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An Essay and a Bibliography by 

LoNiK)N : David Nutt, 270. 271 Stram;. 

Liverpool : The Livkiipool 
B00KSKLLICK.S' Co. LiM. 70 Lord Stki kt. 



COPYRIGHT, February, 1809. 

Si'coND Edition, Fkb., 1800. 







Interest in ihc literature of Persia is i:ompara- 
tively of recent date, and fifty years ago Omar 
Khayyam* was a name and nothing more. The 
present professor of Sanscrit at Cambridge, Mr. 
E. B. Cowell, is to be credited with the pro- 
duction of modern interest in Omar, thougli the 
fatherhood was accidental, and, no doubt, caused 
him some qualms of conscience, for we read in 
one of the translator's letters that — " Cowell, to 
whom I sent a copy, was naturally alarmed at it ; 
he being a very religious man I" In 1 846 we find 
Edward FitzGerald — a name destined to become 
inseparably linked with that of Omar Khayyam in 
the English-speaking world — admiring Cowell's 
translation of Hafiz, the leading Persian poet. 
Eventually he studied Persian under Cowell's 

* See Appendix 1 . 

tuition, and when Cowell left England for India 
FitzGcrald found his studies to be a bond of union 
between England and that " somewhere East of 
Suez/' where his friend lived for a time. 

FitzGerald's interest in the language progressed, 
and in 1854 he made his appearance as a translator 
of Persian, with an English rendering of Jami's 
" Sald?ndn a ?id Abseil ^ But not till 1857 ^^^ there 
any , mention in his letters of the subject of this 
essay when he writes to Cowell, " Hafiz and Old 
Omar Khayyam ring like true metal. The philoso- 
phy of the latter is, alas ! one that never fails in 
this world." This is the first intimation we have 
of Edward FitzGerald's interest in that Persian 
flower which he eventually transplanted from its 
native soil to bloom for ever in the garden of 
English literature. 

The year 1857 ^^ ^^'-^ most conspicuous in his 
life, devoted as it was chiefly to the translation of 
the ' Ruhdiydr of Omar Khayyam. FitzGerald 
tells the story in his own way, in a letter to W 
H. Thompson, Master of Trinity: — "As to my 
own Peccadilloes in Verse, which never pretend 
to be original, this is the story of the ' Riihdiydt^ 
I had translated them partly for Cowell; young 

Parker asked me some years ago for sometliing for 
Fraser*, and I gave him the less wicked of these to 
use if he chose. He kept them for two years 
without using ; and as I saw he did'nt want them 
I printed some copies with Quaritch ; and keeping 
some for myself, gave him the rest." FitzGerald 
only gave about three copies away to his friends. 
Mr. Quaritch evidently found his stock a drug in 
the market, and finally consigned the lot to 
the box marked " 4d. each,"! where the strange 
little pamphlet, in its brown paper cover, without 
name of translator, took its chance with many 
other literary waifs and strays, until one day 
in i860, so the story runs, the poet Dante 
Gabrielle Rossetti discovered the treasure, and 
showed it to his friend Swinburne. We can fully 
imagine with what delight that distinguished 
coterie, including the Rossettis, Swinburne, 
William Morris, Theodore Watts-Dunton, Bell 
Scott, and Thos. Woolner, would have in the 
discovery. From this time the success of the 

* Fraser's JNIagazine. 

t Mr. Justin Huntly ^McCaithy varies the story by consi^H- 
ing the pamphlet to the box marked "id. each." 

work was secured, though it was nearly ten years 
before another edition was required, but interest 
in the work grew and during FitzGerald's lifetime 
four editions in all were produced in England, and 
since his death in 1883 numerous editions have 
been issued both in England and America. 

Within the last sixteen years several other trans- 
lations have appeared both in prose and verse. 
Messrs. E. H. Whinfield, John Leslie Garner, and 
John Payne have produced metrical versions ; Mr. 
Justin Huntly McCarthy a prose version, and a 
literal translation by Mr. Herron- Allen are 
among the number, as well as a paraphrase, 
from several literal translations, by Mr. Richard 
Le Gallienne The work has also been illus- 
trated, notably by Elihu Vedder, the Ameri- 
can artist, who has treated the subject with 
much breadth and imagination, and more recently 
by Mr. W. B. McDougall, who has produced an 
edition with decorative borders, in black and white, 
of distinct originality; whilst the quaint drawings 
of Mr. Gilbert James, which have appeared in 
The Ski'lch, are worthy of rescues from the unstable 
domain of periodical literature, and publication in 

some more durable form. * Each of these artists 
has been inspired by FitzGerald's version. Besides 
this, London now boasts an " Omar Khay\'dm " 
Club, which does equal honour to both the Persian 
and the '•English Omar," as Edward FitzGerald 
has been called. And many of our poets, from 
Tennyson to Le Gallienne, have sung the praise of 
each. And all this from the simple beginning in 
the genial wish of FitzGerald to have something in 
common with his friend Cowell. Writing to Fre- 
deric Tennyson in 1854, he says: — "I amuse myself 
with poking out some Persian which E. Cowell 
would inaugurate me with : I go on with it because 
it is a point in common with him, and enables us 
to study a little together." 

