The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur

Other translations


Multilingual edition, published in 1955 by Tahrir Iran Co./Kashani Bros.

Two English editions by Edward Henry Whinfield (1836–1922) consisted of 253 quatrains in 1882 and 500 in 1883. This translation was fully revised and some cases fully translated anew by Ali Salami and published by Mehrandish Books.

Whinfield's translation is, if possible, even more free than FitzGerald's; Quatrain 84 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above) reads:

In the sweet spring a grassy bank I sought And thither wine and a fair Houri brought; And, though the people called me graceless dog, Gave not to Paradise another thought!

John Leslie Garner published an English translation of 152 quatrains in 1888. His was also a free, rhyming translation. Quatrain I. 20 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above):

Yes, Loved One, when the Laughing Spring is blowing, With Thee beside me and the Cup o’erflowing, I pass the day upon this Waving Meadow, And dream the while, no thought on Heaven bestowing.

Justin Huntly McCarthy (1859–1936) (Member of Parliament for Newry) published prose translations of 466 quatrains in 1889.[27] Quatrain 177 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above):

In Spring time I love to sit in the meadow with a paramour perfect as a Houri and goodly jar of wine, and though I may be blamed for this, yet hold me lower than a dog if ever I dream of Paradise.

Richard Le Gallienne (1866–1947) produced a verse translation, subtitled "a paraphrase from several literal translations", in 1897. In his introductory note to the reader, Le Gallienne cites McCarthy's "charming prose" as the chief influence on his version. Some example quatrains follow:

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. (#78, on p. 44) And do you think that unto such as you; A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew: God gave the secret, and denied it me?— Well, well, what matters it! Believe that, too. (#85, p. 47) "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!" (#91, p. 48)

Edward Heron-Allen (1861–1943) published a prose translation in 1898. He also wrote an introduction to an edition of Frederick Rolfe (Baron Corvo) 's translation into English of Nicolas's French translation. Below is Quatrain 17 translated by E. H into English:[28]

This worn caravanserai which is called the world Is the resting-place of the piebald horse of night and day; It is a pavilion which has been abandoned by a hundred Jamshyds; It is a palace that is the resting-place of a hundred Bahrams.

This quatrain of Khayyam connotes the transitory essence of life and worthless materialistic lifestyle. It tends to illuminate the minds that have developed a false consciousness that interpellation can justify the world’s economic system. Also, he disapproves reflectionism, which suggests that feelings like happiness, love, and freedom cannot create the superstructure of the real world. Indeed, these feelings are corrupt by capitalism, consisting of the bourgeoisie, who control the means of production, and the proletariat, whose labor produces their wealth. Then, the damage caused by such a system would be commodification. Moreover, this quatrain carries the connotation that in a world where everything is temporary and every condition is transitory, practicing conspicuous consumption will go to waste when death comes. Hence, one should not make a fuss about life failures nor should take life achievements for granted.

The English novelist and orientalist Jessie Cadell (1844–1884) consulted various manuscripts of the Rubaiyat with the intention of producing an authoritative edition. Her translation of 150 quatrains was published posthumously in 1899.[29]

A. J. Arberry in 1959 attempted a scholarly edition of Khayyam, based on thirteenth-century manuscripts. However, his manuscripts were subsequently exposed as twentieth-century forgeries.[30] While Arberry's work had been misguided, it was published in good faith.

The 1967 translation of the Rubáiyat by Robert Graves and Omar Ali-Shah, however, created a scandal. The authors claimed it was based on a twelfth-century manuscript located in Afghanistan, where it was allegedly utilized as a Sufi teaching document. But the manuscript was never produced, and British experts in Persian literature were easily able to prove that the translation was in fact based on Edward Heron Allen's analysis of possible sources for FitzGerald's work.[30][31]

Quatrains 11 and 12 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above):

Should our day's portion be one mancel loaf, A haunch of mutton and a gourd of wine Set for us two alone on the wide plain, No Sultan's bounty could evoke such joy. A gourd of red wine and a sheaf of poems — A bare subsistence, half a loaf, not more — Supplied us two alone in the free desert: What Sultan could we envy on his throne?

