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Amir
Omar Khayyam Hey! I'd like to ask you, do you know who is Omar Khayyam? Have you heard about him and his rubaiyat? And if you have, do you agree with him about wine?)
Mar 25, 2018 4:28 PM
Comments · 19

The Edward FitzGerald translation is considered a classic of English literature. It was widely taught in schools here for decades, and almost anyone over the age of 50 probably recognizes this famous passage:

A book of verses beneath the bough,
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness –
Oh, wilderness were paradise enow!

I was required to memorize a chunk of it in high school. I remember dreading the assignment, but was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it. It was my favorite poem in the entire one-year survey.

March 25, 2018
I don't know this Persian poet and I didn't learn about him at school. This situation shows me how affluent area of culture in unknown for some people. I can imagine that Arabian literature has wider and longer than European history so probably there is more this kind of great poets than we can suppose. Despite learning at school about famous philosophers and Greek ancient history we got knowledge only about a scrap of world culture. I don't know about any Arabic literature. I suppose Chinese, India or Japan have a similar wide culture of world literature but we know hardly what or nothing about these. It points me how little knowledge we have about history and culture of our world particularly remote one.
March 25, 2018

@Grzegorz

Arabian literature is irrelevant to the discussion.

March 25, 2018

@Aliph

I think some Afghans and Tajiks are certainly familiar with him. I also know that Khayyam is famous in Russia and the Russian translation of Khayyam's Rubaiyat is actually a good translation of his poems. I think a few days ago Putin recited two verses of one of Khayyam's quatrains. I'm not sure though.

@Amir

Unfortunately, I do not know the original Persian quatrain that corresponds to what you wrote. Fitzgerald's translation is a free translation that captures only the general meaning of Khayyam's poems and does not reflect the actual meaning of the verses. But we should be thankful to Edward Fitzgerald because the fame of Khayyam's poetry in the western world is very much due to his translations of Khayyam's poems.

March 25, 2018

First of all, I have to say that I'm a big fan of Omar Khayyam. I can recite tens of Khayyam's quatrains by heart. He is doubtlessly my favorite Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer and I can't be more proud of him as an Iranian. I think the main element of Khayyam's poetry is not wine. Even though he uses the word a lot but the essence of Khayyam's poetry is about nihilism and hedonism and that we do not know what might happen to us in future, so we should spend today as best as we could. Here's a quatrain from Khayyam:

Az dee ke gozasht heech azu: ya:d makon (when yesterday passed never remember it again)

Farda: ke naya:madast farya:d makon (do not cry before tomorrow arrives)

Bar na:madeo gozashteh bonya:d makon (do not base your life on what has not come yet or what has already passed)

Ha:li khosh ba:sho omr bar ba:d makon (live your moments with happiness and do not waste your life)

March 25, 2018
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Amir
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language
English