♦Since going to press Mr. James hns; issued these drawings 
iu book-fonn, and the careful manner in which they have been 
processed brings out their many excellencies, particularly the 
subtle Eastern feeling with which they are imbued, and 
what would appear as merely "quaint" in the necessarily 
hurried work of the newspaper here becomes in many instances, 
the expression of a rare imagination. 



Jn the republic of Art there are a few choice 
individualities that stand apart from their work as 
lovable beings — exquisite souls whose biographies 
are read with the same delight as a beautiful poem. 
Men who have lived down the petty ambitions of 
the " compact majority" and risen superior to the 
desires that make the many commonplace. Some 
have suppressed themselves in the love of others, 
some have borne cruel disease with happy fortitude ; 
others, by the genial radiance of their souls have 
been a source of delight to all who knew them ; to 
this class belongs the gentle and unselfish Charles 
Lamb, the witty and patient Tom Hood, the 
generous and vivacious Robert Louis Stevenson, 
and I would add the kind, quaint, and genial 
translator of the "■ Ruhdiydf" of Omar Khayyam. 

Edward FiizGerald occupied about seventy-five 
years of this century — a man always spoken of 
lovingly— reclusive in his habits, with ample means 

and a taste for art, dabbling in pictures and music, 
and gaining perfection in certain branches of the 
literary craft. A fine sincerity was the dominant 
note of his character, and his friendships, which 
were of life-long duration, were with many of his 
leading contemporaries, including Alfred and 
Frederick Tennyson, Carlyle, and Thackeray, He 
married, but being by nature a bachelor, a separa- 
tion was the result, which was made mutually 
agreeable. His letters comprise a volume that 
takes a prominent place in the hearts of those who es- 
teem a strong and lovable nature and admire felicity 
of phrase. His literary work, beyond the "Riibdiydt'' 
translation, is not extensive, being chiefly transla- 
tions from the Spanish of Calderon and the Persian 
of Jami and Attar. He only attached his name to 
his works on two occasions, never to the "Rubdiydt,'" 
and never made anything by them, but he was 
content to have them printed that he might give 
copies to his friends ; one of whom wittily observed 
that " FitzGerald took more pains to avoid fame 
than others do to seek it." 

Eccentric he was to a degree, with a health)- 
detestation of mere wealth, rank and respectability^ 
Of his family he once observed, " we are all mad. 

with this dift'erence, / know 1 am." He prided 
himself on his artistic taste, which he con- 
sidered "the feminine of genius." "I rely on 
my appreciation of what others do," he said, 
" not on what I can do myself." He would 
tolerate no praise from outside sources and always 
negatived any suggestion of originality in him- 
self. " It gives me pain to hear anyone call me 
philosopher, or any good thing of that sort, I am 
none and never was, and if I pretended to be so 
was a hypocrite." He was ashamed of having 
made his "leisure and idleness" the means of 
putting himself " forward in print, when really so 
many much better people keep silent, having work 
to do." And it seems somewhat incongruous to- 
day to hear the author of a Persian translation 
which is now classical, speaking of his works in 
this department as "all very well, but very little 

His idleness seems to have been a source of 
worry to him at times. '• For all which idle ease," 
he writes, "I think I must be damned. I begin 
to have dreadful suspicions that this fruitless way 
of life is not looked upon with satisfaction by the 
open eyes above." Would that we could exchange 

more of the modern money-making lives for such 
fruitful idleness. " Old Fitz," as he was affec- 
tionately called by his friends, had in an eminent 
degree the faculty of leaving people alone and to 
an equal degree the wish to have the faculty re- 
ciprocated. His life, if not one of great actions, 
was beautifully idle. It takes a genius to be idle 
beautifully. And FitzGerald made a fine art of it, 
as he did also with friendship. In an inimitable 
passage in a letter to Frederic Tennyson he de- 
scribes his life at Bulge Cottage, Woodbridge : — 
" I live in a hut with walls as thin as a sixpence ; 
windows that don't shut ; a clay soil safe beneath 
my feet ; a thatch perforated by lascivious sparrows 
over my head. Here I sit, read, smoke, and become 
very wise, and am already quite beyond earthly 
things." I cannot refrain from quoting another 
felicitous description which will serve equally as a 
piece of autobiography and as an example of his 
style in prose : — " Here I live with tolerable con- 
tent : perhaps with as much as most people arrive 
at, and what, if one were properly grateful, one 
would perhaps call perfect happiness. Here is a 
glorious sunshiny day : all the morning I read 
about Nero in Tacitus, lying at full length on a 


bench in the garden : a nightingale singing, and 
some red anemones eyeing the sun manfully not 
far off. A funny mixture all this : Nero, and the 
delicacy of Spring ; all very human however. 
Then at half-past one lunch on Cambridge cream 
cheese : then a ride over hill and dale : then 
spudding up some weeds from the grass : and 
then coming in I sit down to write to you, my 
sister winding red worsted from the back of a 
chair, and the most delightful little girl in the 
world chattering incessantly. So runs the world 
away. You think I live in Epicurean ease ; but 
this happens to be a jolly day : one isn't always 
well, or tolerably good, the weather is not always 
clear, nor nightingales singing, nor Tacitus full of 
pleasant atrocity. But such is life, I believe 1 
have got hold of a good end of it." 

