Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Mathematician of Nishapur: Oum Kulthum

Look not above, there is no answer there
Pray not, for no one listens to your prayer

Near is as near to God as any Far
And Here is just the same deceit as There.

Did God set grapes a-growing, do you think
And at the same time make it sin to drink?

Give thanks to Him who foreordained it thus

Surely He loves to hear the glasses clink!

The quatrains attributed to the medieval scholar from Nishapur in Persia, Omar Khayyam, are some of the most widely translated and revered in world literature.  Whether he wrote them all or just a few and what he meant as well as whether he was a mystic or a hedonist are all matters of debate.

But as you read them it is hard not to hear the music within.   

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
 How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
 Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean--
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.
There was a Door to which I found no Key:

There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seemed--and then no more of THEE and ME.
Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
 My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
 And Lip to Lip it murmur'd--While you live,
 Drink!--for once dead you never shall return.

Alike for those who for TO-DAY prepare,
And those that after a TO-MORROW stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There.
Oum Kulthum

Ahmed Rami an Egyptian poet translated Khayyam’s epic into Arabic and Oum Kulthum sang it.

Here it is. 

Enjoy (with a glass of wine!)

Track Listing:
01.  Robaiyet el Khayyam
02.  Hadith el Rouh

Listen here.


Hammer said...

*chink chink*

Prosit! Or, in Egyptian-Arabic ...
fe sehetak!

Dig Dawg.


Ramone666 said...

A beauty, cheers!