Friday, April 28, 2017

we phantom figures


For in and out, above, about, below,
'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.


And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in the Nothing all Things end in - Yes -
Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what
Thou shalt be - Nothing - Thou shalt not be less.


'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and Thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.


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.


And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help - for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.


Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."


Come , fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
 The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.


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.


There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee
There seemed - and then no more of Thee and Me.


The Vine had struck a Fibre; which about
If clings my Being - let the Sufi flout;
Of my Base Metal may be filed a Key,
That shall unlock the Door he howls without


And this I know: whether the one True Light,
Kindle to Love, or Wrathconsume me quite,
One Glimpse of It within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.

~ Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
First Edition, 1859
translation into English quatrains by Edward FitzGerald