as Translated by E.H. Whinfield
(back to Persian Poetry home)
At dawn a cry through all the tavern shrilled,
—Arise, my brethren of the revelers’ guild,
That I may fill our measure full of wine,
Or e’er the measure of our days be filled.”
Who was it brought thee here at nightfall, who?
Forth from the harem in this manner, who?
To him who in thy absence burns as fire,
And trembles like hot air, who was it, who?
’Tis but a day we sojourn here below,
And all the gain we get is grief and woe,
Then, leaving our life’s riddles all unsolved,
And burdened with regrets, we have to go.
Khaja! grant one request, and only one,
Wish me God-speed, and get your preaching done;
I walk aright, ’tis you who see awry;
Go! heal your purblind eyes, leave me alone.
Arise! and come, and of thy courtesy
Resolve my weary heart’s perplexity,
And fill my goblet, so that I may drink,
Or e’er they make their goblets out of me.
When I am dead, with wine my body lave,
For obit chant a bacchanalian stave,
And, if you need me at the day of doom,
Beneath the tavern threshold seek my grave.
Since no one can assure thee of the morrow,
Rejoice thy heart to-day, and banish sorrow
With moonbright wine, fair moon, for heaven’s moon
Will look for us in vain on many a morrow.
Let lovers all distraught and frenzied be,
And flown with wine, and reprobates, like me;
When sober, I find everything amiss,
But in my cups cry, “Let what will be, be.”
In Allah’s name, say, wherefore set the wise
Their hearts upon this house of vanities?
Whene’er they think to rest them from their toils,
Death takes them by the hand, and says, “Arise.”
Men say the Koran holds all heavenly lore,
But on its pages seldom care to pore;
The lucid lines engraven on the bowl—
That is the text they dwell on evermore.
Blame not the drunkards, you who wine eschew,
Had I but grace, I would abstain like you,
And mark me, vaunting zealot, you commit
A hundredfold worse sins than drunkards do.
What though ’tis fair to view, this form of man,
I know not why the heavenly Artizan
Hath set these tulip cheeks and cypress forms
To deck the mournful halls of earth’s divan.
My fire gives forth no smoke-cloud here below,
My stock-in-trade no profit here below,
And you, who call me tavern-haunter, know
There is indeed no tavern here below.
Thus spake an idol to his worshiper,
“Why dost thou worship this dead stone, fair sir?
’Tis because He who gazeth through thine eyes
Doth some part of His charms on it confer.”
Whate’er thou doest, never grieve thy brother,
Nor kindle fumes of wrath his peace to smother;
Dost thou desire to taste eternal bliss,
Vex thine own heart, but never vex another!
O Thou! to please whose love and wrath as well,
Allah created heaven and likewise hell;
Thou hast thy court in heaven, and I have naught,
Why not admit me in thy courts to dwell?
So many cups of wine will I consume,
Its bouquet shall exhale from out my tomb,
And every one that passes by shall halt,
And reel and stagger with that mighty fume.
Young wooer, charm all hearts with lover’s art,
Glad winner, lead thy paragon apart!
A hundred Kaabas equal not one heart,
Seek not the Kaaba, rather seek a heart!
What time, my cup in hand, its draughts I drain,
And with rapt heart unconsciousness attain,
Behold what wondrous miracles are wrought—
Songs flow as water from my burning brain.
To-day is but a breathing space, quaff wine!
Thou wilt not see again this life of thine;
So, as the world becomes the spoil of time,
Offer thyself to be the spoil of wine!
’Tis we who to wine’s yoke our necks incline,
And risk our lives to gain the smiles of wine;
The henchman grasps the flagon by its throat
And squeezes out the life-blood of the vine.
Here in this tavern-haunt I make my lair,
Pawning for wine, heart, soul, and all I wear,
Without a hope of bliss, or fear of bale,
Rapt above water, earth, and fire, and air.
Quoth fish to duck, “Twill be a sad affair,
If this brook leaves its channel dry and bare “;
To whom the duck, “When I am dead and roasted
The brook may run with wine for aught I care.”
From doubt to clear assurance is a breath,
A breath from infidelity to faith;
O precious breath! enjoy it while you may,
’Tis all that life can give, and then comes death.
Ah! wheel of heaven to tyranny inclined,
’Twas e’er your wont to show yourself unkind;
And, cruel earth, if they should cleave your breast,
What store of buried jewels they would find!
My life lasts but a day or two, and fast
Sweeps by, like torrent stream or desert blast,
Howbeit, of two days I take no heed—
The day to come, and that already past.
That pearl is from a mine unknown to thee,
That ruby bears a stamp thou canst not see,
The tale of love some other tongue must tell,
All our conjectures are mere fantasy.
Now with its joyful prime my age is rife,
I quaff enchanting wine, and list to fife;
Chide not at wine for all its bitter taste,
Its bitterness sorts well with human life!
O soul! whose lot it is to bleed with pain,
And daily change of fortune to sustain,
Into this body wherefore didst thou come,
Seeing thou must at last go forth again?
To-day is thine to spend, but not to-morrow,
Counting on morrows breedeth naught but sorrow;
Oh! squander not this breath that heaven hath lent thee,
Nor make too sure another breath to borrow!
’Tis labor lost thus to all doors to crawl,
Take thy good fortune, and thy bad withal;
Know for a surety each must play his game,
As from heaven’s dice-box fate’s dice chance to fall.
This jug did once, like me, love’s sorrows taste,
And bonds of beauty’s tresses once embraced,
This handle, which you see upon its side,
Has many a time twined round a slender waist!
Days changed to nights, ere you were born, or I,
And on its business ever rolled the sky;
See you tread gently on this dust-perchance
’Twas once the apple of some beauty’s eye.
Pagodas, just as mosques, are homes of prayer,
’Tis prayer that church-bells chime unto the air,
Yea, Church and Kaaba, Rosary and Cross
Are all but divers tongues of world-wide prayer.
’Twas writ at first, whatever was to be,
By pen, unheeding bliss or misery,
Yea, writ upon the tablet once for all,
To murmur or resist is vanity.
There is a mystery I know full well,
Which to all, good and bad, I can not tell;
My words are dark, but I can not unfold
The secrets of the station where I dwell.
No base or light-weight coins pass current here,
Of such a broom has swept our dwelling clear;
Forth from the tavern comes a sage and cries,
“Drink! for ye all must sleep through ages drear.”
With outward seeming we can cheat mankind,
But to God’s will we can but be resigned;
The deepest wiles my cunning e’er devised,
To balk resistless fate no way could find.
Is a friend faithless? spurn him as a foe;
Upon trustworthy foes respect bestow;
Hold healing poison for an antidote,
And baneful sweets for deadly eisel know.
No heart is there but bleeds when torn from Thee,
No sight so clear but craves Thy face to see;
And though perchance Thou carest not for them,
No soul is there but pines with care for Thee.
Sobriety doth dry up all delight,
And drunkenness doth drown my sense outright;
There is a middle state, it is my life—
Not altogether drunk, nor sober quite.
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 drives Him to make, what wrath to break them?
Death’s terrors spring from baseless fantasy,
Death yields the tree of immortality;
Since ’Isa breathed new life into my soul,
Eternal death has washed its hands of me!
Like tulips in the Spring your cups lift up,
And, with a tulip-cheeked companion, sup
With joy your wine, or e’er this azure wheel
With some unlooked-for blast upset your cup.
Facts will not change to humor man’s caprice,
So vaunt not human powers, but hold your peace;
Here must we stay, weighed down with grief for this.
That we were born so late, so soon decease.
Khayyam! why weep you that your life is bad?
What boots it thus to mourn? Rather be glad.
He that sins not can make no claim to mercy,
Mercy was made for sinners—be not sad.
All mortal ken is bounded by the veil,
To see beyond man’s sight is all too frail;
Yea! earth’s dark bosom is his only home:—
Alas! ’twere long to tell the doleful tale.
This faithless world, my home, I have surveyed,
Yea, and with all my wit deep question made,
But found no moon with face so bright as thine,
No cypress in such stateliness arrayed.
In synagogue and cloister, mosque and school,
Hell’s terrors and heaven’s lures men’s bosoms rule,
But they who master Allah’s mysteries,
Sow not this empty chad their hearts to fool.
You see the world, but all you see is naught,
And all you say, and all you hear is naught,
Naught the four quarters of the mighty earth,
The secrets treasured in your chamber naught.
I dreamt a sage said, “Wherefore life consume
In sleep? Can sleep make pleasure’s roses bloom?
For gather not with death’s twin-brother sleep,
Thou wilt have sleep enough within thy tomb! “
If the heart knew life’s secrets here below,
At death ’twould know God’s secrets too, I trow;
But, if you know naught here, while still yourself,
To-morrow, stripped of self, what can you know?
On that dread day, when wrath shall rend the sky,
And darkness dim the bright stars’ galaxy,
I’ll seize the Loved One by His skirt, and cry,
“Why hast Thou doomed these guiltless ones to die?”
To knaves Thy secret we must not confide,
To comprehend it is to fools denied,
See then to what hard case Thou doomest men,
Our hopes from one and all perforce we hide.
Cupbearer! what though fate’s blows here betide us,
And a safe resting-place be here denied us,
So long as the bright wine-cup stands between us,
We have the very Truth at hand to guide us.
Long time in wine and rose I took delight,
But then my business never went aright;
Since wine could not accomplish my desire,
I have abandoned and forsworn it quite.
Bring wine! my heart with dancing spirit teems,
Wake I fortune’s waking is as feeting dreams;
Quicksilver-like our days are swift of foot,
And youthful fire subsides as torrent streams.
Love’s devotees, not Muslims here you see,
Not Solomons, but ants of low degree;
Here are but faces wan and tattered rags,
No store of Cairene cloth or silk have we.
My law it is in pleasure’s paths to stray,
My creed to shun the theologic fray;
I wedded Luck, and offered her a dower,
She said, “I want none, so thy heart be gay.”
From mosque an outcast, and to church a foe,
Allah! of what clay didst thou form me so?
Like skeptic monk, or ugly courtesan,
No hopes have I above, no joys below.
Men’s lusts, like house-dogs, still the house distress
With clamor, barking for mere wantonness;
Foxes are they, and sleep the sleep of hares;
Crafty as wolves, as tigers pitiless.
Yon turf, fringing the margent of the stream,
As down upon a cherub’s lip might seem,
Or growth from dust of buried tulip cheeks;
Tread not that turf with scorn, or light esteem!
