Tom Leworthy

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

In July 1857 Edward Fitzgerald took six months to translate the rubaiyat or quatrains of Omar Khayyam from a transcript of a Persian manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, England. After publishing this work, he spent the rest of his life adding or reducing the number of quatrains, changing the order or phrasing, publishing a further three editions between 1868 and 1879, and a fifth edition, published in 1889 after his death.
E.F. took a lot of liberties with the text (dated AD 1460, 338 years after the death of Omar Khayyam ), and my edited and illustrated version of 1975, although true to E.F, also rearranges the order of the text somewhat along autobiographical lines. It'll give you some idea where I come from. It's not as dark as it looks, although philosophically I started as a Situationist Nihilist. It is now a place that is a distant memory for me.

Omar Khayyam illustrated by Tom Leworthy

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 !

Omar Khayyam illustrated by Tom Leworthy

So when at last the Angel of the darker drink
Of darkness finds you by the river-brink,
And, proffering his cup, invites your soul
Forth to your lips to quaff it ~ do not shrink.

Omar Khayyam illustrated by Tom Leworthy

And this I know: whether the One True Light,
Kindle to love, or wrath ~ consume me quite,
One glimpse of it within the tavern caught
Better than in the temple lost outright.

Omar Khayyam illustrated by Tom Leworthy

I sent my soul through the Invisible.
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my soul returned to me.
And answer'd 'I myself am Heav'n sand Hell'.

Flourish