The Testament of Omar Khayyam
'Ez^ The Testament of
Testament (or Last Words)
Hymn of Prayer
The Word in the Desert
Hymn of Praise
also The Marathi, or
Odes of the Disciples
Louis C. Alexander
London . g^
John Long ^^^^T'^^
13 and 14. Norris Street, Haymarket '' *
[All rights reserved]
Firsi Fublishea in igo7
COLSTON AND COV. LTD., PRINTERS, EDINBURGH
Hymn of Prayer
The Word in the Desert .
Hymn of Praise
Odes of the Disciples — I. .
n III. .
The poems comprised under the general title of " The
Testament of Omar Khayyam" are:
"The Testament of Omar Khayyam."
" Omar Khayyam's Hymn of Prayer."
" Omar Khayyam's Hymn of Praise."
"The Word in the Desert " (a short poem).
There are also four short pieces — " Odes of the
To those who conceive of Omar Khayyam only as
the Sot and Agnostic — if not the despairing Materialist
and Infidel — of the Rubaiyat, these poems will come as
a surprise and a revelation.
The gifted Fitzgerald took those verses too literally,
and he was thus the means of giving the English-
speaking world a poem of extraordinary charm, which
a little thought and care might have deprived of its
For Omar Khayyam was a man of lofty yet humble
piety : but his independence of mind and contempt
for mere dogma, his open disbelief in Astrology, his
strong leanings to Greek literature and philosophy, and,
doubtless, other causes, brought upon him the bitter and
active hostility of one of the two powerful sects ; and
most of the quatrains collected in the Rubaiyat, properly
considered, were almost ob\^ously of the nature of satire,
or rejoinder, or counter-attack,
1 am greatly indebted to Professor E. G. Browne of
Cambridge for the most kind and ready assistance which
he was good enough to give me — though a personal
stranger to him. His great work The Literary History
of Persia (T. Fisher Unwin), the second volume of
which has just been issued, contains probably the most
comprehensive and illuminating literary account of
Omar Khayyam in our, or in any, language.
Ihese poems, noiv for the first time presented to readers,
must be left to speak for themselves.
The "Odes of the Disciples" are chiefly remarkable
for something like inherent proof of the influence of a
master-mind upon other, and diverse, ones. [I use the
word " Ode " as a convenient rather than as a strictly
correct rendering of " Marathi."]
In "The Testament," Omar Khaj^am says : —
" No more wine-shops for me, no more that disgrace ;
Nor false lips to kiss — nor lips falser to speak ;
Nor half-gay despairs. I uncover my face —
The masked mask I wore it is time that I break."
I leave this Note with these lines, and the majestic
figure of the real Omar Khayyam — the Astronomer,
Poet, Philosopher and Saint — stands revealed.
L. C. ALEXANDER
PuTNiY, S. W., January 1907.
THE TESTAMENT OF OMAR
I STAND in my garden as the sun sets low —
But I've so drunk his glory the live-long day
That I care not a straw for his dying glow —
And now I will turn me, and go on my way :
My slow way down the hill where my cot doth
With a lamp in a window to point my road ;
For, though small my house yet so large is my
I stray like a stranger seeking my abode.
lo Omar Khayyam
For I came one far day from a distant place,
Which I quitted with vague oblivious sigh :
And I sometimes think that I rest here by grace
Ere I go to a shore where the seas are dry.
Are they dry, those seas, like the sorrows of men
Drawn up like chill vapours by the sun's
sweet might ?
Or are they dry, those seas, like their sins,
Fine linen is bleached, they have made their
souls white ?
Or are they dry, those seas, like the hopes of
Beaten to nothingness on Nothing's void shore?
Or are they dry, those seas, like their faiths
Are gathered like sheaves on His high thresh-
ing floor ?
The Testament of Omar Khayyd^m 1 1
A star, like a scout of the firmament host,
Shows and hides as if sent some reason to
Why this Earth, this mere speck, is destined
Lustrous lords to outshine and ardour outburn.
I remember them well : I knew them of old
When we spoke together — I mind me not
And they speak to me now of a time untold,
And remind me I know — what I forget here.
For they hint of a time when we both were
And grew by each other in that Mill where all
Stars, Men, and the Things that to neither
Their first fiat receive for their later call.
12 Omar Khayyam
Was it only last night, or ages ago,
I saw them arrayed, as now, broadly on high ?
