13 Responses

  1. Hi Juan,
    Did not mean to pre-empt you, but thought this piece from Khayyam (44) would be appropriate on the occasion of the Persian New Year (Nowruz) at the start of the spring season:

    چون لاله بنوروز قدح گیر بدست
    با لاله رخی اگر ترا فرصت هست
    می نوش بخرمی که این چرخ کبود
    ناگاه ترا چو باد گرداند پست

    Raise your cups like tulips springing up at Nowruz.
    Drink wine happily with a tulip-faced companion,
    if you have a chance.
    As this wheel of fortune, like a storm,
    can knock you down in a flash.

  2. I’m new to Omar Khayyam’s work, so perhaps the answer to my question is obvious. He is talking so much about wine. Up until now I thought it was a bad habit, an escape; however, in this poem it sounds like a tool, a skillful means in his spiritual progress. Any thoughts?

  3. Where was Khayyam getting all this wine?? Was the Islamic prohibition against alcohol just not enforced back in those days? It’s clearly not just a metaphor.

    • The so-called Islamic prohibition against alcohol is the least observed commandment in religious history.

      I don’t think it is a metaphor for Khayyam. This quatrain, if it is his, suggests a deliberate use of wine in mysticism, sort of like peyote for the Native Americans.

      At other times though, he celebrates just having a good time.

      I don’t think the medieval Middle East was often very orthodox in its Islam. Khayyam may have been an antinomian Ismail or even an atheist. The Turkic Saljuqs were just getting established and probably still wore their Islam lightly.

    • PS Armenians maintained vineyards and taverns and were typically permitted to do so because it was licit in their religion. And Muslims just joined in if the government of the day wasn’t puritanical.

  4. “Recent archaeological research has pushed back the date of the known origin of wine making in Persia far beyond that which writers earlier in the 20th century had envisaged. Excavations at the Godin Tepe site in the Zagros mountains (Badler, 1995; McGovern and Michel, 1995; McGovern, 2003), for example, have revealed pottery vessels dating from c. 3100–2900 BC which contained tartaric acid, almost certainly indicating the former presence of wine. Even earlier evidence for the existence of wine has been found at the site of Hajji Firuz Tepe, also in the Zagros mountains. Here, McGovern et al. (1996) used chemical analyses of the residue of a Neolithic jar dating from as early as 5400–5000 BC to indicate high levels of tartaric acid, again suggesting that the fluid contained therein had been made from grapes [1]. To the surprise of many, it is of note that wine’s discovery in old Persia predates French wine as the earliest evidence in France only goes back to 500 BC, according to French archeologists [2].”

    link to en.wikipedia.org

  5. Wine can be used a meditation tool by contemplatives.

    Shiraz is popular class of wine named after the city of Shiraz, Iran.

  6. I take my wine jug out among the flowers
    to drink alone, without friends.

    I raise my cup to entice the moon.
    That, and my shadow, makes us three.

    But the moon doesn’t drink,
    and my shadow silently follows.

    I will travel with moon and shadow,
    happy to the end of spring.

    When I sing, the moon dances.
    When I dance, my shadow dances, too.

    We share life’s joys when sober.
    Drunk, each goes a separate way.

    Constant friends, although we wander,
    we’ll meet again in the Milky Way.

    Li T’ai-po 701-762

  7. I do hope you will publish these lovely translations in a book. In the meantime, perhaps a link to them all (so far) on this site? I think I missed a few.

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