Friday, February 20, 2015

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XLI, Second Edition

This quatrain, first appeared in the Second Edition, and remained in all subsequent editions.


Second Edition:  Quatrain XLI

For has not such a Story from of Old
Down Man's successive generations roll'd
   Of such a clod of saturated Earth
Cast by the Maker into Human mould? 




Fifth Edition:  Quatrain XXXVIII

And has not such a Story from of Old
Down Man's successive generations roll'd
   Of such a clod of saturated Earth
Cast by the Maker into Human mould? 


FitzGerald introduced only one change in the quatrain: he substituted "And" for "For."

This quatrain refers obliquely back to previous quatrains that refer to the Potter and his pots.  The story "from of Old" of course refers to Genesis in which God creates Adam out of clay.  What I find interesting is that humans were, supposedly,  created in the likeness of God while the Poet says that this clod of earth was cast "into Human mould."

I suspect that FitzGerald added this quatrain to make more explicit the identification between God and the Potter and its creations and humanity.  While it seemed fairly clear in the First Edition, it was never stated explicitly, and perhaps FitzGerald felt it needed a clearer exposition for some readers.

4 comments:

  1. I wonder about the effect of the changed coordinating conjunctions: and v. for. As I do not have the previous quatrain, I remain clueless but curious.

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  2. RTD,

    In the second edition, the preceding quatrain is:

    For I remember stopping by the way
    To watch a Potter thumping his wet Clay:
    And with its all-oblitered Tongue
    It murmur'd--"Gently, Brother, gently, pray!"

    Good point. Perhaps he didn't want to begin two successive quatrains with the same word?

    The difference in meaning may also be significant, now that you mention it. "For" almost suggests an explanation while "And" makes the two equal or joins them equally.

    Your thoughts?.

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  3. I think I need to find and read a copy of the whole before I comment further on the parts. I will get back to you one day in the future. For now, though, I simply ponder the conjunctions.

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    Replies
    1. RTD,

      Looking forward to your comments.

      Delete