Omar Khayyam

Everyone knows that I never mumbled prayers.
Everyone also knows I never tried to hide my faults.
I don't know whether a higher Judge and a
higher Kindness exist - but still,
I am full of confidence as I have
always been true to myself.

What do you prefer?
To sit down in a wine house and there
to investigate yourself and your conscience,
or to kneel down in a church or mosque without your soul
participating? I don't even think about whether
or not we have a Master and what
he will do with us if he exists.

Look with compassion
at the heavy drinkers. Know, that you too
have your weaknesses. If you want to live in peace
and clarity, then look at the poor and the handicapped
carrying the burden of their misery,
and see how fortunate you are!

Live in such way, that your
righteousness and knowledge does
not trouble others. Be calm and master of yourself.
Don't allow yourself to be aggressive.
If you truly want to live in peace,
smile at your Fate.

Be happy today,
as you don't know what tomorrow will bring.
Take some wine, sit down in the light of the moon
and say to yourself that tomorrow that moon
may look for you in vain.

There is no harm
in reading the Koran once in a while.
But who can do that with pleasure every day?
On the rim of each cup a secret line
of wisdom is written, which we can
savour with each sip we take.

Our greatest treasure?
Wine! Our palace? The wine house.
Our true friends? Thirst and drunkenness.
We don't worry, as we know that our soul, our heart,
our cups and our old clothes have nothing to fear
from mud and dust, from water or fire!

Be happy that you have only few friends.
Don't feel obliged to show them endless sympathy.
Before you shake hands, before you consider
someone a friend, ask yourself whether you
are not shaking a hand that
may one day beat you.

This earthen bowl
may have been made from the ashes
of a man in love, suffering under the indifference
of a woman. The ear of the bowl? It was his arm
around the neck of his beloved.

How sad, a heart that
does not know how to love, that
does not know what it is to be drunk with love.
If you are not in love, how can you enjoy
the blinding light of the sun,
the soft light of the moon?

I feel young today.
Wine, wine! Its fire fills me.
Any wine will do - I am not choosy.
For even the best wine is as bitter
as life itself.

You know that you have
no power or choice regarding your fate.
So why should the uncertainty about what
may happen tomorrow fill you with fear? If you
are truly wise, live now! The future?
Who knows what it will bring.

Look at this
infinite season of hope,
of souls impatient to wake up,
of our search for a lonely place rich with scents.
Is each flower the fragrant hand of Moses,
each breeze the breath of Jesus?

Man cannot confidently go his own way
if he has not eaten of the fruits of truth.
Once Truth is glimpsed within the labyrinth of knowledge,
one knows that the days that have passed and the days that
are still to come do not differ from the disappointing
first day after Creation.

Beyond the earth,
beyond the farthest skies
I try to find Heaven and Hell.
Then I hear a solemn voice that says:
"Heaven and hell are inside."

Nothing interests me anymore.
Get up and pour me some wine, my dear.
Tonight your mouth seems the most luscious rose in the world.
Wine! That it may have the same pink colour
as your cheeks; that my regrets
may be as light.

The spring breeze freshens the faces
of the roses. In the blueish shadow of
the garden that same breeze lovingly touches
the face of my beloved. We have had so many
good moments together, but right now
I don't think about our past as the
present is so bright.

How long will I continue
to try to fill the ocean with stones?
I disapprove of the vain and the religeous.
Khayyam, who can affirm whether you will go to Heaven
or Hell? Besides, what do those words mean? Do you
know any traveller who has been there?

Drinker, bottomless container,
I don't know by whom you were created
but I know that death will break you one day.
Therefore this long-harboured question: why have
we been created and why have we been happy, why
were we made of dust and why will we
return to dust again?

Our days pass as fast
as the water of the river
or the wind of the desert.
But there are two days that
do not interest me: yesterday
and tomorrow.

Why was I born, when will I die?
Who can change the day of his birth,
who has a say in the day of his death?
Come, my beloved, I want to ask the spirit
of the wine to make me forget that we
shall never understand.

