Languages of people change,
but not the song of the Nightingale.
The red wine of Life awakens one’s mind,
one’s ability to think.
There was a time in my life when I searched for answers
(I still do).
Omar Khayyam wrote his poem “The Rubaiyat” in the year 1120.
I did not understand it and therefore had to arise at 5:00 AM every morning, for several mornings, to read – – reread – – and interpolate it. I did not have to translate it because Edward FitzGerald had done that for me in the year 1859.
My interpolation turned out to be satisfying, even if not exact. The reason for that was I had read it and reread it until I saw that Omar was talking about life and the necessity to ‘throw off ideals’ if one wants to enjoy life. Omar spoke often about enjoying ‘wine’ but he was really using wine as a metaphor for life; ‘Enjoy life, as if it was wine, until it intoxicates you.’
So, my interpolation was INCORRECT, when reading word for word, but EXACT when reading the Rubaiyat as a whole. To show my error (possibly, it was or was not) I now allow you to compare quatrain #6 above (my interpolation) to Khayyam’s/FitzGerald’s original version #6 which follows.
And David’s lips are lockt; but in divine
High-piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!”–the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That sallow cheek of hers t’ incarnadine.
Therefore, if you throw off the cloak of idealism, no matter whether it is political, theological or those of the Sultan, life is waiting for no one; it marches on day by day, so make good use of it. I believe my interpolation of this sixth quatrain is much better than attempting to draw a conclusion of the sixth when isolating it from the remaining one hundred and one quatrains.
And I refuse to stop with my interpolation right here!
Let us inspect my interpolation about the Nightingale a little closer.
Languages of people change,
but not the song of the Nightingale.
The red wine of Life awakens one’s mind,
one’s ability to think.
Languages of humans do change; if you take it word for word.
When someone changes cultures they eventually change languages. That is true for those who have different ideals. The Muslim’s thoughts differ from the Christians. The Conservative’s language differs from the Progressive’s. The metaphysical thinker’s language differs from the realists.
The astonished person’s language differs from the frightened.
The ill person’s language differs from the vigorous person’s.
The delighted person’s language differs from the revolted.
The joyful person’s language differs from the obnoxious.
The cheerful person’s language differs from the morose.
The calm person’s language differs from the enraged.
I am not here to tell you who is right and who is wrong. I only ask that you enjoy your life before it disappears.
And now I must allow you to compare my Rubaiyat against the original. It surely isn’t as beautiful as that of Kayyam and FitzGerald. But it is nevertheless, an easily understood version.
It is early morning and the stars have started to disappear. The Sultan’s tower is a shadow amongst shadows. I attempt to waken you.
I sit here before the sun shows itself and wonder why, when the Temple of Life calls for enjoyment, mediocre worshippers do not enter.
As the rooster awakens their early Life they wish to partake – but – realize the church will call them away.
A Spring festival renews the call to Life’s enjoyment but those who follow the popular ideology or theology think of Moses’ snowy hand and Jesus’ healing powers.
Theological beliefs are faint but the enjoyment of Life can be clearly seen in a vined flower and plants growing by a life-giving stream.
Languages of people change but not the song of the Nightingale. The red wine of Life awakens ones mind, ones ability to think.
Enjoy your renewed Life with new ideas, throw away your ideological and theological cloak. Your Life is flittering away like a bird on the wing.
No matter if your Life is large or small, glorious or bitter – it is disappearing drop-by-drop, like the leaves of fall.
Everyday Life grants you new experiences and new ideas. Embrace these; and discard the invalid ones as you wish.
Do we owe allegiance to the old ideas, the old gods, the superstitions? Why should we follow them?
Walk with me along the divide between theology and Living Life. Let us see who is remembered. Let them stay where they are.
We may find a nice shade tree, read a good book, and then discuss it. We will enter the “unknown” and exit a “paradise of ideas.”
Some live for human glory, some live to enter heaven; but enjoy what you have today and do not borrow from tomorrow.
