Bob's Byway


1809 - 1883



 * The excerpts from this poem provide examples of quatrains using a rhyme scheme of aaxa.

Wake! For the sun, who scatter'd into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
    Drives Night along with them from Heav'n, and strikes
The Sultán's Turret with a Shaft of Light.

 * These excerpts reflect the prevalent carpe diem motif of the poem.

Before the phantom of False morning died,
Methought a Voice within the Tavern cried,
    "When all the Temple is prepared within,
Why nods the drowsy Worshipper outside?"


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.


Whether at Naishápúr or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
    The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
 * A metaphor
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.    *


A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
 * Rubáiyát is the plural of rubái, a Persian word for "quatrain."

These rubáiyát, freely translated into English by Fitzgerald from the writings of Omar Khayyám (Omar, the Tent-maker), are short, epigrammatic quatrains, virtually independent of each other.

Although a divergent view of Omar's works perceived them as examples of Oriental mysticism in which wine and the like were poetic symbols of diety, Fitzgerald held firmly to the concept that the rubáiyát were wholly materialistic, an expression of the Epicurean philosophy of "Eat, drink, and be merry."

    Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!


Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come;
    Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!


Ah, my Belovéd, fill the Cup that clears
TODAY of past Regrets and future Fears:
    To-morrow!--Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n thousand Years.


Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into Dust descend;
    Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie,
 * An example of an anaphora
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and--sans End!    *


And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in what All begins and ends in--Yes;
    Think then you are TO-DAY what YESTERDAY
You were--TO-MORROW you shall not be less.


Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute;
    Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.


Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
Before us pass'd the door of Darkness through,
    Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.


The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety and Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a word of it.


YESTERDAY This Day's Madness did prepare;
TO-MORROW'S Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
    Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why.
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.

To Carpe Diem in the Glossary
Alphabetic Page Version Entire Glossary Version
To Quatrain in the Glossary
Alphabetic Page Version Entire Glossary Version
To Rhyme Scheme in the Glossary
Alphabetic Page Version Entire Glossary Version

Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close!
    The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah whence, and whither flown again, who knows!


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-mould it nearer to the Heart's desire!