He never wandered far away from his beloved 
Suffolk. He detested that vast individuality de- 
stroyer — London, and preferred "the dulness d" 
the countrj' people " to the " impudence of Lon- 
doners," and thought the "fresh cold wet" of his 
native fields "better than a fog that stinks per se.'' 
Moderate in all his habits and a vegetarian; he 
loved to walk the country lanes with his Skye- 


terrier, or lie in the fields with his " old Omar," 
who " breathed a sort of consolation " to him he 
was ashamed to admit. At one period of his life 
he possessed a yacht which he called " the Scan- 
dal," because he said this was " the staple product 
of Woodbridge," and did much sailing about the 
East coast, with plenty of books, and his skipper, 
whom he admired immensely and regarded as the 
greatest man he had known. 

His letters ripple with a quaint wit, keen and 
gentle, and his critical observations are individual 
and to the point, he had his own way of looking 
at things and of expressing himself. "It is a 
grievous thing to grow poddy," he said, " the age 
of chivalry is gone then. An old proverb says 
that ' a full belly neither fights or flies well.' " 
He had many digs at Carlyle, but before it was 
fashionable to admire the great sage, he saw a 
" bottom of truth in his wildest rhapsodies." His 
health was often the subject of jest. On one 
occasion a friend complained of suffering from 
heart disease. " Old Fitz " congratulated him, 
adding he had it too, and was glad of it, for 
** when I come to die I don't want a lot of women 
messing about me." And this wish was gratified, 


for while on a visit to his friend George Crabbe 
(the grandson of the poet) towards the middle of 
June, 1883, he was found one morning in bed 
" as if sleeping peacefully, but quite dead." He 
was buried in Bulge Churchyard, and at his own 
wish, "It is He that has made us, not we ourselves" 
engraved on his tomb. Recently " two rose trees 
whose ancestors had scattered their petals over 
the tomb of Omar Khayyam " were planted at 
the head of his grave, on which occasion Mr. 
Theodore Watts-Dunton wrote a beautiful sonnet, 
the concluding lines of which arc : — 

'' Hear us ye winds, North, East, West and South, 
This granite covers him whose golden mouth 

Made wiser eihi the Word of Wisdom^ s King: 
Blow softly over Ojnar''s westei'n herald 

Till roses rich of Dinar'' s dust shall spring 
From 7-icher dust of Suffolk' s rare FitzGcrald. 




Onk approaches FitzGerald's translation of Omar 
Khayyam as one would Carey's " Dante " or Chap- 
man's "Homer," with that degree of reverence 
due to the classical, and I use this word in its 
broadest and best sense, not meaning that which 
is merely appro\ ed of pedants or any conventional 
recognition, but as Sainte-Beuve has finally put 
it, that which " has enriched the human mind» 
increased its treasure and caused it to advance a 

The art of translation is not facsimile reproduc- 
tion, that is impossible. To convey the sense 
expressed in one language into another may be 
accomplished, but to translate the method of 
expression is quite another matter and by the very 
nature of things impossible, the only hope of the 
translator is to convey by skilful arrangement of 
sound that which is^ not like but suggests the 
original, and in so far as he produces this effect, 
to that extent is he successful. The verse-form 

invented by FitzGerald to convey the '" Riibdiydl" of 
Omar Khayyam into English, is an elaboration of 
the Persian "■Rubd'i^'' or quatrain, a common form 
of poetical expression in that country ; and the 
fact that all who have attempted the same task in 
verse, have used the same model, is significant of 
its fitness, and if further proof were needed it 
would only be necessary to compare it with other 
metrical experiments. The cjuestion as to how far 
FitzGerald has succeeded in rendering the ideas of 
his subject, is difficult of solution to one who is 
unacquainted with the original language, but by a 
careful comparison of all the available translations, 
both in prose and verse, I have come to the con- 
clusion that not only does FitzGerald convey 
Omar's ideas identically, but with excellent taste and 
consummate art he has succeeded in condensing 
the sense contained in upwards of five-hundred 
unarranged quatrains into an excjuisite seijuence of 
little over one hundred*. Other translators have 
varying numbers of quatrains, but no translation 
conveys more of the philosophy of Omar, with the 
^exception that FitzGt^rald lays less emphasis on the 

*Thc j^realcst uuinber is i lo in ihe 2nd edition. 

amorous side of Omar's character than is evidently 
the case, and in no other translation is such poetic 
beauty made manifest as in that which entitles the 
earliest to the first place. 