Enter Life with glee, gain knowledge, sprinkle it on others; then leave life happy, knowing that you have contributed.
Those who once had great ideas are relived by the common man. Those great ideas may not apply today but we keep on digging them up.
Old hope is the kindling that will turn to ashes. It is an April snow that disappears with the sunlight of new ideas.
The caravan of Life, measured as each day goes by, brings new ideas and experiences; and the old fade into the twilight.
The reigns and territories of kings have turned to sand where animals roam. The hunter’s grave has turned to dust where the hunted remains to trample on it. But nothing has changed.
Glorious leaders reflect glorious ideas. These ideas may remain to have merit. They are the gardens where new ideas grow.
This garden grows delicately on the waters edge. Be careful not to trample on the new ideas that spring from it.
Clear my mind of regret and fear; for those culprits of the past and the future do not hold the potential of tomorrow in which I can be myself.
The most loved and best of humanity have had their drink of tomorrow and now they are gone.
Now we are the current holders of the earth and we too must, at some point, make room for the new holders of ideas.
So make good of all your potential before you descend into the earth as dust; without Song or Wine – for eternity.
Those who spend their time preparing for today and tomorrow shall be called fools.
Even the saints and sages are dead; their words stopped by the dust of time.
When I was young I studied under doctors and saints but my mind kept a place for my own thoughts as well.
I learned from them and on my own I expanded that growth. I gathered a flood of knowledge and created a whirlwind with it.
I became lost in my knowledge and it kept on flowing; but I knew not why I chased knowledge or what to do with it.
I did not ask when I would die. I did not even think of whether I would die. My conceit brought me to the insolence of not asking these questions.
I thought I had arrived at the seventh heaven, sitting on Saturn’s throne. My knowledge solved several puzzles of our solar system but not our Universe.
I saw that there existed a door (or veil) of Human Fate but could not unlock it. I thought of myself and some god. Or was it two forms of myself?
I knew He was there; somewhere in the seas or heavens. But as if being subjected to the magician’s tricks, all I could see was the night and morning.
I found You within me through a dim light. And the vision became fainter when you scolded me for my conceit.
Then You revealed the secret. Fill the cup of Life to the fullest and drink to the last drop; before you die.
At times I could not find the answer to Life (which of course, had to exist). I persisted and found Life would give and take; with a joy for both.
I have seen Life creating Life, forming it into shape, like clay. Pray, remember we all return to earth.
We came from earth and were given the name “Mankind.”
As we drink from the cup of Life we may toss a few drops on the earth; with a reverence to those who can taste it no more.
In the morning of your Life do you wonder about the cosmos as if it were the inverted cup? The cup of Life has the stars and the moon etched into its bowl.
Have you ceased to wonder about Man and God? Have you become disoriented in the hurricane of Life? Has all meaning slipped through your fingers?
Then say “Yes” to Life, learn and do what you can, see how you can exceed the self that you were yesterday and the manner of man you can be tomorrow.
Then, as Life comes to its end, you will not be sorry for what you have omitted.
Likewise, your soul will shake the dust and travel lightly, even if your body is held by the earth.
Death is a short stay for the soul. Those whose soul rises, leaves behind a simple body.
Do not worry, when we are forgotten, for the contributions of our lives are passed on to Mankind.
The world will exist far past the time of our death. The impressions we made are like a small pebble cast into the ocean.
We may like to believe we are somehow more than others; however, Life is only a temporary stop. Life’s caravan is circular and returns to where it started.
Life’s fortunes, the difference between truth and falseness, the separation between life and death, is as thin as a hair.
If these differences in life are so minute, how can we find the single Character that is the truth?
Every thought we have about these secrets torments our brain. We recognize that, from the fish to the moon, everything dies; yet the Universe goes on.
We get a glimpse of the Universe but its clarity is always poor; and then it disappears completely.
We scour, from heaven to earth, for these secrets. How are we to think of them once we are dead?