Perhaps I but dreamt it : and yet I avow
We've grown old together — and young — they
I recognise them all without need of words —
Their powd'ry mists, and clusters, and flaming
And where the sentinels guard their resplendent
And their dim-bright isles, and continents, and
They seem changeless, yet changed, for now we
At being distant, shy, and meeting once more
As in strange market-places, or the highway.
Yet full aware that we've oft met before.
The Testament of Omar Khayydm 13
Yet what are they ? And, ah ! who and what
am I ?
Where is the granary of which I'm a grain ?
A grain ! The fields are still unformed in the
Where that grain will ripen in harvests again.
I step aside from this Self of allied cheats,
And call on my Caretaker Self for reply.
'Tis sure he oft postures in counterfeits
When with sloth, or with toil, or with wine I'm
Speak, mean Slave ! Thou Keeper of my house
My women, my larder, my wine-skins and purse ;
Thou scullion and bawd, and cup-bearer of mine;
Thou flatterer, thou peacock, pig, dog — and
14 Omar Khayyam
Because oft I, thy lord, sleep, or talk, or dream ;
Oft sit dazed with excess, or with want, of
Oft forget myself, or what I am, or seem ;
Or in lustful folly pledge my soul — for
Or am lulled by thee in beds of silk and snow.
Or am steeped in spiced and heated cups of
Or am blown in gusts of foolish mirth — or woe,
Or in conceited styes roll — oh, clown of
mine ! —
Dost thou dare then to strut, and to mock, and
As if thou, murky Slave ! wert then indeed I —
Before a small world, and for a poor short
A world ignorant, childish, hurrying by ?
The Testament of Omar Khayyam 15
Peace ! I know thy pitiful excuse and sin.
'Tis false : no foster-brother art thou to me.
Some far-off cousin, p'raps — or remoter kin ;
Some kith of blood, not essence, I do grant
I will hear no more. Thy plea, thou fleshly
Arraigns me naked — and justifies not thee.
I'll interrogate the Miller who threw out
This atom of Myself — and of Mystery.
But shall He whose Upper millstones still
And on Nether grind forth Suns and Milky
Be mindful of one grain that would boldly solve
Its own cause, and lives, and hear its lowly
1 6 Omar Khayydm
*' Son, be still ! I groove and carve each atom's
*' I ordain its neighbour ; I decree its hour
" To move, or to rest, or change, or rage in
" Or sleep and wake again by My mighty pow'r.
*' And thou art more than many atoms, for thou
" Hast caught an eternal fragmentary ray
" Of My passing glory that shall light thy brow
" When the Stars and Atoms shall have burned
" For Man blindly thinks that Nought is but
" And perceives not that it was Beginning, too :
*' For what he deems Nought is what I sow
"In the fields where the souls of My atoms
The Testament of Omar Khayydm 17
Lord of life ! Is this answer — or keen reproof,
Or gentlest consolings, or wisdom's soft tone ?
Or — stamp out I old hoof-prints with artful
Or would un-knot old riddles with subtler
How can I tell ? Hush ! Was it I who then
If so, what intent to please — or what to mar ?
Or my soul's worn fetter as it, clanking, broke r
For I view my cot as from another star.
And I see myself crawling, as beetles crawl —
Pah ! again these puerilities of I and I —
And many words between them, but lifeless all.
As — There and Here and Alas, and Thus
Who speaks now ? Not I : — I tremulously hear
A voice that came ne'er by ways of will or care,
1 8 Omar Khayyam
Or that ever sounded on a mortal ear,
Or in swelling waves shivered along the air.
"Son: thy bewilderments and thy high conceits,
" Thy famished need of true knowledge of
" Thine inconstant doubtings, and frosts and
" Thy lagging feet, and too impetuous speeds,
" Are full well known to Me, and likewise are
" Thy loves and thy cravings, thy prayers and
thy sighs ;
" How more arid thou deem'st thine unquenched
" How sore with thy searchings are thy wearied
"All this know I. But thou canst not read or see
" The ways of My deeds, the far track of My
The Testament of Omar Khayyd^m 19
" Nor e'en what thou art, or wert, or what
" Or with what hid design e'en thy husk is
" For all that appears lost, or dissolved, or merged,
" And all that is parted and vanishing seems,
" And all that is altered and shattered and purged,
" And all that is whelmed as in nebulous streams,
" But turn their uses and lives to higher shapes,
" From Eternity destined to change again ;
"For a soul from each dissolution escapes
" To run into its link in the growing chain."
