s) of Parviz" -- maghz-e sar "the marrow of the head", English "marrow" and Persian maghz have a common ancestor in the Indo-Iranian noun-stem *mozgho-. The speaker of the quatrain lets us know that these heroes, the one legendary and the second, Khosrow II, historical, once powerful monarchs, are now reduced to death and dust (see also quatrains 24 & 55).

A note on پگه‌تر , pagahtar, pagah, "dawn", "early morning" + tar, the comparative suffix. I was curious about the prefix pa and also the suffix  -tar, the latter a strange use of the comparative to my thinking.  I did some research and found that pa comes from Avestan and old Iranian upâ, cognate with Greek hypo and Latin sub.  Prefixed to gah (گاه/گه), it carries the meaning of "toward/about/at/at the time of" so pagah means in time/at an early time/betimes".  By "in time" it will also convey the sense of "soon" or "quick" as in sobh-e zud, "early in the morning". But what is the significance of tar? To get up earlier? Earlier than the boy who sweeps?

I then decided to look through Oswald Szemerényi's Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics (the translation from the original German) to see if anything would turn up. Szemerényi writes (page 199) that new Persian astar, "mule" is derived from the Old Indic ašva-tara (ashva is the Sanskrit for horse). To the point, the suffix tara was not intended to have a comparative use as "nearly horse" but had a "differentiating value"  or "separative function".  It differentiated the mule "of the horse kind" from the ass.  So I believe that pagahtar reflects this distinction by differentiating early from late dawn. So it does not mean "earlier"  but "the early time in the dawn and not later".  No time to be lost for the wise old man!


Quatrain 14

بر سنگ زدم دوش سبوی کاشی
سرمست بدم که کردم این اوباشی
با من به زبان حال می‌گفت سبوی
من چون تو بدم تو نیز چون من باشی

Dashti, quatrain 40 p. 251

bar sang zadam dush sabuy-e kaashi
sarmast bodam ke kardam in owbaashi
baa man be zabaan-e haal migoft sabuy
man chon to bodam to niz chon man baashi

A trashy thing I did last night,
I smashed my cup when drunk.
The cup then told me what it felt:
"Like you was I one day,
like me you'll soon be clay."

Against a stone I dashed the jug last night
(Drunk was I then and made a shameful sight): 
In muttered words I heard the jug forewarn:
"Like you was I
—like mine shall be your plight!"
Saidi, quatrain 81

Last night I dropped and smashed my porcelain bowl,
A clumsy folly in a bout of drinking,
The shattered bowl in dumb appeal cried out,
'I was like you, you too will be like me!'

Elwell-Sutton, In Search of Omar Khayyam, quatrain 40, p. 194

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1. Upon a stone last night I smashed the Kashanware cup -- kaashi may mean "made in Kashan" but likely a glazed cup or jug.  The city, famous for textiles and pottery, gave its name to glazed pottery and especially to decorative glazed tiles. 2. I was drunk when I did this wasteful thing - drunk, yes, but only a thoughtless drinker would smash his cup (cf. Quatrain 2 on this site); bodam = budam, by poetic license (the shortening of long vowels, frequently seen).  3. The jug*  kept expressing its feelings to me - be zabaan-e haal, that is, poetically or symbolically the implied feelings, appropriate to this occasion, put in the "mouth" of the vessel as if it could voice its outrage, plainly and directly; migoft, the verbal construction for repeated past action, suitable here for the relentless complaints of the cup? 4.  I was like you and you will also be like me -- clay "like me" but smashed before that (cf. Quatrain 2).

* In line 3, Dashti shows that he had recourse to a MS or collection which read sabuy, سبوی. Forughi (164) and Hedaayat (67) have sabu, سبو -- there is no advantage to Dashti's reading.

Quatrain 13

می خور که فلک بهر هلاک من و تو 

قصدی دارد به جان پاک من و تو

در سبزه نشین و می روشن می‌خور

کاین سبزه بسی دمد ز خاک من و تو

Dashti, "62a" in Elwell-Sutton's In Search of Omar Khayyam, p. 197


mey khor ke falak bahr-e halaak-e man o to

qasdi daarad be jaan-e paak-e man o to

dar sabze neshin o mey-e rowshan mikhor

kin sabze basi damad ze khaak-e man o to

 Elwell-Sutton's translation:

Drink wine,  for heaven will destroy us both;

It plots against my blameless life and yours.

Sit on the grass and drink the ruby wine,

For soon this grass will flourish on your dust.


Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: Cf. Quatrain 6 on this site.  Because of the similarities in the last two lines of this quatrain and those of Dashti 62, Elwell-Sutton numbered the quatrain "62a".  This 62a did appear as number 14 in Dashti's key quatrains.  This is puzzling, however, since I cannot find any further reference, not even a footnote, to this quatrain in Dashti's دمی با خیام.  Hedaayat includes it (64) with no textual variations, and Forughi has it as well (152) with no variations. Ahmad Saidi does not include the quatrain. 1. Drink wine, since heaven for the destruction of me and you 2. Has designs on the pure souls of me and you - the verb qasdi daarad conveys wishing or intending or planning and here takes two prepositional phrases: bahr-e halaak in the first line and be jaan-e ... in the second. 3. Sit on the green and drink bright wine 4. Since the grass for a long time will "breathe out"/sprout from the dust of me and you. 



Quatrain 12

می خور که به زیر گِل بسی خواهی خفت
بی مونس و بی حریف و بی همدم و جفت
زنهار به کس مگو تو این زار نهفت
هر لاله که پژمرد نخواهد بشکفت

Dashti, quatrain 17, p. 247

mey khor ke be zir-e gel basi khaahi khoft
bi munes o bi harif o bi hamdam o joft
zenhaar be kas magu to in raaz-e nehoft
har laale ke pazhmord nakhaahad beshkoft

Drink wine! long must you sleep within the tomb,
Without a friend, or wife to cheer your gloom;
Hear what I say, and tell it not again,
"Never again can withered tulips bloom."

Whinfield, quatrain 107

Ah, drink! Beneath the earth you shall be lain,
Without friend, mate or spouse you shall remain

This hidden mystery to none explain:

The tulip withered won't its bloom regain!
Saidi, quatrain 88

Oh, threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain
This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

FitzGerald, stanza LXIII, 4th ed.
(FG had italicized "This" in line 2)

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1. Drink wine, because you will sleep beneath the ground for a long time. 2. Without companion, without mate, without wife and partner -- these, I suppose, are synonomous (some translations shorten the list), yet the list is more intimate as it continues: hamdam -- "sharing the same breath or language" and joft, someone "yoked" (joft and yoked are cognate). munes is more general, "associate" likely nails it; harif, a friend, someone of the same generation even. 3. Careful! Don't tell anyone this hidden secret--two purposes are served by this admonition: the first is for recipients of this secret to take the advice and use it, and secondly, with irony, many if told this, would not see its meaning. Why waste words on those who cling only to prevalent teaching? 4. The flower that has withered will not bloom.

Returning to FitzGerald: in the first edition, Stanza XXVI, FitzGerald had written the first two lines as: Oh, Come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise/To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies.

According to Heron-Allen, the Ouseley MS 35, which reads exactly the same as our Dashti quatrain, provided two source-quatrains used by FitzGerald.  The last two lines of the Ouseley 35 (= Dashti's last two lines) inspired Stanza LXIII above (Heron-Allen, 97).

The Ouseley 35 (= Dashti's first two lines) inspired Stanza XXIV, 4th ed. (Heron-Allen, 41) below:

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!


Quatrain 11

بر چشم تو عالم ارچه می‌آرایند
مگرای بدان که عاقلان نگرایند
بسیار چو تو روند و بسیار آیند
بِربای نصیب خویش کت بِربایند

Dashti, quatrain 66, p. 255

bar cheshm-e to aalam arche miaaraayand
magraay bedaan ke aaqelaan nagraayand
besyaar cho to ravand o besyaar aayand
berbaay nasib-e khish ket berbaayand

Though they bedeck the world to catch your eyes,
Be tempted not as never are the wise;
So many like you come, so many go

You'd better get your share before life flies.

Saidi, quatrain 111

'Though they show the world to turn your head
don't go there where the wise never tread.
They come like you and like you they go,
get your share now; they'll get you in time.

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:
I wanted, probably for the first time, to translate "aaba" as the quatrain is written.  So I ended with "take your share; they'll cart you off dead".  I winced everytime I read that line so I decided to abandon the rhyme scheme for not so jarring an ending.
1. Although they display the world for your eyes -- or, although the world is displayed for your eyes, "to catch your eyes" as Saidi writes. 2. Do not be intent on that which the wise are not intent on -- as subsequent quatrains will reveal, the wise shun the intense acquisition of knowledge. They are not intent on gaining wealth and keeping busy. 3. Many like you (will) go, and many (will) come. 4. Grab your own share because they will be grabbing you -- a few khayyaamic things to hold to and to seek: confidence in the knowledge one innately possesses, wine, love, simple living.