Hearts with the light of love illumined well,
Whether in mosque or synagogue they dwell,
Have their names written in the book of love,
Unvexed by hopes of heaven or fears of hell.
One draught of wine outweighs the realm of Tus,
Throne of Kobad and crown of Kai Kawus;
Sweeter are sighs that lovers heave at morn,
Than all the groanings zealot breasts produce.
Though Muslims for my sins condemn and chide me,
Like heathens to my idol I confide me;
Yea, when I perish of a drunken bout,
I’ll call on wine, whatever doom betide me.
In drinking thus it is not my design
To riot, or transgress the law divine,
No! to attain unconsciousness of self
Is the sole cause I drink me drunk with wine.
Drunkards are doomed to hell, so men declare,
Believe it not, ’tis but a foolish scare;
Heaven will be empty as this hand of mine,
If none who love good drink find entrance there.
’Tis wrong, according to the strict Koran,
To drink in Rajab, likewise in Sha’ban,
God and the Prophet claim those months as theirs;
Was Ramadan then made for thirsty man?
Now Ramadan is come, no wine must flow,
Our simple pastimes we must now forego,
The wine we have in store we must not drink,
Nor on our mistresses one kiss bestow.
What is the world? A caravanserai,
A pied pavilion of night and day;
A feast whereat a thousand Jamshids sat,
A couch whereon a thousand Bahrams lay.
Now that your roses bloom with Sowers of bliss,
To grasp your goblets be not so remiss;
Drink while you may! Time is a treacherous foe,
You may not see another day like this.
Here in this palace, where Bahram held sway,
The wild roes drop their young, and tigers stray;
And that great hunter king—ah! well-a-day!
Now to the hunter death is fallen a prey.
Down fall the tears from skies enwrapt in gloom,
Without this drink, the flowers could never bloom!
As now these flowerets yield delight to me,
So shall my dust yield flowers—God knows for whom.
To-day is Friday, as the Muslim says,
Drink then from bowls served up in quick relays;
Suppose on common days you drink one bowl,
To-day drink two, for ’tis the prince of days.
The very wine a myriad forms sustains,
And to take shapes of plants and creatures deigns
But deem not that its essence ever dies,
Its forms may perish, but its self remains.
’Tis naught but smoke this people’s fire doth bear,
For my well-being not a soul doth care;
With hands fate makes me lift up in despair,
I grasp men’s skirts, but find no succor there.
This bosom friend, on whom you so rely,
Seems to clear wisdom’s eyes an enemy;
Choose not your friends from this rude multitude,
Their converse is a plague ’tis best to fly.
O foolish one! this molded earth is naught;
This parti-colored vault of heaven is naught;
Our sojourn in this seat of life and death
Is but one breath, and what is that but naught?
Some wine, a Houri (Houris if there be),
A green bank by a stream, with minstrelsy;—
Toil not to find a better Paradise
If other Paradise indeed there be!
To the wine-house I saw the sage repair,
Bearing a wine-cup, and a mat for prayer;
I said, “O Shaikh, what does this conduct mean?”
Said he, “Go drink! the world is naught but air.”
The Bulbul to the garden winged his way,
Viewed lily cups, and roses smiling gay,
Cried in ecstatic notes, “O live your life,
You never will relive this fleeting day.”
Thy body is a tent, where harborage
The Sultan spirit takes for one brief age;
When he departs, comes the tent-pitcher death,
Strikes it, and onward moves, another stage.
Khayyam, who long time stitched the tents of learning,
Has fallen into a furnace, and lies burning,
Death’s shears have cut his thread of life asunder,
Fate’s brokers sell him off with scorn and spurning.
In the sweet spring a grassy bank I sought,
And thither wine, and a fair Houri brought;
And, though the people called me graceless dog,
Gave not to Paradise another thought!
Sweet is rose-ruddy wine in goblets gay,
And sweet are lute and harp and roundelay;
But for the zealot who ignores the cup,
’Tis sweet when he is twenty leagues away!
Life, void of wine, and minstrels with their lutes,
And the soft murmurs of Iraqian futes,
Were nothing worth: I scan the world and see:
Save pleasure, life yields only bitter fruits.
Make haste! soon must you quit this life below,
And pass the veil, and Allah’s secrets know;
Make haste to take your pleasure while you may,
You wot not whence you come, nor whither go.
Depart we must! what boots it then to be,
To walk in vain desires continually?
Nay, but if heaven vouchsafe no place of rest,
What power to cease our wanderings have we?
To chant wine’s praises is my daily task,
I live encompassed by cup, bowl, and flask;
Zealot! if reason be thy guide, then know
That guide of me doth ofttimes guidance ask.
O men of morals! why do ye defame,
And thus misjudge me? I am not to blame.
Save weakness for the grape, and female charms,
What sins of mine can any of ye name?
Who treads in passion’s footsteps here below,
A helpless pauper will depart, I trow;
Remember who you are, and whence you come.
Consider what you do, and whither go.
Skies like a zone our weary lives enclose,
And from our tear-stained eyes a Jihun flows;
Hell is a fire enkindled of our griefs;
Heaven but a moment’s peace, stolen from our woes.
I drown in sin—show me Thy clemency!
My soul is dark—make me Thy light to see!
A heaven that must be earned by painful works,
I call a wage, not a gift fair and free.
Did He who made me fashion me for hell,
Or destine me for heaven? I can not tell.
Yet will I not renounce cup, lute, and love,
Nor earthly cash for heavenly credit sell.
From right and left the censors came and stood,
Saying, “Renounce this wine, this foe of good”;
But if wine be the foe of holy faith,
By Allah, right it is to drink its blood!
The good and evil with man’s nature blent,
The weal and woe that heaven’s decrees have sent—
Impute them not to motions of the skies—
Skies than thyself ten times more impotent.
Against death’s arrows what are buckles worth?
What all the pomps and riches of the earth?
When I survey the world, I see no good
But goodness, all beside is nothing worth.
Weak souls, who from the world can not refrain,
Hold life-long fellowship with rule and pain;
Hearts free from worldly cares have store of bliss,
All others seeds of bitter woe contain.
He, in whose bosom wisdom’s seed is sown,
To waste a single day was never known;
Either he strives to work great Allah’s will,
Or else exalts the cup, and works his own.
When Allah mixed my clay He knew full well
My future acts, and could each one foretell;
Without His will no act of mine was wrought;
Is it then just to punish me in hell?
Ye, who cease not to drink on common days,
Do not on Friday quit your drinking ways;
Adopt my creed, and count all days the same,
Be worshipers of God, and not of days.
If grace be grace, and Allah gracious be,
Adam from Paradise why banished He?
Grace to poor sinners shown is grace indeed;
In grace hard earned by works no grace I see.
Dame Fortune’s smiles are full of guile, beware!
Her scimitar is sharp to smite, take care!
If e’er she drop a sweetmeat in thy mouth,
’Tis poisonous-to swallow it forbear!
Where’er you see a rose or tulip bed,
Know that a mighty monarch’s blood was shed
And where the violet rears her purple tuft,
Be sure a black-moled girl hath laid her head.
Wine is a melting ruby, cup its mine;
Cup is the body, and the soul is wine;
These crystal goblets smile with ruddy wine
Like tears, that blood of wounded hearts enshrine.
Drink wine! ’tis life etern, and travail’s meed,
Fruitage of youth, and balm of age’s need:
’Tis the glad time of roses, wine, and friends;
Rejoice thy spirit—that is life indeed.
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.”
They preach how sweet those Houri brides will be,
But I say wine is sweeter—taste and see!
Hold fast this cash, and let that credit go,
And shun the din of empty drums like me.
Once and again my soul did me implore,
To teach her, if I might, the heavenly lore;
I bade her learn the Alif well by heart.
Who knows that letter well need learn no more.
I came not hither of my own free will,
And go against my wish, a puppet still;
Cupbearer! gird thy loins, and fetch some wine;
To purge the world’s despite, my goblet fill.
How long must I make bricks upon the sea?
Beshrew this vain task of idolatry;
Call not Khayyam a denizen of hell;
One while in heaven, and one in hell is he.
Sweet is the breath of Spring to rose’s face,
And thy sweet face adds charm to this fair place;
To-day is sweet, but yesterday is sad,
And sad all mention of its parted grace.
To-night pour wine, and sing a dulcet air,
And I upon thy lips will hang, O fair;
Yea, pour some wine as rosy as thy cheeks,
My mind is troubled like thy ruffled hair.
Pen, tablet, heaven and hell I looked to see
Above the skies, from all eternity;
At last the master sage instructed me,
“Pen, tablet, heaven and hell are all in thee.”
The fruit of certitude he can not pluck,
The path that leads thereto who never struck,
Nor ever shook the bough with strenuous hand;
To-day is lost; hope for to-morrow’s luck.
Now spring-tide showers its foison on the land,
And lively hearts wend forth, a joyous band,
For ’Isa’s breath wakes the dead earth to life,
And trees gleam white with flowers, like Musa’s hand.
Alas for that cold heart, which never glows
With love, nor e’er that charming madness knows;
The days misspent with no redeeming love;—
No days are wasted half as much as those!
The zephyrs waft thy fragrance, and it takes
My heart, and me, his master, he forsakes;
Careless of me he pants and leaps to thee,
And thee his pattern and ensample makes!
Drink wine! and then as Mahmud thou wilt reign,
And hear a music passing David’s strain:
Think not of past or future, seize to-day,
Then all thy life will not be lived in vain.
Ten Powers, and nine spheres, eight heavens made He,
And planets seven, of six sides, as we see,
Five senses, and four elements, three souls,
Two worlds, but only one, O man, like thee.
Jewry hath seen a thousand prophets die,
Sinai a thousand Musas mount the sky;
How many Caesars Rome’s proud forum crossed!
’Neath Wasra’s dome how many monarchs lie!
Gold breeds not wit, but to wit lacking bread
Earth’s flowery carpet seems a dungeon bed;
’Tis his full purse that makes the rose to smile,
While empty-handed violets hang the head.
Heaven’s wheel has made full many a heart to moan,
And many a budding rose to earth has thrown;
Plume thee not on thy youth and lusty strength,
Full many a bud is blasted ere ’tis blown.
What lord is fit to rule but “Truth “? Not one.
What beings disobey His rule? Not one.
All things that are, are such as He decrees;
And naught is there beside beneath the sun.
