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EDWARD FITZGERALD

1809-1883

704                                                 Old Song

TIS a dull sight
  To see the year dying,
When winter winds
  Set the yellow wood sighing:
    Sighing, O sighing!
When such a time cometh
  I do retire
Into an old room
  Beside a bright fire:
    O, pile a bright fire!
And there I sit
  Reading old things,
Of knights and lorn damsels,
  While the wind sings
    O, drearily sings!
I never look out
  Nor attend to the blast;
For all to be seen
  Is the leaves falling fast:
    Falling, falling!
But close at the hearth,
  Like a cricket, sit I,
Reading of summer
  And chivalry
    Gallant chivalry!
Then with an old friend
  I talk of our youth
How twas gladsome, but often
  Foolish, forsooth:
    But gladsome, gladsome!
Or, to get merry,
  We sing some old rhyme
That made the wood ring again
  In summer time
    Sweet summer time!
Then go we smoking,
  Silent and snug:
Naught passes between us,
  Save a brown jug
    Sometimes!
And sometimes a tear
  Will rise in each eye,
Seeing the two old friends
  So merrily
    So merrily!
And ere to bed
  Go we, go we,
Down on the ashes
  We kneel on the knee,
    Praying together!
Thus, then, live I
  Till, mid all the gloom,
By Heaven! the bold sun
  Is with me in the room
    Shining, shining!
Then the clouds part,
  Swallows soaring between;
The spring is alive,
  And the meadows are green!
I jump up like mad,
  Break the old pipe in twain,
And away to the meadows,
  The meadows again!

705                                   From Omar Khayyam

I

A BOOK of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Breadand Thou
   Beside me singing in the Wilderness
O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophets Paradise to come;
   Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!
Look to the blowing Rose about usLo,
Laughing, she says, into the world I blow,
   At once the silken tassel of my Purse
Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw.
And those who husbanded the Golden grain
And those who flung it to the winds like Rain
   Alike to no such aureate Earth are turnd
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

II

Think, in this batterd Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate af6 Night and Day,
   How Sultéan after Sultéan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.
They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:
   And Bahréam, that great Hunterthe wild Ass
Stamps oer his Head, but cannot break his Sleep.
I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Cæsar bled;
   That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her Lap from some once lovely Head.
And this reviving Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River-Lip on which we lean
   Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!
Ah, my Belovàed, fill the Cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and Future Fears:
   To-morrow!Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterdays Sevn thousand Years.
For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his Vintage rolling Time hath prest,
   Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.
And we, that now make merry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new bloom,
   Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
Descendourselves to make a Couchfor whom?
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
 Dust unto Dust, and under Dust to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, andsans End!

III

Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash my Body whence the Life has died,
 And lay me, shrouded in the living Leaf,
By some not unfrequented Garden-side....
Yon rising Moon that looks for us again
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
 How oft hereafter rising look for us
Through this same Gardenand for one in vain!

And when like her, O Séakéi, you shall pass
Among the Guests star-scatterd on the Grass,
 And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made Oneturn down an empty Glass!

 

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