Khayyam, you thought
you sewed the tents of Wisdom together;
you were burnt by suffering and will return to ashes.
An Angel cut the ropes of your tents.
Death sold your fame for a song.

Why blame yourself, Khayyam,
for having made so many mistakes?
Your grief is useless. For after your death
there will be either a Void
or Grace.

In convents, synagogues, mosques, churches,
the weak, those that are afraid of Hell, take refuge.
They that really trust Allah's greatness
do not fill their hearts with the seeds
of fear and with pleas for mercy.

In spring I sometimes sit down
at the edge of a meadow in full bloom.
When a young woman then brings me a cup of wine
I certainly am not occupied with my salvation.
If I would, at such a moment of perfection,
I would not be worth a dime.

Our great wide world - a piece
of dust. All human knowledge - words.
The people, animals and flowers of the
seven continents - shadows. The result
of our meditations -

Let's assume that you have finally solved
the riddle of the creation - what's your fate?
Let's assume that you found the deepest layers of
truth - what will be your fate? Let's assume that
you have lived a hundred happy years and
that you will live another hundred -
what will be your fate?

Realise this: one day your soul
will depart from your body and you will
be drawn behind the curtain that floats between us
and the unknown. While you wait for that moment, be happy,
because you don't know where you came from and
you don't know where you will be going.

The most outstanding scholars of history
were walking in the darkness of ignorance.
And still, they were considered the torchbearers
of their age. What did they do? They left us
some confused thoughts
and passed away.

My heart asked me:
"I want to know, to understand.
Teach me, Khayyam, you that have worked so hard."
And I replied by saying: "A." And then my heart said:
"Now I know; the A is the first letter of
an infinite number of words."

No one can understand
that which is full of mystery. One cannot
see what is hiding behing outward appearances. All
our dwellings are temporary, exept the last: the earth.
Drink wine! Stop your superfluous reasoning.

Life is nothing
but a dull game with two
sure rewards: sorrow and death.
Is this a game
worth playing?

Don't look for friends at this merry-go-round.
Don't look for a safe hiding place. Accept your sorrows
with a strong soul and don't fancy you will find the remedy
that doesn't exist. In difficult times: smile.
Don't depend on others because
they can't help you.

The big wheel turns
without following our human calculations.
Abandon your vain efforts to count the stars.
Rather meditate on this sure fact: one day
you will die and stray dogs will
tear apart your decayed body.

I was sleepy. Wisdom told me:
"The flowers of happiness don't smell while you sleep."
Instead of succumbing to that bloodrelative of death:
drink wine. You still have all eternity
for sleeping.

The creator of stars, heaven and earth
surpassed himself when he also created pain.
Lips like rubies, delicious-smelling hair,
blooming flowers, how many of you are
already buried in earthy soil?

There are too many tears in my eyes!
The fires of Hell are no more than sparks of fire
as compared to the flames that consume me inside.
Paradise? For me it means
a moment of peace.

Sleeping while alive, sleeping when dead.
Above and under the earth it's full of dead bodies.
Emptiness everywhere. Empty cases
as far as you can see.
People that come,
people that go.

Old world, where
the horses of Day and Night
are galloping through, you are like
the old palaces where kings dreamt
of fame and of compassion,
and woke up crying.

The southern wind
has withered the rose
for which the nightingale sang its song.
Should we grieve for that rose or for ourselves?
When death has already paled our cheeks
other roses will be flowering.

Ignore that yesterday
you should have been rewarded and that you were not.
Be happy. Don't regret anything. Don't expect anything.
Your future is already written down in the Book
of which the pages are turned, as if by accident,
by the Wind of Eternity.

When I hear someone talking
about all the delights the chosen few can expect,
I say: "I only trust in wine. Give me cash and no promises!"
The sound of drummers is best at a distance.

Drink wine.
Wine gives you a taste of the eternal life.
Wine is the magic potion that can restore youth, that
divine season of roses, of intoxication, of sincere friends.
Enjoy this fleeting moment we call life.

Drink wine
for you will be asleep a long time,
once buried, without friends, without women.
I will entrust you with this secret: withered
flowers never bloom again.