That azure-colored vault and golden tray
Have turned, and will turn yet for many a day;
And just so we, impelled by turns of fate—
Come here but for a while, then pass away.
The Master did himself these vessels frame,
Why should he cast them out to scorn and shame?
If he has made them well, why should he break them?
Yea, though he marred them, they are not to blame.
Kindness to friends and foes ’tis well to show,
No kindly heart can prove unkind, I trow:
Harshness will alienate a bosom friend,
And kindness reconcile a deadly foe.
To lovers true, what matters dark or fair?
Or if the loved one silk or sackcloth wear,
Or lie on down or dust, or rise to heaven?
Yea, though she sink to hell, he’ll seek her there.
Full many a hill and vale I journeyed o’er;
Yea, journeyed through the world’s wide quarters four,
But never heard of pilgrim who returned;
When once they go, they go to come no more.
Wine-houses flourish through this thirst of mine,
Loads of remorse weigh down this back of mine;
Yet, if I sinned not, what would mercy do?
Mercy depends upon these sins of mine.
Thy being is the being of Another,
Thy passion is the passion of Another.
Cover thy head, and think, and thou wilt see
Thy hand is but the cover of Another.
From learning to the cup your bridle turn;
All lore of world to come, save Kausar, spurn;
Your turban pawn for wine, or keep a shred
To bind your brow, and all the remnant burn.
See! from the world what profit have I gained?
What fruitage of my life in hand retained?
What use is Jamshid’s goblet, once ’tis crushed?
What pleasure’s torch, when once its light has waned?
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 times to come, when we are here no more.
O fair! whose cheeks checkmate red eglantine,
And draw the game with those fair maids of Chin;
You played one glance against the king of Babil
And took his pawns, and knights, and rooks, and queen.
Life’s caravan is hastening on its way;
Brood not on troubles of the coming day,
But fill the wine-cup ere sweet night be gone,
And snatch a pleasant moment, while you may.
He, who the world’s foundations erst did lay,
Doth bruise full many a bosom day by day,
And many a ruby lip and musky tress
Doth coffin in the earth, and shroud with clay.
Be not beguiled by world’s insidious wiles;
O foolish ones, ye know her tricks and guiles;
Your precious lifetime cast not to the winds;
Haste to seek wine, and court a sweetheart’s smile.
Comrades! I pray you, physic me with wine,
Make this wan amber face like rubies shine,
And, if I die, use wine to wash my corpse,
And frame my coffin out of planks of vine!
When Allah yoked the courses of the sun,
And launched the Pleiades their race to run,
My lot was fixed in fate’s high chancery;
Then why blame me for wrong that fate has done?
Ah! seasoned wine oft falls to rawest fools,
And clumsiest workmen own the finest tools;
And Turki maids, fit to delight men’s hearts,
Lavish their smiles on beardless boys in school!
Whilom, ere youth’s conceit had waned, methought
Answers to all life’s problems I had wrought;
But now, grown old and wise, too late I see
My life is spent, and all my lore is naught.
They who of prayer-mats make such great display
Are fools to bear hypocrisy’s hard sway;
Strange! under cover of this saintly show
They live like heathen, and their faith betray.
To him who would his sins extenuate,
Let pious men this verse reiterate,
“To call God’s prescience the cause of sin
In wisdom’s purview is but folly’s prate.”
He brought me hither, and I felt surprise,
From life I gather but a dark surmise,
I go against my will;—thus, why I come,
Why live, why go, are all dark mysteries.
When I recall my grievous sins to mind,
Fire burns my breast, and tears my vision blind;
Yet, when a slave repents, is it not meet
His lord should pardon, and again be kind?
They at whose lore the whole world stands amazed,
Whose high thoughts, like Borak, to heaven are raised,
Strive to know Thee in vain, and like heaven’s wheel
Their heads are turning, and their brains are dazed.
Allah hath promised wine in Paradise,
Why then should wine on earth be deemed a vice?
An Arab in his cups cut Hamzah’s girths—
For that sole cause was drink declared a vice.
Now of old joys naught but the name is left,
Of all old friends but wine we are bereft,
And that wine new, but still cleave to the cup,
For save the cup, what single joy is left?
The world will last long after Khayyam’s fame
Has passed away, yea, and his very name;
Aforetime we were not, and none did heed.
When we are dead and gone, ’twill be tie same.
The sages who have compassed sea and land,
Their secret to search out, and understand—
My mind misgives me if they ever solve
The scheme on which this universe is planned.
Ah! wealth takes wings, and leaves our hands all bare,
And death’s rough hands delight our hearts to tear;
And from the nether world none e’er escapes,
To bring us news of the poor pilgrims there.
’Tis passing strange, those titled noblemen
Find their own lives a burden sore, but when
They meet with poorer men, not slaves to sense,
They scarcely deign to reckon them as men.
The wheel on high, still busied with despite,
Will ne’er unloose a wretch from his sad plight;
But when it lights upon a smitten heart,
Straightway essays another blow to smite.
Now is the volume of my youth outworn,
And all my spring-tide blossoms rent and torn.
Ah, bird of youth! I marked not when you came
Nor when you fled, and left me thus forlorn.
These fools, by dint of ignorance most crass,
Think they in wisdom all mankind surpass;
And glibly do they damn as infidel
Whoever is not, like themselves, an ass.
Still be the wine-house thronged with its glad choir,
And Pharisaic skirts burnt up with fire;
Still be those tattered frocks and azure robes
Trod under feet of revelers in the mire.
Why toil ye to ensure illusions vain,
And good or evil of the world attain?
Ye rise like Zamzam, or the fount of life,
And, like them, in earth’s bosom sink again.
Till the Friend pours his wine to glad my heart,
No kisses to my face will heaven impart:
They say, “Repent in time “; but how repent,
Ere Allah’s grace hath softened my hard heart?
When I am dead, take me and grind me small,
So that I be a caution unto all,
And knead me into clay with wine, and then
Use me to stop the wine-jar’s mouth withal.
What though the sky with its blue canopy
Doth close us in so that we can not see,
In the etern Cupbearer’s wine methinks
There float a myriad bubbles like to me.
Take heart! Long in the weary tomb you’ll lie,
While stars keep countless watches in the sky,
And see your ashes molded into bricks,
To build another’s house and turrets high.
Glad hearts, who seek not notoriety,
Nor flaunt in gold and silken bravery,
Haunt not this ruined earth like gloomy owls,
But wing their way, Simurgh-like, to the sky.
Wine’s power is known to wine-bibbers alone,
To narrow heads and hearts ’tis never shown;
I blame not them who never felt its force,
For, till they feel it, how can it be known?
Needs must the tavern-hunter bathe in wine,
For none can make a tarnished name to shine;
Go! bring me wine, for none can now restore
Its pristine sheen to this soiled veil of mine.
I wasted life in hope, yet gathered not
In all my life of happiness one jot;
Now my fear is that life may not endure,
Till I have taken vengeance on my lot!
Be very wary in the soul’s domain,
And on the world’s affairs your lips refrain;
Be, as it were, sans tongue, sans ear, sans eye,
While tongue, and ears, and eyes you still retain.
Let him rejoice who has a loaf of bread,
A little nest wherein to lay his head,
Is slave to none, and no man slaves for him—
In truth his lot is wondrous well bested.
What adds my service to Thy majesty?
Or how can sin of mine dishonor Thee?
O pardon, then, and punish not, I know
Thou’rt slow to wrath, and prone to clemency.
Hands, such as mine, that handle bowls of wine,
’Twere shame to book and pulpit to confine;
Zealot! thou’rt dry, and I am moist with drink,
Yea, far too moist to catch that fire of thine!
Whoso aspires to gain a rose-cheeked fair,
Sharp pricks from fortune’s thorns must learn to bear.
See! till this comb was cleft by cruel cuts,
It never dared to touch my lady’s hair.
Forever may my hands on wine be stayed,
And my heart pant for some fair Houri maid!
They say, “May Allah aid thee to repent!”
Repent I could not, e’en with Allah’s aid!
Soon shall I go, by time and fate deplored,
Of all my precious pearls not one is bored;
Alas! there die with me a thousand truths
To which these fools fit audience ne’er accord.
To-day how sweetly breathes the temperate air,
The rains have newly laved the parched parterre;
And Bulbuls cry in notes of ecstasy,
“Thou too, O pallid rose, our wine must share!”
Ere you succumb to shocks of mortal pain,
The rosy grape-juice from your wine-cup drain.
You are not gold, that, hidden in the earth,
Your friends should care to dig you up again!
My coming brought no profit to the sky,
Nor does my going swell its majesty;
Coming and going put me to a stand,
Ear never heard their wherefore nor their why.
The heavenly Sage, whose wit exceeds compare,
Counteth each vein, and numbereth every hair;
Men you may cheat by hypocritic arts,
But how cheat Him to whom all hearts are bare?
Ah! wine lends wings to many a weary wight,
And beauty spots to ladies’ faces bright;
All Ramadan I have not drunk a drop,
Thrice welcome, then, O Bairam’s blessed night!
All night in deep bewilderment I fret,
With tear-drops big as pearls my breast is wet;
I can not fill my cranium with wine;
How can it hold wine, when ’tis thus upset?
To prayer and fasting when my heart inclined,
All my desire I surely hoped to find;
Alas! my purity is stained with wine,
My prayers are wasted like a breath of wind.
I worship rose-red cheeks with heart and soul,
I suffer not my hand to quit the bowl,
I make each part of me his function do,
Or e’er my parts be swallowed in the Whole.
This worldly love of yours is counterfeit,
And, like a half-spent blaze, lacks light and heat;
True love is his, who for days, months, and years,
Rests not, nor sleeps, nor craves for drink or meat.
Why spend life in vainglorious essay
All Being and Not-being to survey?
Since Death is ever pressing at your heels,
’Tis best to drink or dream your life away.
Some hanker after that vain fantasy
Of Houris, feigned in Paradise to be;
But, when the veil is lifted, they will find
How far they are from Thee, how far from Thee.
In Paradise, they tell us, Houris dwell,
And fountains run with wine and oxymel:
If these be lawful in the world to come,
Surely ’tis right to love them here as well.
A draught of wine would make a mountain dance,
Base is the churl who looks at wine askance;
Wine is a soul our bodies to inspire,
A truce to this vain talk of temperance!
