Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.
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.
Perplext no more with Human or Divine,
To-morrow’s tangle to the winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The Cypress-slender Minister of Wine.
I’ve always loved the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, those verses written by the astronomer-poet of eleventh-century Persia, and translated by Edward Fitzgerald in the nineteenth century. I know little about the original writer of these magical verses, but I know of Fitzgerald and his numerous translations of the poem. Fitzgerald was a writer and a re-writer. I have most all of his versions in one volume; the first two quatrains above are from the first translation and the third quatrain is from the fifth.
Writers never change, do they? They’re never satisfied, even after creating a masterpiece. Personally, I prefer the first translation for most of the quatrains. Keep in mind that first translation does not mean first draft. It was the first to go to press–that’s all. Then the author published another version and another and another . . . You get the idea.
If you’re a writer, and you’ve created magic, be satisfied with it. Please. Drink your wine and enjoy your success because, as the poet says, The Bird of Time has but a little way / To fly–and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing. And to be honest, I admire and even envy you, because I haven’t yet captured the magic. That wine has yet to fill my cup. That’s all right–I’ll settle for my house red right now and think on the Wine-Bearer who provides for me.
This Christmas, may you feel the wonder of life, may you walk hand in hand with the Wine-Bearer.