Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai. This month it's all about "The Rubaiyat" by the Persian poet and scholar Omar Khayyam. In this 'book' we read quatrains, say about 100 of them, but Khayyam wrote more than 2000 quatrains, however this month we will only look at "The Rubaiyat". The translations I use are by FitzGerald, who published the first English edition of "The Rubaiyat" in the 19th century. FitzGerald gave this selection the title "The Rubaiyat" which means "quatrains".
|The Rubaiyat, one of the more recent prints|
Maybe you can remember that we read "Aleph" by Paulo Coelho while on the Trans Siberian Railroad. In "Aleph" Paulo is on a quest to find his former life. He dreams sometimes of a place with several doors. Those doors cannot open cmpletely, or even not opened at all. There is No Key. "No Key" is something we see and hear regular in spirituality. "No Key" to open the door, the path and more.
In this 32th quatrain that's the essence of the verse ... not all can be opened ...
Here is the quatrain to work with today:
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.
© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)
The Door and Veil are metaphorical barriers which prevent us from seeing the answer to the riddle of human Death and Fate. The idea seems to be that while the mysterious voices behind these barriers talk about us, we live; but once they stop talking, we must die. It is interesting that in Islam, “…death is believed to be a door to the realm of the afterlife, which according to Islamic tradition starts with the grave.” It is interesting, too, that “the Veil” is a term commonly used by Spiritualists to describe the supposed barrier that exists between the spirit world and the land of the living.
As I look at this background (source: Bob Forrest) then something is coming to my attention. Omar Khayyam, was not only a poet and scholar, but also a philosopher. In this quatrain he shows us who he looks at the spirit world. As a mystery, something that we can not catch. Another thing which caught my attention is that in the Qu'ran, as it seems, there is also an idea about the afterlife. It is seen as a realm, but that realm we only can reach through opening the door to the grave. That's also the idea about afterlife in Christian tradition. As I was reading this quatrain I thought immediately that Khayyam had questions about the afterlife, he shows that through the use of "the veil" in this verse. "The Veil" between life and death. Can it be that he questioned the afterlife, if that was really the end? Or was he thinking that there had to be something else ... reincarnation for example.
|The Veil? The ethereal 4th dimension? Afterlife? Reincarnation?|
© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 21st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.