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[Illustration:

_"The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me—in vain!"_]




THE FITZGERALD CENTENARY EDITION


Rubáiyát
of
Omar Khayyám

AND

Salámán and Absál


RENDERED INTO ENGLISH VERSE
BY
EDWARD FITZGERALD


TOGETHER WITH
A LIFE OF EDWARD FITZGERALD
AND AN
ESSAY ON PERSIAN POETRY
BY
RALPH WALDO EMERSON


PEACOCK, MANSFIELD & CO., LTD.
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON

MCMIX




BOYLE, SON & WATCHURST,

Printers, &c.
Warwick Square, London, E.C.




CONTENTS.

PAGE

TO E. FITZGERALD iv

LIFE OF EDWARD FITZGERALD 1

PREFACE TO RUBÁIYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM 11

RUBÁIYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM 21

SALÁMÁN AND ABSÁL 43

PERSIAN POETRY, AN ESSAY BY RALPH WALDO EMERSON 101




TO E. FITZGERALD.


Old Fitz, who from your suburb grange
Where once I tarried for a while,
Glance at the wheeling Orb of change
And greet it with a kindly smile;
Whom yet I see, as there you sit
Beneath your sheltering garden tree,
And watch your doves about you flit
And plant on shoulder, hand and knee,
Or on your head their rosy feet,
As if they knew your diet spares
Whatever moved in that full sheet
Let down to Peter at his prayers;

* * * * *

But none can say
That Lenten fare makes Lenten thought,
Who reads your golden Eastern lay,
Than which I know no version done
In English more divinely well;
A planet equal to the sun;
Which cast it, that large infidel
Your Omar: and your Omar drew
Full-handed plaudits from our best
In modern letters....


_Alfred, Lord Tennyson._




LIFE OF EDWARD FITZGERALD.


Edward FitzGerald was born in the year 1809, at Bredfield House, near
Woodbridge, Suffolk, being the third son of John Purcell, who,
subsequently to his marriage with a Miss FitzGerald, assumed the name
and arms proper to his wife's family.

St. Germain and Paris were in turn the home of his earlier years, but in
1821, he was sent to the Grammar School at Bury St. Edmunds. During his
stay in that ancient foundation he was the fellow pupil of James
Spedding and J. M. Kemble. From there he went in 1826 to Trinity
College, Cambridge, where he made the acquaintance of W. M. Thackeray
and others of only less note. His school and college friendships were
destined to prove lasting, as were, also, all those he was yet to form.

One of FitzGerald's chief characteristics was what might almost be
called a genius for friendship. He did not, indeed, wear his heart upon
his sleeve, but ties once formed were never unloosed by any failure in
charitable and tender affection on his part. Never, throughout a lengthy
life, did irritability and erratic petulance (displayed 'tis true, at
times by the translator of "that large infidel"), darken the eyes of
those he honoured with his friendship to the simple and whole-hearted
genuineness of the man.

From Oxford, FitzGerald retired to the 'suburb grange' at Woodbridge,
referred to by Tennyson. Here, narrowing his bodily wants to within the
limits of a Pythagorean fare, he led a life of a truly simple type
surrounded by books and roses, and, as ever, by a few firm friends.
Annual visits to London in the months of Spring kept alive the alliances
of earlier days, and secured for him yet other intimates, notably the
Tennyson brothers.

Amongst the languages, Spanish seems to have been his earlier love. His
translation of Calderon, due to obedience to the guiding impulse of
Professor Cowell, showed him to the world as a master of the rarest of
arts, that of conveying to an English audience the lights and shades of
a poem first fashioned in a foreign tongue.

At the bidding of the same mentor, he, later, turned his attention to
Persian, the first fruits of his toil being an anonymous version, in
Miltonic verse, of the 'Salámán and Absál' of Jámi. Soon after, the
treasure-house of the Bodleian library yielded up to him the pearl of
his literary endeavour, the verses of "Omar Khayyám," a pearl whose
dazzling charm previously had been revealed to but few, and that through
the medium of a version published in Paris by Monsieur Nicolas.

FitzGerald's hasty and ill-advised union with Lucy, daughter of Bernard
Barton, the Quaker poet and friend of Lamb, was but short-lived, and
demands no comment. They agreed to part.

