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Fitzgerald's Rubiyat . . .

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 07:52 pm
Post yer own favorites here . . .

From the 3d edition:

The moving finger, 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.
[/b]
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 3,353 • Replies: 14
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Nov, 2002 10:01 pm
Thanks for sending me here - can you find me a reference to read more?
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Nov, 2002 10:24 pm
from The Onion
Down at the loading dock, me and the guys get into a lot of good-natured scraps about sports teams and movies and whatnot. Sure, it gets a little heated sometimes, but it's always in good fun. When it comes to poetry, though, there are days when I just want to haul off and punch their sorry faces.

Especially Tony. I mean, he's entitled to his opinion and all, and if he doesn't acknowledge that Keats was the greatest English poet of the 19th century, that doesn't make him evil or nothing. But when he starts mouthing off about The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam being one of the five greatest poems ever, I want to clock him in the nuts. The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam? A towering achievement that stands beside the likes of Beowulf and The Faerie Queen? What the **** is Tony smoking, and where can I get some?

I've owned one copy or another of that steaming pile of turd since I was 10 years old, and I never once got past the halfway mark. I could write a better Rubaiyat than that, and I've never been published. I swear, that thing's worse than The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.

When I was a kid, I just figured it was Edward Fitzgerald's translation that was lacking. I was certain I'd learn to love the poem when a more authoritative version finally came out. But in the years that followed, none of the other translations held my attention, either. Whether it was E.H. Whinfield's so-called "definitive" version or A.J. Arberry's, one thing remained constant: The Rubaiyat blew.

Still not convinced that such a classic poem could be that bad, I learned Persian so I could read it in the original text. And you know what? It still sucked! Jesus, I can't tell you how awful it was. It may actually have been worse in Persian than in any of the English translations. They should call Omar Khayyam "Ozymandias Khayyam," because when I look on his works, I despair!

If Khayyam's Rubaiyat was all you had to go on, you'd think Islam was some stuffy, soulless religion, not the vibrant, living faith it is. Khayyam's ham-fisted quasi-narrative leaves any sensible reader flipping back and forth between quatrains to remember exactly what he said just four lines before. How in holy hell did this train wreck of a poem ever get published? Omar Khayyam Sr. must have run a publishing house or something.

Not that it's saying much, but I could kick some major Rubaiyat ass compared to that Khayyam hack. The Rubaiyat Of Gord Hunsacker would be, well, ****, it would be publishable, which is more than I can say for Khayyam's.

This is just off the top of my head. I'm not even calling this all that great or anything, but here's at least a passable quatrain that muses upon man's mortality:

Woe betide man for his shortness of days,

Soon to be dust though frantically he prays.

Envy the mountain, a million years here,

A billion, too; and it evermore stays.

You see? Now, that's a Rubaiyat. A couple hundred more lines like those, and you'd have a goddamn Rubaiyat you wouldn't be ashamed to tell your friends you wrote!

Now, of course, the guys down at the dock always ask me, "If you could do so much better, why don't you?" They're totally missing the point! I got a wife and kids to support! I can't just quit my job to write another Rubaiyat, no matter how much better it'd be than Omar ******* Dipshit Khayyam's.

I just wish I could hop in a time machine and travel back to 12th Century Khorasan. I'd tell Khayyam to stick to math and astronomy, and leave the poetry to folks who have a friggin' clue.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Nov, 2002 09:54 am
I'd agree that Tony lacks discernment in his poetical judgments, hell, we all know that . . . but that is no reason to slander Omar . . .
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Nov, 2002 09:57 am
piffka

LOL !!










Psst Setanta
I STILL like it.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Nov, 2002 10:03 am
Here ya go, Lovey, i found this for ya:

http://www.fitzgeraldsrubaiyat.com/
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Nov, 2002 08:49 pm
thanks, boy.

saved that to favourites
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Nov, 2002 09:42 pm
Ohh, Setanta, I hope you know that WAS tongue in cheek! We all like the Rubiyant.

Hahaha, I laughed so hard, I thought I'd burst.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Feb, 2003 02:37 pm
'I came like Water and like Wind I go.'

And here, months later, in this new round of sadness we face... old man Khay'm comes round with the best single line to comfort us mortals.
____

Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown forever dies.

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.'

-- Omar Khayyam
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Feb, 2003 03:04 pm
Hmmm - it might, in the view of many - more properly be called Fitzgerald's Rubiyat - since the translation is so flowery and idiosyncratic. I have a modern translation somewhere - if I can find it, it might be fun to compare some verses - if I can find it....

Of course, there is a richness and romance to Fitzgerald's translation that is very enjoyable and gives a good old poetic high to many readers!
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Feb, 2003 03:15 pm
Since that is the name of this topic, are you saying I should have said "old man Fitzgerald's" come along with the single nicest line?

But it doesn't scan nearly as well!

"old man Khay'm" vs "old man Fitzgee" Gee wheez, D! Picky. Picky.


Anyway, it is a tribute to the fallen astronauts who have gone with the wind at Twelve Thousand Miles an Hour.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Feb, 2003 03:22 pm
That Onion article ROCKS!!!
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Feb, 2003 03:44 pm
I thought so...
0 Replies
 
bobsmyth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 May, 2003 08:42 am
It's surprisinghow few people know what rubaiyat means. A rubai is a quatrain. Rubaiyat is the plural for rubai.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 May, 2003 11:47 am
dlowan wrote:
Hmmm - it might, in the view of many - more properly be called Fitzgerald's Rubiyat - since the translation is so flowery and idiosyncratic. I have a modern translation somewhere - if I can find it, it might be fun to compare some verses - if I can find it....

Of course, there is a richness and romance to Fitzgerald's translation that is very enjoyable and gives a good old poetic high to many readers!


That would be a reasonable name for the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th editions, because Fitzgerald intended to make a translation which would allow him poetic vigor, grace and beauty in the language to which he was translating the quatrains.

After his first edition appeared, "orientalists" all over Europe, but particularly in England, complained about the inexactitude of the translation. In the second edition of Fitzgerald, he made a very strict and literal translation, and, as poetry in the English language, it is dull, dull, dull . . . some of it, quatrains which sing in Fitzgerald's later editions, really suck in the second edition. Having put out a "good" translation, and having provided a point of comparison for those who were not specialists, not readers of Farsi, in his third and later editions, he went back to using Kayyam's quatrains in their essence, and writing what was also very lovely English language poetry. I think his attitude was based on having responded to the critics, proven his credentials as an "orientalist" with his second edition, and then returned to his original object. To give a first-rate poet an audience in a completely foreign language, by preserving the poetical nature of the quatrains rather than sacrifice their beauty to plodding linguistic rectitude. This is, of course, just my opinion, and you are free to hold wrong opinions on the subject in contravention of it . . .
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