Rubaiyat and the nubile girls

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
trans.Edward Fitzgerald

In our college days we used to look upon the Rubaiyat as a mere book of verse with fine illustrations ,especially containing figures of beautiful nubile girls intertwined with the branches of the tree .The poetry appeared exotic at the most but without much appeal to a young reader.Now, at this age the girls no longer interest me but the poetry now does.

The Rubaiyat is beautiful verse with outstanding imagery.Some of the finest imagery is to be found in these verses ,known for their haunting lyrical quality as well.

“….The hunter of the east has caught
The Sultan’s turret in a noose of light “

A fascinating image referring to the hunting practice of throwing a knotted rope around an animal to catch it while fleeing. A highly visual imagery.

“…in the fire of spring
the winter garment of repentance fling”

Another amazing image-mark the words fire ,spring ,winter garment,fling -as the winter goes the spring arrives and into its fire the winter garment of repentance is thrown and burnt to ashes.

This very famous verse

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!

has rich lines which have always fascinated me. Even when we were merely looking for pictures of nubile girls .The music of the lines makes you recite them as though they were to be a song on your lips. They do not have pretty imagery like the other Rubaiyat but the simplicity of the lines together with the rich resonances is striking.