I am answered. The Motes that, beyond our
Move in rays which the eye all unlighted deems
Bear, each, myriad worlds in their whirling
Each stored for new being — a cradle of dreams :
20 Omar Khayydm
Dreams of countless outpourings of endless love,
As when Nought shuddered and woke at His
And her first ether-films from Nothingness wove,
For the forges and looms that wait on His hand.
For Darkness is but as the great outer halls
Which the Sun's finite candle fails to enhance ;
And the small passage-ways on which its light
Are but the stage for Motes — whose turn 'tis
I hear as from my house, from my curtained
A call — " Hasten, for the Moon hath risen now ;
" The North-Star gathers his brothers on
heaven's floor ;
" In the palms sings the night-wind ; the bats
The Testament of Omar Khayyilm 2 1
" Thy meal is set out, and thy servitors wait ;
*' Thy children may not eat without thy com-
'' Thy wives laugh softly, and whisper thou
art late ;
'^ And the fat wine-skins in the cool fountain
" Wherefore is my lord so tardy ? Doth
" My lord? " and " May the One, Most merci-
" Be gracious to thee ! " and " May the Prophet's
" Smite thy foes and sorrows as with iron rod ! "
And more glib-murmured spurrings to speed
With dubious readings of mine eye and mood.
And I reply : " It is well, for lo ! I come.
" Set somewhat apart ; let all else take their food. "
22 Omar Khayyd,m
For I hear the flow'rs discoursing at my knees,
And herb and leaf in their secret perfumes
And confiding watchwords pass along the trees,
And see shadows, like scrolls, unfurl in the
They always wait until I am again alone,
Then they seek and rustle to me — yet not Me.
Perhaps, to some hermit Spirit they've long
Who is lodged in my soul, in his secresy.
Do I then feel with a heart's divided beats ?
Or with a diverse eye see the great Without?
For from my house come odours of bakes and
And women's gay laughter, and children's glad
The Testament of Omar Khayydm 23
And clanging of vessels, and lamps' shifting
And, as taught to a choir of singers, I hear
Calls of soft luxury, and hail with delight
The wine-cups rose-crowned and the savoury-
1 — again, which I? — Oh, thou Caretaker Self!
Doth not all this commerce appertain to
These washings and wearings and wivings and
Whilst I go the way marked for my Guest —
I had a thought a brief while ago — a thought
As if by leave — or inadvertence — divine
I had in one sudden supreme instant caught
A flashing glimpse of some holy hidden
24 Omar Khayydm
And a Truth — a shining, quick'ning Truth
As all breathless I stood in rapt worship tranced.
I gazed — the surpassing glory did not last ;
I turned — the splendour was fading as I glanced.
And the Secret of all the world seemed written,
And its meaning shone on my heart like a
But e'en as I read, like a ship wreck-smitten
By the lightnings of God, the writing was
And I was dark again, grown old, ah, so old !
For mine eyes had now seen what man may not
But the dread, and awe, and the story half
Left me adoring in sublime agony.
The Testament of Omar Khayyam 25
He said, " The wind bloweth where it lists to
But whither, or whence ? " this no mortal can
Yet He still hath His prophets, unknown, who
That His voice to them is not echo — but speech.
Else were He not prophetic, for else were He,
Though All-in-all, aloof — More-than-all, alone.
For th' Unseen, whose Shadow is that which
Flows in living streams from His shadowless
I'll go in to supper. 1 will eat and drink,
And there shall be song and dance and merry
26 Omar Khayydm
And dear human laughs, homely talks, and
Of cups, and the jest, and the boast that ne'er
And blest ignorance, and indiff'rence more
And converse of fools — of saddlery, of sheep,
The price of figs, of women, camels, the pest —
A bargain, a quarrel, a hiccup — and sleep.
How pleasant, unvexing, trivial, lowly.
Is the poor common life of our nether lives !
For they think but folly, they would wholly
Bestow on men cares like increasing of wives.
I cannot sleep. The night calls loudly to me —
" Arise : thou'rt not made to slumber with
The Testament of Omar Khayyd,m 27
" Or slaves ; or thy rosy smiling women see
" Dream of embraces — and perchance not of
" Come forth and listen to the stirrings of
" What she dandles on laps or tosses in strife ;
" Mark the changeful deaths into ceaseless new
*' The alembics distilling souls from all life."
