Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rubious fragments

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.

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring

The Winter Garment of Repentance fling...

One thing is certain, that Life flies,

One thing is certain and the Rest is Lies;

The Flower that once is blown for ever dies.

I came like Water and like Wind I go...

While the Rose blows along the River Brink,

With Old Khayyam the Ruby Vintage drink.

And when the Angel with his darker Draught

Draws up to Thee - take that and do not shrink.

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days

Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:

Hither and thither moves, and mates and slays...

Ah Love! Could Thou and I with Fate conspire

To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,

Would we not shatter it to bits - and then

Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire?

( From The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam "translated" by Edward Fitzgerald )


herhimnbryn said...

I think O.K. would have enjoyed seeing his words scattered amongst your wonderful images.

Gorgeous post L.

I must dig out my Rubaiyat. Have you read the translation by Richard Le Gallienne? It is quite beautiful.

Fire Bird said...

Like the black and white (and red).

Avus said...

Just popped by to thank you for visiting my blog. It seems we have very similar tastes in music. As a Loreena McKennet fan have you got her latest album "An Ancient Muse" - it's delightful.
I, too, am a Khayyam fan and was going to mention Le Gallienne's translation, but I see that HHnB got there first!
I should like to link to your blog as it interests me, if that is OK?

Anonymous said...


Lucy said...

H - thank you. Truth to tell I haven't read the full version of the Fitzgerald for many years, but only dipped into anthologies for the quotes. I should be very interested to see the Le Gallienne one, I've found out there is a single volume with his, Fitzgerald's and another, so I think I'll get hold of that.
TG,-thanks. B/W is always classy isn't it? The colour accent is one of the few of the many clever things the camera does I've troubled to find out about!
Avus,-lovely to see you here! Yes, please do link, I'd be flattered! I have had 'An Ancient Muse'since Christmas. I like it but I think not as much as 'The Mask and the Mirror'. She's one of the best at setting poems to music, I think.
A-ha! Praise from ML on a picture post, always to be cherished!

Dave said...

Very nice blend of pictures and text. You excel at this.

There are certainly more accurate translations of Khayyam. The problem with Fitzgerald - his complete misconception of Khayyam's Sufic value system - is very fortunate for us, who gained a great English poem from his mistake. (Something very similar happened with Pound vis a vis Li Po. Say what you will about the evils of Orientalism; it had its moments.)

Avus said...

I certainly agree with you about McKennet's ability to link poetry to her music.
"The Lady of Shallott" is wonderful with "The Highwayman" coming in a close second.

Robert said...

“starry-eyed British people with more enthusiasm than money and more of both than sense”

Well that’s one for the book! I don’t think I am one of them, but may be. who knows? But without the money or else I would be in the South of France sculpting in sunnier climes.

What excellent pictures, I’ll be back again if I may.

Lucy said...

Dave - thank you, kind sir! Yes, I was slightly surprised to see that Alan Jacobs in his excellent (I reckon) anthology 'Poetry for the Spirit' puts Fitz's translation in the Medieval section with Rumi et al rather in the 19th century one with the other Victoriana, but it's good Victoriana, isn't it? I'd never associated Kayyam particularly with Sufi thought, but I guess it explains the booze element...
Avus - yes I love her Lady of Shallott, I didn't think she could get a way with it but she does, without even omitting much. Next best though I think is her Dark Night of the Soul of St John of the Cross, though oddly she doesn't sing the Roy Campbell translation she prints in the sleeve notes, but another version which I think is better still.
Robert - welcome! You don't need much money to have more of it than sense! But truthfully we can better afford to live here than we could in Dorset!

Marly Youmans said...

This linking of pictures to familiar poems is quite interesting--it's one of your "things," and you manage it very well.

And I hope you are well soon!