The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

April 26, 2014

A translation by George Roe


Presented by Rhapsodize Audio

Omar Khayyam, a true polymath and one of the most celebrated icons of Persian culture, lived, according to the best scholastic estimate, from 1048 to 1131 of the Western Era. His many avocations included the composition of poetry, and about 1200 rubai or quatrains have been attributed to him. Of these about 500 are considered definitely to be the work of the master.
The rubai of Omar Khayyam became popular in the West largely through the efforts of Edward Fitzgerald, who published his first collection of quatrains translated into English, 75 in number, in 1859.  There have been many other English translations of great merit, but few have followed Fitzgerald's example in building a narrative stream into the translation. An interesting exception is the translation by the American George Roe, which was published in New York in 1910.
In this presentation the body of the poem has been divided, somewhat arbitrarily, into eleven sections, suggestive of the stages through which a spiritual aspirant might pass. As Roe's version ends rather abruptly with his presentation of the conversation among the pots, which is also magically described by Fitzgerald, the last six quatrains from Fitzgerald's Fifth Edition have been appended in a closing section to round off the narrative.
The readers are: Denis Daly, Cate Barratt, Rhonda Federman , Bob Gonzalez, Jason Mills, Jannie Meisberger, Winston Tharp, Carol Box and Alan Weyman.
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