In later life, most summers found the poet on board his yacht "The
Scandal" (so-called as being the staple product of the neighbourhood) in
company with 'Posh' as he dubbed Fletcher, the fisherman of Aldeburgh,
whose correspondence with FitzGerald has lately been given to the world.

To the end he loved the sea, his books, his roses and his friends, and
that end came to him, when on a visit with his friend Crabbe, with all
the kindliness of sudden death, on the 14th June, 1883.

Besides the works already mentioned, FitzGerald was the author of
"Euphranor" [1851], a Platonic Dialogue on Youth; "Polonius": a
Collection of Wise Saws and Modern Instances [1852]; and translations of
the "Agamemnon" of Æschylus [1865]; and the "Œdipus Tyrannus" and
"Œdipus Coloneus" of Sophocles. Of these translations the "Agamemnon"
probably ranks next to the Rubáiyát in merit. To the six dramas of
Calderon, issued in 1853, there were added two more in 1865. Of these
plays, "Vida es Sueno" and "El Magico Prodigioso" possess especial
merit.

His "Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám" was first issued anonymously on January
15th, 1859, but it caused no great stir, and, half-forgotten, was
reintroduced to the notice of the literary world in the following year
by Rossetti, and, in this connection, it is curious to note to what a
large extent Rossetti played the part of a literary Lucina. FitzGerald,
Blake and Wells are all indebted to him for timely aid in the
reanimation of offspring, that seemed doomed to survive but for a short
time the pangs that gave them birth. Mr. Swinburne and Lord Houghton
were also impressed by its merits, and its fame slowly spread. Eight
years elapsed, however, before the publication of the second edition.

After the passage of a quarter-of-a-century a considerable stimulus was
given to the popularity of the "Rubáiyát" by the fact that
Tennyson—appropriately enough in view of FitzGerald's translation of
Sophocles' "Œdipus"—prefaced his "Tiresias, and other Poems," with
some charmingly reminiscent lines written to "Old Fitz" on his last
birthday. "This," says Mr. Edmund Gosse, "was but the signal for that
universal appreciation of 'Omar Khayyám' in his English dress, which has
been one of the curious literary phenomena of recent years. The melody
of FitzGerald's verse is so exquisite, the thoughts he rearranges and
strings together are so profound, and the general atmosphere of poetry
in which he steeps his version is so pure, that no surprise need be
expressed at the universal favour which the poem has met with among
critical readers."

Neither the "Rubáiyát" nor his other works are mere translations. They
are better, perhaps, described as consisting of "largely new work based
on the nominal originals." In the "Omar," admittedly the highest in
quality of his works, he undoubtedly took considerable liberties with
his author, and introduced lines, or even entire quatrains, which,
however they may breathe the spirit of the original, have no material
counterpart therein.

In illustration of FitzGerald's capacity for conveying the spirit rather
than the very words of the original, comparison of the Ousely MS. of
1460 A.D., in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, with the "Rubáiyát" as we
know it, is of great interest.

The MS. runs thus:—

For a while, when young, we frequented a teacher;
For a while we were contented with our proficiency;
Behold the foundation of the discourse!—what happened to us?
We came in like Water, and we depart like Wind.

In FitzGerald's version the verses appear thus:—

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.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd—
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

Similar examples may be found elsewhere, thus:—

From the Beginning was written what shall be
Unhaltingly the Pen writes, and is heedless of good and bad;
On the First Day He appointed everything that must be,
Our grief and our efforts are vain,

develops into:—

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.

The general tendency to amplification is shown again in the translation
of the two lines:—

Forsake not the book, the lover's lips and the green bank of the field,
Ere that the earth enfold thee in its bosom.

into the oft-quoted verses:—

With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where the name of Slave and Sultán scarce is known,
And pity Sultán Máhmúd on his Throne.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow!

And in the lines of Omar:—

In a thousand places on the road I walk, thou placest snares.
Thou sayest: "I will catch thee if thou steppeth into them,"
In no smallest thing is the world independent of thee,
_Thou_ orderest all things—and callest _me_ rebellious!

majestically shaping into FitzGerald's rendering:—

Oh, Thou, who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestination round
Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make
And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken'd, Man's Forgiveness give—and take!

To what school did FitzGerald belong?



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