By comparing the versions of Mr. Whinfield and 
Mr. Richard Le Gallienne with FitzGerald's this will 
be readily seen. (Mr. Justin Huntley McCarthy's 
beautiful prose version is in a place by itself, no 
similar version having as yet appeared, and one 
cannot speak too highly of it.) Mr. Whinfield never 
for a moment approaches the master in poetical ex- 
pression ; indeed it would seem as if he purposely 
avoided the exalted cadence of poetry in the effort 
to be terse and epigrammatic, in which he is 
tolerably successful, as this example will show : — 

" Since all ma7is business in this ivorhi of woe 
Is sorrow's pangs to feel, atid grief to knoiv, 

Happy are they that never come at all. 
And they that having come are first to go I " 

There is much good verse in this translation but 
the atmosphere is FitzGerald's, his strong indi- 
viduality shines through it everywhere. This can- 
not be said of ^Ir. Richard Le Gallienne's version, 
which by the way has been subjected to some ad- 

verse criticism, quite mistakenly in my judgment, 
for although he makes use of FitzGerald's quat- 
rain, the distinct note of his own personality 
dominates the whole, and I do not hesitate to 
express the opinion that the brightly coloured and 
individual expression of Omarian philosophy which 
Mr. Le Gallienne has given us, although at times 
over-fanciful, often rises to a degree of interest and 
beauty which compels admiration ; take for ex- 
ample the following : — 

"■Spring, tvith the cuckoo-sob deep in his throat. 
O'er all the layid his ihrilling whispers float. 

Old earth believes his ancient lies once more. 
And nms to meet him in a golden coat." 

Or note the graceful conceit of this stanza : — 

" Sojneti7)ies it is my fancy to suppose 
The rose thy face — so like thy face it glmvs ,• 

ivoman made of roses out and in. 
Some t lines I only take thee for a ivse." 

Or the truth of this : — 

" If in this shadou'land of life thou hast 
Found one true heaii to love thee, hold it fist ; 

Love it again, give all to keep it thine, 
For love like nothing iti the ivorld can last.'' 

But when all praise has been given to Mr. Lc 
Gallienne's paraphrase and to the various trans- 
lations of the Persian dreamer, FitzGerald's 
remains supreme. Other translators may come, 
but it is more than probable that the " Rubdiyat''' 
of Omar Khayyam rendered into English verse by 
Edward FitzGerald will ever be the sun around 
which all others will revolve, lesser planets, drawing 
their light from him, yet paled by his greater 
rays. Some things are done as if by magic, with 
finality stamped upon them at birth. The first 
quatrain in FitzGerald's version is an example : — 

" Axvakc ! for morning in I lie bowl of night 
Has filing Ihc si one I hat puts the stars to flight : 
And lo ! the hunter of the East has caught 
The Sultan s turret in a noose of lights 

And for quaintncss and apt turning of a vagrant 
phase the following is a good example : — 

" Into this universe, and why not knowing, 
Nor whence, like water willy-nilly floiving : 
And out of it like Wind along the Waste, 
I knoiv not whither, willy-nilly blowing^ 

This is that combination of music and poetry 
which defies Time. 


Thk " Hubdtydi" oi Ormr Khdiyyim entered the 
arena of Art when the Renaissance, that glimmered 
for a while in William Blake, that was revived by 
Keats, and which was eventually established by 
Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and his circle, was in its 
early manhood. And it is natural that the rich, 
sensuous feeling of the Persian dreamer should find 
admirers in the leading spirits of that aesthetic 
impulsion which has changed the tone of all 
English Art-work ; and that the vivid atmosphere 
of the Eastern muse should have some influence 
upon their works is also to be expected ; although 
the English circle had not all things in common 
with the Persian, there were certain characteristics 
which drew them into a very close union ; that love 
of freedom and determination to allow no conven- 
tion to stand in the way of an individual artistic 
expression, and the feeling of regret at the evanes- 
cence of earthly beauty found a ready sympathiser 
in the Oriental muse, and perhaps nowhere has this 

feeling been so beautifully put as by him : — 

" Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose ! 
That youth! s sweet-scented manuscript should close ! 

The Nightingale that in the branches sang. 
Ah, whence, and whit her flown again who knows ! " * 

It is doubtful whether Omar Khayyam, philoso- 
pher though he was, used the " Rubdivaf' as a 
medium for inculating his views into a stubborn 
race, or whether they were the occasional verses of 
a great mind written as the result of some intense 
pleasure, indignation, or regret: I am inclined to the 
latter view. The '' Rubdivdt'^ appears to me as the 
spontaneous expression of a poetic soul full of the 
-very joy of creation for creation's own sake ; in 
short, that his book is Omar himself in all his 
moods — this accounts for many things that another 
point of view could not explain — and we can say of 
the " Ruhdiydt " of Omar Khayyam what Whitman 
said of his own "Leaves of Grass," "This is no book, 
Avho touches this touches a man." 