Quatrain 10

چون روزی و عمر بیش و کم نتوان کرد
دل را به کم و بیش دژم نتوان کرد
کار من و تو چنانکه رای من و توستگ
از مرم به دست خیش هم نتوان کرد

Dashti, quatrain 73, p. 257

chon ruzi o omr bish o kam natvaan kard
del raa be kam o bish dozham natvaan kard
kaar-e man o to chenaanke ray-ye man o tost
az mum be dast-e khish ham natvaan kard

Since life moves by life's law and not by our will,
we should spare ourselves heartbreak
—no day can we change.
Whatever we do, what we wish it to be,
we can't mold from wax the change we would have.

And literally, with glosses in parentheses, A.J. Arberry, quatrain 149, The Rubā‘īyāt of Omar Khayyām, London, 1949: 
Since it is impossible to augment or lessens (one's) sustenance and life, it is vain (lit. impossible to make oneself miserable over the less and the more; my affairs and thine, after my opinions and thine, it is impossible for us to mould -- even (though they were) like wax in our hands.

Since life and fare no more no less shall be ,
Why let that be the cause of misery;
Your life and mine we can never remold
Like wax in the hand the way we want it to be.

Saidi, quatrain 113

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:  1. Since our lot in life and days in life cannot be made more or less - روزی , ruzi  here is not one's sustenance but specifically one's lot in life, what is alloted.  The speaker is talking about what is alloted in life and the length of time lived. 2. Our hearts cannot get distressed/sick over "less or more" -- does this have two meanings?  First, it's not good for hearts to get "sick" worrying over less or more and second, if we accept the non-alteration of life, we then should be fortified against such distress.  3. My actions and your actions, however much are the thoughts/wishes/hopes of you and me - i.e., however much we want and hope to believe that they can be changed 4. also cannot be formed/shaped out of wax in our hands -- that is, we also cannot change or reshape our past, present, and even determine a future course of action in the way we think about these events, have an opinion of the way they should be or should have been, just as we also cannot change our lot and life - هم, ham is the key word here that ties the quatrain together. 

Metrics: For all visitors, especially the readers of Persian, a common elision occurs in natavaan, which results in natvaan (نتْوان). CvCvCVC - Consonant, short vowel, Consonant, short vowel, Consonant, Long Vowel, Consonant -- in this situation, the second short vowel will be elided, that is "struck out".

In relation to this quatrain, Connie Bobroff has called my attention to an important stanza of FitzGerald's: "Although you had not cross-referenced the FitzG and Dashti, I think it's [the stanza below] the same general idea only the one has the "Oriental" 'don't even try it, it's futile' while the other has some 'Oh, might we not just try' attitude.  What's more, they are both numbered -- by coincidence of course??! -- as 73."

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-mold it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

This stanza occurs as 73/LXXIII in the first edition and CVIII in the second.  In the third and subsequent editions, it is stanza XCIX.  The only alteration from the third edition forward is in the first line where we find "Him" in place of "Fate".

Both Heron-Allen, 145, and Arberry, 236 (Romance...) trace the source of the stanza above to the Calcutta MS, Heron-Allen cites the reference as C395, Arberry, C413.  The Persian text in Heron-Allen matches Arberry's transcription:

گر بر فلکم دست بودی چون یزدان
بر داشتمی من این فلک را ز میان
ازنو فلکی دگر چنان ساختمی
کازاده به کام دل رسیدی آسان

Heron-Allen translates:
Had I, like God, control of the heavens,
Would I not do away with the heavens altogether,
Would I no so construct another heaven from the beginning
That, being free, one might attain to the heart's desire?

Quatrain 9

از دی که گذشت هیچ از آن یاد مکن
فردا که نیامده است  فریاد مکن
بر نامده و گذشته بنیاد مکن
حالی خوش باش و عمر بر باد مکن

Dashti, quatrain 34, p. 253-254

az di ke gozasht hich az aan yaad makon
fardaa ke nayaamadast faryaad makon
bar naamade o gozashte bonyaad makon
haali khosh baash o  ‘omr bar baad makon

The yesterday that's gone
you must forget what it was;
for the tomorrow not come
don't flitter and fuss.
In the not-come and gone
make not your cause;
be happy just now
don't shift with the breeze.

When yesterday is vanished in the past,
And morrow lingers in the future vast,
To neither give a thought but prize the hour;
For that is all you have and Time flies fast.