Maybe it would be better if we did not waste the precious time of Life chasing these answers down. Maybe we should just enjoy Life as Life gives it to us.
I gave up the logic and reasoning previously used in contemplating theology. Now I just enjoy Life.
I have erred in measuring Life with the tools of the surveyor and the heights of the stars; I now realize that I should have been Living Life.
People say my new calendar was invented for logical reasons. Not so! I was simply attempting to reconcile the falseness of yesterday and fear of tomorrow against the truth of today.
As I grow older I have a sense that someone (or something) is showing me a vision of a Carafe of Life; and encouraging me to drink in each and every day.
Why should I listen to seventy-two different religions when I see that the chemistry of Life can turn leaden existence into Golden enjoyment?
Mahmud, fierce defender and conqueror for Allah, has scattered the East Indian people before him.
Our theology has been changed into a weapon of will. Who has done this?
I reject this form of theology; my trust of it has turned to fear. Maybe there is a better way.
The promise of heaven and the fear of hell do not give me longer life. The only true thing remaining is that all existing things eventually die.
It is strange that none of the departed have returned to tell us what really lies beyond death.
After all the prophets died, the devout and educated told us interesting stories but then the stories were forgotten.
I thought this through and decided that I am responsible for (and make) my own heaven and hell.
My heaven is every fulfilled desire, my hell is when I have erred so pitifully that it haunts me. Why have I learned this so late in Life?
Life is like those balanced and painted lantern shades that spin on a pin. We are the painted figures that Life spins, day and night, for Life’s own show.
Or is Life simply a game of checkers, white for day – black for night, in which we are moved until slain; and then cast aside?
Or when the game of Life is played with a ball there are no questions allowed. He simply sends you down the field wherever He wants you. He knows clearly where He wants you to go.
And if Life is a writing, no matter whether you are witty or devout, what is written is written in stone. You can not go back and edit it.
Or if life is an inverted bowl and you are captured below the sky and above the earth, do not ask It for help. It is part of The Plan, just as you and I are.
What was first created already had a total plan. Man can not change what the Plan for Life is.
Drink up Life’s experiences, for you can not change them. We will never know how or why we exist; so just experience it and enjoy.
When Life started, even the most brilliant men were thrown aside. I know all that remains is the grave and the soul.
The spiraling vine and the whirling devil can capture my soul only if my basest instinct allows it to happen.
I would rather be consumed by Life’s love or wrath than to miss the truth of Life by believing in another’s theology.
Why should I allow anyone to set rules that threaten a perpetual hell? My rules of Life’s enjoyment are as valid as their rules of self-denial.
Why pay with the Gold of Life for something we never bargained for?
Although Life has strewn my path with evil, my will avoids precarious decisions. Life did not put me here to fail.
Even though some men are of a baser instinct (we all make errors) give forgiveness and accept it as well.
When I departed this earth I found myself surrounded by others who originated in the earth’s clay.
They were of all sorts. Short, tall, keen, dim, great and small, some talked incessantly, some spoke well, and some not at all.
One said “I hope that I was not created (in vain) from the earth’s clay simply to be crushed back into earth.”
A second one said “Even the peevish Boy of Life would not destroy us; those that He made and watched over.”
After a short silence a cripple spoke. “Why was I created? So that people would sneer at me?”
A talkative theologian then said “What is all of this talk about being made of clay? Who created us? Who sells us? Who buys us? Are we simply clay pots?”
Another spoke. “People say that we who are damaged will be thrown into hell. He who created us certainly would not do that!”
The last one spoke. “Whosoever makes or buys us will find that I am quite dried out. If they would only give me a little Life I could make a total recovery.”
As they all talked some saw the sign of a new beginning. They nudged each other and erroneously said – “Now we can get back to business.”
When I die please anoint by body and bury me near a busy place where people will come and go.
In such a place my reputation and soul will remind the Living of who I was.
Some of the things I believed in were held in error by others. This ruins my reputation and minimizes my Life.
