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The Testament of Omar Khayyam 

[The Wasiyyat] 


'Ez^ The Testament of 

Omar Khayyam 

[The Wasiyyat] 

Comprising his 

Testament (or Last Words) 

A Song 

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 



Note .... 


The Testament 


A Song 


Hymn of Prayer 

• 38 

The Word in the Desert . 


Hymn of Praise 

. 46 

Odes of the Disciples — I. . 


11. . 


n III. . 

- 58 

IV. . 



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). 
"A Song." 

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 
incalculable harm. 

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, 

viii Note 

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. 


Holly Lodge, 
PuTNiY, S. W., January 1907. 

The Wasiyyat 


Omar Khayyam 


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, 

as when 
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 
which then 

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 

their most 
Lustrous lords to outshine and ardour outburn. 


I remember them well : I knew them of old 
When we spoke together — I mind me not 

where ; 
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 
and I. 

I recognise them all without need of words — 
Their powd'ry mists, and clusters, and flaming 

shapes ; 
And where the sentinels guard their resplendent 

hordes ; 
And their dim-bright isles, and continents, and 



They seem changeless, yet changed, for now we 

both play 
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 

and kine, 
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 

worse — 

14 Omar Khayyam 


Because oft I, thy lord, sleep, or talk, or dream ; 
Oft sit dazed with excess, or with want, of 

thought ; 
Oft forget myself, or what I am, or seem ; 
Or in lustful folly pledge my soul — for 

nought ; 


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 

time — 
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 

praise ? 

1 6 Omar Khayydm 


*' Son, be still ! I groove and carve each atom's 

form ; 
*' 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 

the End, 
" And perceives not that it was Beginning, too : 
*' For what he deems Nought is what I sow 

and tend 
"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 

drone ? 


How can I tell ? Hush ! Was it I who then 

spoke ? 
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 
and Why. 


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 

thy needs, 
" 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 

mind grown, 
" 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 
thought ; 

The Testament of Omar Khayyd^m 19 

" Nor e'en what thou art, or wert, or what 

shalt be, 
" 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 

to dance. 


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 

fly low. 

The Testament of Omar Khayyilm 2 1 


" Thy meal is set out, and thy servitors wait ; 

*' Thy children may not eat without thy com- 
mand ; 

'' 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 
aught ail 

" My lord? " and " May the One, Most merci- 
ful God 

" 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 

me home. 
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 

shout ; 

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 

thee — 
These washings and wearings and wivings and 

Whilst I go the way marked for my Guest — 

or Me? 


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 

leapt past, 
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 

sun : 
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 

see ; 
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 

men see. 
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 

the clink 
Of cups, and the jest, and the boast that ne'er 

fails ; 


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 kine, 

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 

birth — 
*' The alembics distilling souls from all life." 


True : on outskirts of hearing the lions roar ; 
Here, at my feet, the chiding crickets chirp 

shrill ; 
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 

doom — 

28 Omar Khayyam 

For each seeks his living, and who cares 

which dies ? 
For one bleeds, and one feeds, and both find 

the tomb. 


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 

doth spray, 
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 

of lives, 
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 

or mind. 
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- 

ing tongue. 
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- 
ache cure, 

When the quest is in vain and Truth hides her 
face ; 

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 

again — 
Too strong when needless and, when needful, as 

faint : 


That laughs or defies in song, epigram, phrase, 
And shrugs shoulders, looks wise, and smiles its 

proud smile. 
And bubbles with simile, sophism, craze. 
And void intuitions which itself beguile. 


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 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 

entwined ; 
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 

might ; 
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 

birth ; 
And of endless ebbs of mortal transience 

here — 
Measure me by Thy love, and not by my 

worth ! 


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 

dwells ; 
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 

forget ! 


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. 



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 
whole — 


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 

is shut. 
And ever as the shadows alter, and the day 

is cut, 

Hymn of Prayer 43 

And Creation, like a carpet, is spread on un- 
seen spans, 

E'er woven and rewoven, and re-patterned with 
fresh plans : 


And ever as the heart of man sounds deep to 
voiceless calls, 

And thought stands awed and trembling, as 
hearing mighty falls. 

And ever as from furthest orbs of yet un- 
reached abodes 

There lead the gleaming visions, there tend the 
vaulted roads : 


So may my soul be ever set to pray and 

meditate ; 
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 ! 



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 

lower — 
Than these deathless dead works of Thy 

hands ? 

" Lo, when the amethyst roofs pale shall be, 
"And dimmed stars seek their worn threads 

in vain, 
"Thou shalt all meanings see, in immortality, 
" — For thou shalt find thy Whole Soul again." 




My God, my Maker, my Source, and my End, 
How shall I speak of Thy praise to man- 
kind ; 
How break into words unless Thou shalt lend 
Warmth and light to my soul, now cold and 
blind : 


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 

sphere ; 
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 

Thine — 
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 



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 

men see 
That thine eye, though often sad or gay, 
Was prophetical, 


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 

was hidden. 
As was giv'n to thee, Oh, Omar ! set apart 

from birth 
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 

and doubt, 
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 

distant day, 
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 

youth : 
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 

morn — 
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 

high Will, 
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 
thought — 
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 
in thee. 


Lowly, loving, learning, I reverently bow 
And kiss thy hallowed feet, Omar, wise 
and true 
And though my poor voice sings lone re- 
membrance now 
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 
and sod, 
Builds new constellations from old specks 
of rust. 


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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