Saidi, quatrain 123


Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:  FitzGerald apparently did not use this quatrain; but Saidi's rendition calls FitzGerald to mind: The Bird of Time has but a little way/To flutter—and the Bird is on the Wing. (Stanza VII, 4th ed.)
1. The yesterday which has passed, do not mark it down/do not remember it -- newcomers may have already noted the ma-prefix used to negate imperatives, as here, makon. 2. The tomorrow which has not come, do not fuss/cry out over it. 3. Do not build your foundation on the not-come and gone. 4. Be happy in the present, don't throw life to the wind, or accurately for the idiom, "don't throw your life away/don't destroy your life" (worrying over past and future).







Quatrain 8

این بحر وجود آمده بیرون ز نهفت
کس نیست که این گوهر تحقیق بسفت
هرکس سخنی از سر سودا گفتند
زان روی که هست کس نمی‌داند گفت

Dashti, quatrain 2, p. 244

in bahr-e vojud aamade birun ze nehoft
kas nist ke in gowhar-e tahqiq besoft
harkas sokhani az sar-e sowdaa goftand
zaan ru-ye ke kas nemidaanad goft

The sea of life from secret well has sprung,
This pearl of inquiry no one has strung;
And fancies are the thoughts learned men expound

Unheard is yet the truth from any tongue.

Saidi, quatrain 74

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:  For me difficulties came in translating this quatrain, not so much in conceptualizing the meaning.  But I may have erred in my concept, for as the venerable Cato (the Elder) long ago opined: rem tene verba sequentur, "get a firm hold on the matter and the words will follow." But the words did not follow easily in the second mesraa‘: how to deal with گوهر تحقیق,  gowhar-e tahqiq, "the pearl of truth, verification, inquiry" which is to be pierced and strung so it reads to me. gowhar-e tahqiq sounds like the title of a philosophical treatise. So I have tried it a couple of ways below.  In the first rendition, I am troubled by what I feel is a disconnect in the second line with the first line. Will the viewer understand "pearl"? The second takes an easier route, perhaps, and translates gowhar as "source" which is indeed a meaning of the word.  I do think that tahqiq is synonomous with haqiqat, "truth." "Verification" is fine too but it's a little cumbersome.  I like the fourth mesraa‘ although it may sound too informal for some.  ‌By the way, I like Saidi's version -- maybe I shouldn't even have tried!

1. This sea of existence having come (has come) out of a hidden place/of concealment. 2. There is no one who has pierced this gem/pearl/source of truth, verification, knowledge -- no one has pierced the pearl/has got to the source of true knowledge, the core truth, on the origin of existence.  Kasra, quatrain 14 (Forughi), says: "If this pearl could be pierced, then it could be added to the string of knowledge."  3. Everybody speaks based on their (strong attachment to)  emotions/feelings (the past tense is used here, and as is customary, to express a present truth, a valid conclusion (there have been attempts but no one has been successful...). 4.  For the reason that it exists/is no one can say/to the reason that it exists/is no one can speak/ why it exists no one can say -- the verb daanestan, i.e., (ne) midaanad, here means "to be able to ..."  and it is followed by what's called the "short form" (or past stem) of the infinitive (goft).  

Existence rose from waters unkown
no one has strung this pearl on a string of truth.
Emotions float in a sea of opinions,
 none can say
 "it's this" and "that's that."

Existence rose from waters unkown—
no one has pierced the truth of its source.
Emotions swirl 'round in a sea of opinions,
none can say "it's this" and "that's that."




Quatrain 7

وقت سحر است خیز ای مایهٔ ناز
نرمک نرمک باده ده و چنگ نواز
کانها که بجایند نپایند دراز
و انها که شدند کس نمی‌آید باز

Dashti, quatrain 16, p. 247

vaqt-e sahar hst khiz ey maaye-ye naaz
narmak narmak baade deh o chang navaaz
kaanhaa ke bejaayand napaayand deraaz
vaanhaa ke shodand kas nemiaayad baaz

Here is the dawn, my Love, arise, O pray,
Partake of wine and tune the lyre to play``
Of those alive none shall remain for long,
Nor shall any return who've passed away.

