Khayyam counted while he rhymed
The universally popular Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam contains a number of stanzas well worth pondering during the Now Ruz season.
This classic work of poetry penned by Khayyam-famed more as a mathematician than a poet in Iran-was brought to the attention of the attention of the English-speaking world when it was translated-rather freely, but nonetheless beautifully-by the 19th Century British poet, Edward Fitzgerald.
Among Khayyam's thoughts on the new year are:
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, full 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 .
Omar Khayyam also commented on the rapid passing of time, of which we all become aware during the new year celebrations:
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.
Ah, fill the cup... What bodes it to repeat
How time is slipping underneath our feet.
Unborn tomorrow and dead yesterday,
Why fret about them if today be sweet?
Khayyam is better known in Iran as one of the astronomers who contributed to the refinement of the Persian calendar, and as a mathematician who produced an important study of Euclid, an algebra test, as well as scholarly research on mineralogy.
Khayyam was actually unpopular with many of his colleagues, who regarded him as too outspoken and hedonistic-as with his many praises of the virtues of wine.
Here is another of Khayyam's verses, as translated by Fitzgerald.
Alas, 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!
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 Remold it nearer to the heart's desire?