There are some truths inexplicable save that 
they they are coincident with the laws of life and 
matter, and whatever may be urged to the contrary, 

*In all instances but one the examples are from FitzGerald. 

and to whatever extent they become hidden in the 
rush of that form of thought which seeks to be 
fashionable rather than true, they ultimately re- 
appear infallible and serene. It is these eternal 
truths that have puzzled the thinker in all ages and 
places, and it is their eslablishnit'nt that stirs the 
thinking mind to-day as it did that of Omar eight 
centuries ago. There are only a limited number of 
ideas ; it is the setting of them that makes literature, 
therefore in the " Rubdivdr'' of Omar Khayyam, 
there is nothing that has not been said before by 
poet or philosj)her ; we have seen him unconsciously 
repeated in yEsthcthic Renaissance of England, it is 
his spirit that lurks in every agency that has acted 
in the interest of progress and the eradication of 
dogma ; there is much of his mind in Epicurus, in 
Heine, in Voltaire, in Jesus. Like Epicurus, he is 
the Prophet of the Eternal Now : — 

" Come, fill the cup and in the fin of Spring 
Your Winter garment of Repentance fling ; 

The bird of Time has but n little way 
To flutter — and the bird is on the zving" 

Like Heine, he would arraign God for his seeming 
lapses from all-good judgment : — 


•' 6>^, Thou, who man of baser earth didst make, 
And even with Paradise devise the snake : 

For all the sins wherexvith the face of ?nan 
Is blackened mans forgiveness give — and take." 

Tl^is savours very much of Heine's last bon-mot, 
"God will forgive— it is His business! " Voltaire 
said, "God made man after his own image, and 
man has returned the compliment ! " Omar would 
also refute this little man-made deity — a god made 
after man's image with man's meanesses emphasised 
— in the allegory of the Potter, he sings : — 

" . . . . Sunie thtre are who tell 
Of one who threatens he will toss to hrtl 

The luckless pots he marred in 7naking — Pish ! 
He's a good felhnv and 'twill all be welir 

And there is much of the fundamental basis of 
Christianity in this : — 

" I sent my soul tlird the Invisible, 
Some hlter of the after-life to spell : 

And by and by my soul returned to me. 
And answered, ' /, myself am heaven and hell"' 

And to further t-laborale tlie univ(>rsalitv of the 
mind of Omar — the rollicking spirit of the Goliardie, 
wandering students of medieval Italy, is the soul of 


some of his quatrains of Spring, wine, women, and 
song — witli the difference that Omar is always 
individual, while the Goliardic songs voice a class, 
and spirit of the Troiihadotir lurks in many of his 

All these facts but go to make the complete 
Omar — the poets of all ages, — in the gentle and 
M ise bard of Persia ; and in the whole range of 
philosophy and poetry there is nothing quite the 
same as his. He speaks to us in every mood ; 
gives us his confidence in joy and pain, yet 
never forces us to accept it. His outlook upon 
life is exquisitely inclusive and tolerant, neither 
Pantheist, Theist, nor Atheist, but a little of each. 
He does not deny for the same reason that he does 
not affirm God, but human-like — and Omar is 
always human — he clings to the hope that there is 
a " Master of the Show " somewhere : — 
" Wc are no other than a i)wi'i)iij; roiv 

Of magic s/tadiin'-sha/>is tliat (Oiiie and go 
Round -ioi In I hi sun-illuniined lantern held 

III Diidiiight lij lh<. Master of the ShoivT 

Bui \\h\ ■■ I'hr Master" limits our Reason he 
cannot tell ; and is jiistK' indignanl. And God's 
injustice in giving us desires which we are for- 


bidden to gratify and temptations we cannot resist 
is the cause of some of his finest irony : — 

" What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke 
A conscious Something to resent the yoke 

Of unpermitted pleasure, under pain 
Of everlasting penalities, if broke ! " 

And the bitter point of it all is, Ave did not ask to 
come here, and we are not told our destination 
nor from whence we are come : — 

" What, without asking, hither hurried zvhence ? 
And, without asking lohither hurried hence ! 

Another and another cup to drown 
The memory of this impertinence^ 

No surety from God of Heaven or Hell and 
apparently not justice here, search he has made 
in the realms of learning, as Mr. Le Gallienne 
expresses it — 

" Khayyam 7t)ho long at learning" s tents hath sewn, 
Bids thee leave How and Why attd Whence alone ; 

Iram\<: soft lute, with sorroiv in its strings, 
Will tell thee all thai e-'cr can he knoivn. 