Very softly
the clay says to the potter moulding it:
"Remember, I have been alive like you,
treat me with gentleness."

beware of damaging
the clay of which Adam was made.
On your wheel I see the heart of a poet,
the hand of a painter.
Potter, beware!

This poppy
may have taken
its colour from the blood
of a buried emperor. That violet could
have sprouted from a beauty spot on
the beaming face of a young child.

Millions of centuries
Have seen dawn, have seen twilight.
Millions of centuries stars have passed through the sky.
Walk the earth cautiously. That lump of soil
you almost trampled down may have been
the eye of a child needing help.

Who knows whether this daffodil,
softly moving on the side of the brook,
touches with its roots the lips of a perished woman.
Let your feet touch the grass lightly. Remind
yourself that that grass grows off the dust
of so many faces shining like tulips.

Yesterday I watched
a Potter behind his wheel,
moulding the ears and curves of a vase
with clay that contained the skull of a sultan
and the hands of a beggar.

On this earth
Good and Bad fight for supremacy.
Heaven is not responsible for the good or bad times
our fate may bring us. Don't thank Heaven and dont
curse it either. Heaven is as indifferent
to your happyness as to your sorrow.

When you have planted
the rose of Love into your heart
your life has not been in vain. Better still:
when you have tried to understand the voice of Allah.
Or better still: when you have lifted your mug
laughing with joy.

Be cautious, traveller!
The road you follow is dangerous.
The sword of fate is razor-sharp.
When you see ripe almonds along the road,
don't eat them; they may be poisonous.

A garden, a beautiful
young woman with flowing hair,
a cup of wine, my desire and my pain.
That's my Paradise, my Hell.
But who ever visited
Paradise, who Hell?

You, whose cheeks
surpass the wild roses,
you, whose face resembles the statue of
a Chinese Goddess, do you know that your
velvety look degraded the King of Babylon
to the wooden bishop in a game of chess,
thus making him a slave to the queen.?

Life passes so quickly.
What is left of old Baghdad, of Balkh?
The smallest blow is already fatal to the rose
in full bloom. Drink wine and look at the moon
and think of all the civilisations
the moon has seen passing by.

Listen to what your common sense
tells you all day: "Life is short.
You have nothing in commom with plants
that will grow again
after being pruned."

Empty orators and silent scholars
died without having understood Being and non-Being.
Ignorants, my brothers, let us continue tasting
the juice of the grape attentively and let
the authorities satisfy themselves
with dry raisins.

My birth didn't add anything
to the universe. My death will not detract
anything from its infinite greatness. No one
could ever explain to me why I came here,
why I will leave again.

We shall perish
along the path of Love.
Fate will trample us. Yeah, tempting
young woman, get up and give me your lips
before I return to dust.

Of bliss
we know no more than its name.
Our oldest friend is the new wine.
Caress with eyes and hands the jug
filled with the vine's blood.
It never disappoints.

The old palace of Bahram
is now a refuge for gazelles.
Lions roam where musicians played their songs.
Bahram, who once caught wild donkeys, now sleeps
under that hill where wild donkeys graze.

Don't pursue happiness!
Life is as short as a sigh.
The dust of people that were once famous
turn with the reddish clay on the wheel you are
looking at. The universe is a fata morgana;
life is a dream.

Sit down and drink!
You will experience a happiness
that Mahmoud never knew. Listen to the
melodies lovers play on their lute; these are the
real psalms of David. Don't concern yourself with
the future or the past but savour this moment.
That's the secret of inner peace.

Narrow-minded people worry
about the difference between body and soul.
I can only confirm one thing: wine defeats
our worries and brings us
perfect quietude.

How mysterious, all those stars,
moving around in space. Khayyam, hold tight
to the cord of wisdom. Beware of the dizzyness
that caused so many of your comrades
to fall into the abyss.

I am not afraid of death.
I prefer that inevitable event
to the other, forced upon me at the moment
I was born. For what is life? A posession entrusted
to me without my say, and which I will,
time come, give back indifferently.