John Charles Edward Bowen (1909–1989) was a British poet and translator of Persian poetry. He is best known for his translation of the Rubaiyat, titled A New Selection from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Bowen is also credited as being one of the first scholars to question Robert Graves' and Omar Ali-Shah's translation of the Rubaiyat.[32]

A modern version of 235 quatrains, claiming to be "as literal an English version of the Persian originals as readability and intelligibility permit", was published in 1979 by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs. Their edition provides two versions of the thematic quatrain, the first (98) considered by the Persian writer Sadeq Hedayat to be a spurious attribution.

98. I need a jug of wine and a book of poetry, Half a loaf for a bite to eat, Then you and I, seated in a deserted spot, Will have more wealth than a Sultan's realm.

234. If chance supplied a loaf of white bread, Two casks of wine and a leg of mutton, In the corner of a garden with a tulip-cheeked girl, There'd be enjoyment no Sultan could outdo.

In 1988, the Rubaiyat was translated by a Persian for the first time.[33] Karim Emami's translation of the Rubaiyat was published under the title The Wine of Nishapour in Paris. The Wine of Nishapour is the collection of Khayyam's poetry by Shahrokh Golestan, including Golestan's pictures in front of each poem.[34] Example quatrain 160 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his first edition, as above):

In spring if a houri-like sweetheart Gives me a cup of wine on the edge of a green cornfield, Though to the vulgar this would be blasphemy, If I mentioned any other Paradise, I'd be worse than a dog.

In 1991 Ahmad Saidi (1904–1994) produced an English translation of 165 quatrains grouped into 10 themes. Born and raised in Iran, Saidi went to the United States in 1931 and attended college there. He served as the head of the Persian Publication Desk at the U.S. Office of War Information during World War II, inaugurated the Voice of America to Iran, and prepared an English-Persian military dictionary for the Department of Defense. His quatrains include the original Persian verses for reference alongside his English translations. His focus was to faithfully convey, with less poetic license, Khayyam's original religious, mystical, and historic Persian themes, through the verses as well as his extensive annotations. Two example quatrains follow:

Quatrain 16 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XII in his 5th edition, as above):

Ah, would there were a loaf of bread as fare, A joint of lamb, a jug of vintage rare, And you and I in wilderness encamped— No Sultan's pleasure could with ours compare.

Quatrain 75:

The sphere upon which mortals come and go, Has no end nor beginning that we know; And none there is to tell us in plain truth: Whence do we come and whither do we go.


Adolf Friedrich von Schack (1815–1894) published a German translation in 1878.

Quatrain 151 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above):

Gönnt mir, mit dem Liebchen im Gartenrund Zu weilen bei süßem Rebengetränke, Und nennt mich schlimmer als einen Hund, Wenn ferner an's Paradies ich denke!

Friedrich Martinus von Bodenstedt (1819–1892) published a German translation in 1881. The translation eventually consisted of 395 quatrains.

Quatrain IX, 59 (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above):

Im Frühling mag ich gern im Grüne weilen Und Einsamkeit mit einer Freundin teilen Und einem Kruge Wein. Mag man mich schelten: Ich lasse keinen andern Himmel gelten.


The first French translation, of 464 quatrains in prose, was made by J. B. Nicolas, chief interpreter at the French embassy in Persia in 1867.

Prose stanza (equivalent of Fitzgerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above):

Au printemps j’aime à m’asseoir au bord d’une prairie, avec une idole semblable à une houri et une cruche de vin, s’il y en a, et bien que tout cela soit généralement blâmé, je veux être pire qu’un chien si jamais je songe au paradis.