Earlier in Life I sought repentance for breaking other people’s rules. When I started thinking for myself repentance was a thing of the past.
My enjoyment of Life has robbed my honor in other’s eyes. But if Life can be so full what is it that could possibly bring those others to joy?
When I die the book of my Life dies with me. But the eternal language of the Nightingale sings on. And Life continues somewhere else.
I hope that someone walking near my grave picks up my thought and brings it to Life, like the new Life that Spring brings to a herb.
May my ideas, through some miracle, live on. But let them live on in greatness (if not – then obliterate them in totality).
The future will search for us; off and on, seeking the meaning of Life. Maybe we can rid ourselves of our errors before they attempt these new meanings. And then let the seekers determine their own path.
A new era will occur. New seekers will appear. Some will look for me.
And when they find me please turn a bowl upside down so that I may contemplate the Universe and Life; once again.
The Khayyam/Fitzgerald version.
By Omar Khayyam
Written 1120 A.C.E.
Wake! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, and strikes
The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light.
Before the phantom of False morning died,
Methought a Voice within the Tavern cried,
“When all the Temple is prepared within,
Why nods the drowsy Worshipper outside?”
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted–“Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.”
Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the White Hand Of Moses on the Bough
Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.
Iram indeed is gone with all his Rose,
And Jamshyd’s Sev’n-ring’d Cup where no one knows;
But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine,
And many a Garden by the Water blows,
And David’s lips are lockt; but in divine
High-piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!”–the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That sallow cheek of hers t’ incarnadine.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter–and the Bird is on the Wing.
Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.
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.
Well, let it take them! What have we to do
With Kaikobad the Great, or Kaikhosru?
Let Zal and Rustum bluster as they will,
Or Hatim call to Supper–heed not you
With me along the strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan is forgot–
And Peace to Mahmud on his golden Throne!
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!
Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!
Look to the blowing Rose about us–“Lo,
Laughing,” she says, “into the world I blow,
At once the silken tassel of my Purse
Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw.”
And those who husbanded the Golden grain,
And those who flung it to the winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn’d
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.
The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes–or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face,
Lighting a little hour or two–is gone.
Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.
They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:
And Bahram, that great Hunter–the Wild Ass
Stamps o’er his Head, but cannot break his Sleep.
I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her Lap from some once lovely Head.
And this reviving Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River-Lip on which we lean–
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!
Ah, my Belov’ed fill the Cup that clears
To-day Past Regrets and Future Fears:
To-morrow!–Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand Years.
For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his Vintage rolling Time hath prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.
And we, that now make merry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new bloom
Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
Descend–ourselves to make a Couch–for whom?
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and–sans End!
Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
And those that after some To-morrow stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
“Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There.”
Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss’d
Of the Two Worlds so wisely–they are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter’d, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door where in I went.
With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d–
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”
Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.
What, without asking, hither hurried Whence?
And, without asking, Whither hurried hence!
Oh, many a Cup of this forbidden Wine
Must drown the memory of that insolence!
Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate;
And many a Knot unravel’d by the Road;
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.
There was the Door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see:
Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee
There was–and then no more of Thee and Me.
Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn
In flowing Purple, of their Lord forlorn;
Nor rolling Heaven, with all his Signs reveal’d
And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn.
Then of the Thee in Me works behind
The Veil, I lifted up my hands to find
A Lamp amid the Darkness; and I heard,
As from Without–“The Me Within Thee Blind!”
Then to the lip of this poor earthen Urn
I lean’d, the Secret of my Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur’d–“While you live
Drink!–for, once dead, you never shall return.”
I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answer’d, once did live,
And drink; and Ah! the passive Lip I kiss’d,
How many Kisses might it take–and give!
For I remember stopping by the way
To watch a Potter thumping his wet Clay:
And with its all-obliterated Tongue
It murmur’d–“Gently, Brother, gently, pray!”
And has not such a Story from of Old
Down Man’s successive generations roll’d
Of such a clod of saturated Earth
Cast by the Maker into Human mould?