Life passes by, fast caravan!
Stop then your mount and try to be happy.
Young lady, why are you sad? Pour me
some wine; night will fall soon ...

I have heard people say
that those who love wine are damned.
That can't be true, that clearly is a lie.
For if lovers of wine and love are bound for hell,
heaven would be quite empty!

I am old. My passion
for you leads me to the grave,
as I continue filling my cup with wine.
My passion for you is my reason for living.
Time strips without pity the beautiful
rose of its petals...

You can bewitch me totally
with your face flushed with a secret happyness.
You bewitch me with your sensuous voice. I look
back at my life and I again hear my mother say to
me: "Allah will forgive you." But I refuse
a foregivenness I never asked for.

A piece of bread,
some fresh water,
the shadow of a tree and your eyes, my beloved.
No sultan is happyer than me,
no beggar more sad.

Why so much tenderness and sweetness
at the beginning of our love? Why so many
caresses, so much desire and enjoyment later?
And now, your only pleasure seems to be to
tear my heart to pieces. Why?

When your soul and mine
have left our bodies and we are
burried alongside each other,
a Potter may one day mould
the dust of both of us
into the same clay.

Wine! My sick heart
needs that medicine. Wine with
the scent of musk, the colour of red roses.
Wine to drown my burning grief. Wine and
the sound of your lute with
its silk strings, my love.

People talk about the Creator -
But surely he didn't create man only
to destroy him later! Because we are bad? And
who's to blame for that? Or because we are beautiful?
I can't make any sense of it.

Every one would like
to walk the road of Knowledge.
Some are trying to find that road, some say
they have found that road already. One day I heard
a voice that cried: "There is no road,
there is no path!"

In the flaming light of the morning sky
the wine in your cup looks like a tulip in spring.
Drink, and forget that the hammer of fate
can bring you down at any moment.

Wine! Flowing wine!
Let it dance through my veins!
Cups full of wine! Stop talking, words
are deceptive. Quick, hand me my cup!
I have grown older again ....

The scent of wine rising
from my grave will be so strong
that it will intoxicate passers-by.
There will be such an atmosphere of serenety
that couples in love will find it impossible
to tear themselves away.

In the merry-go-round of life
only those that think they are wise
and those that don't try to be wise are happy.
I have studied all secrets of the universe
and returned to my lonely place,
envying the blind I met.

They said to me: "Stop drinking, Khayyam"
and I replied: "When I have been drinking I can
hear what roses, tulips, jasmine say to one another.
I even hear the things my loved one
cannot say to me."

What are your thoughts, my friend?
Are you thinking about your ancestors?
They have returned to dust. About their merits?
See how I smile. Take the decanter and let us
drink and listen, quietly, to the great
silence of the universe.

Dawn filled the sky with roses. In the
crystal-clear air the last song of the nightingale
dies. The smell of the wine weakens. This is the moment
when fools dream of fame! How soft
is your hair, my beloved!

Friend, don't plan for tomorrow.
Do you even know whether you can finish the
sentence you've just started? Tomorrow we may
be far away from this caravan and may already have
joined those that died 7000 years ago.

Warm-blooded friends, take jug
and cup! Let us sit down on the river bank.
Young man, with your eager face, I look at you
and think about the jug and cup that a potter
one day will form from your ashes.

It's long since my childhood joined
all things dead. Springtime of my life, you are
now where all past springs have gone. O, my childhood,
you passed by and I didn't even notice. Your
departure was as gradual as the passing
of spring - a litle bit each day.

Open yourself, my friend,
to every smell and colour and sound.
Caress every women. Remind yourself that life
is short and that soon you will be buried
in soil, no matter how you have lived.

Looking for peace on earth? Foolishnes.
Believing in eternal calm? Foolishness.
Once dead your sleep will be short. You may
be reborn as a clump of weeds that will be
trodden underfoot, or as a flower that
will wither in the sun's heat.

What is my true substance?
What will remain of me after my death?
Our life is as short as a raging fire:
flames the passer-by soon forgets,
ashes the wind blows away.
A man's life.