No answer finds he, nor help from science or 
theology — no help from the *' inverted bowl they 
call the sky " — and he gives a subtle answer to 


those wlio are so certain of a better world here- 
after: — "Is it not a shame so long in this clay 
suburb to abide ? " 

And yet, after all, how sweet life is, how 
interesting the Old World, how sweet its roses, 
nightingales, songs, and women, and what a lotus- 
land its wine is ! What use is it worrying about 
empty "Glories" or "The Prophet's Paradise to 
come," we are here and it is now ; and Omar 
advises us to " take the cash and let the credit 
go, nor heed the rumble of a distant drum." 
When philosophy is stript of its technicalities, 
when theology is naked of its ill-fitting vestnunt 
of sect, when convention is laid low, and when the 
individual stands free, self-centred and sincere, 
this is the only end of life, — to take "the cash," 
— take what the world has to offer and enjoy it. 
Take the gold from each individual moment as it 
flits by. This is his motto : — 

" Ah, fill tin cup, ivliat boots it to repeat. 
How Time is slipping undermath our feel, 
Unborn 7'o-?)iorrow, and dead Vest nd ay, 
Why fret about them if To-day be sweet ! " 

lie is consoled in his sorrow at the shortness of 


life and the passing-awa}- of tht: lovt-d and admired. 
by the Pantheistic belief that the Old Earth he 
loves has received them into her bosom again, 
and has put them forth in the shape of flowers : — 

" I sometiines ihink thai never blows so red 
The rose as where some buried Ccesar bled ; 

That every Hyacinth the garden wears 
Dropt in its lap frovi some once lovely head.''' 

Everything he sots eyes on is food for pensive 
reverie or sweet-regret, and the old poet sings, 
with his eyes dimmed with tears : — 

" One moment in annihilation' s ivaste, 
One moment of the Well of Life to tasti — 

The stars are setting and the Caj-ava/i 
Starts for tJie daii n of nothing — Oh, make haste /" 

Always not far from *'The Master," he feels 
" that perhaps a hair divides the false and true," 
and all things change, yet He the Great Unknown 
remains ; and then the feeling of regret reasserts 
itself in dissatisfaction, and he would remould the 
world nearer to his heart's desire ; but it is only 
momentar}', it is now gone, and the delight in 
the joy of life returned, and his last wish is for 
iundness and the kindly remembrance of his friends 

and the girl he loved : — 

" Aiul 7vlhi> ilivsctf ivilli shilling fof/ shall pass 
Among thi Guests slar-sialUrul on tlie grass, 

And m thy Joyous Errand reach the spot 
Where J made one — turn d<r,cn an empty Glass / " 







Hakim Omar Khayyam was born towards the 
end of the eleventh century, when England was 
concerned with the establishment of the Norman 
Dynasty, and immediately before the commence- 
ment of the Crusades. His native town was 
Naishapur, in the Province of Korasan, and 
here he was placed to study under a teacher 
renowned for learning and wisdom, where he 
and his two friends, Nizam ul Mulk and Hasan 
ben Sabbah, made a compact which was to him, 
and is to us, the most dominant feature in his life. 
It was agreed between the three friends that, "on 
whomsoever fortune falls, he shall share it with the 
n^st and reserve no pre-eminence for himself." 

Years afterwards Nizam was the fortunate 
recipient of the position of Vizier to the Shah of 
his day, and when his two schoolfellows claimed 
fulfilment of the compact it was granted them ; 
Hasan, at his own request, received an appoint- 
ment in the government, but Omar KhajAyam was 


less ambitious, he simj)!)- craved " lo live in a 
corner," under the Vizier's protection, "to spread 
wide the advantages of science," and pray for the 
Vizier's long life and prosperity. 

And so the poet was destined to pass his life in 

the quiet half-tones of scientific research and 

poetry, while his two friends became mingled in 

the wild unrest of the age. Hasan, in a futile 

attempt to sujiplant his benefactor, became an 

exile and desperado — the much-dreaded Shaik al 

Jabal, or "Old Man of the Mountains" of the 

Crusaders — and Vizier Nizam ultimately fell a victim 

beneath his dagger. Omar Khayyam became one 

of the wisest in the land, known far and wide as 

the author of a treatise on Algebra, a work on 

"The Difficulties of Euclid's Definitions," and an 

Astronomical Table, besides the famous poetical 

work know as the '' Rubdiydt'' which probabl)' was 

written at intervals during a long life, as meditation 

and experience suggested, and collected after his 

death. His ideas were considered heretical in his day, 

as, indeed, they are by many to-day, butthis has been 

the lot of every attempt to break the bonds of 

conventional thought. Yet that he was esteemed 

by those in high places we may believe, for we 

learn that when Malik Shah, determined upon an 

alteration of the calendar, Omar Khayyam Avas one 

of the chosen eight wise men to whom the task 

was allotted. Probably many of his allusions to 

wine and women were merely a vehicle for his 

satire against the mock piety of "Sufis" or other 

" respectables " of his day, and not prompted by any 

vice of his own nature ; indeed there is no record 

that he either drank to excess or indulged in any 


other weakness of the flesh. We can imagine him 
a quiet, peaceful old man, with a genuine hatred 
of shams, living a harmless life in a treacherous 
age, daily walking among the rose gardens of his 
native town, and listening to the song of the 
nightingale as he studied the starr}- firmament. 
A further evidence of the esteem in which he was 
held is contained in the following quaint anecdote, 
which one of his pupils tells: — "I often used to hold 
" conversations with my teacher, Omar Khayyam, 
" in a garden ; and one day he said to me, * My 
" tomb shall be a spot where the North wind may 
" scatter roses over it.' I wondered at the words 
" he spoke, but I knew his were no idle words. 
" Years after, when I chanced to revisit Naishapur, 
" I went to his final resting place, and lo ! it was 
"just outside a garden, and trees, laden with fruit, 
"stretched their boughs over the garden wall, 
"and dropped their flowers upon his tomb, so as 
" the stone was hidden under them." 









