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FitzGerald's Omar Khayyam

Persian poet, mathematician, and astronomer Omar Khayyam (1048 -1131) is believed to have written about a thousand poetic couplets and quatrains (rubai's).  The verse you encounter at are from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam translated into English Verse by Edward FitzGerald, a book first published in 1859 (this website draws from the 5th edition - 1889).  This became an immensely popular book, to the point of attracting parodies well into the next century.

By FitzGerald's own acknowledgment, this work is often a paraphrase of the original.  For instance, the source material for FitzGerald reads:

I desire a flask of ruby wine and a book of verses
Just enough to keep me alive, and half a loaf is needful,
And then, that thou and I should sit in the wilderness,
Is better than the kingdom of a Sultan.

With FitzGerald's rendering, we get one of his and Omar's most well-known verses:

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!

In such instances, the more accurate description FitzGerald's English verse might be “inspired by” rather than “a translation of” the poetry of Omar Khayyam.  Translations often cause such conundrums.  Most critics agree that FitzGerald captured the spirit of Khayyam‘s work, as is evidenced in this comparison. These Khayyam/FitzGerald quatrains form an important part of the history of poetry and poetry publishing.

As for Omar Khayyam, his contributions as mathematician and astronmer place him as one of the greatest scientists this world has ever known,  For more information I direct you to Omar Khayyam's entry at Wikipedia.
- S. H. Bass    

Also see the special note:   The Wine Poems of Persia

Omar Khayyam at

translations by Edward FitzGerald:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough
Ah my beloved fill the cup that clears
And lately, by the Tavern Door agape
And not a drop that from our Cups we throw

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Indeed the Idols I have loved so long

Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit

Yesterday This Day's Madness did prepare
Yon rising Moon that looks for us again

Imitations and Tributes to Khayyam & FitzGerald
An Altar Boy's Lament by S. H. Bass  ©
In A Copy Of FitzGerald's "Omar" by Richard Le Gallienne
Omar Khayyam by Richard Le Gallienne
The New Omar by G. K. Chesterton

The Wine Poems from FitzGerald's The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam

The Rhyme Makers
Omar Khayyam 1048 to 1131
Omar Khayyam

Edward FitzGerald 1809 to 1883
Edward FitGerald

BOTTLED POETRY: Verses from the Vine

vinted and bottled by
Stephen H. Bass

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