Oft doth my soul her prisoned state bemoan,
Eer earth-born co-mate she would fain disown,
And quit, did not the stirrup of the law
Upbear her foot from dashing on the stone.
The moon of Ramadan is risen, see!
Alas, our wine must henceforth banished be;
Well! on Sha’ban’s last day I’ll drink enough
To keep me drunk till Bairam’s jubilee.
From life we draw now wine, now dregs to drink,
Now flaunt in silk, and now in tatters shrink;
Such changes wisdom holds of slight account
To those who stand on death’s appalling drink!
What sage tne eternal tangle e’er unraveled,
Or one short step beyond his nature traveled?
From pupils to the masters turn your eyes,
And see, each mother’s son alike is graveled.
Crave not of worldly sweets to take your fill,
Nor wait on turn of fortune, good or ill;
Be of light heart, as are the skies above,
They roll a round or two, and then lie still.
What eye can pierce the veil of God’s decrees,
Or read the riddle of earth’s destinies?
Pondered have I for years threescore and ten,
But still am baffled by these mysteries.
They say, when the last trump shall sound its knell,
Our Friend will sternly judge, and doom to hell.
Can aught but good from perfect goodness come?
Compose your trembling hearts, ’twill all be well.
Drink wine to root up metaphysic weeds,
And tangle of the two-and-seventy creeds;
Do not forswear that wondrous alchemy,
’Twill turn to gold, and cure a thousand needs.
Though drink is wrong, take care with whom you drink,
And who you are that drink, and what you drink;
And drink at will, for, these three points observed,
Who but the very wise can ever drink?
To drain a gallon beaker I design,
Yea, two great beakers, brimmed with richest wine;
Old faith and reason thrice will I divorce,
Then take to wife the daughter of the vine.
True I drink wine, like every man of sense,
For I know Allah will not take offense;
Before time was, He know that I should drink,
And who am I to thwart His prescience?
Rich men, who take to drink, the world defy
With shameless riot, and as beggars die;
Place in my ruby pipe some emerald hemp,
’Twill do as well to blind care’s serpent eye.
These fools have never burnt the midnight oil
In deep research, nor do they ever toil
To step beyond themselves, but dress them fine,
And plot of credit others to despoil.
When false dawn streaks the east with cold, gray line,
Pour in your cups the pure blood of the vine;
The truth, they say, tastes bitter in the mouth,
This is a token that the “Truth “ is wine.
Now is the time earth decks her greenest bowers,
And trees, like Musa’s hand, grow white with flowers!
As ’twere at ’Isa’s breath the plants revive,
While clouds brim o’er, like tearful eyes, with showers.
Oh burden not thyself with drudgery,
Lord of white silver and red gold to be;
But feast with friends, ere this warm breath of thine
Be chilled in death, and earthworms feast on thee.
The showers of grape juice, which cupbearers pour,
Quench fires of grief in many a sad heart’s core.
Praise be to Allah, who hath sent this balm
To heal sore hearts, and spirits’ health restore!
Can alien Pharisees Thy kindness tell,
Like us, Thy intimates, who nigh Thee dwell?
Thou say’st, “All sinners will I burn with fire.”
Say that to strangers-we know Thee too well.
O comrades dear, when hither ye repair
In times to come, communion sweet to share,
While the cupbearer pours your old Magh wine,
Call poor Khayyam to mind, and breathe a prayer.
For me heaven’s sphere no music ever made,
Nor yet with soothing voice my fears allayed;
If e’er I found brief respite from my woes,
Back to woe’s thrall I was at once betrayed.
Sooner with half a loaf contented be,
And water from a broken crock, like me,
Than lord it over one poor fellow man,
Or to another bow the vassal knee.
While Moon and Venus in the sky shall dwell,
None shall see aught red grape-juice to excel:
O foolish publicans, what can you buy
One half so precious as the goods you sell?
They who by genius, and by power of brain,
The rank of man’s enlighteners attain,
Not even they emerge from this dark night,
But tell their dreams, and fall asleep again.
At dawn, when dews bedeck the tulip’s face,
And violets their heavy heads abase,
I love to see the roses’ folded buds,
With petals closed against the wind’s disgrace.
Like as the skies rain down sweet jessamine,
And sprinkle all the meads with eglantine,
Right so, from out this jug of violet hue,
I pour in lily cups this rosy wine.
Ah! thou hast snared this head, though white as snow,
Which oft has vowed the wine-cup to forego;
And wrecked the mansion long resolve did build,
And rent the vesture penitence did sew!
I am not one whom Death doth much dismay,
Life’s terrors all Death’s terrors far outweigh;
This life, that Heaven hath lent me for a while,
I will pay back, when it is time to pay.
The stars, who dwell on heaven’s exalted stage,
Baffle the wise diviners of our age;
Take heed, hold fast the rope of mother wit.
These augurs all distrust their own presage.
The people who the heavenly world adorn,
Who come each night, and go away each morn,
Now on Heaven’s skirt, and now in earth’s deep pouch,
While Allah lives, shall aye anew be born!
Slaves of vain wisdom and philosophy,
Who toil at Being and Nonentity,
Parching your brains till they are like dry grapes,
Be wise in time, and drink grapejuice like me!
Sense, seeking happiness, bids us pursue
All present joys, and present griefs eschew;
She says, we are not as the meadow grass,
Which, when they mow it down, springs up anew.
Now Ramadan is past, Shawwal comes back,
And feast and song and joy no more we lack;
The wine-skin carriers throng the streets and cry,
“Here comes the porter with his precious pack.”
My comrades are all gone; Death, deadly foe,
Has caught them one by one, and trampled low;
They shared life’s feast, and drank its wine with me,
But lost their heads, and dropped a while ago.
Those hypocrites, all know so well, who lurk
In streets to beg their bread, and will not work,
Claim to be saints, like Shibli and Junaid,
No Shiblis are they, though well known in Karkh!
When the great Founder molded me of old,
He mixed much baser metal with my gold;
Better or fairer I can never be
Than I first issued from his heavenly mold.
The joyous souls who quaff potations deep,
And saints who in the mosques sad vigils keep,
Are lost at sea alike, and find no shore,
One only wakes, all others are asleep.
Not-being’s water served to mix my clay,
And on my heart grief’s fire doth ever prey,
And blown am I like wind about the world,
And last my crumbling earth is swept away.
Small gains to learning on this earth accrue,
They pluck life’s fruitage, learning who eschew;
Take pattern by the fools who learning shun,
And then perchance shall fortune smile on you.
When the fair soul this mansion doth vacate,
Each element assumes its primal state,
And all the silken furniture of life
Is then dismantled by the blows of fate.
These people string their beads of learned lumber,
And tell of Allah stories without number;
Yet never solve the riddle of the skies,
But wag the chin, and get them back to slumber.
These folk are asses, laden with conceit,
And glittering drums, that empty sounds repeat,
And humble slaves are they of name and fame,
Acquire a name, and, lo! they kiss thy feet.
On the dread day of final scrutiny
Thou wilt be rated by thy quality;
Get wisdom and fair qualities to-day,
For, as thou art, requited wilt thou be.
Many fine heads, like bowls, the Brazier made,
And thus his own similitude portrayed;
He sets one upside down above our heads,
Which keeps us all continually afraid.
My true condition I may thus explain
In two short verses which the whole contain:
“From love to Thee I now lay down my life,
In hope Thy love will raise me up again.”
The heart, like tapers, takes at beauty’s eyes
A flame, and lives by that whereby it dies;
And beauty is a flame where hearts, like moths,
Offer themselves a burning sacrifice.
To please the righteous life itself I sell,
And, though they tread me down, never rebel;
Men say, “Inform us what and where is hell?”
Ill company will make this earth a hell.
The sun doth smite the roofs with Orient ray
And, Khosrau like, his wine-red sheen display;
Arise, and drink! the herald of the dawn
Uplifts his voice, and cries, “Oh, drink to-day!”
Comrades! when e’er you meet together here,
Recall your friend to mind, and drop a tear;
And when the circling wine-cups reach his seat,
Pray turn one upside down his dust to cheer.
That grace and favor at the first, what meant it?
That lavishing of joy and peace, what meant it?
But now thy purpose is to grieve my heart;
What did I do to cause this change? What meant it?
These hypocrites who build on saintly show,
Treating the body as the spirit’s foe,
If they will shut their mouths with lime, like jars,
My jar of grape-juice I will then forego.
Many have come, and run their eager race,
Striving for pleasures, luxuries, or place,
And quaffed their wine, and now all silent lie,
Enfolded in their parent earth’s embrace.
Then, when the good reap fruits of labors past,
My hapless lot with drunkards will be cast;
If good, may I be numbered with the first,
If bad, find grace and mercy with the last.
Of happy turns of fortune take your fill,
Seek pleasure’s couch, or wine-cup, as you will;
Allah regards not if you sin, or saint it,
So take your pleasure, be it good or ill.
Heaven multiplies our sorrows day by day,
And grants no joys it does not take away;
If those unborn could know the ills we bear,
What think you, would they rather come or stay?
Why ponder thus the future to foresee,
And jade thy brain to vain perplexity?
Cast off thy care, leave Allah’s plans to him—
He formed them all without consulting thee.
The tenants of the tombs to dust decay,
Nescient of self, and all beside are they;
Their sundered atoms float about the world,
Like mirage clouds, until the judgment-day.
O soul! lay up all earthly goods in store,
Thy mead with pleasure’s flowerets spangled o’er;
And know ’tis all as dew, that decks the flowers
For one short night, and then is seen no more!
Heed not the Sunna, nor the law divine;
If to the poor his portion you assign,
And never injure one, nor yet abuse,
I guarantee you heaven, and now some wine!
Vexed by this wheel of things, that pets the base,
My sorrow-laden life drags on apace;
Like rosebud, from the storm I wrap me close,
And blood-spots on my heart, like tulip, trace.
Youth is the time to pay court to the vine,
To quaff the cup, with revelers to recline;
A flood of water once laid waste the earth,
Hence learn to lay you waste with floods of wine.
The world is baffled in its search for Thee,
Wealth can not find Thee, no, nor poverty;
Thou’rt very near us, but our ears are deaf,
Our eyes are blinded that we may not see!
Take care you never hold a drinking-bout
With an ill-tempered, ill-conditioned lout;
He’ll make a vile disturbance all night long,
And vile apologies next day, no doubt.
The starry aspects are not all benign;
Why toil then after vain desires, and pine
To lade thyself with load of fortune’s boons,
Only to drop it with this life of thine?
