The rub iy t
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The RubÁiyÁt. Author: Omar Khayyám 1048-1131 (trans. By Edward FitzGerald in 1859). Cultural Background Information. About the Author. Well-educated

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The rub iy t

The RubÁiyÁt

Author: Omar Khayyám 1048-1131

(trans. By Edward FitzGerald in 1859)

Cultural background information
Cultural Background Information

About the author
About the Author

  • Well-educated

  • First published algebra book; sultan so impressed he asked Khayyam to develop a new calendar and build astronomical observatory.

  • Continued to write works on astronomy, math, medicine, and philosophy, but now best known for poetry.

  • Ironically, most of history lauded his achievements in science and math, not literature.

Persian and arabic literature
Persian and Arabic Literature

  • Islamic religion spread from Arabia into Persia in 7th century.

  • During that time, Arabic oral poetry was written down into short, expressive odes to celebrate special occasions.

  • Koran, Islam’s sacred book, written down too.

  • Persian literature (already flourishing) mixed with Islamic mysticism to create lyric poetry renowned worldwide.

The translation
The Translation

  • FitzGerald’s translation brought the Rubaiyat to popularity.

  • This work captured the imagination of the English-speaking world, and remains one of our best-known and most beloved pieces.

Literary structure and technique
Literary Structure and Technique

Rubai – 4-line poem in which lines 1,2,4 rhyme.

(plural = rubaiyat)

  • These Persian poems expressed insights (philosophies) about life.

    Metaphors – comparison of two things using figurative language.

    (In The Rubaiyat, metaphors express themes (statements about human nature).

Example of a rubai
Example of a Rubai


The Moving Finger* writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line

Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.