Convictions and doubts,
folly and truth, these are but words,
as empty as a soap bubble. Rainbow-coloured
or transparant, that bubble
is a true picture
of your life.

Rather than power, rather than fame
I'll have a bottle of wine. I value the lover's
sighs of happiness and I despise the hypocrite
mumbling his prayers.

Listen to this great secret:
When the first daybreak brought light
upon earth, Adam had no more power than to
give names to what already was there:
night, death.

The moon of the Ramadan
is coming. Tomorrow the sun will
shine over a silent town. The wines
are sleeping in their casks and the young
women in the shadow of the trees.

I have not asked for life.
But I try to accept whatever
life brings without surprise.
And I shall depart again without having
questioned anyone about my strange
stay here on earth.

Don't neglect to enjoy the fruits
life offers you. Hasten yourself to join
festivals and choose the largest cup. Don't
believe that Allah is busy counting our good
and bad deeds. And take care to never neglect
the things that make you happy.

Night. Silence. The motionlessnes
of that branch and of my thoughts. A rose,
the image of your passing beauty, just dropped
a petal. Where are you now, you that gave me wine
and for whom I call again? Surely, no rose will whither
near the place where you give one to drink.

If you only knew how scant is my interest
in the four elements of Nature and Mankind's five senses.
You say some Greek philosophers could dazzle their audiences
with their riddles? That does not interest me at all. Bring
more wine instead and play your lute; your changes in tones
remind me of the wind that rushes past and disappears,
just like us.

When the shadow of Death
bends over to me, when my allotted
number of days are up, I will call you, friends, and
you will carry me away. When I have turned to ashes,
make then from those ashes a jug and fill it with wine.
Maybe in that way you will revive me.

I dont spend my time on finding out where
one can buy the cloaks of Craft and Falsehood,
but I am always on the lookout for good wine. My hair
is white. I am 70 uears of age. I take the
chance to be happy today, as tomorrow
I may lack the strength for it.

What has become of our friends?
Has Death knocked them over and trampled on them?
What has become of our friends? I still hear their songs
in the pub - Are they dead, or are they still
drunk of having lived fully?

When I am here no more,
gone too will be roses, cypresses, red lips
and fragrant wine. There will be no dawns and twilights,
no joys and sorrows. The universum will no longer exist
because its reality depends upon our
being aware of it.

This is the only truth: we are pawns
in that mysterius chessgame, played by Allah.
He moves us or makes us stay where we are, moves us
again, to finally throw us, one by one,
into the box of nothingness.

The arch of heaven looks like an
upside-down cup, under which the wise
wander in vain. May your love for your beloved
be as great as the love of the bottle for the glass.
Look, how one gives and one receives, lip against
lip, the precious blood of the grapes.

Scholars really have nothing to teach you.
But from the soft touch of the eyelashes of
a woman you will know all there is to know about happyness.
Remember that your days are numbered and that soon you
will be the earth's prey. Buy wine, take it to
a secluded place and let it comfort you.

Wine! It gives of its warmth
and shows the snow of the past and
the fog of the future. It surrounds
you with light, that breaks the
chains of your captivity.

In days past,
when I used to visit the mosques,
I didn't go in to pray but I always returned home
filled with hope. I still often go to a mosque,
because the shadows there
are so restful.

On this multi-coloured earth some-one walks,
neither believer nor atheist, neither poor nor rich.
He worships neither Allah nor human laws. He does not put
his faith in universal truth. He confirms nothing.
Who is this courageous and sad person walking
our multi-coloured earth?

Before you can caress a face as beautiful
as a rose, how many thorns you must extract from your flesh?
Look at this comb. It once was a piece of wood. What agony it
suffered when it was cut from its tree. But now it is in full
contact with the sweet-smelling hair of a young woman.

When the morning breeze folds back
the petals of the roses and whispers that
the violets have opened their gowns, only he
is worth living who takes the time to look at
a young woman sleeping and who takes his
jug of wine, empties it and
casts it from him.

You think you know
what will happen to you tomorrow?
Be confident, or else fate will make
your fears come true. Dont attach yourself to anything,
expect no answers from books or people,
as our future is inscrutable.