Saidi, quatrain 26

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1.  It is the time of daybreak, arise, o charm, coyness, sweetness, aloofness, delight, "my love" which Saidi has.  naaz has the connotation of the essence of style, the naaz-possessor has got "vibe" - a word still used, but the expression "it" was used more than a half-century ago -- "she's got 'it'".  Of course the word conveys the boastful delight the beloved takes in aloofness and independence from the lover.  But here, "my love", as Ahmad Saidi writes is suitable, and the word need not carry the sense of cruel and delicious aloofness, although this meaning is there and would occur to the listener/reader of the quatrain.  In the context of the quatrain, the beloved is invited to enter the space of the present, free from guile, as FitzGerald writes (as you will see below): You know how little while we have to stay/And once departed, may return no more.  2. Softly, softly pour the wine and strum the lyre -- Forughi, Hedaayat (and Saidi) read: baade khor, drink wine. 3. Since those who are here will not be here long.  The verbs جاییدن and پاییدن , jaayidan and paayidan are denominatives, that is, they are verbs which are derived from nouns, jaa(y) and paa(y) respectively: "to be in place" and "to have a foothold".  Saidi's source-text reads: کانها که بپایند نمانند دراز  "those who are planted here won't remain here long" 4. And (of) those who departed, not one has come back.

Heron- Allen, pp. 7-11 claims that this quatrain was one of four quatrains which inspired FitzGerald's Stanza III, 4th ed.:

And, as the cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted
"Open the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more."

Quatrain 6

چون ابر به نوروز رخ لاله بششت
بر خیز و به جام باده کن عزم درست
کاین سبزه که امروز تماشاگهٔ توست
فردا همه از خاک تو بر خواهد رست

Dashti 62, p. 255  (& see weblog Quatrain 13)

chon abr be nowruz rokh-e laale beshost
bar khiz o be jaam-e baade kon  azm dorost
kin sabze ke emruz tamaashaagah-e tost
fardaa hame az khaak-e to bar khaahad rost 

While cloudbursts at Nowruz wash the tulip’s face
rise and fetch the cups it’s time for drinking
this patch is yours but only for today

tomorrow a meadow sprouts from your dust

and this companion piece:

ابر آمد و زار بر سر سبزه گریست
بی بادهٔ گلرنگ نمی‌شاید زیست
این سبزه که امروز تماشاگهٔ ماست
تا* سبزه خاک ما تماشاگهٔ کیست

Hedaayat, quatrain 61, Forughi 8 (not in Dashti)

abr aamad o zaar bar sar-e sabze gerist
bi baade-ye golrang nemishaayad zist
in sabze ke emruz tamaashaagah-e maast
taa sabze-ye khaak-e maa tamaashaagah-e kist

A cloudburst came poured tears on the green
what is life without a cup of wine ...

this green is ours to enjoy today
who follows us in the meadow of our dust

* تا in the last line is an interjection -- it draws attention to what follows:
"well now, who's to come after us" 

Translation & Discussion of the Dashti quatrain: 1. When the raincloud at NewYear has washed the face of the tulip - Nowruz, which comes at the vernal equinox when the country gives way to re-emerging life and greenery:  From Hafez, ghazal 160, Khanlari; 164, Qazvini

نفس باد صبا  مشک‌فشان خواهد شد  
عالم پیر دگر باره جوان خواهد شد 
ارغوان جام عقیقی به سمن خواهد داد 
چشم نرگس به شقایق نگران خواهد شد


The breath of the east wind
scatters its musky fragrance
the old world once more grows young
 Judas trees give their scarlet cups to jasmines
narcissus-eyes will gaze at anemones ...    

2. Rise and be fully intent on (drinking) a cup of wine -- "fully fix your resolve on drinking a cup of wine."   From what follows the time for enjoyment is now.  3. Since this green meadow, which is our viewing/showplace today. 4. Tomorrow, all of it will spring forth from our dust.  FitzGerald did not use the first two lines of our Quatrain 6 or the companion piece in his Stanza XXIII below, but Heron-Allen notes that he employs the last two lines of both, a familiar refrain, "the echo of a sentiment that recurs continually in the originals":

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
—ourselves to make a Couch—for whom?
Stanza XXIII, 4th ed.

"They" in line 2 are likely the یاران موافق , yaaraan-e movaafeq, "friends of one mind" 
For some we loved, the loveliest and the best ...Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before/And one by one crept silently to rest (Stanza XXII, 4th ed.).




Quatrain 5

هر ذرّه که بر روی زمینی بوده است
خورشید‌رخی زهره‌جبینی بوده است
گرد از رخ نازنین به آزرم فشان
کان هم رخ خوب نازنینی بوده است

Dashti 37, p. 250

har zarre ke bar ru-ye zamini budast
khorshidrokhi zohrejabini budast
gard az rokh-e naazanin be aazarm feshaan
kaan ham rokh-e khub-e naazanini budast  

Every atom of dust ever on earth's face
had once been a radiant face, a Venus-brow.
brush the dust from your sweet face with respect;
that dust too had been someone, lovely and revered. 