O comrades! here is filtered wine, come drink!
Pledge all your charming sweethearts as you drink;
’Tis the grape’s blood, and this is what it says,
“To you I dedicate my life-blood! drink! “
Are you depressed? Then take of bhang one grain,
Of rosy grape-juice take one pint or twain;
Sufis, you say, must not take this or that,
Then go and eat the pebbles off the plain!
I saw a busy potter by the way
Kneading with might and main a lump of clay;
And, lo! the clay cried, “Use me gently, pray;
I was a man myself but yesterday!”
Oh! wine is richer that the realm of Jam,
More fragrant than the food of Miriam;
Sweeter are sighs that drunkards heave at morn
Than strains of Bu Sa’id and Bin Adham.
Deep in the rondure of the heavenly blue,
There is a cup, concealed from mortals’ view,
Which all must drink in turn; Oh, sigh not then,
But drink it boldly, when it comes to you!
Though you should live to four, or forty score,
Go hence you must, as all have gone before;
Then, be you king, or beggar of the streets,
They’ll rate you all the same, no less, no more.
If you seek Him, abandon child and wife,
Arise, and sever all these ties to life;
All these are bonds to check you on your course.
Arise, and cut these bonds, as with a knife.
O heart! this world is but a fleeting show,
Why should its empty griefs distress thee so?
Bow down, and bear thy fate, the eternal pen
Will not unwrite its roll for thee, I trow!
Whoe’er returned of all that went before,
To tell of that long road they travel o’er?
Leave naught undone of what you have to do,
For when you go, you will return no more.
Dark wheel! how many lovers thou hast slain,
Like Mahmud and Ayaz, O inhumane!
Come, let us drink, thou grantest not two lives;
When one is spent, we find it not again.
Illustrious Prophet! whom all kings obey,
When is our darkness lightened by wine’s ray?
On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
Friday, and Saturday, both night and day!
O turn away those roguish eyes of thine!
Be still! seek not my peace to undermine!
Thou say’st, “Look not.” I might as well essay
To slant my goblet, and not spill my wine.
In taverns better far commune with Thee,
Than pray in mosques, and fail Thy face to see!
O first and last of all Thy creatures Thou,
’Tis Thine to burn, and Thine to cherish me!
To wise and worthy men your life devote,
But from the worthless keep your walk remote;
Dare to take poison from a sage’s hand,
But from a fool refuse an antidote.
I flew here, as a bird from the wild, in aim
Up to a higher nest my course to frame;
But, finding here no guide who knows the way,
Fly out by the same door where through I came.
He binds us in resistless Nature’s chain,
And yet bids us our natures to restrain;
Between these counter rules we stand perplexed,
“Hold the jar slant, but all the wine retain.
They go away, and none is seen returning,
To teach that other world’s recondite learning;
’Twill not be shown for dull mechanic prayers,
For prayer is naught without true heartfelt yearning.
Go to! Cast dust on those deaf skies, who spurn
Thy orisons and bootless prayers, and learn
To quaff the cup, and hover round the fair;
Of all who go, did ever one return?
Though Khayyam strings no pearls of righteous deeds,
Nor sweeps from off his soul sin’s noisome weeds,
Yet will he not despair of heavenly grace,
Seeing that One as two he ne’er misreads.
Again to tavern-haunts do we repair,
And say “Adieu “ to the five hours of prayer;
Where’er we see a long-necked flask of wine,
We elongate our necks that wine to share.
We are but chessmen, destined, it is plain,
That great chess-player, Heaven, to entertain;
It moves us on life’s chess-board to and fro,
And then in death’s dark box shuts up again.
You ask what is this life so frail, so vain,
’Tis long to tell, yet will I make it plain;
’Tis but a breath blown from the vasty deeps,
And then blown back to those same deeps again!
To-day to heights of rapture have I soared,
Yea, and with drunken Maghs pure wine adored;
I am become beside myself, and rest
In that pure temple, “Am not I your Lord?”
My queen (long may she live to vex her slave!)
To-day a token of affection gave,
Darting a kind glance from her eyes, she passed,
And said, “Do good and cast it on the wave!”
I put my lips to the cup, for I did yearn
The hidden cause of length of days to learn;
He leaned his lip to mine, and whispered low,
“Drink! for, once gone, you never will return.”
We lay in the cloak of Naught, asleep and still,
Thou said’st, “Awake! taste the world’s good and ill”;
Here we are puzzled by Thy strange command,
From slanted jars no single drop to spill.
O Thou! who know’st the secret thoughts of all,
In time of sorest need who aidest all,
Grant me repentance, and accept my plea,
O Thou who dost accept the pleas of all!
I saw a bird perched on the walls of Tus,
Before him lay the skull of Kai Kawus,
And thus he made his moan, “Alas, poor king!
Thy drums are hushed, thy ’larums have rung truce.”
Ask not the chances of the time to be,
And for the past, ’tis vanished, as you see;
This ready-money breath set down as gain,
Future and past concern not you or me.
What launched that golden orb his course to run,
What wrecks his firm foundations, when ’tis done,
No man of science ever weighed with scales,
Nor made assay with touchstone, no, not one!
I pray thee to my counsel lend thine ear,
Cast off this false hypocrisy’s veneer;
This life a moment is, the next all time;
Sell not eternity for earthly gear!
Ofttimes I plead my foolishness to Thee,
My heart contracted with perplexity;
I gird me with the Magian zone, and why?
For shame so poor a Mussulman to be.
Khayyam! rejoice that wine you still can pour,
And still the charms of tulip cheeks adore;
You’ll soon not be, rejoice then that you are,
Think how ’twould be in case you were no more!
Once, in a potter’s shop, a company
Of cups in converse did I chance to see,
And lo! one lifted up his voice, and cried,
“Who made, who sells, who buys this crockery? “
Last night, as I reeled from the tavern door,
I saw a sage, who a great wine-jug bore;
I said, “O Shaikh, have you no shame?” Said he,
“Allah hath boundless mercy in his store.”
Life’s fount is wine, Khizir its guardian,
I, like Elias, find it where I can;
’Tis sustenance for heart and spirit too,
Allah himself calls wine “a boon to man.”
Though wine is banned, yet drink, forever drink!
By day and night, with strains of music drink!
Where’er thou lightest on a cup of wine,
Spill just one drop, and take the rest and drink!
Although the creeds number some seventy-three,
I hold with none but that of loving Thee;
What matter faith, unfaith, obedience, sin?
Thou’rt all we need, the rest is vanity.
Tell one by one my scanty virtues o’er;
As for my sins, forgive them by the score;
Let not my faults kindle Thy wrath to flame;
By blest Mohammed’s tomb, forgive once more!
Grieve not at coming ill, you can’t defeat it,
And what far-sighted person goes to meet it?
Cheer up! bear not about a world of grief,
Your fate is fixed, and grieving will not cheat it.
There is a chalice made with wit profound,
With tokens of the Maker’s favor crowned;
Yet the world’s Potter takes his masterpiece,
And dashes it to pieces on the ground!
In truth wine is a spirit thin as air,
A limpid soul in the cup’s earthen ware;
No dull, dense person shall be friend of mine
Save wine-cups, which are dense and also rare.
O wheel of heaven! no ties of bread you feel,
No ties of salt, you flay me like an eel!
A woman’s wheel spins clothes for man and wife,
It does more good than you, O heavenly wheel!
Did no fair rose my paradise adorn,
I would make shift to deck it with a thorn;
And if I lacked my prayer-mats, beads, and Shaikh,
Those Christian bells and stoles I would not scorn.
“If heaven deny me peace and fame,” I said,
“Let it be open war and shame instead;
The man who scorns bright wine had best beware,
I’ll arm me with a stone, and break his head!”
See! the dawn breaks, and rends night’s canopy:
Arise! and drain a morning draught with me!
Away with gloom! full many a dawn will break
Looking for us, and we not here to see!
O you who tremble not at fires of hell,
Nor wash in water of remorse’s well,
When winds of death shall quench your vital torch,
Beware lest earth your guilty dust expel.
This world a hollow pageant you should deem;
All wise men know things are not what they seem;
Be of good cheer, and drink, and so shake off
This vain illusion of a baseless dream.
With maids stately as cypresses, and fair
As roses newly plucked, your wine-cups share,
Or e’er Death’s blasts shall rend your robe of fiesh
Like yonder rose-leaves, lying scattered there!
Cast off dull care, O melancholy brother!
Woo the sweet daughter of the grape, no other;
The daughter is forbidden, it is true,
But she is nicer than her lawful mother!
My love shone forth, and I was overcome,
My heart was speaking, but my tongue was dumb;
Beside the water-brooks I died of thirst.
Was ever known so strange a martyrdom?
Give me my cup in hand, and sing a glee
In concert with the bulbul’s symphony;
Wine would not gurgle as it leaves the flask,
If drinking mute were right for thee and me!
The “Truth “ will not be shown to lofty thought,
Nor yet with lavished gold may it be bought;
But, if you yield your life for fifty years,
From words to “states “ you may perchance be brought.
I solved all problems, down from Saturn’s wreath
Unto this lowly sphere of earth beneath,
And leapt out free from bonds of fraud and lies,
Yea, every knot was loosed, save that of death!
Peace! the eternal “Has been” and “To be”
Pass man’s experience, and man’s theory;
In joyful seasons naught can vie with wine,
To all these riddles wine supplies the key!
Allah, our Lord, is merciful, though just;
Sinner! despair not, but His mercy trust!
For though to-day you perish in your sins,
To-morrow He’ll absolve your crumbling dust.
Your course annoys me, O ye wheeling skies!
Unloose me from your chain of tyrannies!
If none but fools your favors may enjoy,
Then favor me—I am not very wise!
O City Mufti, you go more astray
Than I do, though to wine I do give way;
I drink the blood of grapes, you that of men:
Which of us is the more bloodthirsty, pray?
’Tis well to drink, and leave anxiety
For what is past, and what is yet to be;
Our prisoned spirits, lent us for a day,
A while from season’s bondage shall go free!
When Khayyam quittance at Death’s hand receives,
And sheds his outworn life, as trees their leaves,
Full gladly will he sift this world away,
’Ere dustmen sift his ashes in their sieves.
This wheel of heaven, which makes us all afraid,
I liken to a lamp’s revolving shade,
The sun the candlestick, the earth the shade,
And men the trembling forms thereon portrayed.