And not a drop that from our Cups we throw
For Earth to drink of, but may steal below
To quench the fire of Anguish in some Eye
There hidden–far beneath, and long ago.
As then the Tulip for her morning sup
Of Heav’nly Vintage from the soil looks up,
Do you devoutly do the like, till Heav’n
To Earth invert you–like an empty Cup.
Perplext no more with Human or Divine,
To-morrow’s tangle to the winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The Cypress–slender Minister of Wine.
And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press
End in what All begins and ends in–Yes;
Think then you are To-day what Yesterday
You were–To-morrow You shall not be less.
So when that Angel of the darker Drink
At last shall find you by the river-brink,
And, offering his Cup, invite your Soul
Forth to your Lips to quaff–you shall not shrink.
Why, if the Soul can fling the Dust aside,
And naked on the Air of Heaven ride,
Were’t not a Shame–were’t not a Shame for him
In this clay carcase crippled to abide?
‘Tis but a Tent where takes his one day’s rest
A Sultan to the realm of Death addrest;
The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrash
Strikes, and prepares it for another Guest.
And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account, and mine, should know the like no more;
The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour’d
Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.
When You and I behind the Veil are past,
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last,
Which of our Coming and Departure heeds
As the Sea’s self should heed a pebble-cast.
A Moment’s Halt–a momentary taste
Of Being from the Well amid the Waste–
And Lo!–the phantom Caravan has reach’d
The Nothing it set out from–Oh, make haste!
Would you that spangle of Existence spend
About the Secret–Quick about it, Friend!
A Hair perhaps divides the False and True–
And upon what, prithee, may life depend?
A Hair perhaps divides the False and True;
Yes; and a single Alif were the clue–
Could you but find it–to the Treasure-house,
And peradventure to The Master too;
Whose secret Presence, through Creation’s veins
Running Quicksilver-like eludes your pains;
Taking all shapes from Mah to Mahi; and
They change and perish all–but He remains;
A moment guess’d–then back behind the Fold
Immerst of Darkness round the Drama roll’d
Which, for the Pastime of Eternity,
He doth Himself contrive, enact, behold.
But if in vain, down on the stubborn floor
Of Earth, and up to Heav’n’s unopening Door
You gaze To-day, while You are You–how then
To-morrow, You when shall be You no more?
Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute;
Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.
You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
I made a Second Marriage in my house;
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.
For “Is” and “Is-not” though with Rule and Line
And “Up” and “Down” by Logic I define,
Of all that one should care to fathom,
Was never deep in anything but–Wine.
Ah, but my Computations, People say,
Reduced the Year to better reckoning?–Nay
‘Twas only striking from the Calendar
Unborn To-morrow, and dead Yesterday.
And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came shining through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and ’twas–the Grape!
The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The sovereign Alchemist that in a trice
Life’s leaden metal into Gold transmute:
The mighty Mahmud, Allah-breathing Lord
That all the misbelieving and black Horde
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters before him with his whirlwind Sword.
Why, be this Juice the growth of God, who dare
Blaspheme the twisted tendril as a Snare?
A Blessing, we should use it, should we not?
And if a Curse–why, then, Who set it there?
I must abjure the Balm of Life, I must,
Scared by some After-reckoning ta’en on trust,
Or lured with Hope of some Diviner Drink,
To fill the Cup–when crumbled into Dust!
Oh, threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain–This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.
Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
Before us pass’d the door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.
The Revelations of Devout and Learn’d
Who rose before us, and as Prophets burn’d,
Are all but Stories, which, awoke from Sleep,
They told their comrades, and to Sleep return’d.
I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return’d to me,
And answer’d “I Myself am Heav’n and Hell:”
Heav’n but the Vision of fulfill’d Desire,
And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire,
Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves,
So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.
We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;
But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.
The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss’d you down into the Field,
He knows about it all–He knows–HE knows!
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’d we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help–for It
As impotently moves as you or I.