1. First Edition. 

Rubaiyat of Omar Kliajyam tLe Astvouomer- 
PocL of Persia, T;au4a*c d imo Eni^lish Ver^e. 

London: Bemnrd Quaritch, Castle Street. Leicester 
Square, 1859. 

Small 4to. Brown paper wrappers. Contains 75 

This edition was privately jirinted at Madras, in 1862, 
with a few additional stanza.s. 

2. Second Edition, 

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Astronomer- 
Poet of Persia, rendered into Eni;lish Verse. London : 
Bernard yuariich, Piccadilly, i858. 

Small 410. Wrappers. (Jontains 1 10 stanzas. 

3- Third Edition. 

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the AsUunomer- 
Poet of Pf isia, Rendered into English Verse. London : 
Bernard Quarilcli, Piccadilly, 1872. 

Quarlo. .V Roxbursjhe. Contains 101 stanzas. 

4. FoiiRJH EmiiON. 

Rubiiiyat of Omar Khajyum and the Salamai; 
and Absal of Jami, Rendered into English Verse. 
Bernard Quaritch, 15, Piccadilly, London, 1879. 

Fcaj). 4to. i Roxhurghe. Contains loi stanzas. 

5. FiKiH Edition. 

Let'ikks and Literary Remains ok Edwakd 
FiTzGERAi.u, Edited by William Aldis Wright, in 
three volmnes. London : Macmillan & Co.. and Neu 
York, 1S79. 

(). Sixth Kj>ition. 

Rubaiyal of Omar Kha}yam, the Astronomer- 
Poet of Persia. Rendered into Enghsh Verse. London : 
Macmillan 6c Co., and New York, 1890. 

Crown 4to, 

This edition has been reprinted separately as required 
up to present date. 

7. Omar Khayyam, the Rubaiyat, translated into 
English Verse. 

London : John Campbell, Jim., mdccclxxxxi. 
Royal 4to, boards. 

8. Rubaiyal of Omar Khayyam, the Astronomer- 
Poet of Persia. Rendcied into En;_;lish Verse. Ash- 
endene Press, MDCCCXCVi. 

Small 4to. 50 copies on hand-made paper for private 
circulation only. 


B. AMiCkrc;A\ Kuii io.ns. 

1. Rubaiyat of Kliay^aui, the As'Lioiiotner-Pdet 
of Persia. Renderetl into English Verse. First Ameri- 
can from the third J.ondon F2dition. Boston : Jameson 
R, Os-ood & Co., 1878 (1877 ? ) 

Sq. i6mo. 

2. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, tlie Astioiiomer- 
Poet of Persia. Rendered into English Verse by Edward 

The Grolier Club of New York, mdccclxxxv. 
Medium ■i\o. 150 copies on Japan [xiper and 2 copies 
on .ellum. 

3. Works of EdMard FitzGerald. Translator of Omar 
K.hay}'am. Reprinted from the original impressions, 
with some corrections derived from his own annotated 
copies, in two volumes. New York and Bostfin : 
Houghton, Mirtlin (& Co. London : Bernanl Ouaritch, 

8vo. A ver) few large paper copies, royal Svo. 

4. Rubaiyat of Omar K.havvam in English Verse. 
Edward FitzGerald. Boston, 1888. 

i2mo, ^ vellum. 

5. Rubai)at of Omar Khayyam. Sau Francisco, 

i2mo, green paper wrapper. 

6. Selections from the Rubaiyat. Boston, 1893. 
Svo. 100 copies privately printed for Mr. John L. 


7. Rubaiyat of Omar Kha\yam. Thos. B. Mosher, 
Portland, Me., 1894. 

Narrow (cap. Svo. 

8. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Si. Paul, Minn., 

Sq. l2mo bds. 750 copies ou hand-made paper, 

The same on imitation hand-made paper, cloth, gilt top, 

9- Rub4iyat of Omar Khay^'ain. English, French, 
and Gernaan translations, compa' atively at ranged in 
accordance with the text of Edward FitzGerald's ver- 
sion, by Nathan Haskell Dole. Boston, 1896. 

i2mo, 2 vols. 

The same, Avith additional Italian and Dutch trans- 
lations, 1898. 

10. RuMiyatof Omar Kha\yam. San Francisco, n,d. 

Sq. i2mo. Grey wrappers. 

11. Rub4iyat of Omar Khayyam and the Salam4n 
Abasl of Jiimi, Rendered into English Verse by Edward 

New York and Boston, n.d. [1896]. 
Sq. i2mo. 

12. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayvam. Published for 
Will Bradley by R. H. Russell. New York, n.d. [1896] 

Sq. i2mo bds. 

13. Riibaiy^t of Omar Kha3'-)am. Rendered into 
English Verse by Edward FitzGerald. Portland, Me., 
Tliomas B. Mosher. 

Xarrow fcap. Svo. Vellum bds. Five editions on 
Van Gelder hand-made and 100 numbered copies on 
Japan vellum, between 1895 and 1898. 

14. The ?/e7v York Critic contained FitzGerald's 
version in the Christmas Number, December, 1898. 

/t IS next to utipossiblc to list all the American 
Editions as their name is legion, appearing almost daily 
at any i7naginable price. 


I. Rulwiyat of Omar Kliayyam. With ornamental 
title page and 56 full-page drawings by Elihu Vedder, 
Bt)ston, i8?4. Folio (unpaged) cloth, gilt top. 

The san;e. Edition de Luxe. lOO copies on Japan 
vellum, full morocco, satin linings. 

The same. Phototype edition (reduced plates), 4tO 
cloth, gilt lop. Boston, 1886. 

The same. Popular edition. With comparative 
texts, life of the author, and sketch of FitzGeraki. 
Small 4to, cloth, gilt top. Boston, 1894. 

2. Rubaiyal of Omar Kha}yam, the Aslrouomer- 
Poet of Persia. Rendered into English Verse by 
Edward FitzGerald. Decorated by W. B. Macdougall. 
Dedicated to the Members of the Omar Khayyam Club. 
Macmillan & Co. Ltd. London, 1898. 

4to. Sateen cloth with design. Limited to 1,000 
copies. Decorations engraved on wood by Octave La- 
cour, and printed by Richard Clay & Sons on specially 
antique wove paper. 

r. E. H. Whini;ELd. 

The Quatrains of Omar Khajyam. Translated inio 
English Verse. London, 1882. 

Svo. 253 quatrains. 

The same. Second edition revised. London, 1893. 

Svo. 267 quatrains. 

The Quatrains of Omar Khayyam. The Pei-sian text 
with an English verse translation. London, 1883. 

Svo. 500 quatrains. 

2. John Leslie Carner. 

The Strophes of Omar Khayyam. Translated from 
the Persian, with an introduction and notes. Milwaukee, 

Sq. i2mo. 142 quatrains. 

The same. Second edition. Philadelphia, 1898. 

Sq. i2mo. Gilt top. Printed on one side of leaf 

The same. The stanzas of Omar Khajyam . London : 
George Bell & Sons, 1898. 

Sq. i2mo. Cloth, gilt top. 

3. Ed. Johnson (anonymously). 

The Dialogue of Gulshan i Raz. With -.elections 


from Omar Khayyam. London. 1887. 

4. Louisa S. Costello. 

The Rose Garden of Persia. London, 
Omar Khayyam, on pp. 66-76. 

5. Justin Huntly McCarthy. 

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. London, 1889. 

Fcap. 8vc) bds. A few copies exist printed on vellum. 
Prose version. 

The same. Thos. B. Mosher, Portland, Maine, 1896, 
Narrow Svo. lOO numbered copies also <^n Japan vellum. 

The same. Thoroujjhly revised edition. David Nutt, 
270-271, Strand, London, 1898. 

i2mo. Ornamental cloth. Gilt top. This fine issue 
has a rubricated title-page and headlines ; the second is.sue 
black title-page and headlines. 

(». Rich \RD Le Gallip;nne. 

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. A Paraphrase from 
several Literal Translations. London, 1897. 

Narrow Svo. A few copies also issued on Japan 

The same. New York, 1897. 

8vo, bds. 1250 copies numbered and signed by the 
author, on hand-made paper : also 50 copies on Japan 

The same. Reprinted, London, 1898. 

A portion of this paraphrase originally appealed in 
the " The Cosmopolitan^ "for July and August, 1897. 

7. John Payne. 

The Quatr.ains of Omar Khayyam, the Astronomer- 
Poet of Persia, now first completely done into English 
verse in the original forms. The Villon Society, Lon- 
don, 1898. 

Svo. Vellum. Gilt top. 075 numbered copies on 
hand-made paper and 75 large paper copies. 

8. Edward Heron- Allen. 

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Being a Fac- 
simile of the Manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Ox- 


ford, with a Transcript into Modem Persian Characters, 
Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, and a 
Bibliography, by Edward Heron- Allen. London, H. S. 
Nichols Ltd., 39, Charinj^^ Cross Road, W.C. 

Royal 8vo. Wht. leather. 1000 small paper copies-, 
20 large paper copies and 2 on vellum. 

There is also an American edition of this work, 1898. 

Note. — Jn compiling this Bibliography / am 
indebted, among other sources, to the bibliography aj>- 
pended to Mr. Mosher •; (Portland, Alaine), dainlv 
edition of Omar in his '• Old IVorld Series,^'' also to 
that in Mr. Heron- Attends work, to both of which my 
thanks are due. 




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