Who was it that did mix my clay? Not I.
Who spun my web of silk and wool? Not I.
Who wrote upon my forehead all my good,
And all my evil deeds? In truth not I.
O let us not forecast to-morrow’s fears,
But count to-day as gain, my brave compeers!
To-morrow we shall quit this inn, and march
With comrades who have marched seven thousand years.
Ne’er for one moment leave your cup unused!
Wine keeps heart, faith, and reason too, amused;
Had Iblis swallowed but a single drop,
To worship Adam he had ne’er refused!
Come, dance! while we applaud thee, and adore
Thy sweet Narcissus eyes, and grape-juice pour;
A score of cups is no such great affair,
But ’tis enchanting when we reach three score!
I close the door of hope in my own face,
Nor sue for favors from good men, or base;
I have but One to lend a helping hand—
He knows, as well as I, my sorry case.
Ah! by these heavens, that ever circling run,
And by my own base lusts I am undone,
Without the wit to abandon worldly hopes,
And wanting sense the world’s allures to shun!
On earth’s green carpet many sleepers lie,
And hid beneath it others I descry;
And others, not yet come, or passed away,
People the desert of Non-entity!
Sure of Thy grace, for sins why need I fear?
How can the pilgrim faint whilst Thou art near?
On the last day Thy grace will wash me white,
And make my “black record “ to disappear.
Think not I dread from out the world to hie,
And see my disembodied spirit fly;
I tremble not at death, for death is true,
’Tis my ill life that makes me fear to die!
Let us shake off dull reason’s incubus,
Our tale of days or years cease to discuss,
And take our jugs, and plenish them with wine,
Or e’er grim potters make their jugs of us!
How much more wilt thou chide, O raw divine,
For that I drink, and am a libertine?
Thou hast thy weary beads, and saintly show,
Leave me my cheerful sweetheart, and my wine!
Against my lusts I ever war, in vain,
I think on my ill deeds with shame and pain;
I trust Thou wilt assoil me of my sins,
But even so, my shame must still remain.
In these twin compasses, O Love, you see
One body with two heads, like you and me,
Which wander round one center, circlewise,
But at the last in one same point agree.
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.
In reverent sort to mosque I wend my way,
But, by great Allah, it is not to pray;
No! but to steal a prayer-mat! When ’tis worn,
I go again, another to purvey.
No more let fate’s annoys our peace consume,
But let us rather rosy wine consume;
The world our murderer is, and wine its blood,
Shall we not then that murderer’s blood consume?
For Thee I vow to cast repute away,
And, if I shrink, the penalty to pay;
Though life might satisfy Thy cruelty,
’Twere naught, I’ll bear it till the judgment-day!
In Being’s rondure de we stray belated,
Our pride of manhood humbled and abated;
Would we were gone! long since have we been wearied
With this world’s griefs, and with its pleasures sated.
The world is false, so I’ll be false as well,
And with bright wine, and gladness ever dwell!
They say, “May Allah grant thee penitence!”
He grants it not, and, did he, I’d rebel!
When Death shall tread me down upon the plain,
And pluck my feathers, and my life-blood drain,
Then mold me to a cup, and fill with wine;
Haply its scent will make me breathe again.
So far as this world’s dealings I have traced,
I find its favors shamefully misplaced;
Allah be praised! I see myself debarred
From all its boons, and wrongfully disgraced.
’Tis dawn! my heart with wine I will recruit,
And dash to bits the glass of good repute;
My long-extending hopes I will renounce,
And grasp long tresses, and the charming lute.
Though I had sinned the sins of all mankind,
I know Thou would’st to mercy be inclined;
Thou sayest, “I will help in time of need.”
One needier than I where wilt Thou find?
Am I a wine-bibber? What if I am?
Gueber or infidel? Suppose I am?
Each sect miscalls me, but I heed them not,
I am my own, and, what I am, I am.
All my life long from drink I have not ceased.
And drink I will to-night on Sadr’s feast:
And throw my arms about the wine-jar’s neck,
And kiss its lip, and clasp it to my breast!
I know what is, and what is not, I know
The lore of things above, and things below;
But all this lore will cheerfully renounce,
If one a higher grade than drink can show.
Though I drink wine, I am no libertine,
Nor am I grasping, save of cups of wine;
I scruple to adore myself, like you;
For this cause to wine-worship I incline.
To confidants like you I dare to say
What mankind really are—molded of clay,
Affliction’s clay, and kneaded in distress,
They taste the world awhile, then pass away.
We make the wine-jar’s lip our place of prayer,
And drink in lessons of true manhood there,
And pass our lives in taverns, if perchance
The time misspent in mosques we may repair.
Man is the whole creation’s summary,
The precious apple of great wisdom’s eye;
The circle of existence is a ring,
Whereof the signet is humanity.
With fancies, as with wine, our heads we turn,
Aspire to heaven, and earth’s low trammels spurn;
But, when we drop this fleshly clog, ’tis seen
From dust we came, and back to dust return.
If so it be that I did break the fast,
Think not I meant it; no! I thought ’twas past—
That day more weary than a sleepless night—
And blessed breakfast-time had come at last!
I never drank of joy’s sweet cordial,
But grief’s fell hand infused a drop of gall;
Nor dipped my bread in pleasure’s piquant salt,
But briny sorrow made me smart withal!
At dawn to tavern-haunts I wend my way,
And with distraught Salendars pass the day;
O Thou! who know’st things secret, and things known,
Grant me Thy grace, that I may learn to pray!
The world’s annoys I rate not at one grain,
So I eat once a day I don’t complain;
And, since earth’s kitchen yields no solid food,
I pester no man with petitions vain.
Never from worldly toils have I been free,
Never for one short moment glad to be!
I served a long apprenticeship to fate,
But yet of fortune gained no mastery.
One hand with Koran, one with wine-cup dight,
I half incline to wrong, and half to right;
The azure-marbled sky looks down on me,
A sorry Muslim, yet not heathen quite.
Khayyam’s respects to Mustafa convey,
And with due reverence ask him to say,
Why it has pleased him to forbid pure wme,
When he allows his people acid whey?
Tell Khayyam, for a master of the schools,
He strangely misinterprets my plain rules:
Where have I said that wine is wrong for all?
’Tis lawful for the wise, but not for fools.
My critics call me a philosopher,
But Allah knows full well they greatly err;
I know not even what I am, much less
Why on this earth I am a sojourner!
The more I die to self, I live the more,
The more abase myself, the higher soar;
And, strange! the more I drink of Being’s wine,
More sane I grow and sober than before.
Quoth rose, “I am the Yusuf flower, I swear,
For in my mouth rich golden gems I bear “:
I said, “Show me another proof.” Quoth she,
“Behold this blood-stained vesture that I wear! “
I studied with the masters long ago,
And long ago did master all they know;
Here now the end and issue of it all,
From earth I came, and like the wind I go!
Death finds us soiled, though we were pure at birth,
With grief we go, although we came with mirth;
Watered with tears, and burned with fires of woe,
And, casting life to winds, we rest in earth!
To find great Jamshid’s world-reflecting bowl
I compassed sea and land, and viewed the whole;
But, when I asked the wary sage, I learned
That bowl was my own body, and my soul!
Me, cruel Queen! you love to captivate,
And from a knight to a poor pawn trarlslate;
You marshal all your force to tire me out,
You take my rooks with yours, and then checkmate!
If Allah wills me not to will aright,
Row can I frame my will to will aright?
Each single act I will must needs be wrong,
Since none but He has power to will aright.
“For once, while roses are in bloom,” I said,
“I’ll break the law, and please myself instead,
With blooming youths, and maidens’ tulip cheeks
The plain shall blossom like a tulip-bed.”
Think not I am existent of myself,
Or walk this blood-stained pathway of myself;
This being is not I, it is of Him.
Pray what, and where, and whence is this “myself”?
Endure this world without my wine I cannot!
Drag on life’s load without my cups I cannot!
I am the slave of that sweet moment, when
They say, “Take one more goblet,” and I can not!
You, who both day and night the world pursue,
And thoughts of that dread day of doom eschew,
Bethink you of your latter end; be sure
As time has treated others, so ’twill you!
O man, who are creation’s summary,
Getting and spending too much trouble thee!
Arise, and quaff the Etern Cupbearer’s wine,
And so from troubles of both worlds be free!
In this eternally revolving zone,
Two lucky species of men are known;
One knows all good and ill that are on earth,
One neither earth’s affairs, nor yet his own.
Make light to me the world’s oppressive weight,
And hide my failings from the people’s hate,
And grant me peace to-day, and on the morrow
Deal with me as Thy mercy may dictate!
Souls that are well informed of this world’s state,
Its weal and woe with equal mind await:
For, be it weal we meet, or be it woe,
The weal doth pass, and woe too hath its date.
Lament not fortune’s want of constancy,
But up! and seize her favors ere they fee;
If fortune always cleaved to other men,
How could a turn of luck have come to thee?
Chief of old friends! harken to what I say,
Let not heaven’s treacherous wheel your heart dismay;
But rest contented in your humble nook,
And watch the games that wheel is wont to play.
Hear now Khayyam’s advice, and bear in mind,
Consort with revelers, though they be maligned,
Cast down the gates of abstinence and prayer,
Yea, drink, and even rob, but, oh! be kind!
This world a body is, and God its soul,
And angels are its senses, who control
Its limbs—the creatures, elements, and spheres;
The One is the sole basis of the whole.
Last night that idol who enchants my heart,
With true desire to elevate my heart,
Gave me his cup to drink; when I refused,
He said, “Oh, drink to gratify my heart!”
Would’st thou have fortune bow her neck to thee,
Make it thy care to feed thy soul with glee;
And hold a creed like mine, which is to drain
The cup of wine, not that of misery.
Though you survey, O my enlightened friend,
This world of vanity from end to end,
You will discover there no other good
Than wine and rosy cheeks, you may depend!
Last night upon the river bank we lay,
I with my wine-cup, and a maiden gay,
So bright it shone, like pearl within its shell,
The watchman cried, “Behold the break of day!”
Have you no shame for all the sins you do,
Sins of omission and commission, too?
Suppose you gain the world, you can but leave it,
You can not carry it away with you!
In a lone waste I saw a debauchee,
He had no home, no faith, no heresy,
No God, no truth, no law, no certitude;
Where in this world is man so bold as he?
