—Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – the 5th version by Edward Fitzgerald
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted-“Open then the Door!
“You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.”
Life is short, and every second that passes is gone forever, so open the door to life and let us live!
Come, fill 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.
The symbolism is of wine of life, and the cup of our body that contains the wine. Use it well, and use it now, for it is soon gone forever.
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!
Wine, women, and song are the joys of life, not drunkenness, whoring, and raunch. The wise path is that of pleasure, the other is suppressing pain in oblivion.
Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears:
To-morrow-Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n thousand Years.
Surly we will all be long gone in seven thousand years, but we can face the void with equanimity if we accept it as inevitable, and may drink life for cheer not for fear.
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and-sans End!
Make the most of what comes to you, and live within that which is freely available. Seeking things beyond our easy reach will only bring us useless anxiety.
Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.
Out of the void we came and to the void we shall return. Once you accept that as the inevitable reality of our lives tranquility and contentment are part of nature.
But in vain, down on the stubborn floor
Of Earth, and up to Heav’n’s unopening Door,
You gaze To-DAY, while You are You—how then
To-MORROW, when You shall be You no more?
We have no choice, if we are to answer the eternal questions for ourselves, but to do it now while we have a mind.
Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit
Of This and That endeavor and dispute;
Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or better, Fruit.
To drink to gain a moment of sensual pleasure and social freedom is wise, but to attempt to drown sorrow only brings a deeper sorrow.
Of threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain—This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.
With the certainty that life will soon come to an end comes a freedom, the freedom to spend your time and energy on things that are meaningful to you.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
This is your life and time, and your religiosity and philosophical subtleties will not improve your life; you must choose to do that.
And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’d we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help-for It
As impotently moves as you or I.
Ah Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits-and then
Re-mold it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!
The Rubaiyat points to the futility of this course of action and proposes instead that we live tranquil and contented lives with what we have.