Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

"One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies." XXVI

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is a collection of quatrains by a tent maker... who happened to also be a poet, mathematician and astronomer, written in Persia in the 11th-12th century.

It's estimated that Omar Khayyam wrote over 5,000 quatrains in his life - this work contains 75.

I liken this work to a modern day self help book, with some flowery poetical language.  The premise is that life is short, focus on the present (not the past or the future) and enjoy life because when you are gone, you're gone.  Khayyam states that we are born as earth and die as earth and copious amounts of wine should be drunk in between... wine has the power to turn metal into gold (XLIII). 

In stanza LII, Khayyam states that praying to the sky is useless.  God creates and he can take it away (LXI) and we should not take life too seriously (XLVI). 

These quatrains can be read in less than half an hour, and I hypothesize where you are in your current life will dictate strongly whether you enjoy the work or not.  If you are cannot help but fret about your worries, this work may do what thoughts on the scope of the universe and our place in it, will do for you.  It may provide some perspective and shed worry.

The language was beautiful at times, but in poetry... I want to feel overwhelmed and impulsed to clutch at my heart and this feeling never came in this work.  I prefer the Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, personally.

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