Beloved, fill the wine cup that erases
The fears of the past, future, and present
Tomorrow, why tomorrow I may be
Buried and lost in History’s Sev’n Thousand Years
Forgive me for taking more liberties than usual with this quatrain, a sacrifice of rhyme for meaning. Here are Fitzgerald’s original lines:
Ah, my Belov’ed fill the Cup that clears
To-day Past Regrets and Future Fears:
To-morrow!–Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand Years
Bien-aimée, remplissez la coupe de vin qui efface
Les peurs du passé, du futur et du présent
Demain, pourquoi demain, je serai peut-être
Enterrée dans le Sept Mille Ans de l’Histoire
Geliebte, füllen Sie den Weinbecher, der löscht
Die Ängste von Vergangenheit, Zukunft und Gegenwart
Morgen, ich morgen bin
Begrub mich in den siebentausend Jahren der Geschichte
Thoughts on Omar and Nishapur
With 21 quatrains translated, it is time to pause, to try to understand the philosopher who wrote these lines and the city from which he came.
The most obvious statement about the life of Omar Khayyam is to begin with this: Omar Khayyám was born in the middle of the 11th Century, at Nishápúr, Khorassán, and died in that town about the year 1123. That might suffice to say for Omar for he was a humble philosopher who was content to study and write.
Of the place of his birth and death, Nishapur, it lies in northeastern Iran, along the Old Silk Route, lying in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains. It was then at the height of its glory, a center for study and commercial traffic.
The following story alludes to Omar’s fleeting view of life.
In 1221, the city was destroyed by the invading Mongols after the husband of Genghis Khan’s daughter was killed there, his daughter then requesting the death of everyone in the city in vengeance. In 10 days, Tolui Genghis Khan’s youngest son undertook the task and his soldiers killed and beheaded the entire population, some have estimated was as high as 1,700,000, the skulls then piled in towering pyramids.
The old city was buried and lost for a thousand years under the weight of sand. The old city was rediscovered in the 20th century.