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Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Paperback – March 6, 1984
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Original Language: Persian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
A reader who is familiar with FitzGerald's classic "re-creation" - "translation" is a term that is too weak in this context - will be surprised at the defiant materialism of Omar Khayyam's quatrains in Avery's literal translation stripped of the poetic spark of FitzGerald's work.
For example, while the Victorian gentleman Edward FitzGerald chose to translate Omar Khayyam's praise of simple joys and poetry in his famous "A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, / A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou / Beside me singing in the Wilderness - / Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!", Peter Avery gives us not only a more literal translation (#98) but also a much more worldly (and spicy) version of the same theme:
If chance supplied a loaf of white bread,
Two casks of wine and a leg of mutton,
In the corner of a garden with a tulip-cheeked girl
There'd be enjoyment no Sultan could outdo.Read more ›
As a reader and occasional translator of a foreign language myself (although Japanese, not Persian) I was hesitant to read a version (one hesitates to call it a "translation") this old and this famously derided for its looseness with the original work by Omar Khayyam. And yet after comparing the two translations, I am glad that I read FitzGerald, for two main reasons.
First, true to his intention, FitzGerald accentuated the spirit of the original over the literal translation/transliteration of the original. The delightful impishness of Khayyam and the melancholy ephemerality of his Rubaiyat is wonderfully captured. FitzGerald made this artistic choice consciously, stating that "better a live sparrow than a stuffed eagle" ... although this modesty downplays the beautiful lyricism and Victorian elegance of his version.
Second, for better or for worse, this is the version that most captivated--and influenced--the world outside of Persia, including writers from Browning and Tennyson to O. Henry and Borges to Agatha Christie and Stephen King.Read more ›
The Rubaiyat is a series of quatrains (four lines of verse). Fittingly enough, Khayyam opens with the beginning of the day, or, as he phrases it much more poetically: “And Lo! The Hunter of the East has caught The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.” Woven throughout this work is the very transient nature of life… that we must make the very best of every day that we have been given. He states that sentiment, well, much more memorably: “Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring; The Winter Garment of Repentance fling; The Bird of Time has but a little way; To fly-and Lo! The Bird is on the Wing.”
I had long admired the Gertrude Bell, and her willingness to explore the Middle East around the commencement of the 20th century. She too had a poetic “eye” for the desert regions, and described them lovingly in The Desert and the Sown: Travels in Palestine and Syria.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If I fully understood it I'd probably give it five stars. I got it for some of the great oft quoted passages because I wanted to memorize them. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Axolotll
Beautiful poetry. If you haven't experienced it o suggest giving it a try.Published 1 month ago by Daniel Hansen
My students need this insight into this culture in light of the polarized political climate and blatant ignorance exacerbated by the cynical to enslave the emotionally immature.Published 1 month ago by James Weiss