Some look for truth in creeds, and forms, and rules;
Some grope for doubts or dogmas in the schools;
But from behind the veil a voice proclaims,
“Your road lies neither here nor there, O fools.”
In heaven is seen the bull we name Parwin,
Beneath the earth another lurks unseen;
And thus to wisdom’s eyes mankind appear
A drove of asses, two great bulls between!
The people say, “Why not drink somewhat less?
What reasons have you for such great excess? “
First, my Love’s face, second, my morning draught;
Can there be clearer reasons, now confess?
Had I the power great Allah to advise,
I’d bid him sweep away this earth and skies,
And build a better, where, unclogged and free,
The clear soul might achieve her high emprise.
This silly sorrow-laden heart of mine
Is ever pining for that love of mine;
When the Cupbearer poured the wine of love,
With my heart’s blood he filled this cup of mine!
To drain the cup, to hover round the fair,
Can hypocritic arts with these compare?
If all who love and drink are going wrong,
There’s many a wight of heaven may well despair!
’Tis wrong with gloomy thoughts your mirth to drown—
To let grief’s millstone weigh your spirits down;
Since none can tell what is to be, ’tis best
With wine and love your heart’s desires to crown.
’Tis well in reputation to abide,
’Tis shameful against heaven to rail and chide;
Still, head had better ache with over-drink,
Than be puffed up with Pharisaic pride!
O Lord! pity this prisoned heart, I pray,
Pity this bosom stricken with dismay!
Pardon these hands that ever grasp the cup,
These feet that to the tavern ever stray!
O Lord! from self-conceit deliver me,
Sever from self, and occupy with Thee!
This self is captive to earth’s good and ill,
Make me beside myself, and set me free!
Behold the tricks this wheeling dome doth play,
And earth laid bare of old friends torn away!
O live this present moment, which is thine,
Seek not a morrow, mourn not yesterday!
Since all man’s business in this world of woe
Is sorrow’s pangs to feel, and grief to know,
Happy are they that never come at all,
And they that, having come, the soonest go!
By reason’s dictates it is right to live,
But of ourselves we know not how to live,
So Fortune, like a master, rod in hand,
Raps our pates well to teach us how to live!
Nor you nor I can read the etern decree,
To that enigma we can find no key;
They talk of you and me behtnd the veil,
But, if that veil be lifted, where are we?
O Love, forever doth heaven’s wheel design
To take away thy precious life, and mine;
Sit we upon this turf, ’twill not be long
’Ere turf shall grow upon my dust, and thine!
When life has Bed, and we rest in the tomb,
They’ll place a pair of bricks to mark our tomb;
And, a while after, mold our dust to bricks,
To furnish forth some other person’s tomb!
Yon palace, towering to the welkin blue,
Where kings did bow them down, and homage do,
I saw a ringdove on its arches perched,
And thus she made complaint, “Coo, Coo, Coo, Coo!”
We come and go, but for the gain, where is it?
And spin life’s woof, but for the warp, where is it?
And many a righteous man has burned to dust
In heaven’s blue rondure, but their smoke, where is it?
Life’s well-spring lurks within that lip of thine!
Let not the cup’s lip touch that lip of thine!
Beshrew me, if I fail to drink his blood,
For who is he, to touch that lip of thine?
Such as I am, Thy power created me,
Thy care hath kept me for a century!
Through all these years I make experiment,
If my sins or Thy mercy greater be.
“Take up thy cup and goblet, Love,” I said,
“Haunt purling river bank, and grassy glade;
Full many a moon-like form has heaven’s wheel
Oft into cup, oft into goblet, made!”
We buy new wine and old, our cups to fill,
And sell for two grains this world’s good and ill;
Know you where you will go to after death?
Set wine before me, and go where you will!
Was e’er man born who never went astray?
Did ever mortal pass a sinless day?
If I do ill, do not requite with ill!
Evil for evil how can’st Thou repay?
Bring forth that ruby gem of Badakhshan,
That heart’s delight, that balm of Turkestan;
They say ’tis wrong for Mussulmans to drink,
But ah! where can we find a Mussulman?
My body’s life and strength proceed from Thee!
My soul within and spirit are of Thee!
My being is of Thee, and Thou art mine,
And I am Thine, since I am lost in Thee!
Man, like a ball, hither and thither goes,
As fate’s resistless bat directs the blows;
But He, who gives thee up to this rude sport,
He knows what drives thee, yea, He knows, He knows!
O Thou who givest sight to emmet’s eyes,
And strength to puny limbs of feeble flies,
To Thee we will ascribe Almighty power,
And not base, unbecoming qualities.
Let not base avarice enslave thy mind,
Nor vain ambition in its trammels bind;
Be sharp as fire, as running water swift,
Not, like earth’s dust, the sport of every wind!
’Tis best all other blessings to forego
For wine, that charming Turki maids bestow;
Kalendars’ raptures pass all things that are,
From moon on high down into fish below!
Friend! trouble not yourself about your lot,
Let futile care and sorrow be forgot;
Since this life’s vesture crumbles into dust,
What matters stain of word or deed, or blot?
O thou who hast done ill, and ill alone,
And thinkest to find mercy at the throne,
Hope not for mercy! for good left undone
Can not be done, nor evil done undone!
Count not to live beyond your sixtieth year,
To walk in jovial courses persevere;
And ere your skull be turned into a cup,
Let wine-cups ever to your hand adhere!
These heavens resemble an inverted cup,
Whereto the wise with awe keep gazing up;
So stoops the bottle o’er his love, the cup,
Feigning to kiss, and gives her blood to sup!
I sweep the tavern threshold with my hair,
For both world’s good and ill I take no care;
Should the two worlds roll to my house, like balls,
When drunk, for one small coin I’d sell the pair!
The drop wept for his severance from the sea,
But the sea smiled, for “I am all,” said he,
“The Truth is all, nothing exists beside,
That one point circling apes plurality.”
Shall I still sigh for what I have not got,
Or try with cheerfulness to bear my lot?
Fill up my cup! I know not if the breath
I now am drawing is my last, or not!
Yield not to grief, though fortune prove unkind,
Nor call sad thoughts of parted friends to mind;
Devote thy heart to sugary lips, and wine,
Cast not thy precious life unto the wind!
Of mosque and prayer and fast preach not to me,
Rather go drink, were it on charity!
Yea, drink, Khayyam, your dust will soon be made
A jug, or pitcher, or a cup, may be!
Bulbuls, doting on roses, oft complain
How froward breezes rend their veils in twain;
Sit we beneath this rose, which many a time
Has sunk to earth, and sprung from earth again.
Suppose the world goes well with you, what then?
When life’s last page is read and turned, what then?
Suppose you live a hundred years of bliss,
Yea, and a hundred years besides, what then?
How is it that of all the leafy tribe,
Cypress and lily men as “free “ describe?
This has a dozen tongues, yet holds her peace,
That has a hundred hands which take no bribe.
Cupbearer, bring my wine-cup, let me grasp it!
Bring that delicious darling, let me grasp it!
That pleasing chain which tangles in its coils
Wise men and fools together, let me grasp it!
Alas! my wasted life has gone to wrack!
What with forbidden meats, and lusts, alack!
And leaving undone what ’twas right to do,
And doing wrong, my face is very black!
I could repent of all, but of wine, never!
I could dispense with all, but with wine, never!
If so be I became a Mussulman,
Could I abjure my Magian wine? no, never!
We rest our hopes on Thy free grace alone,
Nor seek by merits for our sins to atone;
Mercy drops where it lists, and estimates
Ill done as undone, good undone as done.
This is the form Thou gavest me of old,
Wherein Thou workest marvels manifold;
Can I aspire to be a better man,
Or other than I issued from Thy mold?
O Lord! to Thee all creatures worship pay,
To Thee both small and great forever pray,
Thou takest woe away, and givest weal,
Give then, or, if it please Thee, take away!
With going to and fro in this sad vale
Thou art grown double, and thy credit stale,
Thy nails are thickened like a horse’s hoof,
Thy beard is ragged as an ass’s tail.
O unenlightened race of humankind,
Ye are a nothing, built on empty wind!
Yea, a mere nothing, hovering in the abyss,
A void before you, and a void behind!
Each morn I say, “To-night I will repent
Of wine, and tavern-haunts no more frequent “;
But while ’tis spring, and roses are in bloom,
To loose me from my promise, O consent!
Vain study of philosophy eschew!
Rather let tangled curls attract your view;
And shed the bottle’s life-blood in your cup,
Or e’er death shed your blood, and feast on you.
O heart! can’st thou the darksome riddle read,
Where wisest men have failed, wilt thou succeed?
Quaff wine, and make thy heaven here below,
Who knows if heaven above will be thy meed?
They that have passed away, and gone before,
Sleep in delusion’s dust for evermore;
Go, boy, and fetch some wine, this is the truth,
Their dogmas were but air, and wind their lore!
O heart! when on the Loved One’s sweets you feed,
You lose yourself, but find your Self indeed;
And, when you drink of His entrancing cup,
You hasten your escape from quick and dead!
Though I am wont a wine-bibber to be,
Why should the people rail and chide at me?
Would that all evil actions made men drunk,
For then no sober people should I see!
Child of four elements and sevenfold heaven,
Who fume and sweat because of these eleven,
Drink! I have told you seventy times and seven,
Once gone, nor hell will send you back, nor heaven.
With many a snare Thou dost beset my way,
And threatenest, if I fall therein, to slay;
Thy rule resistless sways the world, yet Thou
Imputest sin, when I do but obey!
To Thee, whose essence baffles human thought,
Our sins and righteous deeds alike seem naught;
May Thy grace sober me, though drunk with sins,
And pardon all the ill that I have wrought!
If this life were indeed an empty play,
Each day would be an ’lid of festal day,
And men might conquer all their hearts’ desire,
Fearless of after penalties to pay!
O wheel of heaven, you thwart my heart’s desire,
And rend to shreds my scanty joy’s attire,
The water that I drink you foul with earth,
And turn the very air I breathe to fire!
O soul! could you but doff this flesh and bone,
You’d soar a sprite about the heavenly throne;
Had you no shame to leave your starry home,
And dwell an alien on this earthly zone?
Ah, potter, stay thine hand! with ruthless art
Put not to such base use man’s mortal part!
See, thou art mangling on thy cruel wheel
Faridun’s fingers, and Kai Khosrau’s heart!