God oh God, answer us!
You have created us with eyes and allowed us
to be blinded by the beauty of your creations -
you have given us the gift of happiness - would you
then want us to foresake the good things around us?
But that is as impossible as turning over a cup
without spilling the wine that is in it.

In the tavern
I asked a wise old man
to let me know about those that have died.
He replied: "They wont come back. Thats all
I know. Take another sip.

Look! Listen! A rose quivers
in the soft breeze. A nightingale is singing
a passionate song. A cloud has stopped moving.
Let's drink wine and forget that the breeze will
blow away the rose's petals and the nightingale's
song and take along the cloud that now gives us
its benificent shadow.

The dome-shaped sky
under which we wander;
I compare it with a magic lantern,
whose lamb is the sun and whose screen
is the world on which our images
are moving.

A rose said: "I am the most beautiful
creation on earth. Would a perfume maker
dare picking me?" Then a nightingale sang:
"One day of happyness is followed
by a year of tears."

This evening or possibly tomorrow
you may not be here anymore. It's time
you ask for some wine. Wine with the colour of
red roses. Then imagine your insignificant self as a
treasure and notice, that thieves are already
planning to open your grave
and steal your bones.

Sultan, your famous career
was written in the constellations before you
were born. From the beginning of the world your
horse with its golden hoofs walked among the stars.
And when you ride past us a rain of sparks
hides you from our eyes.

Love that does not destroy
is not real love. Will a chunk of charcoal set
a fire going? Day and night, all his life, the true
lover will be torn between sharp pain and
intense joy.

You can feel the night around us
to its vey essence. You can feel its power.
And yet, you dont get to the bottom of it all.
Adam and Eve, how loaded with horror your first kiss
must have been, because then you created us
so full of despair.

The stars drop their golden leaves.
I wonder why they do not yet cover my garden.
The stars throw their leaves on the earth and
I throw myself upon my dark red cup of wine.

I drink wine like the roots of the willow
drink from the water of the mountain stream.
Alah is Allah. When he created me, he knew that I
would drink a lot of wine. So if I didn't, the
omniscience of Allah would stand on its head.

Only wine frees you from your sorrows.
Only wine allows you not to choose between
the many religions that exist. Don't turn away
from that magician who shows you
the way to oblivion.

Each morning the rose overshadows tulip, hyacinth
and violet with its bright colour. But then the sun rises
and whithers this radiant competitor. Each new morning
my heart feel heavier again, but your glance
makes me forget my sorrows.

If you really want to experience the heavenly
solitude of the stars and flowers, break with all men,
all women. Stay away from human company. Don't pay attention
to pain and sorrow. Avoid all contacts with others.

Wine has the colour of the red petals of roses.
Maybe wine is not the blood of the vine but of the
rose. Maybe this jar is not made of chrystal but of
frozen azure. Maybe the night is nothing but the
blinking of an eyelid of the day.

Wine gives the Sages
an intoxication such as that of the Chosen.
It gives us back our feeling of youth, gives us
back all that we have lost and all that we still
wish for. It can burn us like a devastating sea
of fire, but it can also transform our sadness
into refreshing water.

Close your Koran.
Think in freedom and look with open mind
at Heaven and Earth. Give the poor that pass you by
half of your possessions. Forgive everyone his sins.
Don't cause anyone grief. And don't mock anyone.

How frail is humanity!
How inevitable our fate!
We make promises we don't keep and our
failures leave us indifferent. Myself, I often
act like I am intoxicated. But my excuse is
that I am drunk with love.

The world is a mirage, a dream;
why then do you despair and cling to your
unhappy condition? Surrender your soul to the Now.
Your future is fixed. You can't change
any part of it.

The fog around that rose - is it
its flagrance or an imaginary veil of morning haze?
The hairs around your face, do they belong to the night,
ready to flee away when you open your eyes?
Wake up, my love. The sun gives a golden
lustre to our cups. Let's drink!

