Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Quatrain LXXIV

This is the next-to-the-last quatrain in all three editions.  The poet/narrator waxes philosophical as he contemplates his own end as he nears the end of the Rubaiyat.

First Edition:  Quatrain LXXIV

Ah, Moon of my Delight, who know'st no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
    How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me--in vain!

Second Edition:  Quatrain CIX

But see!  The rising Moon of Heav'n again--
Looks for us, Sweet-heart, through the quivering Plane:
     How oft hereafter rising will she look
Among those leaves--for one of us in vain!

Fifth Edition:  Quatrain C

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 Garden--and for one in vain! 

The most significant changes occur in the first two lines of the quatrain.  In the first edition, the poet/narrator compares his love to the "Moon of Heav'n" and suggests that the "Moon of my Delight" is superior in that the heavenly moon waxes and wanes while his love never wanes.  This comparison disappears in the second edition and simply states that the Moon of Heav'n is rising.  His substitution of "Sweet-heart" for "Moon of my Delight"  just doesn't work for me. It is a lapse from the poetic diction found throughout the Rubaiyat.  And, in the fifth edition, any sense of personal feeling for the other disappears completely when "Sweet-heart" is replaced with "us"  which could signify a friend, someone nearby, or a lover.  The focus of the first two lines is now completely restricted to the "rising Moon."

The third and fourth lines, regardless of some changes, still asks how long the rising moon will look for them--eternity perhaps, or will they be forgotten soon.  The most significant change in these two lines refers to the object of search.  In the first stanza, the poet/narrator asks how long the Moon will search for him while in the second and fifth stanzas, he asks how long the Moon will search for one of them, thus suggesting that it might be him or his lover who will have died.

I would have to go with the first edition and then the fifth version as my favorites.  "Sweet-heart" in the second edition is so obtrusive that I reject it immediately.  In addition, the sense of this taking place in a Garden also disappears from the second edition.

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