Each particle of earth on ground you see—
A beauty proud like Venus once was she;
Ah, gently wipe the dust from Loveling's face—
That, too, was once a beauty fair and free.

Saidi, quatrain 86

Notable variants occur in the second and third lines of the Persian:
2nd line: پیش از من و تو تاج و نگینی بوده است  - "were before you and me, crown and ring-stone" (Forughi 50)
3rd line: instead of رخ نازنین  read رخ آستین rokh-e aastin, "sleeve-face" (Hedaayat 58)

Each mote on earth had once a royal birth,
Like sun a face, like Venus wits and worth;
So caress gently dust on Beloved's face,
It comes from lovers once so full of mirth.

Govinda Tirtha v. 22, from his "Clay and Cup" section
his final line reads کان هم رخ و زلف نازنینی بوده استو  "that too was a lovely face and tresses"

More of course than the plain fact of our existence and passing out of existence, this quatrain acknowledges the continuation of the beauty and splendor of those who have gone before.  We ourselves are endowed with the admirable qualities of our predecessors.   The speaker exhorts us to treat our continued existence with familial respect.
1. Every atom, speck of dust which has existed on earth's face 2. Has been a face like the sun, a brow like Venus.  These compound nouns are in the Indo-Iranian tradition.  They are exquisite.  Sir William Jones said: "One of the chief beauties of the Persian language is the frequent use of compound adjectives in the variety and elegance of which it surpasses not only the German and English but even the Greek." (See also article on Jones in the online Encyclopaedia Iranica.)  When I studied Greek at the university, in a class on Sophocles, we had a lecture on indoeuropean compounds, and we were taught the Sanskrit terminology to identify them.  Without this grounding we would not have had a clue how to translate certain compounds.  I generally use the Sanskrit (transcribed) in discussing these word formations in Khayyaam.  These two in the second line are bahuvrihi compounds, literally possessing/having "much rice" -- having a sun-face, having a Venus-brow.  But specifically, within the bahuvrihi category, they would be called "appositional descriptive compounds" -- having a face like the sun, having a brow like Venus (an example in Sanskrit is coincidentally chandrānana, चन्द्रानन,  "moon-faced").  On a grammatical note, the indefinite termination (ی, "i") is used here, "a ... face, a ... brow."
3. The dust from your lovely face brush it away with respect -- be aazarm, may mean "respectfully", it could be "gently" as Saidi and Tirtha have done, but it may be the esteem or respect owed to those close to the speaker, i.e., family.  I have taken naazanin as an adjective, but it could well be a noun, "sweetheart/beloved." This is the way Tirtha sees it and possibly Saidi, although I don't understand "loveling".  It's possible that Saidi means "the face of elegance, loveliness", which the speaker describes in the second line. 4. Since that (dust) also/too has been an admirable (and) a lovely face -- khub denotes an "admirable quality."

FitzGerald, according to Heron-Allen, did not use this quatrain for stanza XIX, 4th ed., below, but was inspired by Ouseley MS 43 (Heron-Allen, 33-35).  The Persian follows FitzGerald's rendition:

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her lap from some once lovely Head.

هر جا که گلی و لاله‌زاری بودست
از سرخی خون شهریاری بودست
هر شاخ بنفشه کز زمین می‌روید
خالیست که بر رخ نگاری بودست

har jaa ke goli o laalezaari budast
az sorkhi-ye khun-e shahriyaari budast
har shaakh-e benafshe kaz zamin miruyad
khaalist ke bar rokh-e negaari budast

Where ruddy tulips grow and roses red,
Know that a mighty monarch's blood was shed;
And where the violet rears her purple tuft,
Be sure some black-moled girl doth rest her head.

Whinfield, 104








Quatrain 4

دارنده چو ترکیب طبایع آراست

باز از چه سبب فکندش اندر کم و کاست

گر نیک نیامد این بنا عیب کراست

ور نیک آمد خرابی از بهر چراست 

Dashti 19, p. 247

daarande cho tarkib-e tabaaye‘ aaraast
baaz az che sabab fakandash andar kam o kaast
gar nik nayaamad in banaa eyb keraast
var nik aamad kharaabi az bahr-e  cheraast

For the scansion and audio of this quatrain click here


When the Creator constructed Nature
why stop short of making perfect creatures?
Should the design be flawed, who’s to blame?
But if good, why break it?  Who's to explain?

