Omar Khayyam

A flask of wine, a book of verse, a wild field
You, me, our hearts entwined, paradise revealed
No need to speak, our hearts are in our eyes.
Drink deep this treasure of oblivion, the moment flies

Born in Nishapur, Persia(Iran) in 1048. Omar Khayyam was an outstanding mathematician and astronomer, he wrote books on arithmetic, music, and algebra before the age of 25. Today, his fame as a poet has overshadowed his achievements as a scientist which many consider more substantial. He lived in a difficult, precarious time when one needed the patronage of a strong ruler in order to achieve even a moderate level of security. In 1070 he went to Uzbekistan where he wrote his most noted work, Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra. In 1073 he was invited to Esfahan to set up an observatory where he and other astronomers compiled astronomical tables and contributed to calendar reform. In 1092 political events ended Khayyam's patronage in Esfahan and he came under attack from orthodox Muslims who felt he did not conform to the faith. Khayyam left for Turkmenistan where there was a center for Islamic scholars. There, he completed another work on mathematics. He wrote the Rubaiyat near the end of his life in 1120. He died in 1131.

the poetry of Omar Khayyam

The rubaiyat is a collection of quatrains that may be arranged and rearranged to demonstrate any one of a number of subjective interpretations. The best known and most poetic version of his work was translated by Fitzgerald, who took a nihilistic, fatalistic view. Wine is wine. Nicolas saw Khayyam as a Sufi mystic and wine as a metaphor for divine love. Arguments thus seesaw between whether Khayyam was an alcoholic or a mystic. In the end, we see things through our own personal filters, thus the world reflects back to us, ultimately, what we acknowledge in ourselves.

translated by Edward Fitzgerald The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on : nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it. 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 as in I went. Khayyam, who stitched the tents of science, Has fallen in grief's furnace and been suddenly burned; The shears of Fate have cut the tent ropes of his life, And the broker of Hope has sold him for nothing!' For in and out, above, about, below, 'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show, Played in a Box whose Candle is the Sun, Round which we Phantom Figures come and go. Ah, but my Computations, People say, Have Squared the Year to human Compass, eh? If so, by striking from the Calendar Unborn Tomorrow, and dead Yesterday.

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