The best-known version in French is the free verse edition by Franz Toussaint (1879–1955) published in 1924. This translation consisting of 170 quatrains was done from the original Persian text, while most of the other French translations were themselves translations of FitzGerald's work. The Éditions d'art Henri Piazza published the book almost unchanged between 1924 and 1979. Toussaint's translation has served as the basis of subsequent translations into other languages, but Toussaint did not live to witness the influence his translation has had.

Quatrain XXV (equivalent of FitzGerald's quatrain XI in his 1st edition, as above):

Au printemps, je vais quelquefois m’asseoir à la lisière d’un champ fleuri. Lorsqu’une belle jeune fille m’apporte une coupe de vin, je ne pense guère à mon salut. Si j’avais cette préoccupation, je vaudrais moins qu’un chien.


Many Russian-language translations have been undertaken, reflecting the popularity of the Rubaiyat in Russia since the late 19th century and the increasingly popular tradition of using it for the purposes of bibliomancy. The earliest verse translation (by Vasily Velichko) was published in 1891. The version by Osip Rumer published in 1914 is a translation of FitzGerald's version. Rumer later published a version of 304 rubaiyat translated directly from Persian. A lot of poetic translations (some based on verbatim translations into prose by others) were also written by German Plisetsky, Konstantin Bal'mont, Cecilia Banu, I. I. Tkhorzhevsky (ru), L. Pen'kovsky, and others.