With Earth’s first Clay They did the Last Man knead,
And there of the Last Harvest sow’d the Seed:
And the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.
Yesterday This Day’s Madness did prepare;
To-morrow’s Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.
I tell you this–When, started from the Goal,
Over the flaming shoulders of the Foal
Of Heav’n Parwin and Mushtari they flung
In my predestined Plot of Dust and Soul.
The Vine had struck a fibre: which about
If clings my being–let the Dervish flout;
Of my Base metal may be filed a Key,
That shall unlock the Door he howls without.
And this I know: whether the one True Light
Kindle to Love, or Wrath-consume me quite,
One Flash of It within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.
What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke
A conscious Something to resent the yoke
Of unpermitted Pleasure, under pain
Of Everlasting Penalties, if broke!
What! from his helpless Creature be repaid
Pure Gold for what he lent him dross-allay’d–
Sue for a Debt he never did contract,
And cannot answer–Oh, the sorry trade!
Oh, Thou, who didst with pitfall and with gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestined Evil round
Enmesh, and then impute my Fall to Sin!
Oh, Thou who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And ev’n with Paradise devise the Snake:
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken’d–Man’s forgiveness give–and take!
As under cover of departing Day
Slunk hunger-stricken Ramazan away,
Once more within the Potter’s house alone
I stood, surrounded by the Shapes of Clay.
Shapes of all Sorts and Sizes, great and small,
That stood along the floor and by the wall;
And some loquacious Vessels were; and some
Listen’d perhaps, but never talk’d at all.
Said one among them–“Surely not in vain
My substance of the common Earth was ta’en
And to this Figure moulded, to be broke,
Or trampled back to shapeless Earth again.”
Then said a Second–“Ne’er a peevish Boy
Would break the Bowl from which he drank in joy,
And He that with his hand the Vessel made
Will surely not in after Wrath destroy.”
After a momentary silence spake
Some Vessel of a more ungainly Make;
“They sneer at me for leaning all awry:
What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?”
Whereat some one of the loquacious Lot–
I think a Sufi pipkin-waxing hot–
“All this of Pot and Potter–Tell me then,
Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”
“Why,” said another, “Some there are who tell
Of one who threatens he will toss to Hell
The luckless Pots he marr’d in making–Pish!
He’s a Good Fellow, and ’twill all be well.”
“Well,” Murmur’d one, “Let whoso make or buy,
My Clay with long Oblivion is gone dry:
But fill me with the old familiar juice,
Methinks I might recover by and by.”
So while the Vessels one by one were speaking,
The little Moon look’d in that all were seeking:
And then they jogg’d each other, “Brother! Brother!
Now for the Porter’s shoulder-knot a-creaking!”
Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash the Body whence the Life has died,
And lay me, shrouded in the living Leaf,
By some not unfrequented Garden-side.
That ev’n my buried Ashes such a snare
Of Vintage shall fling up into the Air
As not a True-believer passing by
But shall be overtaken unaware.
Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my credit in this World much wrong:
Have drown’d my Glory in a shallow Cup
And sold my Reputation for a Song.
Indeed, indeed, Repentance of before
I swore–but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.
And much as Wine has play’d the Infidel,
And robb’d me of my Robe of Honour–Well,
I wonder often what the Vintners buy
One half so precious as the stuff they sell.
Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth’s sweet-scented manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!
Would but the Desert of the Fountain yield
One glimpse–if dimly, yet indeed, reveal’d,
To which the fainting Traveller might spring,
As springs the trampled herbage of the field!
Would but some wing’ed Angel ere too late
Arrest the yet unfolded Roll of Fate,
And make the stern Recorder otherwise
Enregister, or quite obliterate!
Ah, Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits–and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!
Yon rising Moon that looks for us again–
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
How oft hereafter rising look for us
Through this same Garden–and for one in vain!
And when like her, oh, Saki, you shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter’d on the Grass,
And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made One–turn down an empty Glass!