Alex has been a photographer since he was in grade school. He has a diploma in digital photography. He thoroughly enjoys various arts.
The written poetry of Omar Khayyam is often considered one of the greatest literary triumphs of Sufism to date. More questions arise when reading his Rubaiyat, than answers can be given. The best odes and ballads do that. Too many questions simply cannot be answered immediately anyway. And, Edward Fitzgerald's translation of some of the heavenly verses of the man is a fantastic depiction of the worlds which were inside the Persian's head. And, what amazing worlds upon worlds inside of worlds there are are over there!
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Omar Khayyam is easily one of my favorite poets. I love the semantic beauty of Gibran, the painted art of Blake, the heart of Kabir, the wisdom of Rumi and Solomon, and the devotion of Nanak. But, there's simply something which is so very unique about Khayyam. He was a man who risked a substantial quantity. He was a person of integrity. And, still - he continued on his Islamic travels, regardless of any thoughts of unworthiness by his peers. His quatrains are problematic for the translator, the verses and lines of poetry often are. And yet, his poems are so cherished that scholars continue trying to interpret them for the English reader.
'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' Quatrain IX as translated by Edward Fitzgerald:
Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say:
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?
And this first Summer month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.
- 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' forth quatrain, fifth edition
The mention of alcohol in Omar's most famous of collected works is indeed an item of great (and perhaps grave) meditation. It is generally against Islamic law to engage in the drinking of any fermented beverage. One should consider the possibility that the wine mentioned throughout is symbolic, and that is not the reference to literal aged grapes. The application of such things as hyperbole, metaphor, and parable are almost always lost in the manic tortured brains of the extremists. Wine is, at times, used as a symbolic representation of a kind of elixir for the mind. The last sentence was very redundant, so let me specify; something that aids in a certain form of change in an individual's consciousness can be poetically called a "wine".
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However, we still can consider the "chance" that Omar Khayyam meant what he wrote somewhat literally. He was a Persian after all, and his people have a history of drinking (most cultures seem to, with the obvious exception of the northern portion of the Americas). We also know that his father was once counted amidst those Mazdyasnians. Still, I clearly have my doubts to this latter interpretation. And, even if he did mean literal alcohol; this is not how we need to translate his thoughts. Context is important, but the fluidity of poetic understanding is one of the beauties of the art. A singular meaning is not necessary for the observer of art. Even the artist herself may not possess merely one way to express their best works in simply and flattened terms. This is, in part what separates art from other manifestations of animal expression. If something is in complete lack of nuance, then can that something still be thought of as art? Maybe it can for some, but I am not sure that such people would be at all correct here in this area.
Various editions of the translated classic are available for purchase at places like 'Barns & Noble', 'Amazon', and garage sales throughout the United States.
'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' is one of my favorite books in the entire world. This is no exaggeration. I have read it multiple times, I plan to read it many more, and I encourage anyone who is interested in doing so - to perform likewise. It is brilliant and a bit edgy - and, I enjoy each translated verse as candy for the mind.
What is your position on this historic piece of literature? Go ahead and leave any and all thoughts in the comment region. However, I hope that you admire and care for this publication as much as I do.
© 2019 Alexander James Guckenberger