Renounce the study of the Heavens.
Surround yourself with beautiful young women and
caress them. You hesitate? You prefer to serve Allah?
Before you, many have said their passionate prayers.
They are dead now and you don't know whether
they were heard by Allah.

Dawn! Bliss and clarity.
An immense ruby sparkles in each cup.
Take these two branches of the sandelwood tree.
From one fashion a flute. Set fire to the other
and enjoy its perfume.

Tired of asking my questions to people
and books, I tried the cup. I touched it with
my lips and asked softly: "When I am dead, where will I go?"
The cup replied: "Drink from my mouth. Drink a long time.
You will not come back here."

When you are drunk, Khayyam, be happy.
When you look at your loved one with her
rose-coulered cheeks, be happy. When you dream
about the time you don't exist anymore,
be happy, as death is nothingness.

I visited the empty workshop of a potter.
There were over 2000 vases, softly talking
to each other. Suddenly one of them called:
"Silence! Give this guest the opportunity to visualise
for himself that some of us once were potters,
some buyers of pots."

You say that wine
is the only balm, the only medicine?
Bring me all the wine of the world. My
heart has so many wounds - all the wine
of the world cannnot heal me.

What a volatile soul, the soul of the wine!
Potter, provide this soul with smooth-walled jugs.
Fashion the curves with love so this playful soul
will caress the earthenware softly
before being drunk.

I don't know who considers you wise,
but I see you searching for breath in utter confusion,
torn between the endless past and the endless future. You
try to place a boundery-post between these two infinities,
sit down on it and look? Instead, better sit down under
a nearby tree with a cup of wine and allow
yourself to forget your helplessness.

A new day arrives. As all mornings I savour
the beauty of Creation and it saddens me that I
can't thank the Creator. But I find comfort in the roses
around me, and the many lips that offer themselves to mine!
Rest your lute, dearest, it's time
for the birds to sing.

Be content to know that everything
is a mystery: the creation of our world
and of yourself; the future of our world
and of yourself. Smile at those mysteries and at
the dangers that you regard with contempt. Dont expect
you will understand it all, when you pass through the
gate of heaven. Peace to all, in that black
silence of the hereafter.

In the middle of the green meadow
the shadow of the tree looks like a small
island. Traveller, hold your steps! Between the
road you follow and that slow-turning shadow
there may lurk an unbridgeable abyss.

What shall I do, today? Visit the pub?
Sit down in a garden with a book? A bird
flies past. Where is it headed? It's out of
sight already. The drunkenness of a bird in the
burning azure. The melancholy of a man
in the cool shadow of a mosque.

Some more wine, my love,
Your cheeks are not yet the
fiercy red of the rose. More sorrow,
Khayyam, your beloved
will smile at you.

Our universe is like a summerhouse
full of roses. Our visitors are the butterflies,
our musicians the nightingales. When there are no
more flowers, no more leaves, the stars will be my
flowers, your hair my butterfly.

Servant, no need to bring lights;
my table-companions have fallen asleep,
exhausted.I have sufficient light to see their pale skins.
Exhausted and cold they are, in the grip of
death. Bring no lights, as for them
there is no new dawn.

When you are so full of sorrow
that you can't walk, can't cry anymore,
think about the green foliage that sparkles after
the rain. When the daylight exhausts you, when
you hope a final night will cover the world,
think about the awakening of a young child.

I hide my distress, just like
the blessed birds hide themselves
when they are preparing to die. Wine! And listen
to my jokes! Wine, roses, music and your
indifference to my sadness, my loved-one!

God, you have paved our path
with a thousand invisible stumbling stones
and you have said: woe betide those that stumble!
You see all and you know all. Nothing happens without
your consent, so how can you hold us responsible for
our failures? Can you blame me
that I object to this?

I have learnd much and forgotten much.
In my memory all things have their place. For instance,
something that belongs on the right side cannot be left.
I didn't know peace until I had discarded all knowledge
with disdain and concluded that it is impossible to
affirm or deny anything.

When I was young I had eminent teachers.
I was quite hapy with my progress, with my
triumphs. When I remember the sage I was, I compare
that sage to water, that takes the form of the
vase or with smoke, that is blown away
by the wind.

