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And OMAR KHAYYAM.
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.
// V^ ^ UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
^ ' -^ SANTA BAEBAKA
J. SCOTT FRASER.
EDWARD Kir/CRKALl) AND OMAK KHAVVAM.
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
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."
OF THE ENGLISH RENDERINGS OK THK RUBAIYAT^OF
EDWARD FITZGERALD'S TRANSJ.ATION.
A. ENGLISH EDITIONS.
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
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
(). 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.
This edition has been reprinted separately as required
up to present date.
7. Omar Khayyam, the Rubaiyat, translated into
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
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 ? )
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
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-
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. .
12. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayvam. Published for
Will Bradley by R. H. Russell. New York, n.d. 
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.
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-
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.
Stack. Jeffery t Co.
20, Cable STRdiiT.
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