Guest poem submitted by M. Shamanth :
(Poem #1640) You know, my Friends, how Long since in my House
You know, my Friends, how long since in my House For a new Marriage I did make Carouse: Divorc'd old barren Reason from my Bed, And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse. For "IS" and "IS-NOT" though with Rule and Line, And "UP-AND-DOWN" without I could define, I yet in all I only cared to know, Was never deep in anything but--Wine. And lately, by the Tavern Door agape, Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and He bid me taste of it; and 'twas--the Grape! The Grape that can with Logic absolute The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute: The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice Life's leaden Metal into Gold transmute: The mighty Mahmúd, the victorious Lord, That all the misbelieving and black Horde Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul Scatters and slays with his enchanted Sword. But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me The Quarrel of the Universe let be: And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht, Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee. For in and out, above, about, below, 'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show, Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun, Round which we Phantom Figures come and go. And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press, End in the Nothing all Things end in--Yes-- Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what Thou shalt be--Nothing--Thou shalt not be less. While the Rose blows along the River Brink, With old Khayyám the Ruby Vintage drink: And when the Angel with his darker Draught Draws up to Thee--take that, and do not shrink. 'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays: Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays, And one by one back in the Closet lays. The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes, But Right or Left as strikes the Player goes; And He that toss'd Thee down into the Field, He knows about it all--HE knows--HE knows! The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it. And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky, Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die, Lift not thy hands to It for help--for It Rolls impotently on as Thou or I. With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man's knead, And then of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed: Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.
Fitzgerald's rendition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is a wonderful piece of hedonist literature. Sometimes depressing with its allusions to fatalism, sometimes a glimmering beacon of hope with its evocation of hope and possibility, but always wonderfully beautiful, carried upon the stilts of idioms and proverbs that give a brilliant clarity, this is a piece of verse that invigorates, makes you sit up every time you look at it, makes you murmur a silent thanks for everything beautiful in life and hope that you don't get carried by cares and worries that infest life. It gives you the belief that perhaps you can walk away from it all, follow yourself, seek pleasures that you've always longed for. Shamanth. [Minstrels Links] The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Poem #162, Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night Poem #342, Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise Poem #545, The Moving Finger Writes; and, Having Writ Poem #654, Think, in this Batter'd Caravanserai Poem #750, Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough Poem #1354, Ah, Love!, Could Thou and I with Fate Conspire