Omar Khayyám was a Persian scholar whose accomplishments ranged from geometric and astronomical discoveries to poetry that inspired an entire artistic movement centuries after his death. He has been dubbed “the Astronomer-Poet of Persia” because of his influence and unique contributions to various fields.
“By the help of God and with His precious assistance, I say that Algebra is a scientific art. The objects with which it deals are absolute numbers and measurable quantities which, though themselves unknown, are related to "things" which are known, whereby the determination of the unknown quantities is possible.” - Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra (1070)
“... for the majority of people who imitate philosophers confuse the true with the false, and they do nothing but deceive and pretend knowledge, and they do not use what they know of the sciences except for base and material purposes; and if they see a certain person seeking for the right and preferring the truth, doing his best to refute the false and untrue and leaving aside hypocrisy and deceit, they make a fool of him and mock him.” - Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra (1070)
“Whoever thinks algebra is a trick in obtaining unknowns has thought it in vain. No attention should be paid to the fact that algebra and geometry are different in appearance. Algebras (jabbre and maqabeleh) are geometric facts which are proved by propositions five and six of Book two of Elements." - quoted in "A Paper of Omar Khayyám" by A.R. Amir-Moez in Scripta Mathematica 26 (1963)
Omar Khayyám originally wrote The Rubaiyat around 1120 A.D. However, his popularity would be solidified many centuries later when The Rubaiyat was translated into English in 1859. The poetry collection became a sensation to the point that clubs were formed around it including a fin de siècle – or turn of the century – “cult of the Rubaiyat."
“Wake! For the Sun, who scatter'd into flight / The Stars before him from the Field of Night, / Drives Night along with them from Heav'n, and strikes / The Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light.”
“Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring / Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling: / The Bird of Time has but a little way / To flutter — and the Bird is on the Wing.”
“Whether at Naishapur or Babylon, / Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run, / The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop, / The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.”
“Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say; / Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?”
“A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, / A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou / Beside me singing in the Wilderness — / Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”
“Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn / In flowing Purple, their Lord forlorn; / Nor rolling Heaven, with all his Signs reveal’d / And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn.”
“Some for the Glories of This World; and some / Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come; / Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go, / Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!”
“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon / Turns Ashes — or it prospers; and anon, / Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face, / Lighting a little hour or two — is gone.”
“Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit / Of This and That endeavour and dispute / Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape / Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.”
“Oh, threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise! / One thing at least is certain — This Life flies; / One thing is certain and the rest is Lies; / The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.”
“Heav'n but the Vision of fulfill'd Desire, / And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire, / Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves, / So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.”
“We are no other than a moving row / Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go.”
Some poets’ impact can be felt long after they are gone. Explore words from poets that have endured.