True : on outskirts of hearing the lions roar ;
Here, at my feet, the chiding crickets chirp
The mean jackal's bark wakes a hundred
barks more ;
A serpent hisses behind me — nought is still.
And the night - birds sing, and some utter
hoarse cries ;
And the deer are drawing to their drink — or
28 Omar Khayyam
For each seeks his living, and who cares
which dies ?
For one bleeds, and one feeds, and both find
What is the real life of these dumb brothers
What have they of kinship to me ? Ah !
He knows —
If there be one Fount from which all life
And one Sea to which all vitality flows.
For I do know this for solemn truth and rest,
That never yet doth one viewless atom die
But it yields the humble life within its breast
To build a Man's soul, and fulfil itself by.
But is there not Something more sacred, more
Than life — for a flow'r, or a fungus, hath it ; —
The Testament of Omar Khayyam 29
Something that arrives like a lord of his land,
When his carpets are laid and his lamps are lit ?
And that Something — whence came it ?
What darkling hives,
Or what nursling rivers of o'er-pregnant spawn,
Or lost oceans which once swung rich tides
Gave it its first charter — p'raps ere the first dawn ?
Yet though its ancestors be sunk in the deep
Of worlds now out-spent, of obscured ages past,
Itself shall a far nobler Ancestry keep
To inultimate Selves whilst the heavens last.
Ah, God ! I cannot think, for thought is too
For vision or words, for my hushed heart
I suffocate, I break, I moan in my fast,
I have but enough light to see — that I'm blind.
30 Omar Khayydm
Yet all Creation full harmonious seems,
And it toils into purpose with silent praise.
I demand my soul's reason, wherefore it teems,
With restless questions of What? and Why?
I will think no more. I cannot see or prove ;
I can but guess, or query, or feign to doubt,
So I may wrap round me folds of soft self-love,
Or stifle thought with learning — or else
Or with Wine — that, locking brain and loos'n-
Swells the tense artery and drums in the ear ;
Makes man beast again, lures him hotly to
To unashamed vauntings, or womanish fear ;
That so dupes his honour that he basely cedes
The city gate to foes, his kindred to slay ;
The Testament of Omar Khayyam 31
That makes him an ape — o'er fierce, o'er fond
— nor heeds
Whether he He in the mire — or in his clay.
There's the beaker to mock Indiff'rence and
There's the chalice to mean Self allocated,
There's the horn to Dogmatic sourness tried,
There is the sieve to Folly dedicated.
There's a wine the wise know can the heart-
When the quest is in vain and Truth hides her
When there's only grief in the dark to endure,
And souls seem the butts for e'en Spirits of
There's a wine for weak men, to solace their woe,
A sweet wine — half hypocrite and half a saint.
32 Omar Khayyam
There's a wine that gibes, and prates, and rails
Too strong when needless and, when needful, as
That laughs or defies in song, epigram, phrase,
And shrugs shoulders, looks wise, and smiles its
And bubbles with simile, sophism, craze.
And void intuitions which itself beguile.
No more Wine-shops for me — no more that
Nor false lips to kiss, nor lips falser to speak ;
Nor half-gay despairs. I uncover my face —
The masked mask it wore it is time that I break.
There's a loftier Mill on a higher Hill
Whose secret head melts into the shining skies,
The Testament of Omar Khayydm 33
Where are the Millstones of Good and seeming
Whereon the Miller grinds on His own great
And ever the Upper stone grinds on for Good,
And ever the Nether rotates as for 111 ;
And ever the Upper grows stronger, and blood
Ever flows from the Nether, work as it will.
For as Anvil, when God's smithies sweat and roar.
The Nether is set to resist, and to try
All fabric and fibre, all vapour and ore,
And from hammers and fires to fashion Good by.
For Good is the end for which the Universe
Travails by Knowledge and Love with Pain
And Joy is its music, and Death, ah ! no curse —
For the enlarged Soul, through it, itself doth
34 Omar Khayydm
And when this earthly form is laid in His earth,
To moulder and slumber till the Trumpet
I shall yet endure till the Dawn hath new birth.
When the fretted Night hath turned, and swept
The skirts of the Morning when — fresh natal
day ! —
Humanity puts on Immortality —
Puts it on, clothed upon, and in God's own way
Remains as the core of Perfection to be.
