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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.