When the elements were combined in creation
Why did the Maker endow them with transcience?
If it did not work out well, fault is whose?
And if it turned out well, why destroy it?

Michael Hillmann, Iranian Culture, 45 

 دارنده چو ترکیب طبایع آراست

 از بهر چه او فکندش اندر کم و کاست؟

گر نیک آمد شکستن از بهر چه بود؟

ور نیک نیامد این صوَر عیب کراست؟

Hedaayat 11 (& Whinfield 126);      
Forughi, 31 (Kasra), with second mesraa‘ reading:      

ازبهر چه افکندش اندر کم و کاست     

daarande cho tarkib-e tabaaye‘  aaraast

az bahr-e che u fakandash andar kam o kaast

gar nik aamad shekastan az bahr-e che bud

var nik nayaamad in sovar eyb keraast

(Hedaayat & Whinfield; Forughi 2nd line variation:
az bahr-e che afkandash andar kam o kaast

Since mortal compositions are cast by Hand Divine,
Why then the flaws that throw them out of line?
If formed sublime, why must He shatter them?
If not, to whom would we the fault assign?

Saidi, quatrain 35, 'slightly modified' by Aminrazavi, p. 51

And FitzGerald's improvisation, 4th edition, Stanza LXXXVI:

After a momentary silence spake
Some vessel of a more ungainly Make:
"They sneer at me for leaning all awry;
What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?"

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain:
I have taken what follows in this paragraph, with modifications, from Mehdi Aminrazavi's The Wine of Wisdom, second chapter. Writing in the last quarter of the 12th century, fifty or so years after Khayyaam's death, Fakhroddin Razi speaks about Omar Khayyaam and quotes this quatrain. It was likely the first quatrain attributed to Omar Khayyaam which Khayyaam actually wrote in Persian (see Elwell-Sutton, 36 and Aminrazavi, 51 -- full citation in Bibliography). In chapter 2 of The Wine of Wisdom (passim), Aminrazavi discusses the issue of theodicy (God's "ways") central to the quatrain -- how a perfect God creates imperfect creatures. To show the sort of person Khayyaam was thought to be, Aminrazavi gives biographical testimony from contemporaries and biographers who wrote after Khayyaam had died. Khayyaam is judged faithful and he is referred to as misled or perplexed. There is no question of his stance on Islam, his piety, as Aminrazavi cites evidence for this from his mathematical and philosophical writings and from the way others respected him, referring to him, for example, as hujjat al-haqq ("source and authority of truth"). The problem is not that his biographers viewed him, say, as both pious and defiant but as one or the other. Aminrazavi states (pp. 57-58) that this ambiguity in Khayyaam reflects the character, the way of a 'complex figure who acknowledges that to exist is to suffer, to question, to doubt, and to wonder, and yet he acknowledges the religious dimension of humans by being a practicing Muslim.'

The Calcutta version and Hedaayat's (quatrain 11), are similar at least in sentiment but depart from Dashti's text by "reversing" lines 3 and 4 -- think of the 3rd line of the Persian in Dashti (the 3rd in my translation) coming last. I like the quatrain as Dashti has it. The third line startles, but the fourth sums up, outpunches the previous line by the message that the destruction of life cannot be explained in the speaker's view. I have printed both Dashti's and Hedaayat's text. Without a critical edition, and in the absence of discussion about these two "texts," we can't be sure which, if either, is original.

1. The creator/keeper/possessor/'divine hand' when he/it got ready the composition of natures (when the Creator constructed Nature) 2. Why did he throw it away/ invalidate it (nature) by shortcomings -- why did he stop short of perfection? I found this line difficult; it is possible that اندر (andar) is part of the verb, i.e., it is a compound verb: why did He throw shortcomings, destruction, "deconstruction", into it, that is, into Nature (ش -). But Avery & Heath-Stubbs translate: 'For what reason does He cast it into diminution and decay?' And Elwell-Sutton: 'Why then did He disperse them once again?' (quatrain 19, p. 190, In Search of Omar Khayyam). Both Avery & Heath-Stubbs and Sutton treat andar as a preposition  3. If the structure should not come out well, who is at fault/to whom is (ke-raa-st) the fault? 4. If it comes out well, "on account of why"/just why is there wrecking?

Questions about the quatrain: Is Khayyaam thinking, trying to make sense of why, in a mathematically ordered universe or given mathematical certainties, should uncertainties exist by the hand of the Supreme Mathematician? I think so. 