For I heard a Voice as in thunder declare : —
" Man's spirit is — Man's ; he's an Order apart :
" And the lordliest souls in Paradise are
" The spirits of God blest with pure human
" For ever as Spirit more spiritual is
''It craves in its essence yet more to combine
The Testament of Omar Khayydm 35
*' Innermost weldings of the sweet sanctities
*' Of Humanity — reached to His far design."
Lord ! I pray not for pleasures, greatness, or
Lowlier, I shall richly be satisfied
In the vestibules e'en of Thy courts of light
To stand in dumb rapture — after I have died.
Lord of all Hells and Heav'ns ; Lord of Mote
and Sphere ;
Of Souls encamped around Thee long ere my
And of endless ebbs of mortal transience
Measure me by Thy love, and not by my
As a contrite son I entreat Thee, my God,
My Monarch, and my Judge of supremest
36 Omar Khayydm
And as Thou hast made me of terrestial clod,
Marked me on Thy records, planned me in my
Timed me that my hour nor sooner, later, shine,
Scanned the dim years behind me, read those
to come —
Shall I, oh Lord ! be worn on Thy robe divine,
Or again be unravelled back to the loom ?
Be it as Thou wilt ! My stilled soul peaceful
Thou art Love and Life, and Thy far thought is
I wait — deep-pastured by Thy holiest wells :
Thou can'st not uncreate — Thou wilt not
Oh, the Rose is a flow'r to wave in the air,
To shake her gay head at all who pass by,
To blow the rich perfume that she doth bear,
To flaunt her proud beauty in every eye.
The Lily is white, or spotted with red,
Her cup is a palace of pearl and gold,
She twines her petals as a bride new-wed
Doth over her bosom her white hands fold.
The Dahlia jauntily raises her crown,
Stately and shapely, but soul-less — for no
Incense hath she to the winds ever thrown,
And her glowing life is but a fair show.
The Violet blooms in a modest nest
Of leaves that are low and roots that are wise ;
Her fragrance and hues are blessed and best,
Like the souls of God's flow'rs in Paradise.
HYMN OF PRAYER
Oh Thou, who art my being's stay and start.
Oh Thou, who art my being's mind and heart.
Oh Thou, who art my being's only soul,
Oh Thou, who art my life, my thought, my
Send into my heart Thy name's holy sound,
Make of my mind Thy consecrated ground ;
For I am slow and dull, and only wake
To hear Thee call — to hear Thy voices shake —
Shake the wide wave that sleeps so smooth and
The nodding mountain, and the drowsy hill,
And the forests that bow, and sway, and bend.
And the vast air that stretches without end.
Hymn of Prayer 39
Would I could see Thee in glory above !
Yet see not I Thee in glory of love —
Yet hear not I Thee in my beating heart —
Yet feel not I Thee in each vital part ?
But oh ! for a soul, broad, open as day ;
Oh, for a heart as the deep-storied sea ;
And oh, for a mind as boundless as space,
To conceive the thought of Thy glorious face !
For I need Thee, oh, Lord ! I need Thy hand
To hold me up, lest I fall as I stand ;
To cleanse me, to lighten, to teach and raise
This cold, dark soul to Thy prayer and praise.
For am not I more than a wind-blown seed,
A torch-fallen spark, or a lakeside reed,
Or a captive bought as cattle is bought,
Or slave gamble-gained, or given for nought?
40 Omar Khayydm
Nay, but am I more than all these ? And yet
Dost Thou remember, or dare I forget,
That I'm of Thy house, and bear as a flame
The sacred burden of Thy holy name ?
Oh, my Father, my Maker, and my King,
I fall at Thy feet, yet feel that Thy wing
Covers my head — though Thy dread my heart
With joy-threaded fear and unknown thrills —
Lest I offend Thee with half-impious prayer,
Lest my broken voice should displease Thine ear.
Lest I obtrude me on Thy holy sight,
Lest as a blot I traverse Thy pure light.
No, not Thy wrath nor majestic disdain.
Nor lest Thy Archangels feel shame or pain
Need I fear, to see a slight thing as I
Bend in the shadow of Thy throne, and cry :
Hymn of Prayer 41
Father, in Thy deep patiences and loves,
Father, in Thy pities for all that moves.
Father, I entreat Thee give me Thy grace
To plead and to worship before Thy face.
Oh, Giver of strength ! now am I got bold,
As becomes a son in his father's hold ;
I read in His smile He still holds me dear.