Other languages

  • In Polish, several collections of Rubaiyat have appeared, including ones by Professor Andrzej Gawroński (1933, 1969), regarded as the best.
  • The first translation of nine short poems into Serbo-Croatian was published in 1920, and was the work of Safvet beg Bašagić. In 1932, Jelena Skerlić-Ćorović re-published these nine, alongside 75 more poems. In 1964, a noted orientalist Fehim Bajraktarević published his translation of Rubaiyat.[35]
  • In Icelandic Magnús Ásgeirsson translated the Rubaiyat in 1935. There was an earlier translation by Einar Benediktsson in 1921. Jochum M. Eggertsson (Skuggi) published a translation in 1946. All translations are of Fitzgerald's version.
  • First Czech translator is Josef Štýbr. At first he translated from English (from Fitzgerald's "translations") (1922), after that from original language (1931). Translation from original can be found on Czech wikisource (770 poems). Next translators are mentioned here.
  • The poet J. H. Leopold (1865–1925) rendered a number of Rubaiyat in Dutch.
  • Eric Hermelin translated the Rubaiyat into Swedish in 1928.
  • Sir John Morris-Jones translated direct from Persian into Welsh in 1928.
  • In Finnish language first translations were made by Toivo Lyy in 1929. More recently Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila (1999 and 2008) and Kiamars Baghban with Leevi Lehto (2009) have translated Khayyam in Finnish.
  • G. Sankara Kurup produced a translation into Malayalam (1932)
  • Duvvoori Ramireddy translated the Rubaiyat into Telugu in 1935.
  • Thomas Ifor Rees produced a Welsh translation, published in Mexico City in 1939.
  • Kantichandra Ghosh, Muhammad Shahidullah (in 1942), Kazi Nazrul Islam (in 1958) and Shakti Chattopadhyay (in 1978) produced translations into Bengali
  • The earliest translation in Hungarian consisted of a few stanzas taken from the French version of Nicolas, by Béla Erődi in 1919–20. Lőrinc Szabó finalized his translation of the Fitzgerald version in 1943.
  • Fraînque Le Maistre produced a Jèrriais version (based on FitzGerald's 1st edition) during the German occupation of the Channel Islands 1940–1945.
  • Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Das (1864–1945) translated the original Persian quatrains and Edward Fitzgerald's English translations into Sanskrit and pure-Telugu. Pandit Narayana Das claimed his translation was more literal than that of Fitzgerald. See: Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu
  • Poet Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven (1873–1932, author of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika") produced the first translation in Afrikaans. Herman Charles Bosman wrote a translation in Afrikaans published in 1948.
  • In Japan, until 1949, more than 10 poets and/or scholars made translations into Japanese.[36] The first complete translation from Persian into the modern Japanese language was made by Ryosaku Ogawa in 1949, which is still popular and has been published from Iwanami Shoten (it is now under public domain and also freely available from Aozora Bunko).[37] Historically, the first attempt is 6 poems translated by Kambara Ariake in 1908.[36] In 1910, Kakise Hikozo translated 110 poems from the 5th edition of FitzGerald's translation.[36] The first translation from Persian into the classical Japanese language was made by a linguist Shigeru Araki in 1920.[36] Among other various translations, Ogawa highly evaluates Ryo Mori (ja:森亮)'s one produced in 1931.[36]
  • D. V. Gundappa translated the work into Kannada as a collection of poems titled "Umarana Osage" in 1952
  • Robert Bin Shaaban produced a version in Swahili (dated 1948, published 1952)
  • Gopal Chandra Kanungo illustrated and translated the book into Odia in 1954. Devdas Chhotray adapted Edward Fitzgerald's work in Oriya and recorded it in musical form in 2011.
  • The first translator into Slovene was Alojz Gradnik, his translation being published in 1955. It was translated again by slovene translator and poet Bert Pribac in 2007 from the French Toussaint edition.[35]
  • Maithili Sharan Gupt and Harivanshrai Bachchan translated the book into Hindi in 1959.
  • Francesco Gabrieli produced an Italian translation (Le Rubaiyyàt di Omar Khayyàm) in 1944. Alessandro Bausani produced another translation in 1965.
  • It was translated into Latvian by Andrejs Kurcijs in 1970.
  • Christos Marketis translated 120 rubaiyat into Greek in 1975.
  • 172 Rubaiyat were translated into Belarusian by Ryhor Baradulin in 1989.
  • Thirunalloor Karunakaran translated the Rubaiyat into Malayalam in 1989.
  • In 1990, Jowann Richards produced a Cornish translation.
  • Scottish poet Rab Wilson published a version in Scots in 2004.
  • In 2015 it was translated into Romanian for the first time by orientalist philologist Gheorghe Iorga.
  • Kerson Huang based a Chinese version on FitzGerald's version.
  • Fan Noli produced an Albanian translation, the melody and poetics of which are highly regarded.
  • At least four versions exist in the Thai language. These translations were made from the text of FitzGeral. Their respective authors are HRH Prince Narathip Prapanpong, Rainan Aroonrungsee (pen name: Naan Gitirungsi), Pimarn Jamjarus (pen name: Kaen Sungkeet), and Suriyachat Chaimongkol.
  • Haljand Udam produced an Estonian translation.
  • Ahmed Rami, a famous late Egyptian poet, translated the work into Arabic. His translation was sung by Umm Kulthum.
  • The Kurdish poet Hajar translated the Rubaiyat in his Chwar Parchakani Xayam.
  • Armenian poet Kevork Emin has translated several verses of the Rubaiyat.
  • The Assyrian journalist and poet Naum Faiq translated the Rubaiyat into the Syriac language.
  • The Assyrian author Eshaya Elisha Khinno translated the Rubaiyat into Sureth (Assyrian Neo-Aramaic) in 2012[38][39]
  • Hồ Thượng Tuy translated from English into Vietnamese (from FitzGerald's 1st edition) in 1990.
  • Nguyễn Viết Thắng produced a Vietnamese translation of 487 rubaiyat, translated from English and Russian in 1995, published in Hanoi in 2003.
  • Xabier Correa Corredoira published a Galician translation in 2010.[40]
  • Hemendra Kumar Roy translated the Rubaiyat into Bengali.
  • Radha Mohan Gadanayak translated the Rubaiyat into Odia[41]
  • Tadhg Ó Donnchadha (Torna) translated the Rubaiyat from English into Irish in 1920.

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