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Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

The Rubáiyát is a collection of poems by the Persian mathematician and astronomer Omar Khayyám (1048-1122) that are best known in English in the translations of about a hundred of the verses (of which there are about a thousand) by Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883). "Rubaiyat" means "quatrains" (= 4-line verses).

While Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat is a great work and is definitely worth reading, one needs to keep in mind that it is not very true to the original. Many of the verses are paraphrased, and some of them cannot be traced to any of Khayyam's quatrains at all. In fact, Fitzgerald himself referred to his work as "transmogrification". In particular, Fitzgerald gave the Rubaiyat a distinct atheistic spin. Khayyam himself wasn't an atheist, but a Sufi, and a devout Muslim, though perhaps in a somewhat unorthodox way for his time.

For a good alternative to Fitzgerald's translation, consider one by Graves and Ali-Shah (" class="external">

Khayyam was born in Nishapur, which is now in Iran. His work resulted in a reformation of the calendar on 15 March 1079.

The full text of Fitzgerald's translation can be found at " class="external">

A fictionalized biography of the poet is the 1957 film Omar Khayyam starring Cornel Wilde, Debra Page, Raymond Massey, Michael Rennie, and John Derek.