I saw this Daily Prompt from Daily Post a few days ago for the challenge, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry…” I know the suggestions are for us to post something about DINNER. But as I looked at the prompt, I could not help but be pulled back in time to when I was barely 14 years old and I had this paper to write. We were given the liberty to choose an accepted literary piece to analyze, get to know the author, the style, the theme, the SHE (Significant Human Experience).
Some of my friends chose T.S. Eliot and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Another friend chose George Orwell and his dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. I decided on Omar Khayyam and The Rubaiyat, as translated in English by Edward Fitzgerald in 1859. It is a series of quatrains (stanzas in a poem that are composed of four rhymed and/or metered lines from the poetic traditions of Ancient Greece, Rome, China, etc.)
I know what you’re thinking. Couldn’t she have chosen something more conventional? Well, I found the guy’s poetry compelling. I made a case for it with my Literature teacher and she bought it. And so went my quest for getting into Mr. Khayyam’s head, which meant going into Edward Fitzgerald too, as his translator. All in all, it was fun. And yes, I did ace it!
And no! It’s not all about eating, drinking and being merry. There is far more when you deign to scratch beyond the surface of his poetry. I can’t believe that after decades, I can still recite some of my favorite verses from memory! One of them is the third to the last verse:
Ah Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits —
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!
Other favorites that came to mind are:
Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and future Fears —
To-morrow? — Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand Years.
Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie;
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and — sans End!
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
There is more, if you’re so inclined for creative poetry. Check him out if you have a chance, even to just enjoy the lovely lyrical lines. He’s still pretty awesome in my books!
P.S. I know some of you might say that “Eat, drink, and be merry” might have originated from the book of the Corinthians (or is it Ecclesiastes?) in the Bible. I guess, the line has been used more than once! The complete line is really, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” Pretty hedonistic, huh?