[46] For in and out, above, about, below

by Omar Khayyam

English version by Edward FitzGerald
Original Language Persian/Farsi

For in and out, above, about, below,
'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
     Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.

-- from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, by Omar Khayyam / Translated by Edward FitzGerald

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Goosebumps! I get an electric thrill reading many of the verses from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It's something about the rhyme in FitzGerald's translation.

In this quatrain, we have "below," "show," and "go" in the first, second, and fourth lines. But the real magic for me comes from that secondary rhyme in the first line that matches "out" and "about" without disrupting the meter and end of line rhyme. And then the double rhyme of "SHadOW-SHOW", and the "F" alliteration of "Phantom Figures"...

Read the lines out loud. Listen to the sound of it, the play of rhythm and rhyme.

When rhyme is done poorly, especially in modern poetry, it feel awkward or stilted, distracting from the poem. But when done well, rhyme carries a whole new level of enchantment, firing up a part of the awareness too often dormant in the modern mind. Reading FitzGerald's rendition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is a good restorative elixir.



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The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained The Sufism of the Rubaiyat or the Secret of the Great Paradox Wine of the Mystic: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyan: A Spiritual Interpretation The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Illustrated Edition)
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46] For in and out