For He recollects — and wants not my tear.
For tears are flowings of wells over-full.
And wells drain their founts howe'er bountiful ;
And sighs are the pantings of burdens hard-
And hands clasp and clasp when sad and forlorn.
The heart that can rise in meekness yet pride,
Faults not forgetting, nor follies denied,
Contrite but unbroken, craving to be
Less sin-forgiv'n than from sin set free —
42 Omar Khayyd^m
That heart is a flow'r that blooms on His word.
That heart is a pearl He beads on His cord,
That heart is a tapestry on His wall,
That heart is a son's heart, the best of all.
Oh, Father ! henceforth ah ! grant me I pray
A spirit to battle, to strive and say :
In Thee, oh, my Source, my Home, and my
My Teacher, my Guide — is my Trust alway !
And with it give me humility deep.
Yet proudly my soul from all meanness keep :
Higher be it than all failings are low,
Stronger than sin — all-loving as Thou !
And ever as the lattice opens, and the night
And ever as the shadows alter, and the day
Hymn of Prayer 43
And Creation, like a carpet, is spread on un-
E'er woven and rewoven, and re-patterned with
fresh plans :
And ever as the heart of man sounds deep to
And thought stands awed and trembling, as
hearing mighty falls.
And ever as from furthest orbs of yet un-
There lead the gleaming visions, there tend the
vaulted roads :
So may my soul be ever set to pray and
So lift itself like earthly dew distilled to
cloudy state ;
So, too, like heav'nly clouds descend in blessed
rain from Thee
To boundless seas of glory — each separate drop
a sea !
THE WORD IN THE DESERT
From their threads held in the hand of the
The stars hang from the amethyst roof;
The moon curves like a sword, the wind
brings me a Word,
As from the tents I wander aloof.
Sands, windless, lie, and stars fold back on high,
As though the night gone had been their last.
Sands in tempests will fly, and stars gleam
from the sky
When my footsteps, and I, will have passed
Like patterns in air drawn by waving bough.
Like shadows thrown from some upreared
The Word in the Desert 45
Yet I shall fearlessly go, for God He doth know
Why 1, life-blest — or curst — was sent here.
Oh, Lord of the infinite years and pow'r !
Lord of the stars and the desert sands !
Am I, thing of an hour, so much higher — or
Than these deathless dead works of Thy
" Lo, when the amethyst roofs pale shall be,
"And dimmed stars seek their worn threads
"Thou shalt all meanings see, in immortality,
" — For thou shalt find thy Whole Soul again."
HYMN OF PRAISE
My God, my Maker, my Source, and my End,
How shall I speak of Thy praise to man-
How break into words unless Thou shalt lend
Warmth and light to my soul, now cold and
How shall I tell of Thy wonders on high.
How recount worthily Thy works of old,
How mention Thy marvellous years gone by.
How whisper the times that are yet untold :
For I am but a man encased in clay,
Which yet to my mind and soul is close tied,
And shall, itself, be all spirit some day —
The pure spirit of man to God's allied,
Hymn of Praise 47
When this form puts on immortality,
And mortality dies into new birth ;
Though a human speck, like a germ, seem I.
God will ripen that speck — but not on Earth,
Yes ; a man am I, with a spirit's leav'n
To light me, to shine, and flicker and glow ;
Ah ! more than humanity's germ in Heav'n,
But ah ! less of diviner soul below.
Great God ! Oh, inspire me, for I would pour
My heart and my soul at Thy holy feet,
Like wine, corn, and oil, and garlanded flow'r,
On Thy altars, Thy gracious mercy-seat.
Let not the thought of my lowly estate,
Or my mute expression, or numbed dazed
Or my frozen brain, or my formal prate,
Thy glorious majesty offend, or part
48 Omar Khayyd,ni
My soul from Thee, though I am but a reed,
An eddy that whirls and breaks in the stream,
A leaf tossed in the air, a sea-spray bead,
A breath in all Space, a morning's brief
I gaze about me, around and below,
And I see Thee in all that lives and is ;
And I gaze about me within, and lo !
1 see Thee in all that is — and but this.
Because Thou art, and wert, and from Thee
All seen and unseen, below and above ;
And the vivid dust from Thy cherubs' wings
Transmutes into life — grows to joy and love.
