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August 07, 2008

Ramblings among my books ...

On my recent visit to Tehran I mentioned to my students that I knew some of the Quatrains of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the 11th Century Persian Mathematician, Poet and Philosopher. At the end of their course they flattered me with a presentation of a most beautiful illustrated boxed book of the Rubiayat.

Now I had better explain. Omar Khayyam's poetry was my father's favourite. He could quote it liberally. But the little copy of the verses that he had didn't have any illustrations. The large book I now possess has the most beautiful illustrations, the work of a Persian artist and each a work of art in itself. The book does not have all the Quatrains Omar wrote but it does have almost half of them and they are reproduced in five languages - Persian and Arabic on the right hand page, English, German and French on the left.

If you don't know the poems, here is one of his most famous:

"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."

It's worth looking up - this man of antiquity has a lot to say in our own age.

Posted by The Gray Monk at August 7, 2008 10:02 PM

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