For the title of: THE GREATEST work of poetical philosophy ever written.
I LOVE IT.
I adore it. I worship it with wild unfettered unrestrained exulting abandonment.
IT IS OLD. Yet paradoxically eternally youthful.
IT HAS BEEN
attributed to an ancient Persian sage. Perhaps correctly so but to my mind that would be like attributing the USS Missouri to the lady who bust the bottle of fizzy wine over the bows at launching; or London’s Tower Bridge to the idiot politician whose name is on the foundation stone.
I’ve read enough translations by enough educated men to realise that the tremendous insights and sonorous wisdoms of the work are as much—if not immensely more—the work of the modest Victorian who popularised them.
HAVE YOU SUSSED IT YET?
The translator was a Christian, sort of. The work he translated was Mussulman. Mohammedan. Moslem. Muslim. Whatever … so: filtered? Tweaked? Rewritten? Perhaps. Or maybe not. I’d say not. Enhanced, yes. In its most well known form, definitely … but raddled through with wisdom and deep insights into human nature nonetheless.
HAVE YOU SUSSED IT NOW?
The first mentioned writer lived in old Persia centuries ago. His story is fascinating and well worth the read but that’s not our topic here—his work is. Written by him, picked up and vastly improved in the translation in England by the Victorian guy. We’ve all seen it—I defy anyone to say they haven’t come across at least parts of it sometime in their lives …
I WAS ON A JOB ONCE
and in a strange house met a strange lady. In the course of polite chatter the topic of fishing came up, she hated her husband for sneaking off to go fishing at any opportunity. I mentioned that the Muslims have a saying to the effect*—
“I don’t CARE what the bloody Muslims say! I’m a Christian and I don’t want any of their rubbish!!!”
—and that was as far as it went. Her husband had my deepest sympathies, but face it, probably deserved all he got. She would doubtlessly have hated today’s Poem too, and closed her mind (if she had a mind) to the admix of wisdoms therein. Wise is wise, dammit, regardless of source—
—and all the wiser if it offers worldliness …
… to each his own.
AND IF IT SEEMS
that the entire quite lengthy work is a bit morbid, nay, not so. I liked it enough that at one stage I was buying up new renditions—some gorgeous illustrations out there—until I realised that I was in fact collecting. Eek! The realisation became a warning and I used it as such (I’ve seen collectors and have no wish to become one—wild staring eyes and desperation to possess). Yuk.
everyone’s cup of tea. To enjoy it, for it to resonate, you need to have lived.
To have loved won’t hurt at all either …
* Allah doesn’t deduct from a man’s allotted span the time he spends fishing …
… and that poem is of course “The Rubaiyat” by Omar Khayyam, translated in this instance by Edward Fitzgerald (FitzGerald)