Quatrain 3

یک  قطرهٔ  آب  بود و با  دريا  شد

‌ذرّه‌‌ٔ  خاک  با  زمين یکجا  شد

آمد  شدن تو اندرين عالم چيست

آمد  مگسی  پديد و نا  پيدا  شد

source, Dashti 9, p. 245


 yek qatre-ye aab bud o baa daryaa shod

zarre-ye khaak baa zamin yekjaa shod

 aamad shodan-e to andarin ‘aalam chist

aamad magasi padid o naa peydaa shod


A raindrop falls into a sea of drops,

a dust-mote slips to earth—the journey stops.

our time on earth, to what will it compare?

A fly darts in view yet soon is seen nowhere.


A drop of water fall'n on ocean wide,

A grain of earth become with earth allied;

What does your coming, going Here denote?--

A tiny fly appeared awhile, then died.

Saidi, quatrain 64


Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1. There was a drop of water and it joined with the sea 2. A grain of dust united with the earth 3. Your coming, going in the world, what is it? (aamad shodan-e to = aamadan va raftan-e to) 4. A fly comes, is seen but is not in (our) view/doesn't remain in view, in evidence - magis, "fly", is related to "midge" (the gnat-like insect).  Its antecedents are numerous and some ancient, e.g., Latin musca; mygg/mygga in Swedish.

This quatrain apparently was not used by FitzGerald. In this poem,  as well as in many of the quatrains attributed to Khayyaam, the final line delivers a punch or a verdict on what precedes.

Quatrain 2

اجزای پیاله‌ای که درهم  پیوست
به شکستن آن روا نمی‌دارد مست
چندین سر و پای نازنین و بر و دست
در مهر که پیوست و به کین که شکست

Dashti, quatrain 22, p. 248

ajzaa-ye piaalei ke darham peyvast

be shekastan-e aan ravaa nemidaarad mast

chandin sar o paa-ye naazanin o bar o dast

dar mehr-e ke peyvast o be kin-e ke shekast


As clay is turned, cups rise and come awake,

Vessels no drunk would ever wish to break.

Lovely faces, deft hands, nimble feet

what love forms them, what spite these lives to take?


Another said -- "Why, ne'er a peevish Boy

Would break the Bowl from which he drank in Joy;

And He that with his hand the Vessel made

Will surely not in after Wrath destroy!"
Edward FitzGerald, Stanza LXII (1st ed)

That earthen bowl of such exquisite make,
Not even drunkards would attempt to break;
So many lovely heads and dainty hands --
For whom He makes, for spite of whom does break?

Ahmad Saidi, quatrain 66 

Behold these cups!  Can He who deigned to make them,
In wanton freak let ruin overtake them,
So many shapely feet and hands and heads --
what love drove Him to make, what wrath to break them?

E. H. Whinfield, quatrain 42

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: 1. The parts of a cup which have been joined/assembled --the cup has components or "members," اجزا which correspond to the heads, feet, trunks and hands of human forms, which we see below.  And these cup parts are recycled from the dust or clay of those humans who have gone before. 2.  The smashing of them no drunk will allow --besides "the drunk," مست  carries with it the sense of careless, heedless, mindless.  3. So many lovely heads and legs and breasts and hands --The third line has a number of variations, two of which I would like to mention here:  چندين سر و پای نازنين از سر دست , the Ouseley manuscript which FitzGerald used, and Hedaayat's reading (quatrain44)  چندين سر و ساق نازنين و کف دست.  I like the Ouseley reading -- these lovely people were assembled with a turn of the hand, effortlessly, and then smashed in the same way.  The Hedaayat variation, کف دست, kaf-e dast, brings to mind the hand of the potter who shapes the clay with the palms or palm side of his hands, carefully, skillfully, lovingly, although of course kaf-e dast directly refers to the creation, the human creation.  Through this image, Hedaayat' s reading reinforces the bewilderment and anger expressed in the last two lines of the quatrain. 4.  Assembled in love of whom and smashed for hate of whom.

In attempting to rhyme all 4 lines, the third eluded me and I decided not to force it.  I liked the idea of the clay rising on the wheel and coming to life as a cup -- a simple cup but made as I have said above, with care and skill.  In line 3, the epithets, lovely, deft, nimble are three ways of translating the Persian نازنین  and they give life and movement to hands and feet. To translate "what (kind of) love" ... "what (kind of) spite" seemed a good way to express the emotion and to let the reader think about the meaning.