To a wise man sorrow and joy are inseparable,
as are good and bad. Everything that has a beginning
must have an end. Therefore, do ask yourself whether you have
reason to be happy about the good things that come your way
or to grieve over your unexpected trials.

As it is our fate here on earth to suffer
and then to die, would it not be reasonable to hope
for an early return of our body to dust? But, you counter,
what about our soul, for which Allah is waiting so he can
judge it? I shall give you my reply after I have met
someone who came back from the realm of the dead.

Dervish, take off that bright nice-coloured garb,
of which you are so proud, and which you didn't possess
at the time of your birth. Dress yourself instead in the
cloth of the poor. Passers-by may not greet you,
but you will hear the angels sing in your heart.

Drunk or thirsty, I look but for sleep.
I have given up to ever know what is Truth,
what is Evil. They look similar to me. I attach
no importance to happyness, as I know
it will be followed by misfortune.

One can no more set fire to the sea,
than convince people of the dangers of happyness -
And yet, we know that though the smallest shock is fatal
to the filled up bottle, that shock will not break
the empty one.

Look around you. You will see
fear and despair everywhere. Your best friends
have died. Sorrow is your only companion. But rouse
yourself! Open your hands. See the good things that
may still come your way. The past is like a dead
corpse - it has to be burned.

I see a horseman disappearing into
the evening mist. Will he travel through woods
or across wild plains? Where is he heading? I dont know.
Tomorrow, will I be stretched out above or
below the earth? I don't know.

"Allah is great!"
That shout from the mosque seems like
a grand lamentation. Five times a day
the earth seems to groan against
its indifferent creator!

The Ramadan is over.
Exhausted bodies, faded souls, joy
returning. The storytellers are back with
new stories. The winesellers, those merchants
in dreams, call for their customers. But I don't
hear the voice of her that gave me back
my life, my beloved-one.

See that little river, twinkling
in the garden. Follow my example,
imagine that you are in Paradise,
and search for your loved-one
with her beautiful
rose-coloured face.

You only notice the appearance
of things and creatures. You are aware
of your ignorance, yet you won't stop loving
again and again. Understand that Allah
has given us love just like
he has made some plants

Are you unhappy? Don't give thought
to your pain and you will not suffer from it.
If your sorrows become unbearable, think about all who
have suffered without purpose since the beginning of Creation.
Pick yourself a woman with breasts white as snow,
but beware of loving her. Because she will not
love you eternally.

Poor soul, you will never know anything
of real importance. You will not uncover
even one of life's secrets. Although all religions
promise paradise, take care to create your own
paradise here and now on earth, for the
promised paradise does not exist.

Lambs that are turned off,
expectations that are kindled. Dawn.
Lamps turned on, expectations

I'll give all kingdoms
for a good glass of wine!
All books and science for the soft scent of wine!
All lovesongs for the song of wine flowing! All glory
for the play of colours in this glass!

I received the blow I expected.
My love left me. While she still loved me
it was easy to look down on the importance of her love
and to praise the renouncing of all possessions.
But let this thought comfort me: I was alone,
even while she still loved me.

God, you have shattered my happiness.
You have raised a wall between my heart and you,
its creator. The harvest of my life, you trample it down.
It's time for me to die, but God, you hesitate.
You think I am too drunk to die?

Be quiet, pain and sorrow!
Let me find a remedy. I have to live,
as once dead there is no memory. And I want
to see my love and be with her. And I
want to remember our being together.

Stringed instruments, perfumes,
winecups, lips, long hairs, eyes - mere toys
that are destroyed by time, toys! Frugality, loneliness,
labour, meditation, prayer and renunciation,
ash that time will blow away,
mere ash!

* * *

Translated by Hans van Rossum
based on the French translation by Franz Toussaint.
With thanks to Hans Brinckmann for his corrections and suggestions.

© Hans van Rossum 2003.

Reactions are welcome. Email to: but delete the word NOSPAM from the address (I added this to hopefully avoid automated spam and viruses!) in English, Dutch, French or German.

Go to