For it then becomes things — beautiful, bright,
And things giving birth to others again,
Hymn of Praise 49
And flowers and worlds, and sense and delight,
And souls — to mature in orbits of pain
To a supreme end — itself a sowing
For yet other harvests of God-like men ;
And those but garnered for a new growing,
For fresh reapings — Lord! in Thine image
Oh, I would praise the Lord with ample breast,
And I would I might be a chord or song
Of all sweetness of birds, girls' laughs and, best,
Voices of childhood, or angelic tongue !
Oh, would that I were a mountain of spice,
Or lake of attar that the breezes kiss,
Or valleys of roses beyond all price,
Or full like the soft-breathing sea with bliss !
But ah ! better far, let me echo Thee
From the depths of a cleansed and earnest heart !
50 Omar Khayyam
Stoop to me. Lord ! Oh, Thou Immensity,
All-of-all, and yet above all — apart !
And do not I know how high is Thy thought
For Man, though lowly he creeps on this
Do not I know with what stateliness fraught
Is his fate — though he is ignorant here !
Oh, Lord of Might ! of creations to be ;
Lord of all Pasts — never past but still Now ;
Lord of all Ages that, circling round Thee,
Join Pasts to Futures in eternal flow
Of clanging Presents in swift rounds of Time :
And these, are but one chariot-wheel of
Thy chariot enwrapped in darkness sublime
Lest life fail before Thy brightness divine !
Hymn of Praise 51
I cannot even lisp, and I but wreathe
An humble garland as when children play ;
Yet I burn, and I melt, I ache, and death
Were blest if, Thee blessing, I passed away.
Be still, oh heart ! He knows thy tend'rest
Thy wordless gratitude, thy fond amaze,
Thy thought so dark thyself can'st not ex-
Thy longings, thy hopes, and unspoken praise.
Make my heart Thine altar, that all my pow'rs
Blessings bring thee — Thou thereto blessing me!
Make my heart Thy garden that, like the
Fulfilling Thy Thought, I glorify Thee !
The Memory of Omar Khayyam
ODES OF THE DISCIPLES
Oh, Omar! Master of the thought that stings
And will not be allayed,
Until that thought its answer brings
From furthest bliss, arrayed
In the truth of God :
Oh, Omar ! Master of the word that stays
On the heart and ear,
Which will not cease its sounding lays
Until we clearly hear
In the harps of God :
Odes of the Disciples 53
Oh, Omar ! Master of the art that lives
Deep in the heart of all
To whom the Lord of Glory gives
The understanding call
Of the sons of God :
Omar ! thy faithful scholar here behold
To sing thy loving praise ;
To tell thee that thy thoughts of old
Are with us all our days
In the grace of God !
I'm a man of arms not words,
But I cannot silent be,
For what I am is of thy sowing, else were I dry ;
For thou art not gone so far from us but we
In our thoughts may follow thee —
Ev'n still feel thee nigh.
54 Omar Khayyd,m
Did'st thou not train our halting minds
To glance with Vision sure,
Like eaglets, at the sunrise, and even at the noon !
And did not thy aspiration toward all things
high and pure
Even kindle in our bosoms,
As lesson and as boon !
And fond desire to soar with thee
When thy wing was strong,
And humble prayer to sit with thee in silence
calm and deep,
And fervent praise that sprang in us as springs
the thrush's song,
And speechless thanks that rose in us
As when the sea-waves heap !
I said that I had not words
That might be meet for thee,
Nor does my dullard mind respond to my
spirit's call ;
Odes of the Disciples 55
For I fain would of thy wisdom tell, and let all
That thine eye, though often sad or gay,
And beheld, beneath the form and shape,
Whatever lives around ;
And pierced, as with the spear of truth, things
seen and things unseen ;
And reasoned out the reasons, and traced the
links that bound
All Eternities together —
And all that was, and is, between.
I do not know if ever since
Man stood upon the earth.
It was granted to a man to see so much that
As was giv'n to thee, Oh, Omar ! set apart
To perceive the life of life,
To see by light unbidden —
56 Omar Khayyam
The atoms rise to suns and souls —
Yea, and the atom's source ;
The endless chains and chances of all things
great and small ;
The Ends bound with Beginnings, the sea with
the streamlet's course ;
The chrysalis of e'en man's spirit —
The onward trend of all.
'Tis not as if for us alone
Thou did'st teach in sense
Of metaphor and parable, or feign discontent
Or utter thy complainings, or complexities
Or turn in inward gaze,
Or uplift thine arms without.
