Some come for earthly glories
For the earthly Glories, some,
Sigh for the Paradise to come;
Ah, grab the Cash, let the Credit go,
Heed not the rumble of the distant Drum!
Certaines, pour les gloires mondaines,
Suspirant pour que le Paradis vienne;
Ah, prenez le cash, laissez le crédit aller,
N’entendez pas le grondement du tambour éloigné!
Einige, für die weltlichen Ruhm,
Seufzen für das Paradies zu kommen;
Ah, packen Sie den Geld, lassen Sie den Kredit gehen,
Hörte nicht das Rumpeln der fernen Trommel!
Dear reader, we have come to the 13th quatrain of Fitzgerald’s, The Rubaiyat, by Omar Khayyam, (1120 A.C.E.) and I sit here wondering if Omar thought this particular verse unlucky because of its number.
The 13th day of the New Year
Clerics in today’s Iran have tried hard to stamp out the superstitious belief that 13 is an unlucky number.
In particular, Iranians believe that it is unlucky to stay inside your house on the 13th day of the Persian New Year. The belief is a mark of the Zoroasteran past that dates to 1000 BCE and possibly before. Today across the country, Iranian families spread rugs and set up tents in parks to mark the holiday and tie or weave blades of grass together as a sign of good luck.
I have altered Fitzgerald’s wording of the 13th quatrain slightly. The original quatrain goes like this:
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!
You can decide for yourself which version is best.
Cash and credit in Persia
To some, I suspect it seems strange to speak of cash and credit in Omar Khayyám’s time.
Not at all, friends, credit has existed as long as civilization itself.
Gold and silver coins are often scarce and greed spurs men on to take chances. Proof of our fondness for credit is found in the Code of Hammurabi (1800 B.C.), which set the maximum interest rate for lending silver at 20%, and credit on the production of food grains at 33%.