Where can I get a good "moving finger?"

Anyone know of a good translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam?

Most of us are familiar with the “classic” translation of Edward FitzGerald, but my understanding is that he took great liberties with the quatrains, even combining and condensing them, so that the result has little resemblance to the original.

I’d like to find a good “literal-as-possible” translation that doesn’t try to rewrite the poems (as Mr FitzGerald might have done), nor tried to shoehorn them into stilted English rhymes–as translators are wont to do.

Anyway, I think it would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison. I’d do it myself if I understood Farsi, a quality I unfortunately lack. . .

Where can I get a good “moving finger?”

Try Daniel, chapter 5.

Some Sufis (associated with the late Idries Shah, if I recall correctly) asked Robert Graves to do a literal translation of Omar’s verses into English, back in the 70’s, I think it was. He didn’t try to rhyme it. Hm, I just looked it up, and the translation is attributed to Omar Ali-Shah. Either Graves just helped, or Ali-Shah is Graves, which seems likely. The book is not in print, but Yahoo has Graves reading it on tape.

All I have on hand is a sampling from Anthology of Islamic Literature by James Kritzeck (New American Library, 1964).

The most famous lines of Islamic literature in English translation, no doubt, are these:

As everyone knows, they are Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of a quatrain of Omar (let us call him Umar) Khayyam. But are they Umar himself? It is true that there is a Persian quatrain attributed to Umar which might be translated literally as follows:

Fitzgerald translated this quatrain, and all the others, very freely. By the simple substitution of a book of poems for a thigh of mutton and a bough for a sultan, he has translated us straight into a Victorian picnic.

The French say that a translation is like a woman: a faithful one is unlikely to be beautiful, a beautiful one is unlikely to be faithful.

That’s translated from the French, of course.

Traduttore, traditore.

Do a search on ecampus for “Rubaiyat, Khayyam” or somesuch. Among the results, you should find Omar Khayyam’s The Rubaiyat: A Literal Translation by Parvine Mahmoud. You’d have to special order it, though.

Please ignore my above post. ecampus gave me no ordering love, and Barnes and Noble has that edition listed (though it’s apparently out of print), along with others, which you obviously didn’t need me to tell you. Bedtime for me.