Odes of the Disciples 57
A time will of a surety come,
Oh, Master wise and gray !
When lands thou never knewest will proclaim
thy fame ;
And tongues thou never heardest will, some
Delighted trace thy syllables,
And revere thy name.
And I kiss thy feet, my Master,
As I now humbly bend.
And my heart stands sudden still as at thy
hand on my head.
Farewell ! now I shall journey home, and pray
God that my end
Bring me to thee, whene'er He will —
By battle or by bed.
58 Omar Khayyam
I have not many words
But I've a word for thee,
Master of our earlier years, Teacher of our
Who in our youngest thoughts
Did'st rear from thine a tree
Of knowledge of all good, and love of holy
For not alone did'st thou
Engraft, and sow, and plant
But thou did'st firmly prune, and gently tend
and care ;
And thy seedlings in our hearts
Shall for ever grow,
And to thy honour bring forth fruit and
flower, and share
Odes of the Disciples 59
The short life of this life,
This school-hour ere the eve,
And carry seed to future lives when eve is
When the sleeping soul
Is awakened to receive
Its blessed robe from God — its inner soul
Behold us, thy disciples,
In thy humble cot,
Once more amidst thy flowers, in thy garden wild :
But on our heads and beards
Gray ashes heap we not —
A disciple mourns not as merely does a child.
Dear Master ! Deign to speak to us.
Though not again
To our fleshly ear, but to our deep listening
6o Omar Khayyam
For whate'er thou once did'st doubt
Is now heavenly plain,
And thou sailest free, without astrolobe or chart.
God's Angel pilots now
Thy spirit's course above,
And thine eyes see clearly now — they no longer
To read the broken lights
Within the shadowed grove,
Like fragments of the dreams that one calls
back in vain.
Hast thou a word, Oh, Master,
For thy faithful band,
Who knew thy face unmasked, thy tears be-
neath thy laugh,
And the devotion
Of thy soul's most secret strand,
And that the wine ne'er flowed thou did'st
pretend to quaff?
Odes of the Disciples 6i
We will not say Farewell,
Say thou not Go in peace ;
Thou art still our Master, we're thy disciples yet ;
And hence, until the Lord
Shall bid our pulses cease,
We'll gather in this place, for we cannot forget.
And when the cup is at our lips
That all must drink,
Our souls we will yield back to God, at His
And stretch our hands to thee,
Waiting for us on the brink,
And in Paradise rejoice thou'rt our Master still.
62 Omar Khayyam
I offer thee, Master, the myrrh of my heart,
I offer thee, Master, the flame of my soul,
I offer thee, Master, all thought and ail art,
In a brazier of praise I mingle the whole.
I smile as I think of thy deep laughing eyes :
But I do not forget thy oft-hidden tear,
In mournings of hope or o'er parables wise —
Like God's rainbows of glories and pities here.
I'm not gifted, Master, with thy word or
I see but the way winding dimly up-hill ;
But I know that I know that some light I caught,
How, mounting from sight, it is e'er rising still.
I will not deck thy tomb with flowers and palms,
Nor ripe fruits spread around, and oil,
wine, and corn,
Odes of the Disciples 63
Nor let hireling singers chant unminding psalms,
Nor the sacred stone with rich cov'rings adorn.
'Tis better far to sit alone here and pray
That thy blest spirit be ne'er remote from me;
And that some glimmer of that immortal ray
May dwell with me that shone so brightly
Lowly, loving, learning, I reverently bow
And kiss thy hallowed feet, Omar, wise
And though my poor voice sings lone re-
Thy memory, like Time, will be ever new.
For on Earth are potters — potters of their day.
Moulding wasteful vessels, shaping useless
And those petty potters,themselves made of clay,
Lay out banquet tables — and are food for
64 Omar Khayyam
But the Most Merciful, the Eternal God,
I s the Master Potter, Lord of Life — andDust :
Who, interchanging dust and life, and soul
Builds new constellations from old specks
And if to thy askings answers oft were dark,
Darkness e'en was light, and nerved thy
mind to I'-ace
Whate'er was that is ; and with awed wonder
That small tent, in God's great camps,
which men call Space.
Master, farewell ! I fall to my common life,
As leaving a palace, and forth in the night.
But there's blessing in the East, and Dawn is rife
With the glorious hopes of all thy visions
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