Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai were we are exploring the beauty of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" as translated by FitzGerald. "The Rubaiyat" is a compilation of 100 quatrains, but as I told you earlier this month, "The Rubaiyat" is just a small part of Khayyam's quatrains, he created around 2000 quatrains.
Today's episode I have titled "The Secret Well of Life". In my opinion "the secret well of life" is similar with the "Elixer of Life" as was the goal for the Alchemists. They not only were searching for the "Stone" to create gold, but also for the "Elixer of Life". If this is true for this quatrain we will see.
As I was preparing this month I read "The Rubaiyat" and there were several quatrains in which Khayyam uses "earthen bowls" or "pots". In this quatrain that's also a theme.
|Earthen Pots (this is one of the first logos I used by the way)|
Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmured - "While you live
Drink ! - for once dead you never shall return.
© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)
This is the first of many references to earthen bowls or pots, which for Omar Khayyam are both drinking vessels and symbolic of people (via Adam being made from clay or earth; hence earth to earth, ashes to ashes etc.) In some cases, he pictures the Clay from which an Earthen Vessel is made as being that formed from the body of some long-dead person which has turned back into earth again. Here, in drinking from the bowl, the poet’s lip presses on the lip of the bowl. Here again we have Omar’s philosophy, repeated throughout the poem, but here expressed by the earthen wine bowl, “Drink! – for once dead you never shall return!”
The following lines by Hafiz involve not only the image of the cup of mortal clay touching the lips of the living, but also other Omarian images of the transience of Kings and of flowers growing from the dust of the dead or from their spilt blood. The translation is from Gertrude Bell's Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (1897), poem 26:
...Time's revolving sphere
Over a thousand lives like thine has rolled.
That cup within thy fingers, dost not hear
The voices of dead kings speak through the clay?
Kobad, Bahman, Djemshid, their dust is here.
'Gently upon me set thy lips!' they say.
What man can tell where Kaus and Kai have gone?
Who knows where even now the restless wind
Scatters the dust of Djem's imperial throne?
And where the tulip, following close behind
The feet of Spring, her scarlet chalice rears,
There Ferhad for the love of Sherin pined,
Dyeing the desert red with his tears.
(The forbidden love between the lowly Ferhad and the princess Sherin is an old Persian love story. Ferhad killed himself in the desert when he was tricked into believing that Sherin was dead. Hearing of Ferhad's death, Sherin also killed herself, and subsequently the two were buried together.)
|Ferhad and Shirin (a Persian lovestory)|
The Persian love-story about Ferhad and Shirin is similar with that tragedy created by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. It's a forbidden love, because Shirin is a princess and Ferhad is just a low-ranked man. As Ferhad dies, Shirin takes her own life, because she cannot live with Ferhad.
The title of this episode is extracted from the quatrain used and it can also refer to that strong love as mentioned in the story of Ferhad and Shirin. Isn't love the secret well of life?
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 22nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!