As I grew up there were several little books in our home bookshelves whose origins I did not question, but I have it in my mind that they came from either my Mother herself, or at least from her family home. There was, for example, a neat little set in a carrying case with a handle of a Book of Common prayer with a separate volume of Hymns Ancient and Modern, all done in a red Morocco (?) leather finish. There was John Keble’s “New Every Morning”, also red, with a poem for every day of the year. “New Every Morning” was one of the poems, but was better known as the hymn of that name – the rest, so far as I could see were practically unknown. Another was “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam“, again done out in red. A longish poem but one which I thought was rather “cool” (although that phraseology had not been born then) and from which I quoted bits go my friends and acquaintances despite their boredom and indifference. The image above is harvested from the web and in no way resembles the edition I knew although the art nouveau style seems to be about right date wise.
The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.
Dreaming when Dawn’s Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a voice within the Tavern cry,
‘Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life’s Liquor in its Cup be dry.’
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted – ‘Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.’
Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the White Hand of Moses on the Bough
Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.
Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose,
And Jamshyd’s Sev’n-ring’d Cup where no one Knows;
But still the Vine her ancient ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.
And David’s Lips are lock’t; but in divine
High piping Pehlevi, with ‘Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine! ‘ – the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek of hers to incarnadine.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly – and Lo! 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 kep falling one by one.
Morning a thousand Roses brings, you say;
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?
And this first Summer month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.
But come with old Khayyam, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobad and Kaikhosru forgot:
Let Rustum lay about him as he will,
Or Hatim Tai cry Supper – heed them not.
With me along the strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan is forgot –
And Peace is Mahmud on his Golden Throne!
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 now!
Full text HERE
The bit I liked and annoyed everybody with was the “Jug of Wine” verse which came to me again this morning in a slightly different form . . .
“A glass of wine, two paracetamols . . . ” which sorted out my troubles temporarily at least.