Omar Khayyam (172) “A passion for heavenly goddesses”

I hope my mind will always be consumed 
by a passion for heavenly goddesses,
and that my hand will always 
cradle the juice of the grape.
They tell me they hope that God
will lead me to repent!
But if he did that, and I didn’t respond,
I’d be farther away than ever.

Translated by Juan Cole
from Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, [pdf] Whinfield 172

5 Responses

  1. Ein Mädchen und ein Gläschen Wein, sind die Retter in der Not, denn wer nicht trinkt und wer nicht küßt, der ist so gut wie tot.

    Goethe, in Jeri und Bately

    Not that I’m much good at German, but this would translate roughly as:

    A girl and a glass of wine will rescue you when needed — whoever doesn’t drink or kiss is as good as dead…

  2. Juan, I wonder how did you miss the last line. Khayyam is saying that God himself is giving (Juice of the grape and the passion for goddesses) and if he does not participate by taking from God then he will be far away from God.

    • I’m very grateful for such alternative readings!

      The referents are as you know ambiguous. Agar nakonam can be either a reference to the proffered tawbeh (to which it is closer syntactically) or as you suggest to the grape. Whinfield and Arberry read it as I did.

  3. I’ve missed your translations. They are so lovely, and they are a divine counterpoint to the human tragedy unfolding in so many places. Please continue whenever you can.


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