O rose! all beauties’ charms thou dost excel,
As wine excels the pearl within its shell;
O fortune! thou dost ever show thyself
More strange, although I seem to know thee well!
From this world’s kitchen crave not to obtain
Those dainties, seeming real, but really vain,
Which greedy worldlings gorge to their own loss;
Renounce that loss, so loss shall prove thy gain!
Plot not of nights, thy fellows’ peace to blight,
So that they cry to God the live-long night;
Nor plume thee on thy wealth and might, which thieves
May steal by night, or death, or fortune’s might.
This soul of mine was once Thy cherished bride,
What caused Thee to divorce her from Thy side?
Thou didst not use to treat her thus of yore,
Why then now doom her in the world to abide?
Ah! would there were a place of rest from pain,
Which we, poor pilgrims, might at last attain,
And after many thousand wintry years,
Renew our life, like flowers, and bloom again!
While in love’s book I sought an augury;
An ardent youth cried out in ecstasy,
“Who owns a sweetheart beauteous as the moon
Might wish his moments long as years to be!”
Winter is past, and spring-tide has begun,
Soon will the pages of life’s book be done!
Well saith the sage, “Life is a poison rank,
And antidote, save grape-juice, there is none.”
Beloved, if thou a reverend Mullah be,
Quit saintly show, and feigned austerity,
And quaff the wine that Murtaza purveys,
And sport with Houris ’neath some shady tree!
Last night I dashed my cup against a stone,
In a mad drunken freak, as I must own,
And lo! the cup cries out in agony,
“You too, like me, shall soon be overthrown.”
My heart is weary of hypocrisy,
Cupbearer, bring some wine, I beg of thee!
This hooded cowl and prayer-mat pawn for wine,
Then will I boast me in security.
Audit yourself, your truce account to frame,
See! you go empty, as you empty came;
You say, “I will not drink and peril life,”
But, drink or no, you must die all the same!
Open the door ! O entrance who procurest,
And guide the way, O Thou of guides the surest!
Directors born of men shall not direct me,
Their counsel comes to naught, but Thou endurest!
In slandering and reviling you persist,
Calling me infidel and atheist:
My errors I will not deny, but yet
Does foul abuse become a moralist?
To find a remedy, put up with pain,
Chafe not at woe, and healing thou wilt gain;
Though poor, be ever of a thankful mind,
’Tis the sure method riches to obtain.
Give me a skin of wine, a crust of bread,
A pittance bare, a book of verse to read;
With thee, O love, to share my lowly roof,
I would not take the Sultan’s realm instead!
Reason not of the five, nor of the four,
Be their dark problems one, or many score;
We are but earth—Go, minstrel, bring the lute!
We are but air—Bring wine; I ask no more!
Why argue on Yasin and on Barat?
Write me the draft for wine they call Barat!
The day my weariness is drowned in wine
Will seem to me as the great night Barat!
Whilst thou dost wear this fleshy livery,
Step not beyond the bounds of destiny;
Bear up, though very Rustems be thy foes,
And crave no boon from friends like Hatim Tai!
These ruby lips, and wine, and minstrel boys,
And lute, and harp, your dearly cherished toys,
Are mere redundancies, and you are naught,
’Till you renounce the world’s delusive joys.
Bow down, heaven’s tyranny to undergo,
Quaff wine to face the world, and all its woe;
Your origin and end are both in earth,
But now you are above earth, not below!
You know all secrets of this earthly sphere,
Why then remain a prey to empty fear?
You can not bend things to your will, but yet
Cheer up for the few moments you are here!
Behold, where’er we turn our ravished eyes,
Sweet verdure springs, and crystal Kausars rise;
And plains, once bare as hell, now smile as heaven:
Enjoy this heaven with maids of Paradise!
Never in this false world on friends rely,
(I give this counsel confidentially);
Put up with pain, and seek no antidote;
Endure your grief, and ask no sympathy!
Of wisdom’s dictates two are principal,
Surpassing all your lore traditional;
Better to fast than eat of every meat,
Better to live alone than mate with all!
Why unripe grapes are sharp, prithee explain,
And then grow sweet, while wine is sharp again?
When one has carved a block into a lute,
Can he from that same block a pipe obtain?
When dawn doth silver the dark firmament,
Why shrills the bird of dawning his lament?
It is to show in dawn’s bright looking-glass
How of thy careless life a night is spent.
Cupbearer, come! from thy full-throated ewer
Pour blood-red wine, the world’s despite to cure!
Where can I find another friend like wine,
So genuine, so solacing, so pure?
Though you should sit in sage Aristo’s room,
Or rival Csesar on his throne of Rum,
Drain Jemshid’s goblet, for your end’s the tomb,
Yea, were you Bahram’s self, your end’s the tomb!
It chanced into a potter’s shop I strayed,
He turned his wheel and deftly plied his trade,
And out of monarchs’ heads, and beggars’ feet,
Fair heads and handles for his pitchers made!
If you have sense, true senselessness attain,
And the Etern Cupbearer’s goblet drain;
If not, true senselessness is not for you—
Not every fool true senselessness can gain!
O Love! before you pass death’s portal through,
And potters make their jugs of me and you,
Pour from this jug some wine, of headache void,
And fill your cup, and fill my goblet too!
O Love! while yet you can, with tender art,
Lift sorrow’s burden from your lover’s heart;
Your wealth of graces will not always last,
But slip from your possession, and depart!
Bestir thee, ere death’s cup for thee shall flow,
And blows of ruthless fortune lay thee low;
Acquire some substance here, there is none there,
For those who thither empty-handed go!
Who framed the lots of quick and dead but Thou?
Who turns the troublous wheel of heaven but Thou?
Though we are sinful slaves, is it for Thee
To blame us? Who created us but Thou?
O wine, most limpid, pure, and crystalline,
Would I could drench this silly frame of mine
With thee, that passers-by might think ’twas thou,
And cry, “Whence comest thou, fair master wine?”
A Shaikh beheld a harlot, and quoth he,
“You seem a slave to drink and lechery ”;
And she made answer, “What I seem I am,
But, Master, are you all you seem to be?”
If, like a ball, earth to my house were borne,
When drunk, I’d rate it at a balrleycorn;
Last night they offered me in pawn for wine,
But the rude vintner laughed that pledge to scorn.
Now in thick clouds Thy face Thou dost immerse,
And now display it in this universe;
Thou the spectator, Thou the spectacle,
Sole to Thyself Thy glories dost rehearse.
Better to make one soul rejoice with glee,
Than plant a desert with a colony;
Rather one freeman bind with chains of love,
Than set a thousand prisoned captives free!
O thou who for thy pleasure dost impart
A pang of sorrow to thy fellow’s heart,
Go! mourn thy perished wit, and peace of mind,
Thyself hast slain them, like the fool thou art!
Wherever you can get two maunds of wine,
Set to, and drink it like a libertine;
Whoso acts thus will set his spirit free
From saintly airs like yours, and grief like mine.
So long as I possess two maunds of wine,
Bread of the flower of wheat, and mutton chine,
And you, O Tulip cheek, to share my hut,
Not every Sultan’s lot can vie with mine.
They call you wicked, if to fame you’re known,
And an intriguer, if you live alone;
Trust me, though you were Khizr or Elias,
’Tis best to know none, and of none be known.
Yes! here am I with wine and feres again!
I did repent, but, ah! ’twas all in vain;
Preach not to me of Noah and his flood,
But pour a flood of wine to drown my pain!
For union with my love I sigh in vain,
The pangs of absence I can scarce sustain,
My grief I dare not tell to any friend;
O trouble strange, sweet passion, bitter pain!
’Tis dawn! I hear the loud Muezzin’s call,
And here am I before the vintner’s hall;
This is no time of piety. Be still!
And drop your talk and airs devotional!
Angel of joyful foot! the dawn is nigh;
Pour wine, and lift your tuneful voice on high,
Sing how Jemshids and Khosraus bit the dust,
Whelmed by the rolling months, from Tir to Dai!
Frown not at revelers, I beg of thee,
For all thou keepest righteous company;
But drink, for, drink or no, ’tis all the same,
If doomed to hell, no heaven thou’lt ever see.
I wish that Allah would rebuild these skies,
And earth, and that at once, before my eyes,
And either ’rase my name from off his roll,
Or else relieve my dire necessities!
Lord! make thy bounty’s cup for me to flow,
And bread unbegged for day by day bestow;
Yea, with thy wine make me beside myself.
No more to feel the headache of my woe!
Omar! of burning heart, perchance to burn
In hell, and feed its bale-fires in thy turn,
Presume not to teach Allah clemency,
For who art thou to teach, or He to learn?
Cheer up! your lot was settled yesterday!
Heedless of all that you might do or say,
Without so much as “By your leave” they fixed
Your lot for all the morrows yesterday!
I never would have come, had I been asked,
I would as lief not go, if I were asked,
And, to be short, I would annihilate
All coming, being, going, were I asked!
Man is a cup, his soul the wine therein,
Flesh is a pipe, spirit the voice within;
O Khayyam, have you fathomed what man is?
A magic lantern with a light therein!
O skyey wheel, all base men you supply
With baths, mills, and canals that run not dry,
While good men have to pawn their goods for bread:
Pray, who would give a fig for such a sky?
A potter at his work I chanced to see,
Pounding some earth and shreds of pottery;
I looked with eyes of insight, and methought
’Twas Adam’s dust with which he made so free!
The Saki knows my genus properly,
To all woe’s species he holds a key;
Whene’er my mood is sad he brings me wine,
And that makes all the difference to me!
Dame Fortune! all your acts and deeds confess
That you are foul oppression’s votaress;
You cherish bad men, and annoy the good;
Is this from dotage, or sheer foolishness?
You, who in carnal lusts your time employ,
Wearing your precious spirit with annoy,
Know that these things you set your heart upon
Sooner or later must the soul destroy!
Hear from the spirit-world this mystery:
Creation is summed up, O man, in thee;
Angel and demon, man and beast art thou,
Yea, thou art all thou dost appear to be!
If popularity you would ensue,
Speak well of Muslim, Christian, and Jew;
So shall you be esteemed of great and small,
And none will venture to speak ill of you.
O wheel of heaven, what have I done to you,
That you should thus annoy me? Tell me true;
To get a drink I have to cringe and stoop,
And for my bread you make me beg and sue.
No longer hug your grief and vain despair,
But in this unjust world be just and fair;
And since the issue of the world is naught,
Think you are naught, and so shake off dull care!
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